abcteach blog

This month’s Eye on Curriculum series has taken a walk through special highlights from our comprehensive Interactive library. We kicked things off with a Back to School theme, journeyed into popular SMART Notebook and Promethean Flipchart files, then lastly, explored our exciting new Math Magician series. But what about games for everyday lesson plans? Don’t worry, we’ve got hundreds (and hundreds) of core subject and extra curricula files waiting for you!

The abcteach Interactive section is full of math, science, reading comprehension, foreign language, social studies, and other themed files for students of all ages. As you tour each section, you’ll find a broad range of skill sets, ranging from pre-K basics all the way through middle school. You’ll also find attendance charts, calendars, graphic organizers, and a variety of fun themes for the holidays and other special events (i.e. the Olympics). In addition, many of our files have been categorized for Common Core Standards, so students will have a balanced mix of fun while learning their essential grade-specific skills.

The links below are a handful of materials categorized according to subject, with multiple grade levels included. Take a look and see what works best for you! If you don’t find what you’re looking for or there’s something else that you need, please let us know. We’re always here to help.

And don’t forget: although our games are created to use with either SMART Notebook or Promethean Flipchart software, all can be accessed with your home or classroom computer!

Math (over 250 in all!)
Flipchart: Math – Tally Marks
Flipchart: Math – Pumpkin Ten Frames

SMART Notebook: Math – Apple Tree Place Value (kdg)
SMART Notebook: Math – Money (elem)
SMART Notebook: Math – Metric Conversion Word Problems (grade 5)
SMART Notebook: Math – Multiplying and Dividing Integers (7th grade)

SMART Notebook: Salamander Label
SMART Notebook: Science – Part of a Plant (easy)

SMART Notebook: Science – The Food Chain
SMART Notebook: Crossword – International Space Station
Flipchart: Reading Comprehension – The Human Body (bones, muscles and cells)
Flipchart: Science: Animals – Invertebrates (label/octopus)

Social Studies
SMART Notebook: Map – Central America
SMART Notebook: Crossword – Winter Olympics

Interactive: Notebook: Social Studies – American Civil War
Interactive: Notebook: Social Studies – Presidential Matching
Interactive: Notebook: Map – South America
Interactive: Notebook: Secret Letters-Social Studies Map Skills (elem)

Reading Comprehension
Interactive: Flipchart: Why is Grass Green? (elem-middle)
Interactive: Flipchart: Reading Questions: Template

Interactive: Notebook: Holidays: Labor Day – Early Reader (with audio)
Interactive: Flipchart: Early Reader Comprehension – Colorful Crayons (with audio)
Interactive: Notebook: Reading Comprehension – Types of Clouds (with audio)
Interactive: Notebook: Reading Comprehension – Claude Monet (upper elementary)

Interactive: Flipchart: Phonics: Dolch Set 3: – Spelling (with audio)
Interactive: Notebook: ABC Order – Colors

SMART Notebook: Spelling – The Basketball Game
SMART Notebook: Spelling – OU and OW words
SMART Notebook: Syllable School Sort
SMART Notebook: Spelling – Reading With Mr. Pugsley (level one)

Posted by Lindsey Elton, abcteach Team


mathappimageDoes your child need extra help with math? It’s time for the abcteach Math Magician! The Math Magician app was created to showcase basic math problems in a fun and interactive way. Math Magician helps students of all ages learn the basics of counting, addition, subtraction, multiplication, division, and greater than/less than values. This app is great because it has multiple levels of computation, allowing individuals to learn at their own pace. Your student will enjoy the app for its creative graphics, intro movie, rewarding treasures, and positive reinforcement; in the process, they will learn how to read and solve multiple choice questions, while working on their mental math skills.

This fall, we will be updating the Math Magician app with a new level of difficulty. This level will be pre-K, focusing on beginner level problems. Math Magician will have four different levels of computation, covering six different subject matters, once the update is complete. The pre-K section will be great for youngsters that are just learning about math, as their first impression of math will be fun!

Math Magician is available for iPhone 3GS, iPhone 4, iPhone 4S, iPhone 5, iPod touch (3rd, 4th, and 5th generations), and iPad. Requires iOS 4.3 or later.

