Listen on this page to the latest Prosocially Yours podcast with Dr. Jaime Dombrowski and Dr. Jodi Ann Mullen, discussing their experiences as a play therapist.
The Power Up program brings gamification and fun classroom activities to the teaching of social and emotional learning skills.
Students will enjoy the challenge of earning skill icons and navigating the Power Up game board, all while practicing valuable self-awareness and relationship skills.
Power Up lessons cover each of the core areas of SEL: self-awareness, self-management, social awareness, relationship skills, and responsible decision-making.
The fun, easy-to-use program offers step-by-step guidance on each lesson and the flexibility to tailor the program to your own students’ needs. You’ll find curricula for daily lessons, small groups, and virtual classrooms as well as all handouts and game materials. Power Up provides everything you need to introduce SEL skills:
- The program includes a complete curriculum for teaching the five core SEL skills in brief daily sessions across 30 lessons. As an alternate format, the included small group curriculum enables instructors to use the program to teach one skill domain in a concentrated six-to-eight-week period.
- The program offers scripts and adapted exercises for teaching the lessons virtually.
- Power Up sets up instructors for success, providing step-by-step guidance and classroom materials for all program curricula. Each lesson includes objectives and success criteria, handy lists of required materials, student handouts and game materials, and session outlines that provide instructors with suggested scripts, sequencing of activities, and teaching tips.
- You’ll find all game boards, icons, and classroom-display skill cutouts — all beautifully designed and ready to use.
- To help keep the sessions running smoothly, the program offers instructor materials for all versions of Power Up. Teacher supports include checklists, displayable lesson objectives, and sample permission forms and letters to parents and guardians — many available as downloadable files.
- The Introduction and Program Overview provides insight into the research informing Power Up as well as practical tips on implementation, further strengthening instructor confidence and program success.
Listen to this informative discussion on child-centered play therapy with Dr. Jaime Dombrowski and Dr. Jodi Ann Mullen, two outstanding play therapy experts and authors of great play therapy resources.
“As a school counselor, I appreciate the ready-to-use lessons that I can easily implement in a comprehensive school counseling program through classroom, group, or virtual sessions. Power Up is a practical SEL curriculum with strategies to teach students self-awareness, self-management, social awareness, relationship, and responsible decision-making skills. This valuable resource helps students learn and practice SEL skills throughout their school day. Dr. Dombrowski has created an innovative program grounded in SEL research that appeals to all educators.” – Donna Williams Lyons, Ed. S., School Counselor
“Power Up is a fun and engaging curriculum that uses a student’s natural interests to interact with appealing visuals and learn through play to enhance vital skills for their academic, emotional, and social success.” –Ashley Sanders, Licensed Mental Health Counselor
“Power Up is an excellent curriculum to help students learn and improve their SEL skills. Throughout my career I’ve always looked for ready to use and practical lessons that can be easily implemented, and Power Up delivers. School Counselors and teachers will enjoy the integration of gamification to facilitate the delivery of the SEL concepts.” –José A. Rivera Navarro, Ed.S., Mental Health Counseling Manager, Florida Virtual School
Reproducible forms and handouts for this title can be found on our downloads page.
Author Spotlight – Jaime Dombrowski
Power Up: Gamification Tools for Social and Emotional Learning
Author Jaime Dombrowski, PhD, holds degrees in educational psychology and counseling. She is also a licensed mental health counselor, registered play therapist, and a certified school counselor. In addition to serving as a school counselor, she has worked with children and adolescents in community mental health. Dr. Dombrowski currently serves as an SEL Specialist for Florida Virtual School and enjoys researching the most effective strategies to support students in their social-emotional learning journey, as well as grant writing to fund and support SEL efforts.
- How did you come up with the initial concept of Power up: Gamification Tools for Social and Emotional Learning? When I worked as a school counselor, my principal asked me to help teach vital social and emotional learning skills to our Kindergarten students. I was put on the electives rotation and went into their classrooms each day. I had so much fun coming up with the curriculum and ways to teach the students. From there, I started to create step-by-step lessons for teachers in other grade levels. I found that each class and teacher had such unique needs, the curriculum needed to be flexible so it could work for them. I told my husband about the curriculum I created and picked his brain for ideas on how I could make it more visually appealing. From there he suggested making the lessons into a game where students could earn achievements. I slightly altered the lessons I already created to fit this format, and we found that it was more engaging for students!
- Power Up is a flexible curriculum – instructors have the option of teaching it in daily or weekly lessons, within classrooms or in small groups. Is it more effective in large or small group-settings? Both the large group and small group options have benefits! With a large group, students hear about more varied and diverse experiences from their peers as they learn skills. Students can build strong relationships with their peers, and it creates a common language with a larger student group. Small groups allow all students to participate and for more in-depth discussion. Small groups also allow for more targeted follow up from the individual implementing the lessons.
- The Power Up game board includes icons that represent each skill learned. Using the board, how do counselors and therapists walk participants through the skill steps? The lessons give counselors and therapists step-by-step instructions on how they can introduce and explain the icons. In a nutshell, each icon has four bars that can be colored in. As a student is “caught” using a skill, one of these bars is colored in. Once the student has all four bars colored in, they have “powered up” in their skill level.
- What was the process in creating many of the lessons? I’ve done a lot of research over the years on evidence-based interventions. I took the research I had accumulated and worked with students to see what learning style resonated the most with them. From there, I built the lessons based on student responses to intervention.
- Do you envision this program being used in small groups, one-on-one, or in larger group settings? I envision this program being used in all formats! It will really depend on the school and teacher how it is used. Ideally, it would be used as a universal intervention at a school so that all students across all classes have the same language and can encourage each other to “power up” and become strong peer models. This program is also great for small groups and one-on-ones if the school already has another universal social and emotional program in place.
- How much of the skills are utilized in the controlled setting with the counselor or therapist, and how much are sent home for practice on their own? The skills are designed to be taught by teachers and reinforced at home. Letters to the parents included in each lesson so parents can be informed on what the students are learning and reinforce those skills at home. Even better, if students teach their parents the skills, they are reinforcing the skills even more.
- How adaptable is the curriculum across age groups as well? The curriculum could be easily adapted to other grade levels and used in special education classrooms. Teachers can review the curriculum and add information and increase rigor for secondary students. They can also review the curriculum and change the verbiage to be more developmentally appropriate for younger students. Power Up is so unique because teachers can make some small changes to meet their students’ individual needs!
- How is this curriculum more effective than other game-based programs? This curriculum is more effective than other game-based programs because interventions are research based and delivered in a fun and engaging manner. It also reinforces the skills being used over time and uses positive reinforcement to promote the use of social and emotional learning skills.