Friendship & Problem Solving

“What’s the Recipe for Friends?” by Greg Williamson

What goes into a recipe for friendship? In this lesson, Ms. Shaw reads a story about a boy who moves to a new town and learns about all the special ingredients that go into making a sweet friendship—things like kindness, sharing, taking turns, and more. Ms. Shaw encourages students to think about what other qualities are important in friendships by writing their own friendship recipes!

“Making New Friends” by Vita Jiménez

In this lesson, Ms. Shaw is joined by Kitty to talk about things we can say and do when we want to make a new friend. In the song, “Making New Friends,” students learn that when you see someone you’d like to get to know, there are four things you can do: walk up to them, say “hi”, introduce yourself, and start a conversation! Ms. Shaw and Kitty talk about and demonstrate what goes into a good conversation; including, taking turns talking, asking questions about the other person, and showing you’re listening by looking at the speaker.

“We Can Be Friends” by Vita Jiménez

I may not look the way you do, but I can still be friends with you. I like to feel like I belong. I’m sure that we can get along!

That is the chorus from the song, “We Can Be Friends,” which Ms. Shaw uses in this lesson to talk about diversity and friendships. After listening to and talking about the message of the song, Ms. Shaw shows students Matt Lamothe’s book, “This Is How We Do It,” which follows the lives of seven real children from all over their world, illustrating differences between their lives as well as the common experiences that unite them. By the end of the lesson, students see that while may all look and act differently and come from different places, we all want to feel the sense of belonging we get from friendships!

“Cake & I Scream! …Being Bossy Isn’t Sweet” by Michael Genhart

Helping children understand the difference between being bossy and assertive is a very helpful friendship skill. In the story, “Cake & I Scream!,” students see how Ice Cream’s bossy behavior damages her friendships. Ms. Shaw teaches students about two styles of communication: “bossing” and “suggesting”. Bossing communication involves making demands and might include statements like, “Me first!” or “That’s not how you do it!” In contrast, suggesting communication involves offering an idea and might include statements such as, “I’d like the red marker next” or “I’m used to different rules. Let’s decide the rules together”. Ms. Shaw helps students practice changing “bossing language” to more friendly “suggesting language”.

“Teach Your Dragon to Make Friends” by Steve Herman

In this lesson, Ms. Shaw reads the story “Teach Your Dragon to Make Friends” to talk with students about things we should do and not do to make friends. The lesson also includes a friendship arts and crafts activity called “PALS” to help students remember four things they can to do make and keep their friends: Play together, Accept one another, Let things go, and Speak kindly. Ms. Shaw gives examples of how students can practice each of these and encourages them to consider what they can do to be a pal to others!

“Duck! Rabbit!” by Amy Krouse Rosenthal

Have you ever had a disagreement with a friend? Maybe you had different ideas about what game to play or what movie to watch? It’s okay to disagree and have different ideas from our friends! In this lesson, Ms. Shaw talks about “perspective taking,” which means being a flexible thinker to try to understand another person’s idea or opinion. When we try to understand our friend’s perspective, it shows that we’re open and kind and helps us with our friendships!

 

“The Peace Rose” by Alicia Olson

In this lesson, Ms. Shaw reads “The Peace Rose” to teach students a simple problem-solving strategy that they can use to independently and peacefully solve social problems with peers. The strategy is called “Talk it Out” and it involves three key parts: first you tell the person how you feel, next you say what’s making you feel that way, and finally you make a request for what you would like to happen differently. For example, a student might say, “I feel sad when you say I can’t play with you. Could you please include me?” This is a super strategy that is easy for younger kids to remember. Download a poster of the Talk it Out strategy here.

“A Bug and a Wish” by Karen Scheuer

In this lesson, Ms. Shaw teaches students about giving “a bug and a wish” to share our feelings and needs with someone when they’ve upset us. This can sound like, “It bugged me when grabbed the toy out of my hands without asking. I wish you would ask first.” Ms. Shaw also reads the story, “A Bug and a Wish” to illustrate this strategy and uses her Bug and Wish Wands to demonstrate how to use this strategy. Encourage your child to make their own Bug and Wish Wands to practice this strategy at home! 

