Social Emotional Learning Games for your Counseling Groups or Lunch Bunch

Early Elementary Counseling Games for Lunch Bunch

When it comes to your small counseling or Lunch Bunch groups, social emotional learning games are a phenomenal way of tackling big social skills topics and regulating even bigger emotions. 

Years ago, I hosted a Lunch Bunch for boys who felt ostracized at recess as a way of bringing them all together and making them feel a little less alone. For that group, freeplay Lego challenges worked wonderfully.

However, if there are specific targets you are looking to hit, you may want more targeted play to support your character education program.

Keep reading for some of my favorite ways to focus on refining social skills, reinforcing friendship skills and building confidence, through games.

(Don't miss the two freebies!)


Regulation Runway (A Free Game)

Regulation blue yellow green red counseling game

To play:
1. Purchase some foam play tiles in red, blue, yellow and green. You might be lucky to find these at your local dollar store or Walmart.
I’ve also seen them on Amazon.
2. Review the color coding for moods and feeling families (e.g., blue might represent sleepy, sick or sad).
3. Lay out your tiles to create a game board-type path.
4. Have your child/ren roll the dice and hop that many spaces. They will face each other and answer/ act out/ pose, based on the prompt + the color that they're standing on (e.g., When have you felt this way in class?; Do 10 jumping jacks like a feeling from this color family).
5. They will continue until they complete the path.
The goal: To create a simple, immersive minds-on prompt path to foster discussions surrounding feelings and emotions.


Jenga Blocks

Best Counseling Games for Kids

Jenga is such an open-ended tool that you can adapt to fit your child’s needs (& not to mention, teach self-control). The game is played the same way as the original rules (carefully remove a brick and return it without causing the tower to tumble), however, you can write a prompt on each brick to promote deeper conversations.


  • Breathing exercises on each
  • Conflict resolution scenarios asking how they would solve it
  • Discussion prompts (Would you Rather options are perfect for this)
Fun Games for Small Counseling Groups and Lunch Bunch A Girl Playing Twister

Using a Twister board, you can offer a safe space to show our reactions to a variety of social scenarios. For example: “You have to wake up extra early to get to school. How do you feel?”. 

Two students at a time can take their fly swatters and whack one of the emotion spots OR walk over and stand on the spot that describes their emotion. This helps us to understand childrens’ triggers, discuss coping mechanisms and strengthen relationships between students.

*Pro tip: The colors offered correlate to the Zones of Regulation, so you can make the emotions shown reflective of the category to which they belong.

Zones of Regulation Twister Game for Counseling Groups



      Kerplunk Game for Kids Therapy Counseling Sessions 

 Each child will get a chance to gently pull a stick without causing the marbles to fall. This game can be adapted by assigning each of the three colors to a prompt. Here is one way:

Orange Name something for which you are grateful.

Yellow Name one kind thing you do for others.

Green Name one thing you love about yourself.

Orange Talk about something that makes you angry.

Yellow Talk about something that worries you.

Green Talk about something that makes you happy.


Uniquely U Community Building Game

Community Building Game about Diversity Self-Esteem on Teachers Pay Teachers

How well do your students know each other? This icebreaker game helps them celebrate diversity and their unique ways of coping and problem-solving. Each child will take turns being the Question Master- answering a character education question about how they would react to a social scenario. 

For example:

A friend is feeling sad. I am more likely to:

a) Tell them a joke

b) Give them a hug

c) Ask how I can help

d) Hide behind a bush

The Question Master will hide their answer while the other players guess how they answered. The player/s who guess it right will advance a spot.

You can grab your Uniquely U game here.

Save the Drama for your Llama Social Skills Game

Save the Drama for your Llama Conflict Resolution Counseling Game

Each question targets either social skills, learning skills or emotional regulation. Each player will take turns answering a question that falls under one of these three themes: Solve a Prob-llama, All the Feels, or Skills Showdown. 

Draw an example of what responsibility looks like at home. 

Act out responsibility at school.

You will find the Save the Drama for your Llama game here

Coping Skills Bingo

Coping Skills Bingo on Teachers Pay Teachers

A classic game with an emotional regulation twist. In this beautiful watercolor Bingo game, students will be exploring different ways that they can cope with big emotions.

Mindful Me

 Yoga Mindfulness Game on Teachers Pay Teachers for Kids

This game was created with mornings and de-escalation in mind. It’s a low-impact body break (rolling dice and some gentle yoga stretching) to help prepare our bodies and minds for a day of learning ahead.

How to play: 

Each student will flip a coin to determine the number of spaces they will move. Once on their watercolor shape, they will roll the corresponding dice to grab their discussion prompt, I-Spy challenge or yoga pose. The first player to successfully gain a token from each color/ shape wins! Watch out for the lose-a-token heart spaces though!

Best Kids Yoga Game for Mindfulness


Community Builders

If students are coming to you during lunch break, it's imperative that we don't deprive them of the movement that their bodies so desperately need after prolonged learning periods. This best-selling Stand Up Sit Down game series is an absolute fan favorite and is the perfect blend of connection, with the razzle dazzle of motion (students will stand or sit to respond to the prompt). The added bonus is that we don't need to prep anything, and there is a mood check-in included in each set, making it the perfect way to begin a mini session.

Social Emotional Learning Cootie Catchers

Free Gratitude Cootie Catcher Activity for Kids
Fortune tellers are fan favorite games for any age. This FREE set includes pre-written ideas and blanks to customize to your class' specific needs.

Which games are your go-to in your small counseling groups?
Let me know in the comments!
You might also be interested in:
Counseling Bulletin Boards with Character

Choose SEL & Be Well, 

       Namaste in School

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