Friday, January 24, 2014

Social Skills Linky Party

Woo Hoo!  It is time for another great linky party hosted by Jenna at Speech Room News.  The topic is all about social skills!

Working on social skills is something I used to do on a regular basis before I became a SLP (back in the day I was a school counselor).  In my district, most of the work with social skills is done by our district behavior interventionist or school psych or counselor, so I pulled out my old travel drive from my school counseling days and uploaded some of the lessons I had written out.  I am glad I decided to keep my bibliotherapy collection of social skills picture books (that is the fancy term us counselors label our collection of therapy books) since I left the majority of my counseling materials with my co-counselor when I switched professions (and boy did I leave her some amazing stuff).  I'm sure most of us in speech pathology have heard of the Michelle Garcia Winner Social Thinking curriculum and Julia Cook books (glad I kept all of those , too!).  So I decided I would share some of the items from my counseling days that fit nicely with lessons we might do as SLPs. 

1)  The Way I Feel

I used this lesson for the book.  It is always a great idea to teach kids how to read emotions and facial expressions when first teaching about social skills.

And this is the drawing sheet that came with it.

2)  Velvet Words vs. Sandpaper Words

This is an easy activity that can be done in one session.  Unfortunately, I don't have an example of a completed one to show, but it is easy to describe.  Buy a pack of very rough sandpaper and a sample of velvet from a craft store.  Cut a 2 inch by 2 inch square of each and give each student both items one at a time.  We took a 9X12 piece of construction paper and folded it long ways in half and labeled one side Velvet Words and then Sandpaper Words  at the top of the other side (I model this on the white board as we do it together).  Then we feel the velvet square and we talk about how the velvet feels and why we like its soft texture.  Kind words and good manners can make us feel good just like the velvet.  Then we feel the sandpaper and discuss how the rough sandpaper makes us feel stressing that words can make us feel uncomfortable and even hurt someone.  We brainstorm examples of both types of words and list them under the correct category.  I always had a list of examples ready to help students get their brains going:  i.e. "Which type of word is please, thank you, you're welcome, ugly, get out of my way, I don't like you, you can't have it, etc.").

3) Social Skills Website

My upper elementary students used to visit this website with me to play some of the games on it such as
Let’s face it (identifying what people are feeling just by the look on their face),  Come Again (which has worksheets about idioms that can be printed or done on an interactive whiteboard), and Mirror Mirror (another one about facial expressions).  There are also lesson plans on the site as well.  The  site isn't fancy, but does a good job for the older students on your caseload.

4)  Personal Space Camp  (OK-  I had to sneak in one Julia Cook book)

So many of our kids, and often kids in general, have issues with personal space and boundaries.  The protagonist of this book learns great tools for understanding this abstract concept that you can practice with your students.  I always paired it with this "Touch the Can" lesson.
Touch the Can

Tools:  A group of objects that progressively gets smaller.  For example, begin with the beach ball, to a floor spot, small fuzzy object, dollar bill, quarter, and finally, a dime.
1.     Put the object in the center of the room.
2.     Ask the participants to each touch the object without touching any other person in the activity.
3.     Start with the large object, progressively using smaller and smaller objects.

4.    Groups usually achieve far more than they initially think possible in this activity, which is nice for building confidence in their abilities. 
5)  A House for Hermit Crab
A House for Hermit Crab by Eric Carle is a book you should be able to find in your school library.  It lends itself to discussions about what helps people make friends-  great social skills!  As you read it, ask your students how Hermit Crab felt the first time he stepped out onto the ocean floor, how he felt the second time, and why he was no longer scared.
Stress that Hermit Crab is an expert at making and keeping friends: he flatters the new sea creatures he meets and then asks them if they would help him.  I give them an example of what words I would use or what I would say to each of them to express what I like about each of them, as well as how you can ask for help when you need it (which many of our kids have a hard time doing).  Then let them practice giving compliments to each other or even to you! 

I like to also give them post-it notes that they can write words or phrases about what they like about me or a
volunteer in the group and we put the sticky notes all over the person (or me). We really take the time to talk
about HOW it makes the person feel when you give compliments.

6)  How To Lose All Your Friends
I'm sensing a trend...another book!  This one by Nancy Carlson.  Click here for the lesson I used with it in the past!
7)  Social Skills Jenga
Love a game to teach, and this is one that has pre-printed labels of questions you can attach to a Jenga game.
It can be ordered from here.
But, I just used an off brand version of regular Jenga where the blocks were different colors, and typed up a list
of questions that go with each color.  Students roll a die that comes with the game, and depending on the color
rolled, that is the block they have to remove after answering a question from that color category.
Mine came from Target about fifteen years ago, but you can still find them in most stores and on-line. 
What are your favorite tools for teaching social skills?


  1. These are great resources-thanks so much for sharing. I love the Julia Cook books!

  2. Great ideas! I bought an off brand Jenga at Dollar General for $4.

  3. I love the word Bibliotherapy! Thanks for linking up!