Friendship Skills- Personal Space

friendship skills for personal space and body awareness with a free therapy slide deck for teletherapy

Part of building friendship skills is teaching kids to have an awareness of personal space with those around them. Body awareness is a big part of this, especially when social distancing is something to consider. Friendship skills involve a variety of pieces of the bigger social emotional skills picture and a component of that is personal space. Read more about the part that personal space plays in friendship skills, including personal space/body awareness activities. You’ll also find a free therapy slide deck to help children with the friendship skill of personal space and body awareness. If strategies to address friendship skills is needed for your clients, also try this writing about friendship slide deck.

Friendship skills for personal space and body awareness using gross motor activities in a free therapy slide deck.

Children who struggle with social and emotional development, and those with specific sensory preferences may show personal space issues that could be related to body awareness needs. For these needs, occupational therapists can offer several suggestions and interventions.

Occupational therapists have the ability to play a role in social skills training in children. Included in this support is activities designed to improve social and emotional skills.

One study indicated that children who participated in a friendship skills group in occupational therapy. The researchers found that children receiving the social skills training group showed improved friendship skills and quality of friendship as reported by the children’s parents.

Personal Space and Body Awareness

Some strategies to address personal space and body awareness can include:

  • Develop strategies specific to the child to address the individual’s preferences
  • Offer strategies for self-regulation
  • Offer strategies for controlling inhibitions
  • Focusing on spatial relations
  • Teach self-regulation techniques, such as progressive muscle relaxation, self-awareness, and mindfulness, to decrease anxiety while improving body awareness
  • Incorporate play into spatial concepts such as over, under, around, and through
  • Body drawing activities
  • Body part naming activities
  • Obstacle courses
  • Proprioceptive activities
  • Coach the child to state their preferences for personal space in a given situation
  • Map activities for teaching spatial concepts
  • Set up a small social skills group for a low-stress social gathering
  • Offer instruction in sensory tactics that can help to calm or regulate sensory needs such as deep breathing exercises, heavy work input, or deep pressure
  • Sensory integration occupational therapy interventions
  • Practice social skills interactions that may come up in a given situation
  • Work on working memory so the individual can pull from past successful situations
  • Work on foresight so the individual can think ahead of tools they might need in a given situation
  • Incorporate dance and music
  • Body awareness games and activities such as Simon Says, Twister, and the Hokey Pokey
  • Body awareness positioning activities

Because of the need many children have with developing an awareness of personal space, and the part that plays into friendship skills, I wanted to create a free Google slide deck to work on these skills.

You’ll see that the therapy slide deck pairs friendship with body awareness activities so that kids can practice various gross motor body positioning challenges.

These free slides offer movement activities to incorporate proprioceptive and vestibular input, as well as motor planning challenges. All of these activities challenge movement changes and body awareness.

Friendship skills gross motor activity for body awareness and personal space awareness.

Users can go through the slides and visually track from left to right as they complete each gross motor activity. There is an interactive portion of the slide deck when used in “edit mode” in Google slides. Kids can slide the round dot along the arrow to complete each gross motor activity in sequence.

This motor planning activity challenges body awareness needed for personal space awareness as a friendship skill. Kids can challenge themselves in movement, motor planning, bilateral coordination, core strength, and movement changes for addressing personal space considerations as they learn how their body moves through space.

Free Body Awareness Slide Deck

Want to get a free Google slide deck to help kids with personal space and body awareness? This friendship theme activity deck is a fun way to get kids moving and gaining an awareness of their body and how it moves through space.

Enter your email into the form below. You will be emailed a PDF so you can access this slide deck at any time.

Before clicking the button on your PDF, be sure you are logged into your Google account. Make a copy and share the slide deck with anyone on your therapy caseload.

FREE Friendship Skills Body Awareness Activities Slide Deck

    We respect your privacy. Unsubscribe at anytime.

    MORE SOCIAL Skills RESOURCES

    Want to help kids explore social and emotional learning through play? Exploring Books Through Play inspires social and emotional development though play based on children’s books. The specifically chosen books explore concepts such as differences, acceptance, empathy, and friendship.

