Committee for Children Blog

Week 1: Wednesday’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 Time for Taste Testing

SEL Skill: Perspective-taking

What You’ll Need

  • 6 small bowls or plates
  • 6 different types of food (sliced apples, oranges, cheese, celery, carrots, lemons, and so on)

Set up a “tasting station” with a variety of different foods to taste.

  1. Compare how each food looks. Ask your child: How are the foods the same? How are the foods different?
  2. Have your child taste each item. Ask your child: How does the food taste? Do some foods have a similar taste? Do some foods taste very different? Do you like or dislike how the food tastes?

Kindergarten–Grade 1

Feelings and the Human Body

SEL Skill: Identifying emotions and how they affect you

What You’ll Need

  • No supplies needed


  1. Talk about how different body parts show feelings. Give your child a feeling such as happy, sad, angry, or surprised.
  2. Ask how their face shows anger and have them demonstrate.
  3. Then ask: What’s inside your face that makes it change when you’re angry? (Muscles.)
  4. Ask: Is this a comfortable or uncomfortable feeling?
  5. Ask: What does your stomach help you do? (It helps digest food.) What happens inside your stomach when you have an uncomfortable feeling? (It might hurt or feel upset.) Continue with other feelings and other body parts (for example, strong emotions might make your child’s heart beat faster).

Grades 2–3

Let’s Make Oobleck!

SEL Skill: Identifying emotions

What You’ll Need

  • 1½ cups cornstarch
  • 1 cup water
  • Food coloring (optional)


  1. Make some Oobleck by mixing the above ingredients together.
  2. Have your child touch the substance. When they push down on or press on the mixture, it will appear dry and solid. When they let go of the mixture, it will flow like a liquid.
  3. Talk with your child about how touching the Oobleck makes them feel.
  4. Ask if they think their friends would feel the same. How does having empathy help them notice and understand how others would feel about touching the Oobleck?

Grades 4–5

Perceptions of Living Things

SEL Skill: Perspective-taking

What You’ll Need

  • Paper
  • Pen or pencil

Have your child choose a living thing and write a brief description of how it might perceive the world.

For example, they could write about a crayfish. (I start as an egg. I hatch out of my egg when I’m about 20 weeks old. I eat lots of different things, like plants, frog eggs, and small fish. The more I eat, the more I grow. I hope I grow to eight centimeters! I must be very careful not to get eaten, so I hide under rocks to protect myself.)

Then, have them write from the perspective of a different animal or human about the living thing they chose (for example, a child who finds a crayfish).

Middle School

How Do Animals Communicate?

SEL Skill: Perspective-taking

What You’ll Need

  • Paper
  • Pen or pencil
  • Age-appropriate animal-science website or search engine

All animals, from amoebas to humans, communicate with each other. Have your child use the preselected website or search engine to research the ways different animals—such as bees, birds, cats, dogs, chimpanzees, or whales—communicate.

For example, honeybees perform a “waggle dance” when they return to their hive to alert other bees of their arrival, and chimpanzees greet each other by touching hands. Have your child investigate and write down the different ways animals communicate. Ask your child: How are these ways similar to the ways humans communicate? How are they different?

See other summer camp activities