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November 27, 2015

3 Ways to Practice Social Skills Before the Holidays

The holiday season is now upon us, and it's the most wonderful time of the year! Homemade cookies, hot chocolate, beautiful lights, fabulous celebrations, catchy music, spending time with friends and family and excitement everywhere! It can also be overwhelming...especially for our kids with social communication needs.

I want to take a minute and tell you how I am going to help prepare my kids with social communication needs for some of the situations they might encounter during the holiday season. These kids hold a special place in my heart, and I really, really, REALLY want them to have successful interactions in social situations this holiday season. So we're going to do some practicing, and I've got a few tools to help.

1. This time of year tends to be all about gifts, and for kids (any kid, not just ones with social communication disorders), it's often about the gifts THEY want and hope to receive. My kids with social communication needs really have a hard time understanding that the gifts they most desire are not always good choices for their friends and family. So last year I created this little activity to help them take the perspective of others and select gifts for them that match their age and likes/dislikes. It's called Choose the Right Gift and you can grab it for free in my  TpT Store.

Students use store ads to choose presents for fictional person based on their likes and dislikes, and then share their selections and rationale with the group. This freebie contains 8 half-page worksheets that depict a fictional character, and 2 customizable worksheets.  Here's how I use them:

Give one half-sheet to each student and tell them they will be choosing 2 gifts for the person listed on the page.
Have the students share the name and the age of the person he/she will be “shopping” for with the group. 
Next, have the students share the likes and dislikes of their person.
Show the students a variety of store ads, explaining that each store features different categories of items to purchase. Ask each student to select a store ad/catalog, based on their person’s likes.
Students choose 2 gifts from the ads that match their person’s interests, cut them out and paste them on the gifts at the bottom of the page.
As a group, students share what gifts they selected and why they chose them.

This was a very popular activity with my social skills group last year. I really loved how it helped them to think outside themselves.

2. The second tool I'm going to use is the holiday version of my popular Think Before You Say It activity to help my kids use their social filters in social settings this holiday season.

Kids are given a social scenario card that depicts a situation they may encounter this holiday season along with a negative thought. They will then evaluate and determine if a statement is unkind or disrespectful.

Then, they change that negative thought into a positive, respectful statement and write it on the speech bubble card. We get all kinds of amazing discussion happening when I've used the original version, so I'm expecting this one will be great, too.

3. The last tool I'm going to use is a social scavenger hunt. I've been using social scavenger hunts all school year to work on conversation skills, and they have really been great! The kids have loved them, and their parents have asked for copies for the students to use at home with family and friends. They are part of a mini-unit I am creating to target conversation skills, specifically making small talk, that will be available for purchase after the first of the year.

But I wanted to share this part with you NOW, because it would be so great to use as a party game or a warm-up activity in any group. And it makes kids HAVE to ask each other questions and interact! You don't need to have the mini-unit yet or be working on conversation skills specifically to make this work for you.  It's just a great social activity that I know your kids will love.

Did I mention this sample activity is a FREEBIE in my TpT Store? Go download it, and let me know how it works for you.

Here's to happy, successful social interactions! 


  1. Wonderful ideas! I love the way the composition of your photos and your layouts lately. I need a tutorial. You have such a good eye!

    1. Thanks Annie! It's been fun to play around with photo editing a little bit. I'm glad you like the results!

  2. This is brilliant and perfect for my little one who really struggles with this.