Life skills are skills a child needs to develop in order to succeed in life, but are not necessarily part of any academic course curriculum. Life skills include attributes such as honesty, perseverance, resourcefulness, patience and organization. Life skills lessons are common components of both special education programs and standard classroom education, and sometimes fall under the heading -- as in the case of the state of Utah -- character education.
The Needs of Others: The Boy From Outer Space
Cut a picture of a little boy out of a magazine and hold it up in front of the class. Tell the class that this little boy has just landed on Earth from outer space. He is all alone and doesn't have anything with him except for the clothes he is wearing. Ask each student to suggest one thing the boy might need. Write each suggestion on the chalkboard. Afterward, discuss their suggestions and whether each suggestion is physical, or emotional or both. Ask students how they feel knowing that the boy needs certain things, how they would feel if they were able to provide those things and why.
Anger Management: Role Playing
Have students make lists of things that make them angry: being made fun of, or failure, for example. Then, as a group, ask students to say what happens to their bodies when they get angry: shouting, trembling and crying. Follow up by asking the group what people might do when they lose their tempers, such as hitting someone or yelling, and then how someone might control their anger, such as walking away, or finding outside help. Split the group into pairs and have each pair devise and perform two short role plays: in the first play they will act out when people get mad and lose their temper. In the second play they will act out when people get mad and control their anger. Afterward, have the entire group comment on how tempers were controlled.
Cooperation: Ball in a Blanket
Have students work in groups of four. Give each group a square blanket or cloth and an inflatable ball. Instruct each student of each group to hold one corner of their blanket. Place the ball in the center of their blanket. Tell the groups that they have to work together to lift the ball into the air and then catch it in the blanket as many times in a row as they can, and have them count out loud. Afterward, discuss the game with the class. Ask if they found working together enjoyable, how they each felt when they worked together successfully and if any aspect was frustrating.
Honesty: A Web of Lies
For this activity you'll need a ball of yarn. Have one student sit in a chair at the front of the room, facing the class. Secretly instruct the student to answer each question with a lie. Ask the student why she didn't get her homework done last night. After she lies -- perhaps she will say her dog ate it, for example -- wrap yarn once around her body. Select another student to ask another question about her homework, such as, "Where did the dog take it from?" After her next lie, wrap yarn around her again. Continue to have students ask follow-up questions until the student in the chair is completely tangled in yarn. Then, ask students to discuss what they learned about telling lies, and the patterns it can cause.
Christopher Cascio is a memoirist and holds a Master of Fine Arts in creative writing and literature from Southampton Arts at Stony Brook Southampton, and a Bachelor of Arts in English with an emphasis in the rhetoric of fiction from Pennsylvania State University. His literary work has appeared in "The Southampton Review," "Feathertale," "Kalliope" and "The Rose and Thorn Journal."