Social Emotional Learning
Using Improv in Schools to Teach SEL.
We have developed a new program for schools using Improv to demonstrate SEL via assembly
shows and workshops.

Social Emotional Learning - Using Improv in Schools to Teach SEL


Social and emotional learning (SEL) is the process through which children and adults acquire
and effectively apply the knowledge, attitudes, and skills necessary to understand and manage
emotions, set and achieve positive goals, feel and show empathy for others, establish and
maintain positive relationships, and make responsible decisions.

Our programs have dealt with these issues for years – using different language to achieve
similar goals – so customizing to the new trend in education was easy. We use Improv to
address community and leadership skills. Creative writing, team, listening, focus, public
speaking, self-confidence and more. Our Improv is great for Cultural Arts programming (Music,
Theater), Language Arts (Creative Writing, Public Speaking etc) and Character Building
(Leadership, Anti Bully etc).

Social Emotional Learning
Using Improv in Schools to Teach SEL

Your feelings / emotions are valid - Others feelings / emotions are valid
You have a right to feel, but need to take responsibility on how you act out upon those feeling
Be supportive and thoughtful towards your own and others’ feelings / emotions
In our new curriculum we have pulled from both our workshops and assembly programs.

This Master Class in emotions starts with our lead teaching artist speaking about the history of acting.
Back in the day actors did not try to feel real emotions on stage for fear of illness. Instead they learned masks.
The study in acting actually involved memorizing 10 faces that represent various emotional states. They would
make a face and project a line – Hence the comedy/tragedy masks of fame.

We play the MASK game.

Sitting on the floor we are surrounded by masks.

Students are instructed to sit quietly in a “neutral” state. The face is relaxed.

The teacher then instructs students to put on the mask of (insert emotion here). Remain sitting and take on that
the traits of that emotion. Breathe, make a face, make simple noises. Keep movement to a minimum so as not
to smack your neighbor in the face.

Remove the mask and return to a quiet neutral state.

Discussion – What happens when you feel that emotion?

We keep the parameters to a minimum because the statements of the children are very telling. When an actor
plays this game we think of how the breath and body change with each emotion. But children go farther sharing
they want to hit things when they are mad etc

These create amazingly powerful teaching moments very specific. We continue to reinforce how important it is
to realize your valid in feeling your emotions.

We need to respect others emotions.

While we cannot apologize for feeling emotions, we are responsible for what we do with those emotions.
Violence and meanness are never acceptable. Let your self feel emotions but not act on them without thought.
Breaking property is never justifiable. It is never okay to physically, mentally or emotionally hurt another human
being. Even when we are happy we should never put our hands on another person’s body unless it is

Repeat process for a few basic emotions.


The players perform an Improv Game. EMOTIONAL CARPOOL (Also known as Hitch Hiking Emotions)
requires four players to enter a car. Each player is assigned an emotion. As a player enters the car, anyone in
the car takes on the new emotion. Once all four player are in the car the emotions revert back to the previous.

DISCUSSION – we return to discussion of emotions. What did the actors do to perform these emotions? How
did you feel when the actors performed these emotions. Did anyone hit or otherwise hurt each other when
angry, sad or scared?


Now we will play a game with some audience help (up to 10 volunteers)

The machine is started with one of our players creating a simple repetitive motion and sound.

A second player connects in some way to the first and adds their own motion and sound.

Then we direct the students to join the machine one at a time. Eventually we have 10-12 individuals working
together to create some imaginary factory machine.

The host / MC than conducts the machine.

Many of us have learned to look out for ourselves. In Improv our goal is to make the rest of our team look great.
So while we are busy making the others look good, they are all looking out for us. Instead of being one flying
solo, you have 10-20 friends watching your back and routing for your success which is so much more fun.


The professional cast takes stage one last time to perform a traditional scene game that demonstrates
encountering emotions is pseudo realistic situations.


We leave the students with this thought. We are able to create scenes on the spot because we each respect
the other. We support each other. We trust each other. Creating a safe space to create allows us to freely
share without fear of failure or judgment.

As time permits we open the discussion to questions from the audience.

ASSEMBLY SHOWS – using interactive games that teach emotions to get students more
comfortable feeling – and talking about – emotions

Check out our SHOWS and CLASSES in Times Square for the whole family