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Teaching Critical SEL Skills Using Picture Books (PreK-3)

Does the prospect of finding a way to incorporate the teaching of critical social-emotional issues send you into a quandary? Do you have a deep love for using authentic children’s literature in your current teaching practices? If so, look no further! Social and emotional learning (SEL) is a process for learning essential life skills such as decision making, problem solving, effective communication, empathy, perseverance, and coping, just to name a few. Teachers are searching for the most effective ways to introduce and teach appropriate social-emotional skills in the classroom as they relate to common classroom issues, some of which can be quite sensitive, and which almost always are beyond their control. This online course provides the perfect approach by using high-quality picture books to deal with a variety of SEL issues from separation anxiety, kindness, and tattling, to poverty and homelessness, divorce, anger management, childhood health and obesity, teasing and bullying, and others. Teachers will be provided with thorough background information on each topic as well as the implications for the classroom environment and teaching. Then, each topic shares three authentic children’s books, together with lessons for each title. The course introduces lesson plans for forty-seven picture books. An additional list of picture books is shared for every single social-emotional topic presented in the course, as well as links to additional resources, as applicable. By the end of this course, teachers will feel more confident and successful in their quest to embed the teaching of social-emotional skills into their own teaching practices. This course is worth 3 ⅓ semester units/5 quarter units from UC San Diego Extension. For detailed information on university credit, click here.

"The content of the course was very appropriate for my grade and level that I teach. I enjoyed that each area of the course was paired with multiple picture books and a variety of activities to teach the idea. I now want to go buy many of the books presented in this course!!!" - Mary Reich


Enrollment Options

Register] Course Registration Only $160 with the discount

Register]Course Plus Credit from UC San Diego Extension Only $344


Required Resource Book: This course has a modestly-priced required resource book (available in both new and used versions) that can be purchased through Amazon using the following link. Note that you can begin and participate in your course before the book arrives.

"Using Picture Books to Enhance Children's Social and Emotional Literacy" by Susan Elswick

If you are registering for multiple courses, use the following link to access the book list for all PDI courses with direct purchase links through Amazon. PDI Course Resource Book List


Topical Outline / Click here to request a copy of the detailed syllabus

PDI Course Number: 123BXX

UCSD Course Number: EDUC40360

Unit One

  • An Introduction to Social-Emotional Learning
  • Setting Up the classroom to Foster SEL
  • Developing Social and Emotional Skills through Literature
  • Assignment #1: Write an autobiography/Write a reflection

Unit Two

  • Poverty and Homelessness
  • Child Abuse and Neglect
  • Divorce
  • Assignment #2: Develop a student plan

Unit Three

  • Childhood Health and Obesity
  • Separation Anxiety
  • Encouraging Individuality
  • Assignment #3: Design a SEL activity

Unit Four

  • Teasing and Bullying
  • Anger Management
  • Making Good Choices
  • Assignment #4: Respond to scenarios

Unit Five

  • Kindness
  • Fairness
  • Sharing
  • Assignment #5: Plan a hands-on SEL classroom activity

Unit Six

  • Tattling
  • Embracing Diversity
  • Friendship
  • Assignment #6: Write a reflection
  • Assignment #7: Reading/Learning Log (Based on required resource book)