One of the important social emotional skills for children to develop is a strong sense of self. We want our students to have a positive self-image and feel good about who they are. For some students, this is an easy task. However, I have noticed that every year I have more and more students who struggle with their self-image. They say negative things about themselves, especially if they make a mistake. I’ve started to make more of a point to include positive self-image activities for kids in my teaching.
Positive self-image Teaching language
When teaching positive self-image activities for kids, I try to be very clear with my language and start conversations that go beyond just self-image lessons. I tell the students that we are all different and that’s what makes us special! Then I ask students what makes them special? I tell them that there are a lot of things that make us who we are, and we call this identity. Like the language we speak, the holidays we celebrate, the hobbies we like, and our skin color! Then I ask students what is an important part of your identity?
This identity discussion is just the start of important conversations about identity, bias, racism, and more! I definitely find it important to start these conversations with young children by starting with looking inward. Because children are developmentally so ego-centric, it is always helpful to start by helping children to understand their own identities and feel positive about them. We want students to feel proud and happy about their differences.
Read alouds are my favorite way to teach social emotional skills and launch important discussions. Positive self-image activities for kids is no exception! These are some of my favorite read alouds for positive self-image! For my full list of of favorite read alouds, check out my Amazon Affiliate List!
This is such a wonderful story of a unicorn living with narwhals in the ocean. Kelp, the unicorn, realizes that he is just a little different than the rest of the narwhals, but doesn’t quite understand what it is. Kelp meets some unicorns and realizes that he was a unicorn all along! In the end Kelp realizes he can still play with the narwhals, because they appreciate him for who he is. It’s a great story about loving who you are and appreciating others and their differences!
Lovely is a great book to start discussions about differences and diversity. In this book, children learn about how diversity is a wonderful thing! It’s short, simple, and developmentally appropriate for such a complex issue!
Kathryn Otoshi, author of One and Two, writes Zero. Zero feels like he doesn’t belong because he doesn’t count. The other numbers help him realize that he makes a big difference because he can change the value of the other numbers by teaming up. It’s a great lesson on appreciating who you are in the same beautiful style we know and love from Kathryn Otoshi!
This is a simple but sweet book about appreciating individualities and differences! The illustrations definitely make a point to show children of all shapes, sizes, colors, and abilities!
Molly Lou Melon is starting a new school and the other students start to make fun of her for her differences. She learned from her grandmother to stand tall in the face of teasing. Molly Lou Melon shows her classmates that she is proud of who she is and her differences don’t make her less, they make her more!
Who doesn’t love Todd Parr! He has such a way with discussing complex issues with young children. This book is no difference. Students start to see that it’s not only ok to be different, it’s good to be different!
This is such a beautifully written book with affirmations for young children. Your students will love the messages inside and will definitely see themselves in the pages.
Check out this video from Instagram with even more of my favorites!
One of my favorite positive self-image activities for kids is a self-portrait. It’s important information to see how the students see themselves. We want to give students practice with drawing themselves and really seeing themselves. I give my students little mirrors to complete the activity so that they can sit and observe their faces. Then we talk about how we can draw the shapes we see. We discuss what shape our head is, our eyes, our nose, etc. I love seeing how students improve in their drawings throughout the year. We complete self-portraits three times a year, but I know teachers that do them monthly! Either way, it is great to see the progress throughout the year! You can get these self-portraits (in English AND Spanish!) here!
Another favorite positive self-image activities for kids is this traditions poster from my Holidays Around the World product. When nearing the December Holidays, I send home this poster paper and ask families to draw or print out pictures with a family tradition they love. Some children share about holiday traditions and others share about other family traditions! It’s a great way to learn about them and their families and it also helps with talking about identities, because traditions are an important part of someone’s identity! Children learn that other people might celebrate different holidays or celebrate holidays differently from them, and that’s ok! Differences are good! I always learn a lot of fun traditions from these posters!
Positive self-image activities for kids don’t have to be complicated, but can have a big impact for your students! I love using read alouds, self-portraits, and tradition posters with my class to start important conversations on identities, differences, and diversity! Let me know in the comments which one you are going to try with your students!