Hey Everyone, sorry for not getting on here sooner. Life has been extremely crazy and figuring out this whole blogging thing is racking my brains. I have many ideas that I want to share but not much technological know how. Any way I am back, and going to work with my current abilities, to help get you guys going and up for a new year.
INTRODUCTION: I love to do a friends unit with my kids because I focus on friendship etiquette. A lot of times you get those little guys that have never had a brother, a sister, or even a play date before. These might be rare but are becoming more common as people get more and more busy. Time for relationships are not always top priority this day in age. Just look at what our world has done to communication. It has gotten faster, but it has taken away from face to face time, and in some cases has limited our language to a few words via text, or sometimes even just pictures (emoji’s) I believe that is what they used in the stone age, meaning pictures to share their stories. Are we going backwards in away?
Any way with all the ADD, ADHD, Autism, and other learning and social challenges that are out there today, I feel teaching kids how to react to certain situations, and how to handle their big emotions is crucial. I also feel that by taking the time to really teach these social avenues to kids at such an early age we are setting them up for a brighter future. If kids are socially happy and not distracted by their emotions, I feel that they will be able to handle the academic aspects of life with a lot more confidence.
Due to time restraints I usually only use one week to try to accomplish this, but I have found with some classes longer is better. Maybe even a month talking about various aspects of social awareness. This weeks we will be focusing on friends and creating, and maintaining friendships.
Circle Time– We read lots of stories about friends. One of my favorites is Llama Llama first day of School. I talk about how all the children are trying to include Llama and at first he doesn’t want to, but once he opens himself up to being a friend he has more fun. We also read the Llama Llama Bully Goat, which is the reverse, why is the Bully Goat not a friend. However, there are a few parts where we can ask how is Llama Llama or one of the other characters being a friend to Bully goat despite his efforts at being mean to them.
LES– I do a chart that is a giant Bee and on the stripes I write BEE a friend. Then I ask them ways in which they feel they can be a great friend. The other LES you could do is a picture of a student one half of his face is happy and the other side is Sad. What makes a friend….a Great friend or a Sad friend. With this chart we talk about sometimes if someone is not nice to us, could be because that they are sad about something or someone, or maybe having a bad day, but we can still be friends just like in the bully goat. On the Smiley side we talk about things that make a good friend, and on the other side we talk about what actions make friends sad, like not sharing, fighting, saying mean things, and whatever else may seem important to them, making sure to guide the conversation.
We are friends and we show it …. shout hooray(one arm up in the air), we share our toys (put hands out like sharing), say kind things (thank you), give a hug (hug a neighbor), by being kind (pat our neighbor on the back, then do other side) X2. We are friends and we show it and we really want to grow it, we are friends and we show it, hip hip hooray! (tune: if you are happy and you know it)
We are Friends, We are friends, yes we are, yes we are; being kind and helpful, having fun and sharing, we are friends, we are friends. (tune: Brother John
Math: For Math we work on one to one correspondence. This would be a good time to practice handing out napkins, cups, and snacks at snack time. One cup, to one of your friends in the classroom. We also count all the friends we have in the classroom. Each day when they first arrive and are signing in, I have them place a small sticker next to a favorite movie on a chart, or favorite food. Then we count and compare each day at math time what all the favorites are for that day. Another quick math problem you can do is if someone is missing, have the class count how many kids there are and compare to how many there were yesterday and say something like, I had 10 kids yesterday, write that on a white board, and I have 8 today, how many kids am I missing. I usually have them start at 8 and count on using a number line to help if needed.
Dramatic Play- For this I keep the house area as a house and we practice what it would be like to visit a friends house, and how we might act. For instance do we just barge into their house like we do our own, or do we knock? Talk about manners, table manners, and other manners that you might use at some one’s house. I also talk about when someone comes over, do we pick everything we should do because they are at our house, or do we give them a chance to choose what we might do once in a while? These are ways to show kids proper ways to behave in a social situation. Sometimes, kids aren’t given that opportunity. Great place to learn, because we are actually in the Teacher’s house, and therefore you get to let go what is or is not appropriate.
Church School Twist: If you are a church school, this might also be a great time to talk to students about how we behave in the Lord’s house and maybe even have the pastor give a tour of the church so they know what everything is for and why it is so important.
Science: We like to discuss friends of animals in the wild. A water buffalo and an Egret are two unlikely friends, but the Egret gets a dinner of bugs and a free ride, while the water buffalo gets a natural bug repellent and a scratched back. Works out for both friends. The other suggestions I found are the zebra and the ostrich, one has great sight, and the other fabulous sense of smell, so combined they help keep a look out for predators. One last favorite of mine is the Crocodile and the plover bird. The Plover eats the left overs out of the Crocodiles teeth, and the crocodile gets clean teeth. There are a few more but to see all the ones you could discuss, go to thedodo.com.
For Projects in Science a Do Z zebras, and O Ostriches. When I hang them on the bulletin board we put up the information we learned about each animal and I label the bulletin board “WILD ABOUT FRIENDS”
Social Studies: I use this opportunity to have the kids work on our Friendships, because they are part of our community. I use the word community a lot in my classroom. We talk about our family community as well as our home community, as well as everyone else in my community. One thing that I do is to have kids come up with ways they can help their friends like those wild animals help out their friends. Then they have to write them in a friendship journal each day. If you have kids who can’t write, have them practice the letter F for friend, and then have them draw a picture of how they are going to help one of their friends today. Make suggestions, but try to keep them creative and coming up with their own things. Here is the trick you have to double check before they leave, “Did you help your friend like you planned?” I do this as they are giving me my hug, high five, or thumbs up before they go. This part is the hardest to follow through on, but do your best, they may not remember the next time that they come in for school, even if it is the next day.
Sensory: For Sensory bin I put Sand and water. To introduce this I say what two friends meet only at a beach usually. Then I say sand and water. They meet where the land meets the water. We talk about how when we combine sand and water it makes a different texture and it works together so we can build sand castles. For this make sure you have a rug under the sensory table something you can shake out and help absorb some of the water. I can get messy. I used to have a blue rug that was a sand and water table mat. I found it on the Nasco website for about $49.95. You can also find them at amazon for varying prices depending on the size you want. I absolutely loved this once I got it, it made water play so much more bearable, because kids weren’t slipping and the sand didn’t get all over the floor. Obviously with kids no matter how safe you think you are they will still manage to get sand off the mat or water off the mat, but it reduced a lot of my issues and made me want to open up my sand and water table a lot more often. I suggest this to any teacher with a sand and water table.
Religion: For Religion I do the story of David and Jonathan. I talk about how Jonathan was friends with David. Even though Jonathan’s Dad didn’t like David, Jonathan still stayed friends with David and protected him from his father. He looked out for and stood up for his friend. This would be a great time to talk about how being a friend means speaking kindly about our friends. For this I have them practice cutting out 2 hears and I glue the edges together. Then on one side I write David and Jonathan and have them draw David and Jonathan. Then on the other side I have them practice their name, and a friends name, and then draw pictures of themselves on it. You could even have them pair up with a friend and each take a heart to do. Make sure you have them each do 2 so they can each take a project home with them later.