September 21, 2014

Social Skills Curriculum / How I Spent My Summer

When I began working in the public schools, I quickly realized that there was a great need for social skills groups. Parents and staff seemed to be under the impression that this was an area of expertise for SLPs -- which most of you would agree is definitely NOT an accurate assumption! The only instruction on social skills that I have received in my graduate program is to be taught the definition of the term "pragmatics." That's pretty much where it ended. However, I was expected to work on this with a large number of students.

Not sure where to begin, I purchased tons of books on the subject. Unfortunately, most programs out there didn’t meet my needs – the lessons and activities were either too challenging / not engaging / too easy / required materials that you had to make yourself / etc. And - don't hate me - but even Michelle Garcia Winner's materials were a bit too dry for my students.

Over the last three years I have taught elementary level social skills groups by piece-mealing my own curriculum and developing my own lessons and activities. This summer, I decided to relinquish my break and finally sat down to type up actual lesson plans, including some of the activities that I have done with my groups and adding many, many more ready-to-use materials and activities. While this project pretty much consumed my summer break, I felt it was something that I really had to do. The finished result is a resource that is (hopefully!) easy to implement and can be used with different elementary populations to work on social skills.
Click on the picture to see the product in my TPT store!
The completed bundle contains 37 lesson plans and 229 supplementary activities for Elementary to Middle school level social skills groups. Each lesson is designed to last between 30 – 60 minutes (although you can stretch each lesson across several sessions by doing multiple of the included activities). Of course it is ready for sale in my TPT store (I have also made the individual sections available).
 Each lesson contains a variety of activities to choose from so that you can pick the one that most suits the group you are teaching and/or your teaching style. While some of these activities focus on relevant children’s books and require that you own the book, most of the activities are original creations by myself.
Each lesson is set up as follows: Students are being taught the skill during a whole group discussion. The second part of each lesson is comprised of activities. Each lesson contains 3-13 suggestions for relevant activities, and this section will hopefully grow over time as I discover more things to do with my groups. The topics covered in my curriculum are as follows (each individual section is also available for sale if you do not want to purchase the entire program):
Some sample activity pages.
Lesson #01: Introduction to Social Skills Group (+3 Activities)
Lesson #02: Behavior Expectations and Rules (+6 Activities)
Lesson #03: Introducing Yourself (+3 Activities)
Lesson #04: Getting to Know Each Other (+6 Activities)
Lesson #05: What Is a Friend? (+4 Activities)
Lesson #06: Filling Buckets (+3 Activities)
Lesson #07: Giving and Receiving Compliments (+3 Activities
Lesson #08: Whole Body Listening (+6 Activities)
Lesson #09: STEPS (an acronym developed by myself) (+3 Activities)
Lesson #10: S = Space (+5 Activities)
Lesson #11: T = Take Turns (+6 Activities)
Lesson #12: E = Eye Contact (+6 Activities)
Lesson #13: P = Polite (+3 Activities)
Lesson #14: S = Stay on Topic (+6 Activities)
Lesson #15: Volume (+5 Activities)
Lesson #16: Basic Emotions  (+8 Activities)
Lesson #17: Complex Emotions (+9 Activities)
Lesson #18: Body Language & Prosody (+5 Activities)
Lesson #19: Dealing With Anger (+10 Activities)
Lesson #20: Relaxation Techniques (+8 Activities)
Lesson #21: Sensory Techniques (+13 Activities)
Lesson #22: Dealing With Change (+7 Activities)
Lesson #23: Self-Control (+5 Activities)
Lesson #24: Joining a Group (+5 Activities)
Lesson #25: Playing a Game  (+7 Activities)
Lesson #26: Dealing With Losing (+6 Activities)
Lesson #27: Sharing (+8 Activities)
Lesson #28: Fairness & Compromising (+9 Activities)
Lesson #29: Identifying Problem Sizes   (+4 Activities)
Lesson #30: Solving Problems (+8 Activities)
Lesson #31: Group Problem-Solving (+5 Activities)
Lesson #32: Bullying (+9 Activities)
Lesson #33: Dealing With Teasing (+7 Activities)
Lesson #34: Tattling (+4 Activities)
Lesson #35: Resolving Conflicts (+9 Activities)
Lesson #36: Perspective-Taking (+10 Activities)
Lesson #37: Thinking & Talking Bubbles (+5 Activities)
I am planning to add more lessons on SOCIAL THINKING within the next months and have drafted outlines for the following topics:
Lesson #38: Social Filter
Lesson #39: Flexible Thinking
Lesson #40: Empathy
These lessons offer a great pre-cursor to higher-level social skills programs and are designed to be a comprehensive first exposure to a social skills group. While I organized these lessons by category, you can of course use them in any order you see fit, and they can be stand-alone lessons. You can do these lessons in a social skills group setting, in a whole classroom setting, or during a speech therapy / counseling session as needed.
I have started using this curriculum with my groups last week and will post a lot of updates this year about how it is working out for us! I think this is the first year where I don't have to go into the social skills group with just a vague idea of what we're doing that day, and that feels great!


  1. The social worker at my school purchased this program from you, and I have to say that it is AMAZING!!!!! We do social language groups together and are going to start using some of it in our groups. You really were hard at work this summer! What an incredibly well put together product!

    1. Thanks for the great feedback! In the past I always felt like I was going into these groups without a real plan and "winging" it, so putting this program together has been helpful to me, as well. I am glad you are liking it! Have a great school year :)