COVID-19 SUPPORT: Psycho Social Skills, Signs and Gestures to Support Learners

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During the current period of lock down much learning is continuing on line. Here is a collection of activities and games that can facilitate the development of psycho social emotional skills. They were developed from the Labour Government social emotional behavioural strategies under open government license and then adapted for a psycho-social emotional skills project supported by UNICEF and VSO for Education in Emergencies in Ethiopia by a pan African collective of volunteers who became known as the Hyena Squadron The evidence is clear that education in emergencies needs to focus on psycho-social emotional skills which can be taught.

We now have an emergency across the world and these resources are badly needed for children who may have limed access to social interaction.

Together Gestures, Signs and Psycho Social Skills games and activities could be powerful resources for children.

These resources were intended to be translated into Amharic, Oromo and Somali and contextualised by local educationalists.

  1. the English Version of the manual
  2. the English Version of the toolkit.
  3. a couple of stories from around the world to stimulate talk about Psycho Social Skills
  4. a presentation about the evidence and rationale for why psycho social skills are an important part of education in emergencies

This initiative is grateful to the synergies from MESHGuides, Extinction Rebellion Canterbury, VSO, and UNICEF who are independent groups that have worked separately to create these resources.

There are also helpful posters in the toolkit

Signs have been used for a long time to help people to communicate.

Linda Hogdon recently has made the suggestion that, at this time, they are also useful for children and adults who want to communicate using web based video collaboration. Often participants have to switch off their microphone while another person speaks so that signs can be used to communicate to the speaker while they are speaking.

There are two resources that can be used and may compliment each other. We suggest that these signs and gestures can be used to support the development of psycho-social skills using the activities in the above packs

* Makaton signs.

These were developed to support communication in education.

Here is a link to some useful Makaton signs.

Extinction Rebellion gestures

have evolved during the occupy movement. They facilitate the flow of information in meetings and aim to support inclusion and participation. There are only a few to learn and are easy to learn.

Here is a guide to XR gestures (courtesy of Bristol Live Newspaper)


If you want further information or wish to comment or contribute to these resources then contact the Hyena Squadron

A mesh guide based on this work is in development. Project website :

Evidence and Guidance on Psycho Social Support during emergencies is available here:
International Agency Guidance on Psycho Social Support