School’s in session, and the opportunities for Social Emotional Learning have multiplied many times over as kids spend their entire day with 15-30 other children, some they’ll love, some they’ll like, and well, some we may never find out about or hear complaints about way too often.
How can you maximize these opportunities for learning if you’re not in the classroom?
Bring the classroom home!
The following art project is a fun way for your family to spend time together and really get to know your child’s daytime world, more so though, it creates a platform for your child to practice self awareness, empathy, and conflict resolution in a safe space, before heading back out into the classroom and handling any challenges that may occur.
See below instructions for art project, as well as ideas for how to use them to practice each social emotional learning skill mentioned above.
Materials you will need:
Wide popsicle sticks
Yarn or construction paper (brown, black, yellow or beige) or Construction Paper
Bits of torn cloth (old clothes is great for this)
A thin paint brush
Ask your child how many children in the class they’d like to start with, (make sure they include themselves) building an entire class can be a great challenge, some children may be up for it, but others may want to start with their table, or their row, or some other preferred group. Encourage your child to pick outside their circle of friends only. This activity works well because over time, it should include everyone, and you’d really like to get them to appreciate the differences between them and the children they may not end up being so close too. If your child is new to this school, or has never been in a class with these group of people, then this activity could be helpful in exercising conversation starting with potential friends.
Make a list of all the children in the class, and circle those you have decided to start with.
Start crafting! Use a marker to write one of the names chosen on the back of each popsicle stick until you have gone through your list.
With the markers, draw a face on the first person, ask your child to think about eye shape, eye color, nose, mouth, this encourages awareness of others.
With the yarn or construction paper, cut hair and stick it to the top of the popsicle stick, again, ask them to think about this person’s hair, do they wear it in a certain style? Is it short, long? If they don’t know, its OK, they can always change it later. Getting to know the people in your environment is a great way to facilitate social awareness.
Use pipe cleaners to make the arms and legs by wrapping them around the popsicle sticks and stretching them out.
Cut pieces of cloth to make tiny shirts, shorts, pants, skirts, or dresses.
Spread glue over the pipe cleaners and visible parts of one side of popsicle stick where clothes will be laid down.
Press clothes on to your popsicle stick person on one side. Let dry for 5 minutes.
Repeat step 8 on second side.
Press clothes down on 2nd side, let dry for 20 - 30 minutes so glue sets.
Activity for Self Awareness
How was your day?
Ask you child to act out parts of their day with their popsicle sticks classmates, as they act out, see if you can gauge what they were feeling at that time and start a conversation about it. If they act out a positive part of the day you can say something like, I bet you felt really inspired (or whatever feeling you noticed in their acting) when that happened! This will help them connect to their positive feelings about situations. Do the same for negative situations. The idea in this activity is for them to start to notice what feelings they have about situations in their day to day life.
Activity to Develop Empathy
I feel you…
This is a great activity to help your child step into other people’s shoes, may it be classmates or the teacher. During times where your child is being challenged by someone, or they share a story of how other people are having challenges, use your popsicle classroom to develop empathy by asking some of the following questions about situations.
How do you think that person felt?
What led you to believe that, was it their tone of voice? Their facial expression?
Do you think there is something you or someone else could have done to help?
Practicing this will help children to learn how to understand emotional cues in their environment, be sensitive to others, and be able to either give them the space they need, or lend a helping hand.
Activity for Conflict Resolution
Hash it Out
Often times children have confrontations or uncomfortable situations with classmates they may not be equipped to handle, turning into avoidance, resentment, and frustration. This activity gives them an opportunity to play through possible resolutions.
1. Ask your child to act out the uncomfortable situation they are facing. 2. Ask them how it makes them feel & how it makes them want to act. 3. Explore the results/consequences of those actions together. 4. Ask your child for 2 or 3 other ways to handle this situation and have him/her act it out. 5. Support your child in deciding the best way to handle this situation, and try it in real life. 6.Make sure to follow up and celebrate their effort, and remember, even if it didn’t work out the way they planned, it is their effort in positive conflict resolution that matters.
Enjoy working with your kiddos!