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Tuesday, 23 October 2012

Trick or Treating Guidelines

Dressing up to go trick or treating is very exciting for children and it creates lasting memories for both children and parents. Help children prepare for trick or treating with these five strategies.

1. Select a Costume – Help children select a costume that fits properly and is safe. Children may be uncomfortable with anything on their face especially make up. Some children may not like masks because of sensory issues or limited vision. Keep these factors in mind when selecting an outfit. For children who have difficulties with masks, holding a mask rather than wearing it or not using one at all may make the evening more enjoyable.

2. Set Costume Guidelines – Children often want to wear their costume other times than trick or treating. Let them know if/when they can wear it besides trick or treating. Be sure to tell them this before they buy the costume and after it is purchased. Explain why they can wear the costume only at certain times. For example, “You can put it on in the evening for a few minutes to see how you look, but you can only wear it for a little while so it doesn’t get dirty before Halloween.”

3. Practice Going to People’s Doors – Role play going to someone’s door, saying “Trick or treat,” holding a bag out, and saying “Thank you.” Remind children to be polite, wait their turn, and take only one sweet when they are asked to select something. It is tempting to rush to a door and take a handful of things when offered a basket or bowl to select from so multiple opportunities for review are important. Be sure to practice other things that may happen such as someone not being home or someone complimenting them on their costume.

4. Establish Guidelines in Advance – Prepare children for factors such as: What time trick or treating starts and ends; How they know when it ends; Where they can trick or treat (e.g. only houses with lights on, only people the child knows etc.); and What the rules are such as staying with a sibling or parent. Be sure to review these guidelines days in advance with a story, visual cards, or written rules. Before trick or treating, review them again so children clearly understand expectations.

5. Set Sweets Guidelines– Children become very excited about getting sweets and other treats while trick or treating. Set rules in advance about eating sweets. Let children know before trick or treating that they need to bring all of the sweets back for you to check before they can eat it. Make sure children have dinner before trick or treating so they are not hungry. Have guidelines about the number of pieces they can eat per day and create a routine/timetable for when they can eat their sweets. Display the sweets plan where they can easily look if they have questions.

Monday, 15 October 2012

Learning to Understand Facial Expressions

Learning to read facial expressions is important for social interactions. When children are able to identify how a friend, classmate, sibling, parent, or person in the community feels, they can respond appropriately. This post includes ways to help children practice identifying feelings based on facial expressions.

1. Role Play – Role play is a fun way to practice identifying feelings. Role play can be a group activity or a one on one game. Write down a list of feelings or use pictures or drawings of people showing different feelings. Take turns picking a card and acting out the feeling paying special attention to facial expressions. Ask questions like, “How do your eyes look when you are angry?” “How is this different from what your eyes look like when you are surprised?” Discuss each feeling by asking questions like: “When have you felt angry?” “What do you do if a friend is angry?” “How do you calm down when you are angry?”

2. Use a Mirror – Make a game of identifying feelings by letting children practice facial expressions in a mirror. Name a facial expression and get the child to look in a mirror and make the expression. Point out how their eyes, eyebrows, nose, and mouth change shapes as they practice different facial expressions. Change roles and let them pick the emotions while you make the expressions. While making the facial expressions, change different facial features and ask questions like, “If I am making a surprised face should my eyes be large and round or should I squint?”

3. Use Natural Opportunities – Children see a variety of emotions at school, home, and in the community. These natural opportunities are invaluable learning experiences. Take time to talk to children about what is happening around them. For example, if a child is smiling as they go down a slide, ask how they feel and what facial clues your student or child noticed that led them to that conclusion. If you see an emotion like sadness or fear ask the child what they can do to help the other person and then offer assistance. Another natural opportunity is when watching television or movies. Pause the program or film and discuss the character’s feelings and facial expressions.

4. Bring Out Their Creativity – Art is a fun way to learn about facial expressions. Children can draw or paint a picture showing people with different feelings. Another project is a collage of emotions. Assign each child or group a different feeling. Have children work in small groups or independently to find pictures of the emotion in magazines or print images from online. After the collages are finished let each child or group talk about the feeling and what facial cues they used to identify it.

5. Make a Game of Feelings – Cut out sets of eyes, eyebrows, mouths, and noses of people showing different emotions. Show only one feature at a time and discuss how this part of the face gives us clues about the feeling. After identifying different feelings based on individual parts of the face, put the face together and discuss times when people feel a specific emotion.