Be a Social Spy
Perspective Taking Activity
"Empathy begins with understanding life from another person's perspective." -Sterling K. Brown
When working with young children it is easy to be part of the group and to prompt them to pay attention to social cues but with older children, it becomes more difficult for a prompting adult to blend in with the group. So for older children, I need to find a variety of ways to both teach them better social skills and have them practice those new skills. I teach kids to be a “social spy” to figure out new social situations. Then we can work on responding to people with empathy.
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Be a Social Spy – A Perspective Taking Activity that Develops Social Awareness
In order to encourage kids to pay attention to social cues, I give them “homework”: a list of questions for them to answer by observing their peers. You can also use this activity in group situations to build more understanding and social bonding.
Social Spy worksheet PDF
- Observational skills
- Recognizing facial expressions and emotions
- Perspective taking
- Social skills
Tell the child(ren) that it is their job to be a social spy in their next group activity. Have them fill out the worksheet and then discuss their findings. Try a variety of places to spy on: the playground, grocery store, a sidewalk cafe. For children that are easily overwhelmed, you can watch a show and fill out the worksheet while you are watching. Any way that you can encourage linking observation with a perspective-taking activity you will reinforce this social skill.
It is your job to be a social spy in your next group activity. Fill out the worksheet and then discuss with each other. If there is no answer you can leave it blank.
Name some people in your group.
Name someone who looked happy.
Why do you think that they looked happy?
Name someone who looked bored.
Name someone who looked upset.
Why do you think they looked upset?
Name someone who seemed friendly.
Were you friendly with them? If so what did you do that was friendly?
Pick one person and tell about 3 things that you know about that person.
Pick one person to “spy” on for the next time. What is one thing that you want to know about them?
If you have a child that won't pay attention and notice other children, take the worksheet somewhere where you can observe other people; a park or an outdoor seat at a coffee shop will do. Model for the child making observations and inferences about other people. Then ask the child to do the same. When they feel comfortable with this skill then you can ask them to do the I Spy worksheet independently.