Distance Learning Without Screen Time: Ideas for School Counselors

The majority of students are currently learning online due to the Coronavirus Pandemic. Most of us have been doing it for a few weeks now and hopefully, you are starting to get the hang of it. After a couple of tear-inducing days, I finally have my counseling program smoothly converted to the digital world.

For my complete guide on counseling during distance learning, read this blog post.

But here's the complaint I keep hearing from parents' they want their kids to have less screen-time. I don't blame them. It is a lot! Now that everything has been moved online it's hard to find balance and these kids are missing recess, playing outside with friends, PE, and other opportunities to get active or do tactile tasks with their hands besides typing. Don't get me wrong, I love using Boom Cards and Google Slides activities with my students, but I do believe in finding balance. I have plenty of paper games and activities that I could send to students to print, but not everyone has access to a printer.

I was thinking of ways to support my students remotely with offline paperless activities and I decided choice boards were the answer! I know teachers who have been using these for ages but I have never tried one in counseling.

Click here or on the picture to download your choice board freebie!

What is a choice board?

A choice board is a basic visual of a grid with suggested activities in each box. Students can choose to do some or all of the activities. You can even make it a BINGO board where students have to cross off 5 in a row to form a BINGO!

How do I use a choice board?

Use a choice board to send students options for engaging social-emotional activities to do at home. These activities don't require a printer and aren't played online.

So what exactly are you sending?

I sent out social-emotional choice boards to all of my elementary students as an optional activity to do at home. I posted a PDF of the choice board in Google Drive. So yes, they have to log on to see the board, but they don't have to print it and they don't need to use the computer again after viewing the board. All of the activities are things they can do around their house offline.

What type of activities should I put on my choice board?

You can download my social-emotional choice board for free here or you can create your own! The one I created has a variety of SEL activities with topics ranging from gratitude, mindfulness, stress relief, etc. You can include a combination of topics or stick to a specific theme. Customize it to fit your students' needs.

Ideas:

Mindfulness

  • Take 5 deep belly breaths.

  • 5 senses check-in: notice what each of your senses is experiencing.

  • Listen to a guided meditation or write your own!

Gratitude

  • Go on a gratitude scavenger hunt to find things around your house you’re grateful for.

  • Write a letter to a friend you appreciate.

  • Set a timer and write down as many things as you can that you are grateful for.

write a letter to a friend

Stress Relief

  • Make a stress ball.

  • Visualize your favorite place in the world.

  • Go for a long walk or run!

Self-Esteem

  • Create a collage of positive affirmations.

  • Write a silly song about yourself.

  • Paint a picture of you in 10 years.

paint a picture

Self-Regulation

  • Look in a mirror and act out how you feel in each color zone.

  • Find items around your house to put into a coping strategies toolbox.

  • Use a balloon to practice taking deep breaths.

Have you used a choice board before? Do you think this would be a good fit for your students? Leave a comment, I'd love to know!

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