Teaching Social Skills with Bubble Lessons

I’m a believer in teaching social skills.  If you’ve checked out my ebook or ecourse, you already know that.  I’m also a big fan of learning through play.  No surprise, right?

Today I have two social skill lessons you can teach using one of the most treasured treats of childhood — bubbles!

Lesson One:  Self Control

This lesson is one I stumbled on in Pinterest from Peace, Love and Learning.  (The lesson came to her via Teacher Tipster, Dustin Smith.)  Donna’s post has a video from the Teacher Tipster that explains the whole activity, but essentially, you turn the universal activity of bubble-popping into a learning moment by encouraging the children to take a turn not popping the bubbles.

When I did this activity with a group of preschoolers, we talked about how there are times that you really want to do something but you have to tell yourself, “No.  I’m going to make a better choice.”  It’s a fun, simple, hands-on experience that you can refer back to to remind kids what it means to have self-control, and it’s a great way to build those incredibly important executive functions (even more fun ways to do that here).

Donna even created a great printable for your bubbles to turn them into official Self-Control Bubbles!

Lesson Two: Deep Breaths = More Willpower

I’ve been reading (ahem, listening to) an interesting book called The Willpower Instinct: How Self-Control Works, Why It Matters, and What You Can Do To Get More of It (and yes, I’ve giggled to myself more than once about the fact that it’s written by a “Professor McGonigal”).  It’s written to an adult audience, but I have found it to be so interesting from a child-development perspective as well.

One section of the book talks about the physiological changes that occur from deep, calming breaths.  There’s the obvious benefit of “calming down”, but it also actually makes people physically more capable to access their willpower and make better choices.  That’s really what we’re after, right?  It’s not just that we’re trying to get angry kids to calm down, but we want them to calm down before they make a heated, regrettable choice.

I thought I’d use this information for another bubble lesson.  I talked with the kids about what it feels like to be upset, frustrated, and angry.  I talked about how I feel so tight inside (as I clenched my fists and grimaced for illustration).  Then I told them that when I need to calm down and get control, I take a deep breath and then let it out slowly.  Sometimes a few times.  It’s a little like blowing bubbles.

I then let the kids take turns blowing bubbles, talking about how it has to be a deep, slow breath.  We watched the bubbles float away and I mentioned that it’s a little like blowing out the “grumpies” and letting them float away in a bubble.

Just as with the Self-Control Bubbles, this gives the kids the experience and visual imagery for future reference.  All we need to say is, “Remember when we blew out the grumpies in those bubbles?  Take some deep breaths and pretend you’re blowing bubbles again. Do you feel a little calmer?”

When we give kids experience and practice with coping skills though play we set them up to succeed when the situation becomes more tense.

Do you have a favorite playful approach to teaching social skills?

(This post includes affiliate links.)



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