School is one of the main places where children learn social and emotional skills. Because of the big push for academic success and high test scores, schools and districts often struggle to find the time to implement these crucial life long skills. Cards in the House is a simple, effective, and fun tool that can be utilized throughout the day in all academic areas, during down time, during lunch and recess, during pull out services or even in place of consequences. These cards enable educators to easily integrate SEL without feeling like it is one more thing to squeeze in.
What is Cards in the House?
Cards in the House is a deck of 152 cards containing quick SEL team building activities and thought provoking conversation starters. The cards are broken up by SEL skill:
- Helping Others
- Positive Change
- Problem Solving/Conflict Resolution
- A combination of all those skills
Each skill has cards that fall into 7 categories:
- TEAM Dream cards give students a chance to think about and discuss their future goals.
- TEAM Work cards get students working together to solve a problem or riddle or reach a goal during a task or game activity.
- TEAM Fill-It-In students will finish sentences or fill in the blanks and share their thoughts.
- TEAM Media cards help students relate SEL skills to the shows, movies and videos they watch.
- TEAM Reads helps students explore SEL in books and characters in stories
- TEAM Talk gives students a chance to discuss a topic in a small group.
- TEAM Trivia cards encourages students to think about SEL in the academic subjects they are learning in school.
- TEAM Tunes cards help students relate SEL skills to popular songs and lyrics or challenge students to write their own songs or chants related to SEL
The cards are also broken into grade level clumps to make it easy for educators to find an appropriate activity for their students. These cards are fun for both students and staff alike.
Cards in the House help students gain social and emotional skills through engaging prompts and games, so it will not feel like a chore and students eagerly participate.
Why should you use Cards in the House?
As educators, you know the importance of managing and expressing emotions, maintaining healthy relationships, having effective communication and collaboration skills and being able to exhibit empathy and compassion. You also know how these skills can predict future success more than IQ. Yet, you often feel trapped in a system where you need to prove yourself by your students academic achievements and test scores and know there is never enough time for everything. You may hope school counselors, social works and parents will help fill the SEL gap. Cards in the House is an easy solution. These cards will help you take control over your students social and emotional success so you can start to fill that gap yourself. Improving your students’ SEL skills will improve engagement and participation, increase test scores and overall better prepare your students for their futures. It’s a win win for everyone.
How do you use Cards in the House?
There are many ways to use Cards in the House to start integrating social and emotional skills. These cards contain quick 5-10 minute activities (They can be used for longer time frames if you want!), so feel free to use them as you see fit. Read on for some of my recommendations.
First, it is beneficial to introduce the SEL skills and the characters that represent each skill. Do this before you use the card prompts and activities. Learn more about the characters here. Second, have a discussion with your students about what they may know about these SEL skills already. Make sure to go back over the characters as needed, as the characters will help students (especially younger ones) grasp these concepts easier and quicker.
Teachers can use Cards in the House:
- During morning meetings to spark discussion
- To give “brain breaks” throughout the day
- Anytime you have 5 minutes of downtime
- To settle students down after lunch/recess
- As a reward for hard work
Just pull out a card, find your grade level prompt and go! Related service providers (counselors, speech therapists, PT, OT, etc) can use the cards as ice breakers, to build team skills in small groups or even one on one. Special area teachers can use them at the start or end of the period or even as a reward. Cards in the House can be used during inside recess days, on field trip bus rides, during aftercare or while students are waiting to dismiss at the end of the day.
Schools can even try to turn around their behavior plans by having students engage in the team building activities on these cards instead of consequences like detention or in school suspension. Choose a card that’s right for the situation, as you wouldn’t want to use a game activity on a bus. Have fun with the cards and watch your students collaborate and communicate with their classmates.