A fun and creative way to teach problem-solving skills! Miriam Schiff shows us how…

My name is Miriam Schiff, CCC/SLP, MA, MS Ed, and I’m a longtime graduate of Dr. Devora Samet’s Red and Green Social Skills Training Course. I’d like to share a fun way I recently worked on problem-solving skills with a third grade student.

  1. We randomly went through magazine pictures and we tried to scout out potential “problems.” We found a picture of a boy doing his work with a water bottle sitting on the corner of his desk. We discussed the obvious problem of his work getting ruined if the water bottle spilled. I was quick to validate that it would indeed be a bummer to have one’s work get ruined.
  2. We then rated the problem using a rating scale of FIVE being catastrophic and ONE being manageable (from The Zones of Regulation by Leah M. Kuypers).
  3. Next, we made our trusty RED and GREEN chart.
  • I drew a scenario of a kid sitting at his desk with a wet piece of paper (self-disclosure: I’m a terrible artist but this has never been a problem.)
  • I made the kid look like he was having a full blown meltdown by drawing huge tears near his eyes.
  • I have NO MERCY with the thought bubbles here. I let him know that his friends and Morah will think he’s weird if he loses it.
  • I then drew a boy on the green side with the thought bubble stating, “I’ll work it out.”
  • I made a huge smiley face on the Morah and his friends.
  • We discussed how no third grader has the patience to hear a kid cry for no reason.

4. We then completed a Social Behavior Map (by Michelle Garcia Winner). The chart is divided into four columns.

  • The first one is titled “Expected Behaviors.” He proudly wrote, “Finding a solution.”
  • For the second column that is titled, “How others FEEL,” he wrote “Awesome.”
  • In the third column, “How they REACT,” he gave me the generic answer “Good,” but we expanded on that.
  • For the final column, “How YOU FEEL about yourself,” he colored a smiley face.

And I was thrilled!!

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