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Extension > Youth Development > Training and events > SEL in Practice toolkit

SEL in Practice: A toolkit of practical strategies and resources

Social and emotional learning (SEL) includes learning to be aware of and manage emotions, work well with others, and work hard when faced with challenges. Youth programs develop SEL skills by creating opportunities for young people to engage in real-world projects, work in teams, take on meaningful roles, face challenges, and experience the emotional ups and downs that come along the way.

This toolkit includes activities, templates and tools organized around four ways to help support staff and youth in SEL. It was developed to go along with the 3-hour training, Social and Emotional Learning in Practice and related issue briefs. It is designed primarily for those working with youth in middle school, but with small changes the activities can be used for other age groups too. See the Introduction for an overview of how the toolkit was made. It can be read from start to finish, but it is not meant to be used in order. Select activities that meet your needs and fit with your program design. Get the most out of it by taking the Readiness Inventory first. Your responses will help identify sections of the toolkit that will be most helpful.


Download the entire toolkit.

This toolkit can be reproduced for educational purposes, but use this citation: Walker, K., Olson, B., & Herman, M. (2017). Social and Emotional Learning in Practice: A Toolkit of Practical Strategies and Resources. St. Paul, MN: University of Minnesota Extension.
woman helping 2 kids with art

Equipping Staff

Help your staff build their understanding of SEL by recognizing their cultural values and how their program aligns with SEL skills.

kids outside listening to man

Creating the Learning Environment

Look at the ways your program's routines, behavior expectations, and conflict resolution processes support SEL.

kids lined up outside

Designing Impactful Learning Experiences

Explore and include activities in your program that focus on developing all four of the Ways of Being.

boy writing on chalkboard

Using Data for Improvement

Use tools and templates to collect data from youth in your program to improve your SEL practices.


People who use this toolkit say:

"The toolkit offers suggestions for how to extend each activity, so that it can be customized based on the youth worker's knowledge of what works well for their group. I also love that the activities are rooted in practice with youth, that they would work in real youth work situations, not just on a theoretical level."

"It is easy to 'grab and go' and visually appealing. It is helpful that the exercises and activities are designed to be flexible and adapted to a particular program, rather than having to independently adapt or select from a full curriculum when it wasn't designed that way."

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