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Spotlight on Social Skills Elementary Making Friends
Ages: 6-10   Grades: 1-5

A variety of learning methods, step-by-step instructions, and lots of visual supports help students learn the skills needed to develop and maintain friendships.  


  • Develop age-appropriate social language and interaction skills
  • Develop and maintain friendships 
  • Interact successfully in the classroom
  • Understand peers' perspectives
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** This is a Cloud E-Book that is accessible from any device with Internet access. .

The activity pages consist of interesting graphic organizers, photos, and art supported with specific, clear directions.  Students practice these skills:  

  • recognizing friendly faces and friendly actions
  • understanding others' feelings 
  • making polite requests
  • group etiquette
  • dealing with arguments and making apologies 
  • giving compliments and being a good sport
  • how to handle secrets and tattling

These learning strategies are used to help students understand and use the fundamental skills in making and keeping friends: 

  • modeling
  • observation
  • direct instruction
  • discussion
  • role-playing
  • other guided practice

Extra helps include:

  • pretest/posttest
  • friendly behaviors checklist
  • answer key

You may purchase Making Friends individually or as a 6-book set.  The 6-book set consists of:

Spotlight on Social Skills Elementary Conversations
Spotlight on Social Skills Elementary Emotions
Spotlight on Social Skills Elementary Making Friends
Spotlight on Social Skills Elementary Making Social Inferences
Spotlight on Social Skills Elementary Nonverbal Language
Spotlight on Social Skills Elementary Predicting Consequences


Copyright © 2009

40 pages, pretest/posttest, skills checklist, answer key
  • Children with language difficulties, particularly those with pragmatic impairments, need specific teaching to help social understanding (Taylor-Goh, 2005).
  • Research has established the reciprocal relationship between language skill and social acceptability among peers (Gallagher, 1993).
  • The abilities to adjust messages to listeners' needs, initiate conversation successfully, ask appropriate questions, contribute well to ongoing conversations, communicate intentions clearly, address everyone when joining a group, and make more positive than negative comments are related to peer acceptance and sociometric status (Putallaz & Gottman, 1981; Rubin, LeMare, & Lollis, 1990; Gallagher, 1993).
  • Conversation partners require skills in both verbal and nonverbal interactive behaviors (Sillars, 1991).
  • Social skills intervention can improve children's social cognitive skills (Timler, Olswang, & Coggins, 2005).
  • Targeted language intervention with at-risk students may result in more cautionary, socially acceptable behaviors (Moore-Brown, Sanger, Montgomery, & Nishida, 2002).
  • Only 7% of the information we communicate to others depends upon the words we say; 93% depends on nonverbal communication (Mehrabian, 1971).
  • Students with language disorders often perform much like younger, typically-developing students on measures of pragmatic development (Lapadat, 1991).
  • Social and emotional development lay the foundation for later success in school, work, and life.  Addressing students' social and emotional needs also increases their capacity to learn (Franklin, 2008).
  • Language facility is a key component of social competence (Gallagher, 1991; Guralnick, 1992).

Spotlight on Social Skills Elementary Making Friends incorporates these principles and is also based on expert professional practice.


Franklin, J. (2008, January 29). Social and emotional learning: Educating the whole child. Southern Illinoisan. Retrieved February 7, 2008, from 

Gallagher, T. (1991). Language and social skills: Implications for clinical assessment and intervention with school-age children. In T. Gallagher (Ed.), Pragmatics of language: Clinical practice issues. San Diego, CA: Singular Publishing Group.

Gallagher, T. (1993). Language skill and the development of social competence in school-age children. Language, Speech, and Hearing Services in Schools, 24, 199-205.

Guralnick, M. (1992). A hierarchical model for understanding children's peer-related social competence. In S. Odom, S. McConnell, & M. McEvoy (Eds.), Social competence of young children with disabilities. Baltimore, MD: Paul H. Brookes Publishing Co.

Lapadat, J.D. (1991). Pragmatic language skills of students with language and/or learning disabilities: A quantitative synthesis. Journal of Learning Disabilities, 24, 147-158.

Mehrabian, A. (1971). Silent messages. Belmont, CA: Wadsworth.

Moore-Brown, B., Sanger, D., Montgomery, J., & Nishida, B. (2002, April 30). Communication and violence: New roles for speech-language pathologists. The ASHA Leader, 7, 4-14.

Putallaz, M., & Gottman, J. (1981). An interactional model of children's entry into peer groups. Child Development, 52,

Rubin, K., LeMare, L., & Lollis, S. (1990). Social withdrawal in childhood: Developmental pathways to peer rejection. In S. Asher & J. Coie (Eds.), Peer rejection in childhood. Cambridge, MA: Cambridge University Press.

