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Manipulation bins that foster social skills - Extra activities - Educatall

Manipulation bins that foster social skills

Preschool-aged children sometimes have difficulty accepting a change of plans or unforeseen events. Just think, among other things, of children who get angry when it starts to rain when you were planning to go play outside or children who have tantrums when, for example, the marker they wanted to use no longer works.


What if 2 simple manipulation bins could help children see situations that are frustrating to them differently, teach them to be more flexible and help them adapt more easily?


Read on.


Fill one bin with Popsicle sticks or small tree branches.


As a group, manipulate the sticks. Show children how they can break them by holding the extremities and bending them until they snap. Explain how the sticks break because they are not flexible; they are rigid. The sticks cannot “tolerate” the pressure children exert on their extremities.


Take advantage of this activity to help children understand how, when they get angry because things aren’t playing out as they would like them to, they are being rigid, like the sticks. Help them understand that if they refuse to adapt to situations and accept change, they will “break”, just like the sticks. Of course, “breaking” here represents crying or tantrums.


After a while, present a second bin filled with pipe cleaners, pieces of ribbon, small rolls (snakes) of modeling dough, Wikki Stix, etc. Encourage children to manipulate the contents of this bin to demonstrate how these elements can easily be bent and twisted…and then regain their initial shape. Help children understand that they are flexible; they adapt to the pressure that the children in your group exert on them and their actions.


Lead your group to realize that, when they try to adapt to a situation, they are being flexible. When they change their way of seeing a situation, they can avoid “breaking”. 


Following this activity, when children face a frustrating situation, ask them if they are capable of being “flexible” to avoid “breaking”. You could even present a Popsicle stick and a pipe cleaner to remind them of what they have learned. Encourage them to see the upside of unforeseen events and changes in plans, to be creative so that they may see them positively. For example, if the weather prevents them from going outside, they may have the opportunity to complete a craft that they normally would not have had time for.


Patricia-Ann Morrison


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