I am looking for lessons on friendship--making friends and keeping friends--for my elementary special ed class. They would need to be at a kindergarten or first grade level. Does anyone have any ideas? All of my students are lacking in social skills and one particularly tends to completely lose control if other students don't want to do what he wants.
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The best lessons on friendship are story-based. Look at the literature that your class might be reading, or look in your anthology. You can also ask your librarian for books at your grade level that are about friendship. When discussing the characters in a book, children are removed from the direct connection but can still learn and talk about traits of friendship safely.
Perhaps it would helpful to address this from the aspect of a today-friend vs the me-friend.
If you were able to do a lesson where students could draw a picture of themselves and then choose pictures that you have selected and cut out maybe in small squares or circles (a ball, a musical note, picture of a game board, Legos, art supplies, books, etc.), students could root through the choices and select those that seem to fit them best. One should say "ME," and another might be a blank that they can fill in with their own picture if you missed one.
In small groups, students might talk about the pictures they have in common and what they like about each thing. This might lead to "what makes a friend."
At some point, students could be directed to speak to how we can like people even when they don't "like" everything we like: that it's OK.
And ultimately, the "ME" piece could provide students with the sense that community is great fun, but sometimes playing alone or reading quietly is a special aspect of the individual as well.
Perhaps it would open some dialogue, and might even evolve over the year, allowing students to add items, much the way scouts do when earning a new badge.
Friendship is a concept kids struggle with as soon as they know such a thing exists. If the idea is presented that everyone is a friend, but that somedays we feel friendly and sometimes we'd feel better being a tomorrow-friend, it might help as long as students aren't always playing the "tomorrow" card. Some children may find friendship a more sophisticated concept than they are ready to tackle, so the ME-friend makes it OK to play alone. Friendship: that is some shaky ground.
I have two ideas.
There is a story "out there" called the parable of the long spoons. By itself, it is a scary story, so I would adapt it.
The idea is that hell is a place where people sit around a table with spoons too long to eat with, and so those people are starving. However, in another room, there is a similar set-up, where there is camaraderie and laughter as the same spoons are used to help each other eat.
In special ed., the story is heavy in its original form. Also, feeding each other with spoons might be dangerous. However, sitting on one hand and holding a dish with ice cream, partnered with another student doing the same, but hold ing a spoon, might get the point across, and everyone could take turns with their own dish and spoon.
Another group activity might be matching things that go together. A ballerina needs a slipper. A fireman needs a water hose. There are many instances where we can show a co-dependence, and if we personify things, a pencil's friend is his eraser; an ice-skate needs ice; and, a popsicle is hard to eat without a stick.
Hope this is of some help.
Not sure how you could use this, but in working with juvenile delinquents (teens mostly, but the maturity was low) and therapy through living together, when the group was having a problem "getting along" I often posed a challenge to them that they had to accomplish without speaking to one another. This meant communicating in other ways, obviously. If you could come up with a very SIMPLE task (like building something or navigating through an obstacle course, maybe even 3 legged race style) and not allow the students to talk (make it a game) it might work. You must specify that EVERYONE needs to "finish" in order for the team to win.
I often saw groups suddenly come together when they could not yell nor verbally disrespect one another. This allowed many to see strengths in others that they had not seen before.
A way to enforce the "not talking" part and keeping in the spirit of the game is to say something like, "If you use your voice, you lose your eyes." Then you blindfold kids who speak... it adds new physical challenges without taking them out of the game altogether. It also forces them to rely on others for help.
**The best part of the lesson comes at the end... when you talk about how well things went. With such young ages, I might have each student say one thing that each person did really well in the game, or name one person they got along with in a new way.
Something that we do with a lot of our special education students is to write social stories that deal with specific issues unique to our school and students. We can personalize a social story as much as we need to for the student. If you do an Internet search for social stories you will find information and pre-written stories, however we tend to have better luck writing our own.
Friendship is such an important thing to teach Kindergartners. Many kids come in to Kindergarten with prior social experience from pre-school, daycare, or Transitional Kindergarten, but many come in without proper social education. A great program for teaching elementary general education and special education classes friendship skills is the Kimochi program. My school has been using this program for many years and we have found that the kids love it and it really works. In short, the program features dolls called Kimochis with feelings. There is an entire curriculum to help the teacher teach about feelings, emotions, friendships, making friends, keeping friends, making good choices, how to be a good friend, etc. Many students who have trouble expressing their feelings have taken to the Kimochis to help with explain how they are feeling. The best part about using these dolls is the role playing that happens. I've found that by role playing with the dolls and the students, the class can best understand how to make the actions that we are role playing happen in real life. It's a great thing! I love having the kids role play with one another and also with me. Role playing the right way to do things vs. the wrong way to do things, really hits home with them.
Yes you are right, social stories are great for my kids and we use them often. I am looking more for something that can be used for a a group though, rather than individually. The basic idea of what a friend is and how to make and keep friends is something they all need to learn more about.
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