Making Glitter Jars: Project Based Learning for Social Skills


Here's a glimpse of a project I did in one of my social skills groups. I have a group of girls who struggle with social understanding and anxiety. They are sweet little souls and they teach me so much during every visit. We had been working on calming techniques, breathing exercises, self-control, collaboration, perspective-taking, and listening to one another with kindness.

As a group, we made this "How To" video over several weeks. I asked the girls if they would be willing to create this in order for me to use with a younger group of students and offer to teachers for classroom use. 

This was a beautiful project, as it kept us coming back to calm and talking about compassion. It allowed me to address pragmatic/social goals and also weave in mindfulness. I love this kind of project as it invests the students in themselves and others. 

We broke the overall task into several parts so that social goals could be addressed across contexts and within a variety of tasks. Here's how we did it:

1. We watched several videos online to build everyone's confidence that we could make the jars ourselves.

Social Skills Addressed: Confidence, Asking clarifying questions, direction following, collaboration and discussion

2. We made a list of all of the materials we would need and set a budget. We then went shopping and discussed pros and cons of each of the items we needed (Did we want glass jars or plastic? Which would be better for younger students? Should we buy glitter that was in a small size or larger? Which could the little ones handle better? What colors felt calm and calming?)

Social Skills Addressed: Perspective-taking, Negotiating, Listening to Other's Points of Views, Collaboration, Budgeting

3. We set up the room to film our video. We needed to think about distractions in the environment. Would little kids be focusing on a poster in the distance? Would kids on the spectrum focus on words that were visible in the room? Should we have all of the materials on the table at once or would that be too busy?

Social Skills Addressed: Awareness of your environment and your "audience," Perspective-taking, Empathy

4. We decided who would have each role in making the video itself. Who didn't want to speak/felt shy about their presentation? Who felt they had good skills for filming? Who didn't mind being the "model" who executed each step of the task on film?

Social Skills Addressed: Negotiating, Acknowledging feelings of others, Collaboration, Self Awareness

5. Filming! We wrote the "script" together, recalling details from the videos we watched and adding descriptive words. We did several rehearsals and gave one another feedback. We thought about the pace of our speech, as well as the tone and quality of the words we presented. Was this vocabulary too big for little ones? Should we break each step down even further? 

Social Skills Addressed: The idea that the tone of your voice and the pace of your speech give information! Accepting constructive criticism, giving compliments, using adjectives, organizing your thoughts, collaboration!

6. Editing! We learned how to organize all of our video clips, how to crop them, and how to add photos and music. We talked about how the music should sound. Should it be soft? Happy? Fun? Soothing? Should we add still shots so that  teachers could pause the video for students who might need more time to process the directions?

Social Skills Addressed: Identifying emotions, Perspective Taking, Collaboration, Negotiation

7. Finally, we talked about the impact this work could have on others. How did we feel about helping the younger kids? What emotions did the project bring up for everyone? Did you feel proud of yourself? Did you feel good about yourself as a team player? Did you feel your voice was important in the process? Do you think this will help other people?

Social Skills Addressed: Compassion, Empathy, Resilience, and so much more!

Want to learn more about other projects we have done? Please PM me and I'll be so happy to share!

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