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Working It Out

Puppets and role play activities are often the best ways to help young children work out problems. Whether it’s problems at school with friends or at home with siblings or other family members, teaching children to solve their own problems can be “child’s play.”

What You Need

  • Paper plates
  • Craft sticks
  • Construction paper
  • Scissors
  • Glue
  • Markers or crayons
  • Yarn

What To Do

  1. Have your children make two paper plate faces each: one happy face and one sad or angry face. They can use markers, crayons, cutouts from construction paper, yarn, or other craft materials.
  2. Glue a craft stick to the bottom of each paper plate face to use as a handle for the mask. For example:
    laughing and angry icons
  3. Now tell a story describing an action that could start an argument. For example: your younger brother runs into the room, trips, and knocks down the town you had been building with your blocks; your friend comes to play and wants to be the “mommy” and not the “baby,” but you want to be the “mommy,” too.
  4. Have the children use the paper plate faces to role play what might happen next. Then, guide them through the following steps to help solve the problem and turn their angry masks into happy ones.
    • What’s the problem?
      “He ran into the room and knocked down my buildings,” or “I tripped and fell on the buildings. I didn’t mean to.”
    • Does everybody agree this is what happened?
      “So, the buildings were knocked down because of an accident. Do you agree?”
    • What can we do to solve the problem?
      “He can say he’s sorry.” “I can help build back the buildings.”
    • Okay, is this problem solved now?
      “Yes, let’s get started building.”
  5. Have the children make up other possible problems and role play ways to solve them step-by-step. Then, when you hear children arguing, have them get the paper plate faces and follow the steps above to a happy solution.
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Updated on 3/21/2012