Purchase Math Magician today!

Math Magician Interactives Series
Did you know that abcteach now has Math Magician interactives for SMART Board? We currently have six different SMART Board notebooks with a Math Magician theme, reinforcing the same core curriculum math problems that are featured in the app. Let’s check out some of the existing Math Magician interactives that we have to offer…

mm1SMART Notebook: Math Magician – Addition & Subtraction (2,4,6,8)

This custom made SMART Board notebook was created to strengthen your students’ understanding of addition and subtraction, using the numbers 2,4,6, and 8. In this interactive lesson, you must drag one of the given numbers into the correct spot in order to complete each math equation. Dragging and dropping numbers to solve problems is a great way to get your student involved in math. This feature helps students recognize numbers, solve problems faster, and creates enhanced memory of the numbers and problems presented. Every problem will use 2,4,6, and 8 as a possible answer for each page of this lesson. This demands that the student make a decision on which number is best suited for each particular problem.

mm2SMART Notebook: Math Magician – Ten Frames

This is another interactive that is a part of the Math Magician SMART Board notebook series. In this activity, your student will learn counting and addition skills. Each student must either drag the given amount of magic treasures into the Ten Frame, or count the treasures in each Ten Frame to get the correct answers. Counting and adding in Ten Frames is an organized way for your child to learn basic numbers in math.

We hope you enjoy these lessons and more, as abcteach plans on expanding our Interactive Math Magician series. Simple, to the point, and reinforcing basic math skills is what you will get. Become your own math magician, and conquer these great interactive lessons today!

Questions about the Math Magician app or interactives? Please email us at

Posted by David Kemsley, abcteach Team

As Common Core Standards become more prevalent in your class, the greater the need there is to ensure that students are grasping the necessary skill elements. But how do you assess their competency and comprehension of each required standard? With our new rubric charts.

Rubric Evaluation Charts
checkmarkIn addition to new math and ELA worksheets, abcteach is proud to launch a series of rubric evaluation charts to help you assess how well your students are mastering their Common Core skills. The first series of charts evaluates ‘Writing.’ Fashioned in the typical rubric structure, they display the specific skill/standard (taken directly from the Common Core website), then provide four adjacent columns for you ascertain where your students’ skills lie. The four columns include the following:

• 4 – Exceeds Grade Level
• 3 – At Grade Level
• 2 – Approaching Grade Level
• 1 – Below Grade Level

Common Core identifies three writing styles that students need to grasp: persuasive, informative/explanatory, and narrative. We have found that a majority of teachers typically start with persuasive, so we are creating those materials first, for grades K-5. Stay tuned in the following months for your informative/explanatory and narrative rubric charts – there’s more to come!

 How to Use
The new rubric charts support materials found on abcteach, as well as your current Common Core worksheets. Let’s start on the site and take 5th grade – Writing as an example. Here, you’ll find a variety of items, including your rubric, an explanatory poster, and a packet of practice sheets with a student mastery checklist. The student checklist is a great tool as it is aligned with the rubric, and can be used in conjunction. Students simply check off that they’ve completed the work, and then the rubric provides your final overview assessment. *Note: Persuasive Writing rubrics are also designed to be used with Narrative checklists; this is displayed in the example below.

CC: Student Master ChecklistGrade 5: ELA Writing Rubric

We hope that you enjoy our new rubrics and find them useful. Common Core Standards can be ambiguous and tedious at times (not to mention frustrating). Our rubrics are designed to provide a clear definition of what you’re looking for and what you’re grading, with the hopes of making the process faster and easier.

As always, please let us know if you have any questions, comments, or suggestions on our materials. We’re here to help!

Posted by Kathy Butler and Lindsey Elton, abcteach Team

If you are a teacher or parent, don’t be shy, and be sure to check out all of abcteach’s interactive materials. There are many different kinds of interactive whiteboards and software. On abcteach, we offer both SMART Board® and Promethean ActivInspire® materials. You don’t have to have fancy equipment or an expensive tablet in order to ensure a hands-on learning experience. All of these lessons can be downloaded onto your computer and used to teach, or just have fun, in an interactive way!

