Building Foundational Skills

This is a unit from the Relationships Initiative Curriculum. See the full resource collection on the Relationship Initiative homepage.

The activities in this section help students develop some of the foundational skills for building relationships and developing strong, inclusive communities. Successful communities require that community members understand their own feelings and learn healthy ways to process them, that we learn to engage in dialogue about various topics without it devolving into unproductive debate, that we learn to listen deeply to one another, and that we use inclusive language that is not harmful to others. The  activities in this section require moderate or low vulnerability and should be done before students are asked to share deeply about their lives so that such sharing is as safe as possible.

Supplemental Videos

Use these playlists to begin talking with your young people about feelings, communication, and responses to stimuli. The videos linked here introduce some concepts like feelings, empathy, and self-awareness, and we’ve also tried to link some videos that offer tools to practice mindfulness and check-ins for when we feel nervous, frustrated, upset, or otherwise activated. These are great videos to come back to every day! As you preview these with students, model reflection and learning by sharing your own thoughts and connections, and invite students to reflect, journal, and discuss using some or all of the questions below: 

  • What do you know about feelings? What do you want to know more about? 
  • What helps calm you down when you feel activated or upset? 
  • How do you try to help others when they are upset? 
  • What kinds of things cause you to feel activated? When do you usually need breaks? 
  • What is empathy? How can we practice empathy? 
  • How do we practice good listening? 

Browse videos below by age group. Do you have a video or activity that might help other teachers talk about building foundational skills? Share it using our submission form.

Daniel Tiger’s Neighborhood: What Do You Do with the Mad that You Feel? Song
For Kindergarten – 3rd Grade

POP Checks: Series from the Michigan Learning Channel
For Kindergarten – 3rd Grade

BrainCraft: Are Your Emotions Contagious?
For 6th – 12th Grade

Lessons from this Unit

You can also download the full Relationships Initiative curriculum as a PDF.