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Inside: a list of social skills, both external (interacting with others) and internal (your inner thoughts & feelings) with playful ways to practice them.
Recently I went to a symposium on play where Stuart Brown, author of Play: How it Shapes the Mind, Opens the Imagination and Invigorates the Soul, was speaking. I took off my mom yoga pants and put on real ones, drove to the symposium and sat down at a table. I pretended that I'm not an introvert and started talking to my neighbor. After I gave her my 30 second description of Encourage Play, she said “that sounds great but what does that really mean?”
Whoops. Something got lost in translation.
I always want to be as clear and helpful as possible for you. I thought it might be a good idea to start a list of social skills that kids can work on, with ideas of how to work on these skills, with simple games or activities to do to playfully work on these social skills.
External Social Skills
(Interacting with other people)
Play Red Light, Green Light
Play Mother, May I
Play Freeze Dance
Use a Solution Wheel
As you are reading a book with your children, stop and go through problem solving steps a character might take.
Use visuals to talk about flexibility - pipe cleaners, yarn and popsicle sticks
Watch videos of kids acting out being inflexible
Say the same sentence emphasizing different words, like “I can’t wait to go to school today”
When watching a tv show, point out when a character’s tone of voice or emphasis on a particular word changes the meaning of a sentence.
Play Would You Rather?
Play Uno - but first decide on which set of rules to play by. Two main questions to ask before you start to play
What do you do if you don’t have a match - just pick up one card, or keep going until you get a match?
How many cards do you need to pick up if you don’t say Uno?
Watch a video clip of the Seinfeld Close Talker to discuss personal space
Use this lesson and printable to discuss how your relationship with a person impacts your personal space
Body Language/Picking up on nonverbal cues
Watch this video clip from The Middle to talk about reading the family’s body language
Here’s a great body language charades game on Teachers Pay Teachers.
Disagreeing Politely and Respectfully
Watch Kid President’s ideas for disagreeing respectfully
While this blog post is written specifically to help teachers support reading discussions, there are some awesome suggestions for what to say when you disagree.
Internal Social Skills
(Your own internal thoughts, feelings & behaviors)
Expected vs Unexpected Behaviors
Read the book Wacky Wednesday
Complete a That’s Silly from Highlights Magazine
Use SunPrint Paper to see something unexpected happen when you leave the paper in the sunlight.
Make a puzzle and give it to someone
Write a thank you card to someone
Use a Zen Garden
Figure out how you can cope with difficult feelings by using the Coping Skills Checklist
The Untangle Game is great for working on patience (and other ideas for building character traits can be found here too)
Make your own DIY Scratch Art - you have to be patient while it dries!
Understanding that my actions impact others
Identifying my own feelings
Use a Feelings Thermometer to identify how you feel and what you do at each stage of your feeling
Use emojis or feelings faces to help kids identify how they are feeling.
Recognize the feelings of others
While watching a TV show, play I Spy. Make a chart of feelings faces, and when you see one, cross it off.
When reading a book, try to identify the feelings of the characters
Taking someone else’s perspective
Copy a LEGO creation with a partner
Cut out pictures from magazines. Put thought bubbles and talk bubbles by each person, and come up with ideas for what they are thinking and saying.
I’d love to get your feedback - what did I miss? Do you have any awesome ideas you’d love to share? Write to me and let me know!