In the categories below, we will discuss a variety of our most popular lessons, share why each one is important, and explain how they can add dimension to the classroom. Our interactive whiteboard resources are intended to energize, engage, and teach in more dynamic ways than ever. Here is how:

SMART Board® Lessons and Activities
In order to use our SMART Board materials you must have the correct notebook software version of 9.5 or later. Here is a free 30-day trial on Smart Exchange with the newest software (version 11.2). Once you have downloaded the software, let’s explore some of our resources.

SMART Notebook: Math, Animal Trackers – Addition (1-20)
animal trackersThis activity is a part of a series called “Animal Trackers,” and is an excellent way to get students to practice and get involved with their basic math skills (addition, subtraction and multiplication). The object of the game is to touch the correct answer, in order to track each animal. This activity contains five levels of addition problems, with sums 2 through 20. Each level has the same difficulty. If you wanted to use this in a classroom setting, you could add a timer or stopwatch and see how fast it would take to complete one level. On the computer, simply touch the correct answer using the cursor and play along! (ages 7-9)

SMART Notebook: Punctuation Station  Apostrophes
punct stationFor all of the Language Arts lovers, here is another series called “The Punctuation Station,” which includes apostrophes, abbreviations, capital letters, comma basics, and ending marks. Each station has: review with examples, writing and editing practice, rules of use, and sentence structure. Certain tools are added to enhance each individual experience. For example, matching objects or images by using the drag and drop feature will make practice easier and more memorable. The touch and reveal animation includes sound and graphics that encourage the students to get every answer correct. Get aboard the Punctuation Station! (Elementary levels)

Here are all of the SMART Board categories on abcteach.

Promethean ActivInspire® Lessons
In order to use our Promethean lessons you must first start with the appropriate software. You can find the download on Promethean Planet along with other useful information and tips about using whiteboards in the classroom. On abcteach, you will find a wide variety of educational lessons in our Promethean Flipchart section. Promethean Flipcharts can only be used with the ActivInspire download. You cannot open SMART Board files on ActivInspire and vice versa.

Promethean Flipchart: Reading Comprehension  Rock Climbing
rock climbReading Comprehensions are an important part of our interactive content. Topics range from holidays and events to seasons and animal habitats. Most of our comprehensions include correlating vocabulary building worksheets, audio, and multiple-choice quizzes. The quiz template allows students to vote or use their remotes in order to track answers. Plus, learning new vocabulary couldn’t be easier with Keyword Match. This template allows students to drag each word into place next to the appropriate description. Explore more interactive reading comprehensions here.

Promethean Flipchart: Getting to Know My Classmates (Member)
get to knowTake the first day of school to the next level with these creative classroom activities. This is a fun back to school experience to help students become better acquainted with their classmates. Students are asked to raise their hands in response to a question, and then use that data to graph and record results. This complete lesson reinforces reading, handwriting, counting, sorting, and graphing skills. This lesson is for members only, but check out some of our other themes now. (K-3rd grade)

Most of our interactive whiteboard lessons are made with the common core standards and supplementary materials. We pride ourselves on creativity and enhancement of the classroom in order to save our members valuable time. You can find many different interactive categories on abcteach such as: math, language arts, science, reading comprehension, themes, games, and much more!

Posted by Laura Bida, abcteach Team

The following article comes to us from mom, educator, business woman, and regular abcblog contributor, Shara Lawrence-Weiss. Read below as she highlights effective tips to help parents prepare for the adjustment of back to school time.

First day of Preschool 2012As back to school season kicks into action, many parents will face the challenges of setting routines, packing snacks, running to and from after school activities, and more. Below are a few tips to help with the transition process.

Get to know the teacher and remain involved
Visit your child’s school and classroom. Introduce yourself to the teacher and be sure she/he has your email address and phone number for updates. Ask the teacher how you can help either at school or at home. Let your child(ren) know that you are involved. Research shows that parent involvement is a key factor in student success.

Write down your schedule
It always helps to put something in writing. Sit down and think through your daily routine. Do you have one child or several children? Write down when each child will need to get up (including breakfast time and teeth brushing time) in order to be ready for school. Some kids need more time than others. Can your kids be dropped at school early for morning recess? When do the kids need to be picked up? Type up your schedule and place it on the fridge if you need a daily reminder.

