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CREATIVE WAYS TO TEACH 5 BASIC SOCIAL SKILLS TO YOUR STUDENTS

 

We all know how important it is to teach and support social skills. Year after year I see more and more children struggling to engage in even very basic social skills. 

It’s important to teach social skills, explicitly in many cases, to our students. From kindergarten, all the way through elementary school…and in some cases, beyond.

Here are the 5 basic social skills that I like to teach in the kindergarten classrooms that I service: 

 

Sharing

Cooperating

Taking Turns

Using Kind Language

Respecting Personal Space

 

 

 

Below are some creative ideas for how to teach these important social skills in your day-to-day teaching. I hope you find some helpful ideas that you can quickly and easily add to your routine.

 

Sharing Ideas: Create many opportunities for your students to share by making materials limited. For example, during a cut and paste activity, put out one less glue stick than number of children at the table. Support children in their efforts to share. *Note: Do not just tell them to “share” but rather lead them toward figuring out that they will need to share and how to do it.

 

 

To teach sharing in a more explicit way, I use the following activities that you can find in my shop:

In my Sharing packet, students learn how, what and why to share. The first activity is to explicitly teach student how to share. There are 4 ways to share, choose the best way to match the item or situation.

This give kids options that they didn’t even know they had!

 

 

In the second activity, students learn what they should and should not share and discucuss why. Laminate the board and cards and use velcro to attach the cards. Kids love doing this sort!

Two boards are provided, one with the “It Depends” column, great for kids who are ready to discuss why we should/shouldn’t share certain things, and one with just a “Do Share” and a “Don’t Share” for those who need a more basic approach.

 

 

The third item in this pack is a set of visuals for the “Jobs of The Speaker” and the “Jobs of The Listener.”  Sharing the floor for talking is a H-U-G-E challenge for many of our students. I love using these cards to teach my students about their role as a listener and as a speaker. 

Once the students learn their “jobs” it’s super easy to give them a quick cue during conversations to help them use the skills. The “Jobs of The Listener” are shown below. The “Jobs of The Speaker” are also provided in the Sharing packet as well as handy desk strips.

 

CLICK HERE or on any of the pictures to take a closer look at this activity in my shop.

 

LOVE FREEBIES?!

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To join The Teacher’s Lounge and receive these beautiful Sharing Posters, and many more social skills freebies, just fill out the form below!

 

 

Cooperation Ideas: Provide creative opportunities for your students to cooperate.  Give students classroom jobs that require 2 people (or make the job require 2 people even if it is not really necessary), instead of every student having their own job. For example, one student picks up the markers, the other holds the bin. Could picking up markers be done by 1 person…SURE, but let’s turn it into an activity to practice cooperation (not to mention teamwork and negotiation).  Give students extra recess time for working together and cleaning up the classroom quickly.

 

Turn Taking Ideas: Reinforce turn taking by highlighting it whenever you can. For example, when asking a question and calling on children who are raising their hands, tell them who you will call on for the next two or three turns, i.e. “I will call on Sue, Eddie, then Jessie.” The students will know that they are expected to wait, but will get a turn soon. This helps children with self regulation challenges practice waiting while decreasing anxiety.

 

Complimenting Others Ideas: Give them the words! Have a word wall with great compliment words and other positive words. Increase student vocabulary with awesome words like; adventurous, courageous, diligent, reliable, sincere, witty…You could even assign points to words…1 point words (nice, fun, cool), 2 point words (thoughtful, generous, curious), 3 point words (courageous, diligent, powerful). 

Have a marble jar dedicated just for compliments. Add a marble to the jar every time you hear one student give another student a thoughtful compliment. When the jar is full, celebrate! 

Have a “Star Student” of the week. In a homemade booklet, classmates write things they like about the star student, memories they have, or compliments about the student. At the end of the week, let the star student read their booklet, thank the class, and take it home.

 

Personal Space Ideas: Personal Space: Have table groups? Use masking tape to mark each student’s space by placing tape lengthwise down the center of the table then going across to make a box for each child’s personal space. Have students try to keep their belongings and elbows in their space.

You can also do a similar thing with spots on the rug. Using masking tape, create shapes for children to sit in. Make them big enough for children to be comfortable and an appropriate distance apart from each other.

 

 

BONUS SKILL… {it was so hard to just pick 5!}

 

Waiting. Similar but different to Taking Turns, waiting is such an important skill to explicitly teach our young learners {and any age child who struggles in this area.}  Many children want/expect immediate gratification and this, of course, is not realistic in school or in life. Teaching children to accept waiting is a bigger need than ever these days. 

Waiting differs from Taking Turns because you may not get a turn, you may raise your hand and not get called on. You may need to wait until the lesson is over and there is some free time, to tell your story or ask your question. This concept is quite literally painful for a lot of my students. Which is why we must talk about it, teach it, practice it and reinforce it.

The best way I can think of to teach, practice and reinforce waiting, in your day-to-day interactions, is to be sure to purposefully have your students wait as much as possible when appropriate situations present themselves.

For example, when you are talking to Suzie and Billy comes up and interrupts to ask you a question…simply put your hand up in the “stop” position and continue talking to Suzie, even if just for a moment. Resist the urge to say anything to Billy such as; “Just a minute” or, “Remember, no interrupting” which still gives him attention and often is just the opening little Billy’s everywhere need to get their question out!

If you focus on doing this, you will start to notice how often you let kiddos get away with not waiting…simply because, as teachers, it is in our dna to want to help kids and it can feel mean or rude to “ignore” them. But it is oh so important to do so at times. 

Some children need much more explicit teaching than this in-the-moment strategy.

Below are activities I use to work on waiting with my students:

 

The first activity teaches students when they may need to wait. This activity comes in pictures and text, and just text. Here is an example of the pictures:

 

 

And here is an example of the text only cards…

 

 

The next activity teaches the students strategies they can use when waiting is hard. It is important to break down and practice EACH strategy and find which ones work best for your student(s). This activity also comes with picture/text cards and text only cards, shown is a sample of both.

 

 

The next activity is a fun behavior sort. Laminate the pages and cards and add velcro to each. Kids love doing this activity! Included is  a set of picture/text cards and text only cards. Also included is a behavior chart that looks just like this one but has an additional “It Depends” column in the middle. This column is great for kids who are ready for some deeper thinking. If they want to put a card in the “It Depends” column, they must explain their answer and the teacher must approve it.

 

 

Also included are 2 social stories. One with text and pictures and one with only text.

 

 

CLICK HERE or on any of the pictures to take a closer look at this activity in my shop.

 

I hope you find some helpful tips here! Leave a comment below if you have any questions or suggestions that I may be able to help you with.

 

Thanks So Much and Happy Teaching!

Cindy ~Socially Skilled Kids

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