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In order for children to be successful in life there are some essential social skills they need to know. Many kids learn social skills such as sharing and resolving conflicts from watching others around them. However, some kids need to be taught these skills. I’ve found that the best way to teach these skills is through fun, social skills activities.
I really enjoy doing creative social skills activities with the kids. It keeps them engaged and most of the time they don’t realize they are learning social skills while completing the activity. The latest social skills activity we worked on was role playing social skills with a fairy garden. We started out making a zen garden, but my 4 year old daughter wanted something a little more colorful.
I figured a fairy garden would be a good alternative to the zen garden. It allows kids to engage in imaginative and small world play. Both of which are wonderful social skills activities to help kids practice sharing, taking turns, and communicating as they play together.
Fairy gardens are fun for preschoolers and for school aged kids. I did this with my 7 and 4 year old and they both loved it. Also, fairy gardens aren’t just for girls. My son added some dragons and he came up with some amazing story lines for the fairies. If you’re working on social skills activities in a group setting, the kids can practice sharing supplies and giving compliments to others on their gardens.
What you will need
• A medium sized container (can be a saucer, flower pot, or plastic bin)
• Stones or river rocks (we purchased ours from the Dollar Tree but they can be found at Wal-Mart, Michael’s, and JoAnne’s).
• Moss (fake or real-we used the fake stuff from Michael’s)
• Flowers (fake or real)
• Washable paint
• Paint Brushes
• Miniature house or bird house (you can get them from Michael’s or make your own out of toilet paper roll which is what we did)
• Fairy figurines or other miniature figures
• Other embellishments of your choice (i.e. painted rocks, sticks, etc).
How to make a fairy garden
Once you have all your supplies ready, it’s time to get busy making your gardens. Although there are no right or wrong ways to make these gardens, below is a guide to help you create your fairy gardens.
Step 1. Paint your fairy house
It’s best to paint everything that needs to be painted first. This way you can work on other parts of your fairy garden as your painted items dry. Kids have a tendency to saturate the toilet rolls with paint. You’ll want to remind them that they only need one thin coat of paint. If not, it will take a while for the paint to try.
Step 2. Fill your container with soil
How much soil you use depends on the size of your container. We filled our plastic bin half way which was roughly 2 inches deep. This kept the figurines secure and it was enough soil for the kids to dig into. If kids use too much soil you might end up with soil all over the floor. It might be helpful to give them the exact amount of soil they will need.
Step 3. Add your embellishments to your garden
This is the fun part! Here’s where kids get to let their imagination and creativity run wild. Have them lay out their rocks, pebbles, flowers, and other decorations the way they want them. My daughter had this narrative of a fairy princess living in a castle made of flowers so we surrounded our fairy princess with lots of flowers, pink of course!
Once you have your fairy garden set up, it’s time to start role playing!
Social skills role play scenarios
Here are some role play scenarios you can use to practice social skills with your fairy garden:
1. You try to help a friend who is sad and she yells at you.
2. Your friend said something mean to you and now you are upset
3. A frost is coming and everyone has to work together to protect the garden
4. You help a friend who is upset because she doesn’t look like everyone else
5. You and a friend are playing a game but they are not playing fair
6. You are mad because your mom tells you to clean up as soon as you start to have fun
7. You and your friend both want to play with the same toy
8. All your friends are playing together but no one wants to play with you
9. A new girl moved to your neighborhood and doesn’t have any friends yet
10. You are mad that your friend lost your favorite toy
It’s helpful to process the role play situations with children to help them understand what they are doing correctly and what they can do to improve. For example, my 7 year old was having a hard time with a classmate always telling him what to do. I had him role play this situation in the garden and coached him along the way so he would know what to say to his classmate when they were face to face.
More social skills activities
Here are some additional social skills activities that kids will enjoy doing.
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