Daily snacks
If your child needs a daily snack, this can be a challenge for parents. Here are a few of the snacks my kids enjoy: pistachios, almonds, sunflower seeds, whole wheat crackers, cheese slices, small meat/cheese sandwiches, cucumber slices with sea salt sprinkled on top, organic fruit strips, fresh fruit, slices of turkey breast, almond butter sandwiches and Kettle Chips. I rotate between these choices.

Interesting note: Some experts believe that ADHD can be treated through food choices, also! Related Article

Place clothing out the night before
This can really help if your child struggles to choose clothing. Pick the clothing the evening before and lay things out on the floor or hang the clothes up on the doorknob. Place everything out, including underpants, socks and shoes. This has been a huge time-saver in our home.

If possible, let the teacher know that you are open to a carpool connection. The teacher may be able to put you in touch with another parent from the school so you can share driving duties.

Positive after-school connections
Ava Parnass of Listen To Me Please suggests that parents say three nice things to their child after school. Refrain from negative talk and instead say, “How was your day? I missed you!” or “It’s so nice to see you. I hope you had a wonderful day. Tell me about it.” Positive affirmations assist with healthy brain development and emotional intelligence. In addition, consider these stress buster tips for kids who need some down-time after school.

School supplies
It may feel overwhelming to purchase numerous school supplies at the start of each year. Teachers often ask for additional supplies because they need to stretch the supplies out year-round. Teachers usually run out of supplies part way through the year and many parents donate just once (at the start of the year). Some studies say that teachers spend about 15% of their own income on supplies for the students. In order to help the teachers out, consider donating additional supplies throughout the year. You can find great sales running after school begins, when stores are pushing their remaining products out the door. Buy extra crayons at 25 cents per box, pencils at 50 cents per pack and so on. The teacher will appreciate anything you can give.


About Shara
Shara is the owner of Mommy Perks and the co-owner of Weiss Business Solutions. She works at home with her husband and has a background in early childhood, education and freelance. Shara and Rick have four children, one dog and one fish.

interactive classGreetings, colleagues! With the school year about to start, abcteach is back again with our Eye on Curriculum blog series. The Eye on Curriculum series is a monthly highlight of specific subjects or sections on abcteach. We’ll cover general concepts, teacher insights, and ways to use related materials in your class. If you missed it, check out any of last year’s subjects: Common Core Standards, Language Arts, Math, and
Teaching Extras.


This month’s “Eye” is Interactives. To keep pace with evolving classroom technology, our interactive section is one of the fastest growing categories at abcteach. Here you’ll find SMART Notebook, Promethean Flipchart, and PowerPoint files in a multitude of themes and subject listings. Each subcategory contains engaging learning games to use with students pre-K to upper elementary. No interactive whiteboard? No problem at all. Every interactive file can be used at home or in the class with a simple computer and mouse.

Before getting started, click on the links below to download the appropriate software. If you have any troubles with the setup, please visit our Interactives and PPT Help Page for troubleshooting hints.

• SMART Notebook (Windows | Mac)
• Promethean Flipchart
• PPT Viewers

In the upcoming weeks we will be featuring various subjects, new releases, and grade-specific games. To kick things off, here’s a sampling of interactives with a Back to School theme:

• Interactives: Notebook: Back to School Theme (multi age)
• Interactive: Notebook: Template: Back to School (Member)
• Interactives: Notebook: Word Search: Back to School (prim/elem) (Member)
• Interactives: Notebook: Word Search: Back to School (elem – middle) (Member)
• Interactives: Notebook: Playground Theme (multi age) (Member)

Back to School is always a busy time, so please let us know if we can help in any way. We are proud to be your colleagues and we wish you all the best for the new year!

To your continued success,

The abcteach Team

Do you have a child or student with special needs? Are you looking for ways to promote acceptance and understanding in their friends and classmates? The following article is from regular guest contributor Shara Lawrence-Weiss. Shara discusses her own experience having a child with special needs and the steps she took to calm her son’s feelings about his condition, as well as directing the curiosity of his peers. 

mp - adding to the eyeShara’s Story
Fourteen years ago my son was born with multiple complications in his right eye. The doctors called his eye microphthalmic (small) and proceeded to inform me that he was blind on the right side. We later discovered that he had glaucoma and that his retina was detached.