    Exploring Books Through Play: 50 Activities Based on Books About Friendship, Acceptance and Empathy is filled with hands-on activities rooted in interactive, hands-on, sensory play that focus on creating a well-rounded early childhood education supporting growth in literacy, mathematics, science, emotional and social development, artistic expression, sensory exploration, gross motor development and fine motor skills. Kids can explore books while building specific skills in therapy sessions, as part of home programs, or in the home.

    Click here to explore acceptance, empathy, and friendship through play.

    social emotional activities for kids

    Colleen Beck, OTR/L is an occupational therapist with 20 years experience, graduating from the University of Pittsburgh in 2000. Colleen created The OT Toolbox to inspire therapists, teachers, and parents with easy and fun tools to help children thrive. As the creator, author, and owner of the website and its social media channels, Colleen strives to empower those serving kids of all levels and needs. Want to collaborate? Send an email to contact@theottoolbox.com.

    Occupational Therapy Documentation Tips

    occupational therapy documentation

    If you are an occupational therapy practitioner you know all about the dreaded “d” word called documentation. It’s part of the daily life of a therapist, and it can sometimes seem like it’s all we do. Let’s break down this dreaded task with some occupational therapy documentation tips and look at the positive side of documentation in therapy! You’ll find information on SOAP notes in occupational therapy as well as COAST notes and how to combine SOAP notes with COAST notes for client-centered occupational therapy documentation.

    Occupational therapy documentation

    Daily documentation (along with the dreaded productivity) is not the most fun or anticipated aspect of the occupational therapy profession, but it is a necessary part of it in order to fully appreciate and understand the need for our service and determine if it is making a difference in our client’s life.  Also, we need to do it to get payment for our service and well, let’s face it, make a living!

    When it comes to completing all of the daily tasks involved in a therapists’ day, documentation requirements can impact productivity. Here are therapy productivity hacks that can help with getting it all done.

    So, with all of that being said, let’s talk about treatment documentation and the necessary components of such to provide evidence for the need of OT services while simultaneously providing a record of client progress and needs. But first, let’s start with taking the negativity out of the process and fill in the blanks with positive ways to view this time-consuming act.

    Ok, here we go…

    D – Declare OT’s awesomeness

    O – Optimistically state potential outcomes

    C – Celebrate client’s small successes                                                  

    U – Uncover next steps no matter how small

    M – Mention “make a difference” engagement

    E – Eagerly show client’s need for achievement

    N – Narrate your client’s accomplishments

    T – Thoughtfully share challenges and how OT can help push through

    A – Affirm client’s desires

    T – Tactfully explain OT’s unique plan for overcoming obstacles

    I – Identify OT as an essential partner in client’s therapy plan

    O – Openly communicate earnest client responses

    N – Notably inform of client strengths for goal achievement

    How’s that for positivity?!

    Treatment documentation needs to be provided to share all about your hard work as a therapist and how you make an impact and a difference in the lives of your client’s and their families. There are many ways a therapy practitioner approaches documentation for treatment sessions.

    In the 20+ years I have practiced O.T., I have changed my documentation strategies and approaches in a myriad of ways. Every year I tend to change a little more based on experience and the need for clarification of O.T. as a valuable treatment service in the lives of my clients.

    Occupational therapy Soap Notes

    Occupational therapy SOAP notes cover all aspects of documentation using an easy to remember acronym. Most therapy practitioners utilize the SOAP note format developed by Lawrence Weed, M.D. which originated from his original problem-oriented medical record.

    The SOAP note acronym provides the necessary components for treatment documentation that meet the requirements of reimbursement agencies while providing the necessary information to document progress and regression and make a plan for further service.  

    Here is a brief review of the S.O.A.P note format:


    S is for subjective information which is what the client/family states or presents as relevant to therapy, (think of it as your client’s current status, behavior, or answers to your questions),

    O is for objective which is what you and the client did together to address their goals, (think of it as measurable, quantitative, and observable actions during the session)

    A is for assessment which is how the client did or how they responded during the treatment, (think of it as adding validity and interpreting the information written in the S and O section), and

    P is for plan which is what you intend to do next time to address how the client responded this time such as next steps, revisiting of steps, etc., (think of it as your treatment plan for next time).

