It’s that time of year, hearts are everywhere! What a perfect opportunity to talk about how what we say affects people’s feelings (their heart), both positively and negatively. For some of my students, there is a disconnect between what they say and what they mean. We work on using our social filters (thinking before we say something), understanding that our thoughts, actions and words make other people have different thoughts and feelings and learning to regulate our emotions in relation to others. This is difficult territory for many students with autism spectrum disorders (ASD) or my impulsive students with ADHD. I love the book “How Full Is Your Bucket?” by Tom Rath and Mary Reckmeyer to work on the concept of thinking of others. You can peek at a youtube read aloud of the book HERE .
I was in the dollar store the other day and saw this packet of “Wack-a-pack” hearts. They come in a four pack for a buck! Here is the cool thing about them. You open the pack and they are four flat balloons (small, mylar, and heart shaped, of course).
When you smack them against a hard surface, it activates a small packet inside the balloon which then inflates it, just like magic! But my lesson is on kindness, so instead of smacking the poor balloon, I use it as an illustration. When when we hear sincere, kind and encouraging words, it makes us feel good. We have what Michelle Garcia Winner describes as “having a good thought” about the person talking to us. These good feelings can be described as “making my heart grow”. Then we practice this with each other (it can get a little goofy, but that’s okay!). I secretly push the packet inside the heart and voila’, it puffs right up, making our hearts grow right before our eyes!!
Then we talk about how mean words can make our hearts break. We chat about what mean things someone might have said to us and how that made us feel. We also talk about how careful we need to be when we talk to others! Mean or careless words can make people have sad or mad thoughts and feelings about us when we don’t use our filters and think before we talk. I then take a pin and pop the heart. Ouch! A heart shaped Venn Diagram would be a great visual reinforcer of these concepts too or if you are feeling brave, bubble gum to “grow” and POP your hearts!
What social skills materials have YOU found at the dollar store? Share here!
**Want some other great dollar store ideas for speech? Check out my friend Kristen’s blog, Talkin with Twang, Linky HERE .