Eleven ultrasounds later, I was faced with the following choices:

1. Leave the eye in place. Use steroids drops for the remainder of my son’s life with the potential of lifelong negative consequences. We would patch the seeing eye for up to eight years in order to attempt to get the blind eye to see large items. (No promises.) However, there would still be a risk for possible eye removal later on.

2. Remove the eye and replace it with a prosthesis. This would sever his optic nerve, making an eye transplant impossible. But no patching was needed – no steroids needed.

I was young and scared. As I sat in the doctor’s office, rocking my one year old, tears rolling down my cheeks, I asked the doctor, “If this was YOUR son, what would you do?” He replied, “I would remove the eye. No question.”

“Take the eye out,” I said.

A month later my son was put under for a four hour surgery to remove his eye. His eye was replaced with hydroxyapatite [a mineral, Ca10(PO4)6(OH)2], which is the principal storage form of calcium and phosphorus in bone. Later, it was covered with a prosthetic fitting that had been custom painted to match his seeing eye.

My son receives a new eye every few years, as he grows. I have saved all of his former eyes inside a small film canister (with distilled water inside). Someday, his children will be rather impressed, I’m sure!

What does this have to do with stories?

While in Oregon last week, getting a new eye made, our ocularist asked me about my son’s condition. He wanted to be reminded as to why the eye was removed. I told him about the options I had and he nodded, “Yes, yes. You made the right choice!” (I’ll admit – that was nice to hear.) We chatted about my son’s past and the doctor mentioned, “When kids know from the start what’s going on with another child, it lessens the risk of bullying and teasing. Does your son tell his friends about the eye? So they know what happened and why?”

I told the doctor about two books that I had made when my son was younger. I took photos of him, his “Special Eye” (as we called it back then), his glasses, sticks/rocks/scissors/sharp objects (that could hurt his “seeing eye”), family members who also wear glasses, and more. I created two books for my son:

• One was about the care-taking needed for his new eye, and

• One was about his need to wear glasses, to protect the seeing eye.

I wrote personalized text for each page, printed the papers out, glued the photos on, and took the stories to an office supply shop. I had the pages laminated and bound. I then asked his kindergarten and first grade teachers to read the stories in class. My son was never bullied or teased about his eye. His classmates knew all about it, and were invited to ask questions, right from the start. They asked their questions and then moved on. That was that.

(Now, of course, you can make digital stories! You won’t need to glue your photos to the paper.)

All these years later, I’m grateful to the teachers who agreed to read our stories in class. The books are still intact and I flip through them, now and again, remembering how much they helped my son so many years ago.

If your child would benefit from a personalized book, consider making one that can be shared at home, in the car, at school or at church. Open the lines of communication and invite other children to ask their questions in a safe and respectful environment.

It worked for us!

About Shara
Shara is the owner of Mommy Perks and the co-owner of Weiss Business Solutions. She works at home with her husband and as a substitute teacher in a local elementary school. Shara and Rick have four children, one dog and one fish.

Water Learning Activities

July 22nd, 2013

reflective globeWater: H2O, HOH, agua, l’eau, acqua, wasser, ice (in a solid state), vapor, or steam (in a gaseous state)… it’s one of our most valuable and utilized resources around the world. It covers approximately 75% of the earth’s surface, makes up 55-75% of the human body, and as a freshwater source, is found most plentifully in the atmosphere (more than in all the rivers combined). *Statistics cited from
US EPA Water Trivia Facts
and The Water Information Program.

With summer temperatures soaring (and back to school preparations just around the corner), water is also a cool way to engage vacationing students and get them in the mode for the new year. From reading comprehensions to experiments and family activity planners, abcteach has nearly 400 water-related learning materials to exercise and engage their young minds.

