Social-emotional learning plays a crucial role in education.

We cannot deny that SEL is at the core of 21st-century skills, which is so important for kids to lead in the future. The 4 C's of 21st-century skills, I.e., collaboration, communication, creativity, and critical thinking is what most SEL is about; and, ensuring that kids develop the best skills to be future-ready, it is prime that we help them develop social-emotional skills right from their initial years of learning.

Also termed soft skills, SE skills have repeatedly linked to academic, career, and life success. These skills include identifying, understanding and expressing emotion, self-awareness, social competence, self-control and more such skills that are important for the development of kids.

Before you read the top digital games that can help you start with your kids social-emotional learning, watch out the video below where kids and students share their take on SEL.

1. ZooU | Centervention

The gameplay concept is that children have to play as zookeepers, and the tasks in the game build crucial SEL skills. Playing as a zookeeper, they encounter situations that they would normally experience in life. The game's skills focus on emotion regulation, impulse control, communication, social initiation, empathy, and cooperation. Players have to create avatars to start the game, and as they play, their competence in each skill is assessed. For instance, for cooperation, the user has to capture the parrot flying around. To do so, the child must work with other players.

Teachers get a detailed analysis of kids' strengths, which has been validated against other assessments. The Scoring for users' performance is based on an algorithm that considers users' answers as well as their unobtrusive measures; like time taken for any action, amount of time spent in a particular activity, problem-solving and the order of actions to do so, and the number of clues they used.

Teachers get a detailed report on kids' strengths and performance. The formative assessment report helps providers identify particular difficult areas and work on them with specific in-person lessons and activities from Zoo U's activity centre.

2. Positive Penguins

This game is ideal for making children understand various human emotions. Especially if a student is having a rough time, feeling low, or facing difficulty with channelizing emotions, this app could help. The interactive interface helps children understand what and why they're experiencing any number of emotions. Through gamification and adorable penguin characters, the app provides an opportunity for the children to cope with and overcome what they're struggling with.

3. Classcraft

It is one of the topmost SEL tools available for kids. The game-based approach of the tool helps increase SEL among kids via collaboration and group dynamics. The games on this app help students with building confidence, communication skills and understand cooperation. The tool is ideal for classroom integration. It focuses on student engagement and collaboration, and a key part of the game focuses on class culture and student behaviour. The game encourages various social and emotional skills by rewarding these behaviours among students through its gaming aspects. The tool is customizable and can be used for all subjects, grade levels, and students or teacher's needs. It works on a freemium model where the user gets additional features on the premium version.

4. Sharing With Duckie Deck

Ideal for toddlers and preschoolers, this game is a collection of six activities that'll help the little ones understand the basic skill of sharing. Kids must share their toys and cakes with the characters on the game to see everyone happy! The gameplay requires them to decorate a cake, cut it up, and dole out pancakes and cake slices evenly among the other kids. No one is happy until everyone gets a piece!

As the in-game characters cheer the kids, they can play a one-player memory game as well. Other games like trace and paint a picture are also available in the app, but they can't save their artwork. Each time kids complete an activity, they get a reward, i.e., a sticker that can be arranged and rearranged. All in all, it's a cute game that'll help the little kids enjoy their screen time while learning some initial social and emotional skills.

5. Wisdom: The World of Emotions

This Quirky game will help kids in anger management. An innovative approach to address the crucial issue of anger management.

The gameplay requires students to help others manage their anger issues. The main character of the game, Wisdom, is on a journey to the kingdom of Anger, where it'll help citizens manage their anger. To save citizens, the payer must earn superpowers. These superpowers are available through various challenges and mini-games available. These challenges and mini-games are designed to teach kids how to recognize anger and spot various moods like happy, sad, excited, etc. This practice can either be done by recognizing the character's body language or understanding the vocal tone.

Each mini-game has five levels of difficulty that adapts to the payer based on their performance and understanding of the content. As the player earns these superpowers, they can rescue the citizens and move on to advanced levels.

As much as it sounds interesting, the user has to access the app after following certain instructions. To gain access to the app, potential subscribers must first submit a request for a free trial on the developer's website. Players are then oriented to the game by a demo. The app is available in both English and French.

6. Avokiddo Emotions

This fun app helps kids explore and understand different emotions and facial expressions. The gameplay requires users to interact with three highly responsive animals. Each animal has a different and strong personality, and they express a wide range of emotions via varied scenarios. The app focuses on making sure that kids develop basic SEl through play and develop their understanding of emotions. At the same time, they see animals cry, laugh, droop when sad, giggle and express emotions differently. To make things interesting for kids, the app offers Unlimited combinations of various props like hats, clothing and wigs that kids can use to dress the animals. Also, the app helps kids in emotional understanding expressed with non-verbal body language. This is an added advantage for kids who cannot read or talk well.

7. MyPeekaville

This game comes from the makers of Peekapak, one of the best-integrated tools for SEL.

MyPeekaville takes students to a magical world where animals and humans live in harmony. Through interesting gameplay, players have to work on an interactive map and visit different parts of the town. Users have to solve the problems of people living in these towns in a series of quizzes and games.

All these activities use story-based learning and game-based learning to teach kids about SEL skills and improve reading and writing skills. Other features that set the game apart are their Feelings Check-In tool that allows students to check in daily and journal how they're feeling. Also, teachers can access various analytical insights like a student sentiment heatmap, amount of in-game currency, progress with the quests, games & stories, and areas in which students are struggling in myPeekaville.

Make sure you comment down the games and apps you make your kids play to help them develop SEL in their initial years!

About the Author
Author: Priyanka Gupta
Priyanka is a blogger by profession and has an increasing interest to write about the edtech space. While writing she keeps in mind the educators to come up with right resources and ideas which might be relevant for them in relation to effective use of technology in their profession and institutions/classrooms.
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