join in and play

Join In and Play

Title: Join In and Play (Learning to Get Along®)

Author: Cheri J. Meiners, M. Ed.

Illustrator: Meredith Johnson

Age: preschool, elementary school

Description: One in a series of books by free spirit publishing that gently and effectively teaches young children foundational social skills

• joining play
• managing rejection
• interpreting body language
• understanding facial expressions
• building general social skills

Why I like this book: I often think books that directly teach social skills are written from an adult perspective in a way that makes them less relatable for kids. This book breaks that mold for me. The body language and facial expressions are realistic. For example, when a group of kids tells a girl she can’t play with them, it is clear that they are playing 4 square and all squares are full. It is clear that they aren’t being mean. And yet, looking at the expression on the girl’s face, it is also clear that she is a little sad and wondering what she should do next. The book gives multiple realistic solutions to this situation that kids encounter every day.

Ideas for use:
• Talk about body language and facial expressions as you read the book
• Before reading the page, ask kids what they think is happening in the pictures. Each page contains lots of visual information!
• Many kids think it’s wrong to say “No” and not let others join in and yet, there are times when it is not possible or desirable to let others join. Talk about when and why and how to gently say “No” to a friend.
• Discuss tone of voice with discussion of each scene that takes place.
• Act out ways to effectively join a group of children who are playing.
• Act out solutions when kids are told “no” they can’t play.
• Don’t forget to discuss feelings throughout. Acting out the scenarios helps remove some of the fear, anxiety, sadness and anger that often accompanies rejection. It’s a great way to try out ways to manage rejection when the stakes are not so high.

Submitted by: Jill Perry, MHA, MS, OTR/L

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