Word Games
Word Search: Liquid Measurement
Crossword: Clean Water (elem)
Vocabulary Cards: Water Plants (color) (upper elem/middle) (Member)

Math & Science
Science: The Water Cycle
Experiment: Evaporation (upper elem/middle)
Word Problems: Environment (elem/upper elem) (Member)
Experiment: Plants – Transpiration (elem/upper elem) (Member)

Writing & Journals
Color and Write: Rowboat (elem)
Picture Prompt: Water Fight (elementary) (Member)
Writing: Problem Analysis on Ballast Water (middle/high) (Member)

Reading & Language Arts
Comprehension: Water Cycle (elem/upper elem)
Comprehension: Water and Electric Safety (elem) (Member)
Comprehension: The Importance of Clean Water (elem) (Member)

Member PPTs with Audio
PPT with Audio: Ecosystems 3: The Water Cycle (upper elem/middle/high)
PPT with Audio: Ecosystems 6: Freshwater Ecosystems, Hydration (upper elem/middle/high)
PPT with Audio: Plant Kingdom 9: Aquatic Plants (upper elem/middle/high)

 On the Water” Educational Video
How much of the world is covered by water? How much of that water is drinkable? How does water affect our lives? Learn the answers to these questions and more in this educational video. Age level: preschool and early elementary.

 Water Wonderful Family Activity Planner (Member)

poolfam Math Activities

• PreK and Kindergarten: Use a bucket filled with ½ or ¾ with water. Mark clear plastic cups at ¼, ½, ¾, and full. Have kids practice filling the cups to the mark, then explore adding cups together. Expose children to fractions by writing math statements (i.e. ½ cup + ½ cup = 1 cup).

• Primary (Grades 1-3): Find out how tall your kids are. Head to a pool and have them walk around the deck noting water depths in different areas. Ask them to predict where they can stand and where it’ll be over their heads. Then, with adult supervision, have them get in and walk towards the various depths and check if their predictions were accurate. Now, practice pool safety.

• Upper Elementary (Grades 4-6): Place a bucket in the shower and run water into it for 30 seconds. Remove the bucket and measure the water. Multiply by 10 to see how much water is used during a 5 minute shower. Do the same for an 8, 10, or 15 minute one. Discuss and brainstorm ways that you can conserve water. 

The highlights above are just a handful of the many water learning activities found at abcteach. Do you have a favorite? Or any hands-on exercises to share? Let us know! We’re always looking to pass on great teaching ideas to the abcteach community.

Posted by Lindsey Elton, abcteach Team

Altgeld Sawyer Corner Farm, featuring Pickle Worry garden art by Jason WaclawikSummer is finally here, which means biking along the lake, picnics at the beach, and leisurely reads in the park, at least to this Northern girl.

Summer also means delving into one of the greatest joys of the warm weather season: gardening! After being dormant for months, we are now experiencing a bountiful supply of bright flowers, crisp vegetables, and sweet, tasty fruits. From herb pots to community gardens (like Chicago’s Altgeld Sawyer Corner Farm pictured to the left), our chances to experience them are plentiful.

In addition to filling our bellies, gardening also produces amazing learning opportunities. It’s an education in many subjects, rolled into one activity. From planting the seeds, to pruning, watering, and upkeep, you’re experiencing a plethora of educational skills, including science, math, language arts, organization, and goal setting, just to name a few.

Interactive: Notebook: Science: Garden – Word Search

Interactive: Flipchart: Word Search: Garden Planter

Interactive: Notebook: Science: Garden/Seeds (Member)

PowerPoint: Presentation with Audio: Soil 2: Dirt (multi-age) (Member)

Writing & Journals
Clip Art: Clover Garden B&W outline (Member)

Project: Gardening Journal – Field Trip Report

Project: Gardening Journal – Planting Record

Shapebook: My Garden (k-1/primary) (Member)

Reading & Language Arts
Fiction: Patricia’s Garden (upper elem/ middle)

Fiction: Dana’s Flower Garden (elementary)

Comprehension: Fun in the Garden! Seed Starting (primary (Member)

Comprehension: Composting-Key to a Bountiful Garden (upper elem/middle) (Member)

Learning Center: Spring – story sequence (Member)

Word Problems: Spring Garden (elementary) (Member)

Worksheet: Jenny’s Garden (elem/upper elem) (Member)

Green Earth Club Materials

Learning Clubs: Green Earth Data Record (upper elem/middle)

Learning Clubs: Healthy Gardeners Bookmarks

Learning Clubs: Fiction Fanatics (elem) (Member)

Clip Art: Green Earth Club Logo (Member)

abcteach has over 150 garden-related materials for students of all ages. They’re colorful and versatile, and can be used at home, while on the road, or during your summer school teaching. No matter what the age, kids (and adults) can alway reap the rewards of the garden classroom.

