One of my very favorite ways to help kids tune in to non-verbal cues from facial expressions (and a favorite of the kids) is a game called Mouse. I came across this in Autism, Play, and Social Interaction (Gammeltoft & Nordenhof, 2007)
MATERIALS: colored candy (I prefer skittles).
TARGET AGE: 5-13
- Reading facial cues
- Delayed gratification
- Resilience/ Coping
- Tuning in to non-verbal body language
DIRECTIONS: Group the children into small groups of 3-5 participants. Place five skittles (one of each color) where they are visible to all. Out of ear shot of the child who is "it", the other players select one piece of candy to be the "mouse". The child who is "it" selects a piece of candy one at a time, watching for clues on the other players faces. When he or she eats the piece that the other players selected, they shout out Mouse! And the players turn is done. The goal is to eat every piece of candy BUT the mouse.
Reinforcement: invite everyone together to alternate dramatically between their poker face and mouse face. Expect some impromptu renditions of Poker Face by Lady Gaga.