STEP Problem Solving

In this lesson, Ms. Shaw teaches students a simple four-step strategy to peacefully and independently solve their problems with others. The four steps include: (1) Saying the problem without blame, (2) Thinking of solutions, (3) Exploring consequences, and finally (4) Picking the best solution. Ms. Shaw also reminds students that before they are ready to problem solve, they need to check in with their feelings and take care of any big feelings. Also emphasized in this lesson is learning about “blame language” (i.e., statements like “You never…” or “You always…”). Ms. Shaw talks about why it’s important to avoid using this kind of language, as it often puts the person who you are talking to on the defensive, therefore, making it more difficult to solve your problem.

“Taking a Spin” by Emily Arrow

In this lesson, Ms. Shaw uses the book and accompanying song, “Taking a Spin” to teach students about the “The Wheel of Choice,” which teaches strategies they can use when they have a conflict with someone. Strategies on The Wheel of Choice include playing rock-paper-scissors, walking away, talking about how you feel, counting to 10, asking the person to stop, and saying you’re sorry. Ms. Shaw illustrates when students might use The Wheel of Choice to solve a problem they’re experiencing by giving some examples of common problems and helpful choices. You can download a coloring page from the book here and listen to the “Taking a Spin” song here if you’d like! 

“Peanut Butter & Jeallyous” by Michael Genhart

Peanut Butter and Jelly. Jelly and Peanut Butter. They are ALWAYS together! But when Peanut Butter starts hanging out with other friends, Jelly flips her lid. In this lesson, Ms. Shaw reads a sweet story about two friends who learn that they can explore new friendships while still keeping the ones they have. This is a great story for children who are struggling with jealousy and wanting to “guard” their friends or keep their friends to themselves. Ms. Shaw also uses candles to illustrate how our “friendship flames” do not go out when we make new friendships with others. Rather, our hearts are big enough to share friendship with many people!

“Ouch! Moments: When Words Are Used in Hurtful Ways” by Michael Genhart

When a bee stings, Ouch! That hurts! When your finger gets caught in a closing door, that hurts a lot. Hearing a mean or hurtful word hurts a lot, too. When other kids say something mean or hurtful, it is hard to know what to do. In the story, “Ouch Moments,” children learn about who is affected by these hurtful words: the target, the kid saying the hurtful words, and the bystanders. The story also teaches children a number of empowering things they can do when they witness these “ouch moments,” such as being brave, showing empathy, going to an adult for help, and more. Check out this Ouch Moment Choice Wheel to learn more.

“Zach Apologizes” by William Mulcahy

When Zach shoves his little brother to the floor, he knows he did something wrong. Even so, it’s hard to apologize, so like any seven-year-old, Zach tries to ignore the problem. However, Zach finds that doing so doesn’t make anyone feel better. Enter the Four Square Apology! Zach’s mom teaches him how to give a super apology to repair the relationship. The Four Square Apology involves four steps: 1) Say what you did, 2) Say how it made the other person feel, 3) Say what you could have done instead, and 4) Make it up to the person. For example, “I’m sorry I pushed you. I can see it made you sad. Next time I will ask first and not push you. Want to play together?” You can download the Four Square Apology here.

“Sorry!” by Trudy Ludwig

Is a quick and easy “sorry” enough when we’ve hurt someone’s feelings? Can one simple word really repair the relationship and hurt we’ve caused? Not always! In this lesson, Ms. Shaw reads the story “Sorry,” which illustrates what it means to really apologize–how giving a genuine and meaningful apology usually involves more than just saying you’re “sorry.” An apology that really repairs the relationship involves being specific about what you’re sorry for, what you will do differently in the future, and asking how you can make it up to the person. To accomplish this, Ms. Shaw teaches students the three-part apology: “I’m sorry for ____. Next time I will ____. How can I make it better?” Download a poster of the three-part apology here.

“Trouble Talk” by Trudy Ludwig

In this lesson, Ms. Shaw introduces students to the concept of “trouble talk”—spreading rumors or saying hurtful things about others in order to establish connection and gain attention. Ms. Shaw reads the story, “Trouble Talk” to illustrate the consequences of trouble talk and also helps students consider what they can do when they hear these hurtful and unhelpful comments. Ms. Shaw shares some simple go-to phrases students can use when they encounter trouble talk, such as, “I don’t want to spread rumors” and “I don’t talk about people behind their backs.” Ms. Shaw also encourages students to consider other ideas of things they can say to stop trouble talk using this worksheet.