Summer is here! This season is the time for fun for everyone and is also a great time for bonding experiences. A great way to enhance your bonding experience with your learner is through social play activities. Social play is any play where the learner of the same age interacts with each other and follows a set of rules in the activity. Through social play, the learner learns how to share, cooperate, and take turns. When you plan to present new activities to your learner, be sure to inform your learner some days beforehand of any upcoming activities. This way they are aware and can be prepared to engage in the activity in advance. In this blog post, here are a list of amazing social play activities you can do with your learner this summer.
- Group arts and crafts projects
Creating art is a great way to enhance the imagination and creativity. If your learner is motivated by art, click on this link for project ideas that can be great activities to do together. These activities can be engaged in as a group where social play skills can be worked on. During the activity, you can limit or distance the amount of supplies to contrive opportunities for the group to share and take turns with art materials. You can also make summer murals and plan what should be in the mural. During a summer session with one of my learners, he expressed interest in making a banner. He and I planned how to make the mural and encouraged the rest of his family to join in.
However, if your learner is hesitant to engage in art materials and projects, it is best to start slow with non-messy materials and then build up to bigger projects. It may be beneficial to use art materials that relate to the learner’s favorite characters to engage their interests. You can start with just having them touch it, then put it away for another day if it is too much for them. Little by little encourage your learner to try new things, even if it is for a very short amount of time. It will take some time and repeated exposure for your learner to enjoy the arts and crafts experience. Throughout this process, continue to praise your learner for their cooperation to create a fun experience!
- Music games
If your learner is motivated by music, musical games will be a great activity for them. With musical games, it is best to use the learner’s musical interest to build on their social play skills. Some group musical activities can be playing a musical game of Hot Potato, freeze dance, playing an instrument with others, and more. As a group activity, the learner will learn how to cooperate with the group. If musical games are very new for your learner, it may be beneficial to first model the rules of the games that your learner would like to engage in.
Once the learner is consistently familiar with the rules of the games of their interest, they can join in on the fun! With musical games, you can share with others your musical tastes and hear music that you have not heard of before that can capture your interest. When I was working with my client, we played freeze dance and he played a song that I have not heard of before and it was a very catchy tune. I also shared a classic rock song during the game and my client really enjoyed that.
- Building blocks or Legos
If your learner is interested in building blocks or Legos, then this activity will be perfect for them! By building blocks or Lego structures, it is a great way to expand the learner’s creativity. When made into a group activity, it is a wonderful opportunity to teach turn-taking and cooperation. With two people, they can build a bridge where one person is in charge of the large blocks and the other can be in charge of the smaller blocks. My learner and I did a bridge building activity where we worked together to build it and pretended that we were actual builders by making sounds of different construction equipment. With your learner, some other ideas can be to make a city together, a ship, an airplane, and many other structures. If the building blocks or Legos relate to the learner’s preferred interest, then the experience will be even more fun!
- Board games
If your learner has interest in playing board games, then this activity will be just right for them. Board games have a way of bringing out the inner child in everyone. When picking out board game activities, have the games be related to the learner’s current skill level, but still be fun to engage in. If your learner is still learning how to take turns while playing board games, it is best to first engage in this activity with your learner to teach the skill. It is also beneficial to model how to lose gracefully and to congratulate other players.
Once the learner is familiar with the game of their interest, the fun can begin! I remember playing Uno with one of my learners and my supervisor, and my learner was really into the game. The game went through several rounds, where the sibling also joined in, and everyone had a load of fun!
- Social games
Social games include playing hide-and-seek, tag, scavenger hunts, and Simon says. If you noticed your learner enjoying these types of games, then these activities will be fantastic for them. Some tips for when your learner does engage in social games that require moving a few distance is to play the game in an enclosed area. This way you can ensure supervision of your learner throughout the game. If social games are very new for your learner, it may be beneficial to first model the rules of the games.
In many social games, you can be in a group or pair with a person and work together to win the game. During a session, when the clinical team was with the learner, we played a game of I Spy. During the game, my client, their sibling, and I worked as a team to win the game. It was fun and both siblings cooperated with each other to find the items.
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