Children use body language, eye contact, facial expressions and gestures to convey powerful messages---even when they're not aware of it. This nonverbal communication may have more effect than speech on listeners. It's not surprising that children who lack good nonverbal communication have difficulty developing and maintaining friendships as a result. Activities that teach about nonverbal communication can help children develop this important life skill.
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While playing charades, children must find ways to communicate a thought or idea without speech. Children who act out a scene practice using nonverbal communication. Those who are guessing the scene must observe and identify those communications. For a twist on this favourite game, children can act out emotions such as suspicion, fear, surprise, confusion, irritation, amusement and disgust.
Social scripts walk children through social situations that may be difficult for them or are new experiences---such as the first day of school. These are especially useful in helping children learn about common nonverbal communications they can expect to encounter. A parent or teacher creates social scripts by writing out simple scenarios, including a description of body language and appropriate responses. Acting out these social scripts will give children an additional opportunity to learn about nonverbal communication.
The ability to correctly identify facial expressions is linked to good social skills. Games that match faces to corresponding emotions help children learn about this form of nonverbal communication. Face matching games can be made by cutting out pictures of people from magazines and writing a list of emotions such as happy, sad, scared and angry. Children then match each face with the corresponding emotion. Face matching games can also be found online at do2learn.com.
In this activity two children stand facing each other. One makes facial expressions and other gestures---crossing arms, tapping a foot, giving thumbs up or rubbing his chin. The second tries to mimic these expressions and gestures as if he is a reflection in the mirror. The children should then change places. This allows both children to practice initiating nonverbal communication and recognising that communication.
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