10 January Social Skills Activities that You Can Do at Home

10 January Social Skills Activities that you can do at home.

Disclosure: This blog contains affiliate links and if you go through them to make a purchase, we will earn a commission. Keep in mind that the link is for the product and their quality and relationship to the content not because of the commission that is received from your purchases. The decision is yours, and whether or not you decide to buy something is completely up to you.

I don’t know about you but January often feels long and is cold which mandates continuous indoor time and the need to find activities.  Here are ten activities that you can do with your child(ren) while working on social skill development. 

  1. Keep the balloon up in the air

You will need a balloon for this activity.  (You don’t want the balloon filled with helium as you want it to fall back to the ground and not stay at the ceiling). Tell the child that they must keep the balloon from touching the floor.  Encourage your child to count how many times they hit the balloon before it hits the ground.  This activity works on teamwork and communication skills especially if played between siblings or with another peer.

  1. Scavenger Hunt

A scavenger hunt is a great way to work on the social skills problem solving, taking turns and working together. Utilize the cards below to create a fun and engaging scavenger hunt throughout the house.

You can down a PDF version of the scavenger hunt below.

  1. Emotion Charades or Emotion Pictionary

Act out emotions or draw out emotions.  Feelings in a jar can be used to act out the emotions if you’d like.

You can also play the game Feelings in a Flash.  This game focuses on feelings and how to cope with each feeling while building confidence and empathy.

  1. Play the conversation alphabet game

This game utilizes every letter of the alphabet to discuss a topic.  For example if the topic is food, you would go through the alphabet A is for Apple, B is for Blueberry, C is for Casserole…. O is for oatmeal….. S is for Salmon and so on.

  1. Have a staring contest.  

Making a contest out of eye contact not only practices the skill of eye contact but can be really challenging for some children.

  1. Read a book about emotions and feelings

Some of our favorite books related to emotions and feelings include…

The Color Monster is  a great book that helps to unpack feelings that we all experience through colors.  This book can help open the discussion about how your child is feeling and help them relate feelings to situations.

The Way I Feel is a great book that helps children connect words to emotions.  It also discusses the acceptance of emotions and how we feel throughout the day in a non judgemental way through the exploration of many emotions not just our “negative emotions.”

For the child who loves superheroes, Even Superhero’s have bad days is a great book that discusses how everyone has bad days, even superheroes. It depicts that when superheroes have bad days it can get bad for everyone but superheroes can also utilize their superpowers to help gain control of their strong emotions of anger and frustration and cope in a more positive way.

  1. Play Pretend Restaurant

This activity can be done with pretend food or Playdough and it works on manners.  You can practice role modeling manners by being the customer while your child is the waiter.  Remember to say please, thank you and to ask questions about the menu.  Switch roles with your child.

  1. Virtual show and Tell

Virtual playdates can help give your child a sense of togetherness even if they are far apart.  The child can take turns showing items around their home that they would otherwise not be able to bring to school or on an in-person playdate.

  1. Social Stories

Create your own social story.  Social Stories are a visual tool that helps teach children how to do certain things, master social skills or help navigate unfamiliar social situations.  Examples of social stories include how to ride the bus, how to act at a wedding or in a restaurant or how to perform daily skills such as dressing or bathing.  Social stories can even help children navigate through problem behaviors such as bitting, hitting, spitting or kicking.  Social stories can help reinforce the expected behavior for unfamiliar situations.

  1. Social Questions and Active Listening Activity

Cut out the following cards and place them face down on the table or in a bowl/hat..  Take turns asking questions and actively  listening to the responses.  Feel free to add your own questions too.

You can download a PDF of the social questions below.

Winter Break Blues?

Winter Break Blues?

This Christmas break will be different for many us due to the pandemic.  Many of our children have been doing some form of virtual or distance and/or hybrid combination learning for school.  Due to COVID many of us have been spending a lot of time at home and may not be looking forward to Christmas break. 

This is unless you have a plan.

Here are some tips to get through the Christmas break and welcome the new year. 

Please note, this post may contain affiliate links and we may earn a small commission when you click on the links at no additional cost to you.

  • Have a game night
    • Get out a variety of board and card games.  Playing boards is a great way for children to explore thinking critically, taking turns, problem-solving and exploring strategy. 
    • Did you know that “CandyLand” works on social skills such as focus, attention, taking turns, color recognition and fine motor coordination. 
    • Did you know the game “Hoot Hoot Owl” focuses on the concept teamwork as you have to help the owls get to the nest before the sun comes up. Working as a team to develop strategy works on initiating conversation as well as planning and organizing moves.
  • Write thank you cards for presents received or send a thank you video to family and friends
    • This will work on communication skills
    • See our previous post on how to write a thank you note
  • Plan a puppet show
    • Creating a puppet show promotes play by having the child tap into their imaginary world and explore the feelings of characters (the puppets).  This works on building empathy skills as well as emotional recognition.
  • Create living room olympics
    • Spend an afternoon coming up with challenges and obstacle courses to perform indoors.  You can use old pillows to play the floor is” lava.”  This activity works on planning and communication. Check out this blog post by Amanda Boyarshinov on various olympic activities that can be created in your living room. Please remember to remove all fragile and breakable objects before engaging in these activities.
  • Participate in Yoga (Cosmic kids yoga is great!)
    • Yoga is a great way to develop body awareness, self-regulation and relaxation skills.

Make paper snowflakes

  • Making paper snowflakes is a great way to focus on attention as well as scissor skills.  You can search many designs of snowflakes on the internet.  The above link will walk you through making a paper snow flake step by step. We encourage you to be creative and create your own design as well.

Thankfulness at Christmas

Remembering to be grateful this time of year

The holiday season is a time for festivities, parties, gatherings and through a child’s eye presents on Christmas morning.  If your household is like  mine the holiday season starts after thanksgiving and is filled with family and friend gatherings throughout the month and sometimes carrying over into January.

