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10 Smart Products That Support Social-Emotional Learning

by Vannessa Rhoades 20 Jun 2023
10 Smart Products That Support Social-Emotional Learning

Throughout their development, children engage in some of their most meaningful learning experiences beyond the confines of the classroom. Social-emotional learning (SEL) is an essential part of this learning journey, building critical interpersonal and social skills essential for effective communication throughout their lifetime. SEL includes skills like learning to manage emotions, establishing objectives, making choices, and demonstrating self-control. Social-emotional learning in the classroom has also become increasingly popular, from elementary school through the teen years. Teachers who build social-emotional skills into their lesson plans frequently concentrate on helping students cope with daily problems so that they’re more likely to thrive in school, with friends, and in life.

How to Choose Products That Support SEL for Kids

Social and emotional learning is most effective when introduced early in a child’s development. Play-based learning through toys is an excellent way to do this. The best social-emotional learning products for kids offer a chance for them to develop at least one of the five fundamental SEL core competencies:

  • self-awareness
  • self-management
  • social awareness
  • relationship skills
  • responsible decision-making. 

There are a wide variety of social-emotional learning tools and techniques available to help children build these skills, from games and books to dolls and stuffed animals. Toys that promote collaboration, simulate real-life situations, and facilitate nurturing practices are particularly effective for advancing social-emotional skills in children. Opt for uncomplicated toys that offer meaningful play experiences. Try to stay away from toys that simply require the child to press a button. Kids need to actively engage in imaginative play and explore scenarios that encourage them to practice using their social and emotional skills. Here are ten wonderful products we recommend to support social-emotional learning for children of all ages.

Best Overall SEL Product

The Slumberkins Collection allows parents and caregivers to incorporate social-emotional development from the comfort of their own homes. With kid-friendly books that reinforce positive social-emotional skills and adorable fuzzy snugglers with a world of feelings kids can relate to (like stress, anger, gratitude, family bonding, and more), parents can spend time helping their little ones improve their social-emotional learning skills.


Best Doll Play Toys for SEL

Doll play offers the opportunity for kids to imitate scenes and interactions from their daily lives. It also allows them to practice key social skills and language about others' thoughts and emotions. In fact, recent studies have shown that children talk more about others' thoughts and emotions (a concept known as internal state language, or ISL) when playing with dolls than while playing tablet games. Talking about others' internal states lets kids practice social skills and empathy when interacting with people in the real world and potentially benefits their overall emotional development.

    • The Playdate Friends by Manhattan Toy is a collection of soft-bodied, fully embroidered dolls and outfits that are machine washable and dryer safe. Each doll features a cute little stuffie companion for all sorts of imaginative play. The doll outfits and the stuffed animal companion outfits are fully removable and interchangeable.


    • Let your child carry their favorite doll just like how mom and dad used to carry their little one with this adorable Ergobaby Doll Carrier. Designed for front or back carrying positions, it comes with adjustable and padded straps for comfort.


    • The VALCO BABY Princess Doll Stroller is a traditional and elegant doll stroller that sets the bar for style and quality that is fitting for a Princess. With a roomy bassinet to fit most size dolls and many handmade features, this stroller will not only provide hours of play for your child but will also be a centerpiece for your nursery.


    • Just as soft and breathable as the original, Aden & Anais Doll Blankets are perfect for letting your little one lovingly wrap up their doll and practice showing the same love, empathy, and comfort they get from you.

Best Books for SEL

Parents can support both their children’s literacy skills and their SEL development by thoughtfully incorporating meaningful books. Here are a few of our favorites that can help children learn valuable skills about themselves, others, and the world around them.

    • Show baby around the house in a book that’s indestructible! Indestructibles: Home Sweet Home is one of the books in the Indestructibles trusted series for easing little ones into storytime. Beloved by babies and their parents, Indestructibles are built for the way babies “read” (i.e., with their hands and mouths).


    • So Embarrassing: Awkward Moments and How to Get Through Them reminds kids that they’re not alone! No way are they the first kid who ever tripped and fell in public. Or spilled water on your pants so it looked like… you know! For those moments and more, this is the book that understands what kids are going through and gives them pointers on how to manage.


    • Life is unpredictable, and bad days happen. While ice cream may not be a cure-all, when combined with encouraging advice it can be just the pick-me-up a kid needs to keep going. Bad Day Ice Cream: 50 Recipes That Make Everything Better is a fun, tongue-in-cheek cookbook that offers 50 unique recipes to help kids get through any bumps in the rocky road.

Best Games for SEL

Playing games is a great way to connect and learn about everyone who is playing. In addition, it creates natural teachable moments to work on social skills.


    • The Shelbys Snack Shack Game is a preschool counting bone-anza featuring a summer day trip to a dog beach! Shelby buried bones in the sand and needs help collecting them. Kids help her dig up the most bones and win! Your child will learn about taking turns and following directions, while they practice early counting and number skills.


    • Bluey Shadowlands Family Board Game is a loveable, six-year-old Blue Heeler dog, who loves to turn everyday family life into endless, playful adventures. She loves to create and play unique games with her family and friends.


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