During the first week of Preschool, your students might not know how to sit, share, ask for a toy, play together, or ask his/her friends if they want to take turns. Honestly, they might not know anything else that might require social emotional skills when it comes to playing. Which is why you, as an Early Childhood Teacher or a parent of an Early Learner is reading this.

Where to Start

I like to start my year off by dumping a basket of toys on the rug we are sitting around. Then, watch all the preschoolers jump in and grab a toy, just kidding! I pre-teach this activity like an actor or actress that just won an Emmy. If you have a co-teacher or you have an assistant teacher, this activity is great for you. If you are doing this by yourself in your classroom or if you are sitting in your living room with your early learner, this activity can be great for you as well.

How it Works

For me, teaching social emotional play skills and social skills through play looked like this, my assistant teacher and I start out the first day of school with PowerClix and Plastic Animals. Then we get to exploring and playing, while doing this in front of our preschoolers. Yes, you read that right, we did this on the first day. They could watch their teachers or parents play all day, and it’s so fun for them!

Act It Out

One of us gets to be the “kind friend” and one of us gets to be the friend that is “still learning.” So, let’s say you are the “kind friend”, and I’m the friend that is “still learning”. I start by taking your yellow Magna Tiles, I throw your monkey and koala, I push over your tower that is way more awesome than mine, I pout because you aren’t giving me the pretty giraffe, I cry, I do everything that is so typical because I am four years old. My emotions are huge, and I’ve never had to share these awesome toys before. Remember this is modeling, the kind friend then says language that is easy enough for a four-year-old to remember, repeat, and use in the correct setting such as: “That is not kind! “Can we take turns with the monkey and koala?” “I’ll count to ten and then it will be your turn!” “Let’s find a solution”.

Once you repeat this language, your preschooler or early learner will follow along. Yes, eventually I do dump out some awesome toys and let kids explore together. We always run into a social emotional play skills problem or just a play issue, but we have our language and problem-solving cards to work through a situation we are unable to handle by ourselves as an early learner.