This year kindergarten classes started off the school year with some lessons from me, Miss Mac, the school social worker! When kids join a classroom, we find they benefit from some basic lessons in listening, getting along with friends, sharing, and calming strong feelings. I use lots of different resources to design these lessons. I'll describe the basics below:
Lesson 1: Whole Body Listening
I use the book Whole Body Listening Larry at School by Elizabeth Sautter and Kristen Wilson. In this lesson, we talk about listening with a bunch of different parts of our body, not just our ears!
Eyes - looking toward the speaker
Ears - ready to hear
Mouth - quiet and waiting your turn to talk
Feet - quiet and still (sitting criss-cross applesauce)
Body - facing toward the speaker
Brain - thinking about what is being said
Heart - caring about the speaker's feelings
The kids have learned how to "show whole body listening" and are doing a great job at circle time!
Lesson 2: Working Out Problems with Others
For this lesson, I read the book Talk and Work it Out by Cheri J. Meiners. This book outlines four steps for solving problems:
1. Talk about the problem.
2. Listen to understand.
3. Think of ways to solve it.
4. Choose the best plan.
We also practice taking a deep breath and counting to 5 before we try to start talking about problems so that we can be calm and kind with our friends. For this lesson, we use Brownie the dog and Mr. Snail puppets to act out friends solving a problem together. The class also helps come up with solutions!
Lesson 3: Fair Ways to Play
For this lesson, I use the Second Step Program, Kindergarten level. We discuss how to play fairly by asking people to SHARE, TRADE, and TAKE TURNS. Again, Brownie and Snail act out how to ask people to share, trade and take turns. We also listen to the "Fair Ways to Play" song from Second Step: http://www.edtv99.org/video/20886/
Lesson 4: Managing Strong Feelings
The final lesson centers around strategies for calming strong feelings. Brownie the dog puppet loses his bone and Mr. Snail helps him calm down enough to think clearly! We listen to "The Calm-Down Song" from the Second Step Program: Kindergarten level. This song is not available online, but I did find the 2nd grade version of it, if you'd like to share it with your child:
In this lesson, we practice the following steps:
1. Put your hand on your belly and say "stop."
2. Name your feeling ("I feel frustrated!").
3. Take a belly breath...and then you'll calm right down!
We also practice belly breathing using a video from the Second Step Program: Second Grade. Since that is not available online, here is a Sesame Street video that teaches the concept! Enjoy!
We wanted Kindergarten families to have the information about these lessons, as they are much more likely to be internalized if they are reinforced at home as well as in the classroom! Practice these strategies often with your children, and then they will come naturally to them when they actually have to deal with a difficult situation in real life!
Here's to a great school year!
Annie MacDowell, LCSW
School Social Worker
500 S. Dwyer
Arlington Heights, IL 60005
Westgate main number: 847-398-4292