School’s out for Summer! But that doesn’t mean learning has to end. Summer is a great time to take knowledge and understanding to a whole new level and put theory into practice. This is especially true when it comes to social-emotional learning (SEL). Summer is the best time to put social and emotional skills to use and to figure out fun ways to incorporate them into your Summer fun. We’ve compiled a list of 7 Summer social emotional learning activities for you to integrate fun and learning into your Summer break!

1. I spy

Girl holding magnifying glass

A childhood classic that everyone seems to have played at least once in their lives. Those family road trips to the cottage or walks to the park come to mind when thinking of playing ISpy.  ISpy is the perfect Summer social emotional learning activity, as it develops both social norms and perspective-taking by practicing turn-taking, cooperation, communication, and listening skills. We recommend adapting Ispy  into Ispy: SEL Edition. How? Instead of purely color-related ISpy (ex. I spy something red), a prompt can be to recognize social-emotional skills. For example ‘I spy someone practicing patience’ (Rothman, 2022). Read more ISpy: SEL Edition prompts here.

2. Decision Day

Children love to feel they have some power. Usually mom and dad pick the meals and teachers control what is done at school. Offering choices gives children some agency while still being able to set some boundaries. Choices also allow kids to practice and strengthen their decision-making skills, which is important for them as they grow into independent adults. Providing children with a day where they can make all choices for themselves (within reason) allows for them to build relevant decision-making skills (Michigan State University, 2020). 

There are two ways to operate this activity and it all depends on your comfort level. 

  1. Option one is to provide choices throughout the day, perhaps 2-3 options per activity, meal, or snack and let them pick from the list. 
  2. Option number two is to set some ground rules, but allow full choice on what to do, for how long, and what to eat.

3. Scavenger Hunt

A scavenger hunt is a great Summer social emotional learning activity that can take up as much or little time as needed, depending on the number of clues and how far each location between clues is. Having kids follow clues to reach an end goal helps teach perseverance, problem-solving, and teamwork. Clues can be locations or even trivia-style where you ask for an example of certain social and emotional skills to get the next clue. [Click here for an outline of SEL trivia inspired scavenger hunt]

4. Family/Community Garden

Gardening is an activity that can be done solo or as a team. By participating in a family or community garden, children are able to experience teamwork in addition to the other benefits of gardening. This includes taking ownership/ having a sense of agency and being responsible for something. Start small by planting one or two plants in a planter and expand the garden as your child’s interest grows. Option two is to see if you can join an already established community garden team for the summer.

Boy water plants in garden

5. Mindful Walk

Parents and child on a nature walk

Going outside to take a walk is always a great idea, but adding something to keep you in the moment can be even better. Ask your child to be aware of their surroundings as you walk around town, the park, etc. Allowing them to take the time to be aware of what they see, smell, feel, and hear will help keep them in the moment. Having your child focus on using one of their senses at a time helps them narrow their focus (Move This World, 2019). A mindful walk is a social emotional learning activity to do this summer, only nice weather is required!

6. Volunteer

Volunteering is not only a great way to keep your kids busy this Summer, but also to get involved in their community. Teaching to volunteer young is a great way to ensure they volunteer and help people for the rest of their lives. Volunteering teaches many social emotional skills such as kindness, gratitude, and empathy. There are many ways to volunteer either a one time or weekly event. Check out your local website to see any opportunities that arise.

7. Cooking and/or Baking

 baking cookies

The chef is in the kitchen or rather chefs! Cooking and/or baking is a great way to practice teamwork, imagination/creativity, and responsibility. Cooking/baking teaches responsibility of making a meal for the family and feel a sense of purpose while helping the adult make the meal or on their own if older. Have a birthday coming up? Task your children to make a dessert of their choice or follow the ones below!

Here are some easy recipes to try out:

Try some of these Summer social emotional learning activities to make your Summer break fun and educational. Maybe even try all seven SEL activities this summer!


Michigan State University. (2020, May 6). The power of choices for children. Early Childhood Development. Retrieved June 20, 2022, from,they%20grow%20into%20independent%20adults. 

Move This World. (2019, August 2). 14 Summer Activities to Continue Teaching Social Emotional Learning. Move This World. Retrieved June 15, 2022, from 

Rothman, D. (2022, March 1). 5 activities for promoting social-emotional learning at home. Radio Flyer: Word on the Sidewalk. Retrieved June 15, 2022, from

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