Are you ready to integrate the arts with SEL?  The arts are the best way for students to learn, practice and develop their social-emotional skills.  Why?  Because the arts provide amazing experiences that allow them to build self-awareness, empathy, patience, and relationship skills all while creating.  (But more on that in the video!)

If you’re an educator, than you know that we need to bring SEL more and more into our classrooms and schools.

As an arts integration specialist, I’ve been intentionally working in my own classroom on helping my students develop there SEL skills through the arts.  Many teachers see the value in this approach.  It’s called SEAL, Social-Emotional Artistic Learning.

These are the SEAL activities included in this video:

Self-Awareness and Dance

Self-Management and Music

Social-Awareness and Drama

I can’t wait to share more with you now!




Are you ready to learn some great ways to integrate the Arts with strategies that work on developing students’ social-emotional skills? Let’s get started.

SEL is so important!

If you are an educator, than you know what SEL stands for, but just in case you need a quick refresher, SEL stands for social-emotional learning and it takes into consideration the need for students to learn and develop skills such as empathy, kindness, collaboration, identifying emotions in themselves and others, managing emotions and having a growth mindset.

And I probably don’t need to convince you that we need to bring SEL more and more into our classrooms and schools.

Since 2015, I’ve been intentionally working with SEL in my own classroom. Since I’m also an arts integration specialist, I’ve found that the BEST way to develop students’ SEL is with arts integration.

So, let me ask you a few questions…

Have you ever used music to heighten your mood or help you relax? Created a piece of art that symbolized who you are? Have you ever empathize with a character on stage or screen? Or how about connected with someone on the dance floor?

If so, you were experiencing how the arts can naturally help you develop your social and emotional well-being.

Today, I’m going to show you 3 ways you can Integrate the Arts with SEL in your classroom!

Integration #1 Self-Awareness and Dance

Move and Freeze is an activity where students explore a variety of movements through the classroom.  First, set the tone, by talking briefly about general space and pathways inside your classroom.

Then turn on some instrumental music and ask students to walk, hop, sashay, and skip through the space so they get comfortable with it.

Next, start to incorporate dance elements by adding some instruction. Include moving at various levels such as low, medium or high.

Have students move using different energies like strong, heavy, light, relaxed, sharp, or freely. And then also add some variety by mixing up the timing of the movements.  Ask students to move quickly, or upbeat or like a turtle.

Finally, to really bring in the SEL elements, incorporate different emotions for students to move.  For example, they can move angrily, sadly, proudly, or joyfully.

Every so often, pause the music and instruct the students to freeze into a simple pose.  While here, they can take a nice deep breath before moving again.

The key to self-awareness in this is to bring students’ attention to how their bodies feel as they move and then freeze.

For example, students should note how they carry themselves as they move angrily and how that differs from when they move proudly.  To do this, actually call out for the students to notice how their bodies feel as they move around the room.

You can have the students call out adjectives that describe how the emotion makes them feel or have them keep their thoughts in their heads for a journal entry later.

Integration #2 Self-Management and Music

Now let’s talk about one of my favorites – Soundtracking.

Soundtracking is an everyday SEAL strategy that is beneficial for both teachers and students! When teachers soundtrack their classroom, they are utilizing music throughout the day to help regulate the mood and energy in the room.

Yoga or alpha wave-type music works best for this as it is non-rhythmic and creates an atmosphere for calm and focus. You can certainly use other relaxing or calming instrumental music.

To begin, explain to your students what you plan to do which is play music that will help them to focus and then will melt into the background, allowing everyone in the room to work peacefully.

I use this every day in my classroom during instructional time and quiet working time.

The students appreciate the tranquil atmosphere as it seems to encapsulate the room. In fact, if I forget to put the music on, undoubtedly, students will ask where the music is!

Integration #3 Social-Awareness and Drama

Drama is a wonderful and natural way to practice social-awareness and empathy as it allows someone to walk in another’s shoes.  Teachers can use character cards to help lead students in a discussion that will help them to do just that!

Here are two examples you can use with your class:

Put yourself in John’s shoes:  John is a 9 year old who comes to school with a smile on his face, but his clothes are always dirty.  A couple of girls were joking around at lunchtime one day, noticing that John had been wearing the same sweatshirt all week.

Put yourself in Natalia’s shoes:  Natalia is 17 and an ok student in school. She doesn’t have a driver’s license or even a phone!  Sometimes when her friends are talking about the latest on social media, she feels left out.

With this drama-integrated SEAL activity, students develop empathy for others as they discuss the character card, practice and then perform small skits.

You can encourage students to first discuss and develop the character before portraying one.  They should use their body language, facial expressions and even a simple prop to help bring the character to life.

You can even extend this activity by having students pause and speak out loud what their character is thinking at various points in the situation.

Want to Learn More??

You can get started right away with the SEAL Starter Kit. It’s my free resource that has information, activities, lessons and a SEAL tool you will find super helpful.  You can find a link to the download below this video.  THE LINK IS BELOW!

And if you are really interested in learning about SEAL, check out the full course, SEAL Teacher Training

I’m Elizabeth Peterson.  Thank you so much for watching.

 And remember to keep inspiring yourself so that you can be inspiring to your students.


Download this free resource: SEAL Starter Kit

Learn how visual art, music, drama and dance are integrated with all 5 SEL competencies.  Included are 4 activities to try, 2 complete SEAL Lessons and 1 SEAL tool you will want to use over and over.  You will know how to Teach SEAL in no time! 

SEAL TEACHER TRAINING: Do you want to learn all about what it means to be a SEAL Teacher?  Get all the info about the mindset and methods behind how to Teach SEAL! Go to to learn more and to be notified when the next SEAL Teacher Training begins.

Join our amazing FB community: Inspiring Teachers!  Share ideas, ask questions and get support from colleagues around the globe who believe in the power of arts in education! 

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