Monday, July 29, 2013

Play-Doh Face Activity (Click here)
  1. Goal: Help young children identify and express feelings
  2. Supplies: Activity sheet or blank face (I laminate mine), play-doh
  3. Direct children to create facial expressions on the activity sheet.
  4. I usually start out general (ex. Make a happy face) and then personalize it (ex. Show me how you look when you are sad).
  5. I also use this to open the child up for conversation about their feelings (ex. Can you tell me about a time when you felt that way?).
  6. This can be incorporated into games using things like feelings tic-tac-toe, jenga, etc.
  7. For students with appearances not represented in these sheets I have made my own or had the child draw their own head.  I have also had children draw their parents’ heads for this activity
  8. Feedback: I have found that children disclose and express much more when this activity is done than they do when I just ask them about their feelings.

Saturday, July 27, 2013

Non-Directive Play Therapy

1.  Non-Directive Play Therapy
  • Before you actually do non-directive play therapy and see the amazing results, it is often hard to imagine it working. It is a simplistic technique and I was definitely skeptical at first, but was told by my mentor that if I just “trusted the process" I would soon begin to fully understand its impact.  You really ave to be open to the idea that way children express themselves and process things is completely foreign compared to adult functioning.  
  • “In play therapy, toys are like the child’s words and play is their language" (Gary Landreth)
  • The therapist provides an unconditional positive environment where the child has ultimate control over the play and is free to express themselves.
  • Child’s play is highly symbolic and full of metaphors 
2.  Narrating/Reflecting/Tracking
  • Restate content and reflect the emotion or affect you observe (in the child or the play)
  • Track the child both verbally and physically
  • Watch with interest and remain engaged
  • Look for themes (ex. Aggression, need for nurturance, etc.)
  • Make interpretations
  • Examples of reflective language: That’s where you wanted it; That’s how you…; You know how to…; You know what to do with that; You’re figuring out what that is; That’s your plan; You made it happen just like you said; That’s how you wanted it; You’re going to pick; You know how that works; You know what you like; You’re showing me how; You did it; You know all about it; You’re curious about that; You try and try and don’t give up until you figure it out; That was hard but you did it; You can take care of yourself; You worked hard on that; You fixed it.
3.  Do Not Engage in Play Unless Invited
  • If invited, let the child completely direct your play
  • Ex. Whisper “What should I do now?"
4.  Avoid Labeling
  • Do not label a toy unless the child does first.
  • Labeling something, even if it is obvious (ex. a dog), takes away from the potential symbolism the toy has to the child.

Friday, July 26, 2013

DIY Play Dough Recipes

This recipe is simple and lasts a couple months.  I always have at least one batch of homemade play-dough in my office for when kids want to make larger things.

  • 3 cups flour
  •  2 cups boiling water (if the water is not hot enough then the consistency will be off)
  • 2 small packages of unsweetened coolaid
  • ½ cup salt
  •  3 tablespoons oil
  • Food coloring (optional)
  1. Combine all ingredients
  2. The coolaid will color your play dough, but you can add extra food color to the water if you want a more vibrant color.
  3. Knead until cool
  4. Store in an airtight container or ziplock bag
  5. Play dough will keep for at least a month.  Discard when texture deteriorates. 
Feedback: This is great play-dough that smells much better than the store-bought kind, but leaves a slight residue on hands. 
Click here for another popular play dough recipe (with a photo tutorial) that some people prefer.  I have made both recipes and find that the other play dough becomes sticky after it is stored.  If you make the other recipe, I suggest you add more salt than suggested to deter the kids from eating it :)

Free Direct Practice Book

FREE Direct Social Work Practice Book (8th edition)
Direct Social Work Practice by Hepworth, Rooney, Strom-Gottfried and Larsen, is a widely used book among Social Work schools for their 1st year micro practice classes.  This book can be expensive but my friend got her hands on a PDF version for free.  Anyone who wants a copy can email me at and I’ll send it right over.

Raffle Tickets

Printable Social Skills Raffle Tickets
I made these raffle tickets using “Pages.”  I give them out to the kids in my 1st/2nd grade when I catch them using some of the social skills we have worked on or for good behavior.  I print them on multi-colored cardstock. I will raffle off some mystery prizes during the last session.

Thursday, July 25, 2013

Someone called me a “knowledge hoarder" recently.  Since starting grad school I’ve been collecting interventions, resources, articles, activities, etc., and compiling them in these binders.  I love sharing what I know with others and picking people’s brains for new ideas.  If we all share the wealth of knowledge and experience we have then all our clients benefit, so feel free to submit your own ideas for me to post (  It’s tough being a new practitioner, and we need all the help we can get :)

This blog will mainly feature resources for social workers, free book offers and interventions/activities for working with children and adolescents (though any submissions are welcome!).