Looks can be deceiving. A smile on someone’s face may not really let you know what is happening in their life and who they are. Kids need to learn that you can’t judge a person based on what they look like, how they dress, and a variety of other factors. It’s always a good time to regroup and do some team building during sessions.
Take some time to readdress the importance of getting to know those who are in your learning community. The more kids understand differences among them, the more they will accept peers and stand up for them. This is a big social skills goal, but also works on communication goals, fine motor practice, and more.
Embrace Similarities and Difference
Older elementary students, middle schoolers, and teens are more hesitant to get to know their peers. They can be quick to judge and truly don’t know their classmates. Take photos of each child in the group and place them in a central location. These will be used as a visual for tracking similarities and differences among the group. If there is enough space, you can make this into a movement exercise where students can move to groupings.
Write a group of questions for everyone to answer about their lives. Make these based on things which you have been studying in recent months, or try to dive deeper into getting to know each other. This could include: number of siblings, where they were born, languages they speak (celebrate multilingual students), favorite subject in school, pets, extracurricular activities, and more. Allow everyone to fill out the survey alone and then regroup.
Go through the activity and compare answers with the photos or actual student grouping. Use this as a starting point to share. Did they learn something new? Were they surprised that they had similarities with a variety of people? Use this to jump to the importance of not judging a person by their outward appearance. Stress how you have to take time to get to know someone and get to know if you have things which will work toward being friends.
Can You Guess Who?
This previous activity may not work well for younger children. Instead, use the Hasbro game Guess Who and adjust it to work on something which will have kids thinking deeper about people. Play a round of the original game and ask what they were able to learn about the people by simply looking at them. How it made them feel if someone said they didn’t want to be friends with them because they had brown hair? Does hair define who they truly are?
Dive deeper into a game where you use them as the Guess Who spaces. Have them all seated. Ask a question and have them stand up if they answer yes. Keep going and see what they are able to learn about one another.
Make a traveling game similar to this to send home to families to use as an at home follow up. Therapists can send home directions for families so they can understand the speech and language goals which you are making. Include important multi-lingual strategies which may be needed for individual family needs.