Posted by Lindsey Elton, abcteach Team

Student Group sn - friend social sn - prof ettiquette

The following article comes to you from abcteach Special Needs creator and veteran, Janie Quinn. In this post, you’ll find tips and tools to help young children develop and establish appropriate interpersonal communication skills.

Social Skills
Social skills are a collection of behaviors and actions that allow us to initiate and maintain appropriate interactions with others. The scope of the skills and behaviors necessary to successfully navigate in society may differ depending on where and with whom we are. They also change as we grow and mature. Social skills are complex because they are influenced by the world around us – culture, gender, region, and religion are to name but a few. The rules and regulations governed by these societal norms impact many of our social interactions, and therefore, provide no clear rules that apply in all situations. Modeling, role playing, and teaching problem solving skills to children and young adults will provide a wide repertoire of skills to help them prepare for successful interpersonal interactions.

Social skills need to be taught and practiced across a variety of situations. Acceptable behaviors may differ slightly depending on the setting (library vs. park), and the people (family vs. friends vs. strangers). Children and young adults need exposure to problem solving experiences in a wide range of situations to give them foundations upon which to build and refer to when faced with new experiences. Building social skills training into everyday life is a great way to accomplish this goal. These skills can be presented in a fun, game-like fashion as part of a schedule or routine. They can also be presented spontaneously whenever you have about 10 minutes of “spare time” inclusive of school (the first or last few minutes of a class), home (before or after dinner), or most anywhere!

Social Skills Flashcards
Social Skills Flashcardsabcteach has recently introduced a collection of Social Skill Flashcards to the member site. These cards contain a variety of scenarios and points to consider to help incorporate social skills instruction and practice into everyday life. Here is one way to use them: Print, cut out, fold, and tape together the flashcards, then bundle them like a deck of cards. Once a Social Skill Flashcard card is drawn, read the scenario, give a quick, yet simple introduction of the skill concept, then review the points to consider. Next, discuss and debate appropriate solutions and formulate an idea and plan. Assign different roles – and let the fun begin! If a suggested solution borders on being an appropriate choice, let the person suggesting the solution role play their idea. Once role played, discuss the pros and cons of the solution. Ask, “Was that the best possible solution for this situation? What can you do differently to improve the outcome of the situation?” Perform the teaching process again using the new and improved solution. Discuss why it is or is not a better solution. These strategies also apply if there is more than one appropriate solution to the scenario.

When teaching social skills, practicing in a variety of settings is extremely important. Practice in both public (school, church, the park, the library, the mall) and private (your home, a relative’s home. a friend’s home) settings. Also, consider practicing the skills in formal (with a person of authority, a fancy party, a job interview) and informal (at home, with grandparents, at a friend’s casual party) situations. Each of these scenarios has its own set of appropriate behaviors. Discussion, practice, and experience will help ease the confusion and anxiety that often come with new places and environments.

Another important component to social skills is interaction with a variety of people. Our sense of familiarity with family and close friends differs greatly from appropriate behaviors with strangers and people in authority positions. We are expected to act differently with a relative than with our school principal. Acting overly familiar during a job interview can be the difference in gaining or losing a desired job. Learning how to interact in a formal fashion (community helpers, boss or supervisor, principal, strangers) vs. an informal fashion (close family, close friends) can determine the success of our social lives and the ability to live independently in our community.

The more practice and exposure children and young adults receive, the more confident and comfortable they will become with social interactions and activities. To promote skill generalization and maintenance, encourage these individuals to continually use their new skills in a variety of places and with a range of people. Learning the skills to initiate and maintain positive social relationships will lead to acceptance, adjustment, and independence. Making the learning of these skills fun and functional will help our children and young adults acquire and generalize the appropriate social skills for independent living.

Over the next few months, abcteach will be adding additional flashcards to the collection. If there are specific skills you would like to see addressed, please let us know!

Posted by Janie Quinn, abcteach Team

Copyright © abcteach blog. All rights reserved.