Sillars, A.L. (1991). Behavior observation. In B.M. Montgomery & S. Duck (Eds.), Studying interpersonal interaction. New York: Guilford Press.

Taylor-Goh, S. (2005). Royal college of speech & language therapists: Clinical guidelines. United Kingdom: Speechmark.

Timler, G., Olswang, L., & Coggins, T. (2005). "Do I know what I need to do?" Language, Speech, and Hearing Services in Schools, 36, 73-85.


Carolyn LoGiudice, Paul F. Johnson


Carolyn LoGiudice, M.A., CCC-SLP, wrote and edited products and tests for LinguiSystems for 25 years, incorporating her previous experience as an SLP in school and clinic settings.  She is now retired and savoring time with her family, friends, and hobbies.

Paul F. Johnson, B.A., is a writer and editor at LinguiSystems.  He has a special interest in developing thinking and communication skills in students of all ages.  He also enjoys music, cooking, gardening, traveling, and spending time with his family.

Carolyn and Paul have collaborated to develop several publications, including Story Comprehension To Go, No-Glamour Sequencing Cards, and Spotlight on Reading & Listening Comprehension.


Age-appropriate social skills are essential for students to get along well with their peers and to foster strong self-esteem.  Social skills are rarely taught directly as a school subject, and most students gradually master social skills without formal instruction.  Those who fail to infer expectations and "rules" from personal interactions with others are at risk for being criticized by their peers or, worse, ignored.  Students on the autism spectrum are particularly at risk for poor social skills due to the nature of the disorder; many students with language and/or learning disabilities are also at risk.

The activities in Spotlight on Social Skills Elementary highlight specific aspects of social skills and include strategies of direct instruction, modeling, observation, discussion, role-playing, and other guided practice in contexts of everyday interaction.  These activities can be presented to individual students or small groups of students.  Small groups are preferred because they expose students to their peers' perspectives and offer a safe setting for practicing social skills.

For an overview of a student's social skills functioning, administer the Social Language Development Test Elementary (Bowers, Huisingh, & LoGiudice, 2008).  Use the pretest/posttest to check the student's awareness and functioning in the appropriate area addressed by one of the six books in Spotlight on Social Skills Elementary:

  • Conversations
  • Emotions 
  • Making Friends 
  • Making Social Inferences
  • Nonverbal Language 
  • Predicting Consequences

Rick Lavoie, the well-known speaker and author, has been preaching the same message for many years: what students with special needs desire above all else is simply a friend.  Unfortunately, the children who desire friendship the most are usually the least equipped to reach that goal of companionship.  Spotlight on Social Skills Elementary Making Friends presents strategies and practice in essential interpersonal communication skills that will help your students develop and maintain friendships.  Here are the goals of this book:

  • understand the characteristics of friendship
  • recognize friendly faces
  • identify friendly actions
  • understand others' feelings
  • make polite requests
  • use friendship reference maps to discover interests
  • learn the etiquette for meeting someone new
  • understand the appropriate way to join groups
  • learn how to deal with arguments and make apologies
  • understand the composition of an effective compliment
  • learn how secrets, tattling, and being a good sport relate to friendship

Here are some tips and activities to improve your students' abilities to get along with their peers:

  • Enlist friendship mentors for your students.  An effective mentor might be a socially successful student a grade or two ahead of your student who is willing to have lunch with your student several times a week.  Arrange to have the mentor tutor your student in academics several times a week, if necessary, and give the mentor information about the specific social skills you are addressing in your instruction.  The mentor might discuss those skills with your student during their tutoring or lunch sessions to reinforce your instruction and provide more practical application suggestions.
  • Students with social skills deficits are natural targets for bullying, teasing, and being completely ignored.  Provide support to a student who is struggling by encouraging building staff to make a special point of speaking to your student, especially in view of other students.  This strategy accomplishes two goals: engaging the student in a positive interaction and sending a message to other students that this student is okay to hang around with and is supported by the adults in the building.
  • Use the information on page 7 to create a "What Friends Are/What Friends Aren't" bulletin board or poster.  As students relate everyday encounters, compare them against the criteria on the board or poster to see if they are dealing with a true friendship, an acquaintance, or an antagonistic relationship.
  • Playing a board or card game is a competitive activity and also a social situation.  The basics of pragmatics are present: turn-taking, being a good communication partner, listening, paying attention, responding to the context, etc.  Practice playing one-on-one games with your student and focusing on basic strategies for turn-taking, self-control, and reducing impulsive behaviors.  When your student shows that she can behave appropriately in a two-person game, add more players (enlist the student's parents and family in this venture and provide strategies to repair any breakdowns).

We hope you and your students enjoy Spotlight on Social Skills Elementary Making Friends!

Carolyn and Paul