Making new friends can be hard, especially when you’re small and haven’t had to do it before. Learning the language to make new friends is a super important social skill. It doesn’t come naturally to all children, and so giving them a helping hand to think up things to say never hurts. Children who can develop friendships, and who feel secure learn everything else at a more rapid rate. These ‘rocky-times friendship rocks’ are a great way to help children learn simple sentences to say when they are trying to make or maintain friendships.
What You Need:
- A collection of rocks
- Some paint or nail polish
- Some wool
- A black marker
- Some scissors
- PVA glue
- Craft eyes
What to Do:
Body: Paint the rocks and leave them to dry in the sun.
Face: Stick on the eyes, and draw on a smile with the marker. Try to leave room at the bottom to write a short sentence.
Hair: Fold the wool until you have about eight or ten strands and then cut them to an even length. It doesn’t matter how long the wool is. Tie a piece of wool around the strands in the middle to hold them together, then stick them onto the rock.
Messages: Sit with your child to think up some things they could say to make new friends. You could draw a child who is new at preschool and doesn’t know anyone, or role-play a social situation using dolls. Ask your child what they might say if they see some children playing in the block corner and they want to join in. Think up some things they could say if they see a child who hasn’t got anyone to play with. Write one message on each rock.
- You can play with us!
- Can I play here?
- You take a turn first and I’ll go after
- Will you play with me
- We could share this
- I like you
- Will you be my friend?
- You’re good at that.
Using the Rocks:
If you have a shy child, it may be useful to teach them to take a big breath and use a strong voice to say the sentence. You can practice together.
Try putting the rocks in a basket in your child’s room so they can get them out and use them during play with dolls. Play is an important way children practice skills, like what to say in tricky situations.
Put a few rocks in your child’s bag or lunch box, so that they can get them out and show their friends, or just as a reminder of what they might say.
Have the rocks available for children to access on a regular basis. Through repetition children will learn and become confident with the language and sentences they might need when meeting someone new. Once they know them well, they will be much easier to use the language naturally for a useful purpose!