20 paper chain activities for Emotional literacy - Elsa Support

20 paper chain activities for Emotional literacy

Watching ‘My Violent child’ last week on Channel 5 and watching Jane Evans working with the mum and child to create a paper chain reminded me of other activities you can do with a paper chain. Jane was working on things the mum and child had in common. Each link was something they had in common so the challenge was to make the chain as long as possible.

Gratitude Day 12 2


Some other activities using paper chains:

  • Put children into pairs and challenge them to find things out about each other. If they have something they both like or is a common interest then they can put a link on the paper chain.
  • Working one to one with a child, ask them about their goals. Each goals is a link in a paper chain. They can hang their chain up in the room to remind them of their goals.
  • Working one to one with a child, ask them about their strengths, use my strength cards to prompt. They write each strength on a paper chain link and link it together. They have a chain of strengths. Great for self esteem.
  • Class friendship chain – I have done this a few times. Each child writes their name on a link and they are all linked together to create a class friendship chain to hang in the classroom.
  • Paper chain of wishes – either working one to one and a child writes their wishes or dreams on a link and creates a paper chain or the whole class or group can create a paper chain of wishes.
  • Gratitude chain – something the child is thankful for. Write something on each link – helps to look at the positives in life.
  • Memory chain – a chain of memories could be used for bereavement or loss. Something the child remembers about the missing person.
  • Emotions chain – how many emotion words can the child, group or class think of. One on each link.
  • Conversation chain – work in a group and choose a topic. Each child that contributes by talking can add a link to a chain. How long can they talk about the topic?
  • Self harm, habits or giving up something – each day you go without the habit you can add a link – so it might be giving up thumb sucking, or giving up sweets.
  • Counting down – How many days until ‘dad or mum’ return from deployment. Create a paper chain of that many days and take off a link each day. A great visual for a child to see the chain getting smaller. Another suggestion could be counting down until Christmas, birthday or other celebration.
  • Reward chain – good work, effort, etc. A child adds a link and can visually see how much effort they are putting into their work.
  • Friendship chain – each child writes something nice about a person in the class. That person gets the chain to take home. You could do one child each week.
  • Happiness chain – write all the things that make you feel happy on each link
  • Proud chain – write all the things that make you feel proud on each link.
  • Family chain – each family member puts a link in the chain.
  • Positives chain – all the positives in the child’s life
  • Worry chain – Get a each child to make a chain of all their worries, get the group together and each time a child tells everyone about their worry they can get rid of a link in the chain.
  • Autograph chain – ask each child to get an autograph from someone in the group and then they can link it together to form a circle of friendship. Benefits of this are when children first work together they can be quite shy and may not know each others names so it encourages them to speak to each other.
  • Calming down strategies – each link has a calming down strategy which the child must come up with.

Any more ideas please comment below this post and I will add them.

Download a paper chain with space for writing

Paper chain blank

Paper chains available from the ELSA Store

If you don’t have paper chain links to hand use colourful paper clips. Children absolutely LOVE linking those together.

Use chains of dolls or people to teach specific things for example this blog post on what happens to others when a child shows a specific behaviour. Write the child’s name in the first doll and the consequences on the other family members on the other dolls. This could be adapted in a conflict situation. For example the people affected by a child’s behaviour on the playground, using the principles of restorative practice. Child A punches Child B, Child B is affected, teacher or adult is affected, the parents of Child B is affected, Parents of Child A is affected, First aider is affected and so on.

Also use a chain for dolls and ask the child to give each doll a different expression – happy, sad, angry, scared, shocked, surprised, disgusted etc.


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