I love to emphasize friendships and being a good friend around Valentine's Day in lieu of talking tons about love with preschoolers. At our house we talk a lot about ways to be kind to our friends, how to communicate with our friends, and what good friends do.
This week we put together a simple prop inspired by Felicia Bond's book The Day It Rained Hearts and used it to play some simple conversation games.
The Day It Rained Hearts is a sweet book about a girl who is walking along when it begins to rain hearts. She catches them and takes them home to make valentines. Each of the hearts are different, just like her friends... so she uses them to make unique and special valentines for each of her friends. This book is such a great one to use to talk about friendship and kindness and noticing the special qualities in our friends and doing nice things for them.
- paper hearts
Write questions or prompts on each heart (or draw picture cues).
Tape a piece of string to the back of each heart.
Tie each string to the edges of the umbrella (the pointy parts). Try and have the hearts hang at different lengths.
Decorate the top of the umbrella with taped on hearts. Hold and twirl... and then start to play!
How to Play:
There are a variety of ways that this friendship heart umbrella could be used to practice conversational skills. I recommend playing this after teaching kids how to appropriately hold the umbrella without swinging it or bonking others.
As kids learn to communicate with their friends they need to learn how to take turns talking, listen, initiate a conversation, and maintain a conversation (which includes asking follow up questions and commenting on details mentioned in a conversation). Here are a few activities to do with the friendship umbrella:
The Question game...
Write a question on each heart and draw a corresponding picture next to it. The child holding the umbrella can look at the hearts and choose a question to ask their peer/peers. For example: Draw several balls and write "What is your favorite sport?" Younger preschoolers and kindergarteners can use the pictures as prompts to know what to ask. Older kids can read the questions.
Things to practice during this game include listening to the child who asks the question and listening to everyone's answers.
Being able read people's emotions is an important part of being a good friend. If you know your friend is sad, you can give him a hug or help him.
Write an emotion on each heart and draw a corresponding picture. The child holding the umbrella can pick an emotion he/she wants to act out. He needs to use his body and facial expressions (not words) to convey the emotion. The other children outside the umbrella will need to guess what emotion he showing. For example: Write happy and draw a happy face on a heart.
The Name Game...
One of the first things you need to know when you meet someone is their name! Names are important. Remembering them makes people feel happy. On each heart you could put a picture of your child's friend or relative and you could sit under the umbrella together and talk about each person and picture. Your child can practice pointing to each picture and saying the friend or relative's name.
Two Umbrellas Turn-Taking...(for older kids)
Put kids in pairs and give each child an umbrella with different topic hearts attached to them. Have kids take turns reading a topic on one of their hearts and talking about their topic. They can tell about it or ask their partner questions about it. The partner gets to listen and participate when asked.... then they switch. For example: Partner 1's topic is vacations. She could say "I really want to go on vacation to Hawaii. I think it would be fun to go snorkeling and surfing. Where do you want to go on vacation?" Then Partner 2 could answer and then it would be her turn to pick a topic from her hearts and begin the conversation.
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