Committee for Children Blog

Week 1: Thursday’s Summer Camp Activities

This summer, your kids may have a lot of big feelings. Our DIY SEL Summer Camp is here to help! This three-week summer camp includes research-based activities that are modeled on our Second Step social-emotional learning (SEL) program and help your kids learn about science, social studies, math, and more. The activities also teach social-emotional skills that can help all kids ages 1–14 cope with big feelings and other challenges they may face. 

With age-appropriate instructions and easy-to-find household materials, these activities can help you and your family spend quality time together and keep your kids learning over the summer.


It’s Story Time!

SEL Skill: Identifying emotions

What You’ll Need

  • A book that shows different feelings on people’s faces and bodies


  1. Before reading aloud, show your child the pictures without reading the words. Ask your child: What clues on this person’s face and body show how he or she is feeling? Focus on what’s happening in the picture. How does what’s happening help you know how this person is feeling?
  2. After discussing the picture, read the words on the page. Continue reading the book this way.

Kindergarten–Grade 1

Feelings in Pictures and Words

SEL Skill: Identifying emotions

What You’ll Need

  • A book that shows different feelings on people’s faces and bodies

Recommended Reading
My Many Colored Days by Dr. Seuss
The Way I Feel by Janan Cain
Today I Feel Silly by Jamie Lee Curtis

Select a book to read out loud that describes different feelings with both words and pictures. As you read the book, stop after each page or set of pages and ask your child:

  • What feeling is the author describing?
  • What words help you understand what the character is feeling?
  • What clues in the picture help you understand what the character is feeling?
  • How do the colors in the illustrations make you feel? Have you ever felt like that? Is that a comfortable or uncomfortable feeling?
  • If the character is feeling an uncomfortable feeling, ask your child: What’s something you could do to show someone feeling this way that you care about him or her?

Grades 2–3

If Feelings Were People

SEL Skill: Identifying emotions

What You’ll Need

Talk with your child about what a feeling would be like if it were a person. Lead them through an example:

  • If happy were a person, what would they look like?
  • What clues on their face or body would show that they’re happy?
  • What would they say or do to show that they’re happy?
  • How would their feeling affect others?

Ask your child to pick their own feeling and then create a short story to introduce their character. The story should explain how and why the character got their name. Have your child use the Comic Strip worksheet to illustrate their story.

Grades 4–5

Putting Things into Perspective

SEL Skill: Perspective-taking

What You’ll Need

  • A book


  1. Have your child pick a book and name two characters in that book who are very different from each other. What are their names? Who are they? What are they like? Where are they from?
  2. Choose a specific situation (waiting in line at an amusement park, playing during recess) and have your child write a brief paragraph about how the first character they chose would feel or respond in the situation.
  3. Next, have your child do the same for the second character they chose. How do the two different personalities or backgrounds affect how the characters respond or interact in the same situation?

Middle School

Can Media Encourage Empathy?

SEL Skill: Empathy

What You’ll Need

  • Age-appropriate news stories from newspapers, websites, or television

Choose news stories regarding any recent international, national, or local natural disaster.

Have your child read or watch the stories, then discuss the following questions and have them write down their answers:

  • How can media encourage empathy for victims of natural disasters?
  • How do you feel about the victims of this disaster?
  • Do you think disasters get too much coverage?
  • Do you think the media is fair in its coverage of all disasters? 

See other summer camp activities