Each holiday gathering is filled with family and/or friends and often has the activity of gift giving and receiving.  Teaching gratefulness and thankfulness for whatever is giving whether it is an art kit, a package of cheese, a pair of socks or the latest robotic toy is a skill that should be discussed and practiced prior to arriving at the holiday gathering.

There are many scenarios to practice ahead of time with your child….

What if you get a gift you already have?  What if you don’t like the gift?  What if you don’t get a gift?  How to say thank-you for receiving a gift…

Running through each of these scenarios can help your child prepare a response and in-turn help you avoid embarrassing mental downs in-front of relatives and friends.

After holiday gatherings I strongly encourage writing a thank you note for the gift received.  However, over the years, I have wondered if the art of thank-you notes is lost?  Did you grow up writing thank you notes?

Growing up as a child a thank you was must while receiving  the gift and then a note to follow within the upcoming few weeks.   Writing a thank you note serves many  purposes such as reflection on the gift received, showing appreciation for the gift and establishing a deeper connection with the individual.  For children, writing a thank you note helps to learn appreciation, gratefulness, thankfulness and communication skills – – not to mention fine motor skills for handwriting.

Writing a thank you note doesn’t have to be long and exhausting short and simple does the trick.  Some key items to include in the thank you note include:

  • A simple greeting — Dear Aunt Amy
  • Expression of thanks — Thank you so much for the christmas presents
  • Additional Information – I really enjoy playing with the new lego set
  • Ending/Regards – Sincerely Josh or Thank you Josh

When choosing a card you can simply use a piece of paper and an envelop, a blank card or a predesigned thank you card.  You can purchase some really cute cards on Amazon or at Target or Walmart.

A Snail’s Race

A Snail’s Race

Image Taken from: https://www.amazon.com/Ravensburger-Snails-Pace-Race-Childrens/dp/B004KZ8P2Q

Have you ever played the childhood game A Snails Pace?  For those of you that have not it is such a fun game.  This game has six color snails that you move across the board depending upon the colors rolled on two dice.  The premise of the game is a prediction of which color will win.  You can purchase this game on many online sites and find it most stores.

Did you know that playing board games can help build your child’s social skills? 

What are social skills? Social skills are the skills required for every day interactions and communication with others.  Building your child’s social skills can help set them up for success later in life.  Social skills help us navigate through every social interaction we encounter.

What social skills are essential for your child?

  • Communication skills (Both verbal and nonverbal)
  • Emotional Regulation as well as identifying and expressing emotions
  • Teamwork 
  • Listening 
  • Direction Following
  • Feedback (Giving and Receiving)
  • Taking Turns and Sharing
  • Patience and waiting

Board games just like “A snail’s Race” works on many of them.  In this game my daughter and I reviewed the rules, communication who would go first, discussed our “winning predictions” of the snails and took turns while waiting patiently for our turn.  This game also had a bonus of utilzing fine motor skills to move the snails and shake the dice.

My daughter’s prediction was that the pink snail would win and unfortunately it came in almost last.  We were able to work on expressing frustration appropriately and problem solve coping strategies.  Because this game is based on a prediction we were able to discuss luck of rolling the dice.

Children learn social skills through role-modeling, practice, trial and error.  We recommend that you grab a board game and play a game or two with your child.  Also, for additional practice on social skills check our classes located on our webpage.  All classes are kept to groups of 3-5 children and virtual.

The strong emotion of frustration in your child

The strong emotion of frustration in your child

Does your child get frustrated easily?  Is there throwing of objects, tantrums, crying, or “I can’t do it talk.”  The question becomes, how I can help my child work through frustrating events.  Unfortunately, the world is full of tasks and activities that can cause frustration. 

This topic occurred to me this morning as my daughter opened her St. Nick gift of craft rubber-band bracelets.  She was so excited to get started on the craft project as she has been asking no begging for a kit to make rubber-band bracelets.  Within seconds she became so frustrated that the project was thrown on the table followed by the yelling of I can’t do it, mom can you do it?

Although the easiest solution would be to complete the task for her; it would not help her with the skill of coping and processing the strong emotion of frustration.  I decided that I wasn’t going to let her quit. I reminder her gently how she was so excited about this gift.  I taught her the technique several times after she calmed down and continued to encourage her to complete the task.  Upon her initiating and completing one round of pattern for this rubber band bracelet confidence was built.  It wasn’t long until her confidence gained and her speed picked up and guess what – you guessed it, she made a mistake and frustration followed by slamming the bracelet onto the table and stating, “I can’t do this.”  “I’m no good at this.”  

Now, this might have been a time to call it quits However, even if we get good at something we can still make mistakes.

Encouragement to try again, slow down and focus on the task as a gentle reminder is a good way to help your child preserve through a situation or in this case making a rubber band bracelet.

As parents it is important for us to be a role model during times our child is frustrated.  Here are some tips to help our child build resilience from frustrating events.

  1. Stay calm.
    1.  By staying calm, you are helping to prevent the situation from escalating and getting out of control.  By staying calm you are demonstrating to your child that you are cool, calm, and collected.  This will help them deescalate their strong emotions.
  2. Practice communication skills with your child.
    1. Truly listen to what they are saying.  This lets your child know that you are interested in what they are saying.
    2. Restate what your child is saying and ask for more information.  This helps your child know they have been heard by acknowledging their feelings and statements.
    3. Utilize “I” statements when explaining your position on the topic.   For example “I am confused on why you want a later bedtime when you state you are tired in the morning.”  
    4. Follow up by asking the child to restate what you said.  The child still may not agree with the reasoning but having an open line of communication can build trust and respect between the child and the parent.