Have you ever tried using puppets to develop social skills and empathy?
Children love your silly voices and animated face as you tell a story using the puppets, but at the same time they really engage with the characters, making it a fantastic time to help them understand the feelings of others.
There are plenty of training courses available that provide you with scripts to use in your role plays, but I find it best to spend 10 minutes making up your own. That way you can choose situations and scenarios that are relevant to the children in your care, creating further engagement and ultimately better understanding.
The stories do not need to be complicated or full of drama, it is important to ensure that the appropriate emotive language is used, accompanied by the Makaton signing if necessary, it can help to have an extra adult for this.
Here is an example that I have used:
Jack and Jill are playing with Jacks toy. Jill throws it down and breaks it. Jack reacts by becoming sad. Discuss with the children how they know Jack is sad, how can they look out for people who are feeling sad at school? Why do they think Jack is sad? What can Jill do to make Jack happy? What can they do if their friends are sad? Do they think Jill meant to break Jack's toy or was it an accident? How do they think Jill is feeling? Jill uses the children's ideas to cheer Jack up and resume playing.
Emotive language - Happy, sad, upset, sorry, worried, pleased, miserable, concerned, excited.
Keep sessions short, between 4 - 6 minutes. Long sessions risk the loss of the children's attention and an unresponsive audience. It helps to remind children of Jack and Jill's situation at play times to encourage the desired behaviour.