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Meeting people is a rich source for developing social skills such as making introductions, making polite conversations and observing good manners. After all, social skills are meant to be practiced in social situations.
Here are some simulation activities or strategies for teaching social skills to children in your classroom:
1. Round Robin Brainstorming
Before you do engage in other activities, use a round robin type of strategy that will help the students make a consensus of things that should and should not be done in particular social situations.
Divide the class into groups of 3 or 4. Assign a social situation for each group. For example, during meals, when talking to an older person, when asking permission, when making a request, etc. Give each group a sheet of paper divided into two. One side of the paper will have the phrase "I should...," and the other with "I should not...". Ask the group to form a circle. Each member in the group should write at least one social behavior under any of the two phrases. Give 30 seconds for each student to share his/her own ideas. After all the members have contributed something, ask the group to choose only 3 socially acceptable behaviors in the situation assigned to them. Limiting the number will help students remember them. Present the top 3 social rules to the class.
The brainstorming portion in itself is already a source for teaching social skills. Help the students to become aware of waiting for their turns patiently, of agreeing and disagreeing politely and of respecting other people's ideas. Allowing the students to create their own list of socially-acceptable behaviors gives the students a sense of accountability regarding their own behavior.
2. Hello, May I Talk To...?
To teach manners in using the telephone, ask your students to pretend to call you by using an old cordless or rotary, non-functioning phone. Before giving your pretend number to your students, remind them of how to speak politely on the telephone. During this activity, you could even ask a parent to volunteer to call the classroom phone to help assess how much your students have learned in speaking politely with a stranger and how to issue a request. Allot a minute or two for each student. Assign a specific time for each student, that way the other students can be doing another activity during this time and there are no distractions. Congratuate them if they did well. If not, ask them to try again.
3. Mix and Mingle
During recess or lunch, ask your students to bring a friend from another grade level or another class. Pair up students from your class to site together at lunch or recess. Ask your students to introduce the people they brought to their partner. In groups of 4, encourage them to eat together and start small conversations observing politeness and good manners. Before this activity, discuss with the class the polte way to make introductions and how to initiate polite conversations.
4. Small Requests
Orchestrate simple situations in which students can practice making requests or asking permission. You can ask y our students to go to the school clinic and ask for some bandages or you can also ask them to talk to the school janitor to mop up a spill. Explain to the faculty that your students will be making requests in your behalf and that they should be able to issue their request in a socially-acceptable way.
5. Interview with Mr. and Ms. Stranger
Inviite some of your friends to your class and ask your students to interview them. An interview is one of the best ways to observe proper behavior. From the moment that your students will meet their interviewees, they must be able to put their social skills into practice.
SInce these are simulation of real-life situations, it will require extra effort and time to plan out these activities. However, by using these strategies to teach social skills, your students will surely be able to apply theory into practice.
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