    Soap notes in occupational therapy documentation

    COAST Documentation

    A new goal writing method called the C.O.A.S.T. method which was developed by Crystal A. Gateley, PhD, OTR/L and Sherry Borcherding, MA, OTR/L. Coast notes can also provide a solid approach for occupational therapy documentation within the a S.O.A.P. note format.  In the COAST method of note-writing, documentation is client-centered, beginning with the task completed, based on occupations, and includes clear guidelines for documenting levels of assistance, conditions the client performs the tasks within, and time-centric.

    When goals are written using the COAST format, it can be easy to stay on target with client-centric goals and interventions. Here is a brief review of the C.O.A.S.T. method for goal-writing:

    C is for client. Identify the client being worked with in the treatment session.

    O is for occupation. Identify the functional task or goal being addressed in the session.

    A is for assist level. What level and type of of assistance is needed for the client to perform the task?

    S is for specific condition. What conditions are necessary for the client to achieve the tasks.

    T is for time. By when is the goal expected to be achieved?

    COAST notes for occupational therapy documentation

    SOAP NOTES + COAST NOTES

    Joining these two acronym structures can generate a solid treatment note which can provide reimbursement agencies with the necessary information to justify your service while demonstrating the client’s needs and progress.

    Following the SOAP note format while interjecting COAST note components will ensure you look at the whole client and provide client-centered documentation validating your service while pushing forward with the treatment to make sure your client achieves their goals so they may live their best life.

    These acronym structures can also help you, as the practitioner, in your future paperwork needs for progress reporting, re-assessment, and goal writing that is specific to each of your clients.

    What are definite attributes of writing therapy treatment notes? Let’s take a peek here:

    1.  Be client specific

    2. Be legible and clear

    3. Be consistent and organized

    4. Be thorough

    5. Be timely

    6. Be value-based

    7. Think positively about OT documentation (refer to acronym DOCUMENTATION above)

    The next time you start to sit down and write your treatment notes, visit the DOCUMENTATION acronym above for achieving a positive frame of mind and remember that this is the time to let your skills shine, demonstrate OT’s value in your client’s life and show your client’s progress and needs for an occupation-based service that can help lead to health, well-being, and quality of life.

    Regina Allen

    Regina Parsons-Allen is a school-based certified occupational therapy assistant. She has a pediatrics practice area of emphasis from the NBCOT. She graduated from the OTA program at Caldwell Community College and Technical Institute in Hudson, North Carolina with an A.A.S degree in occupational therapy assistant. She has been practicing occupational therapy in the same school district for 20 years. She loves her children, husband, OT, working with children and teaching Sunday school. She is passionate about engaging, empowering, and enabling children to reach their maximum potential in ALL of their occupations as well assuring them that God loves them!

    Writing About Friendship Slide Deck

    Writing about friendship google slide deck for teletherapy

    Today, I have another free Google slide deck to share with you. This one is perfect for writing about friendship. In this teletherapy occupational therapy activity, kids can explore social emotional learning while working on handwriting skills. Kids can use this slide deck to write about the qualities of a friend, and use the friendship words and friendship writing prompts for developing social skills that is important for making friends. Also try this friendship skills for personal space and body awareness slide deck.

    Write about friendship with this free Google slide deck that helps kids with social emotional skills, resiliency, and handwriting skills.

    Writing about Friendship

    I have had this friendship activity on my mind for a while now. After noting the lack of social interaction that we’ve been seeing in kids more this past year, I’ve had this friendship writing activity planned as a tool to support kids’ social emotional needs.

    We know the power that socialization has on child development, mood, and

    When it comes to hybrid learning, virtual classrooms, and online activities and social events, kids are losing out on the social aspect of sports and activities that they have had in the past. This lack of face-to-face interaction impacts a child’s ability to make friends.

    And, children that struggle with social-emotional development are impacted by the added complexity of seeing face masks on faces. They can’t get social cues like smiles or other facial expressions that are a sign of a friend.

    To help children better understand facial expressions and emotional learning skills, grab this facial expressions worksheet.

    Additionally, children that are in virtual learning situations and those in hybrid classes are seeing all or half of their peers virtually. This isolation can potentially impact a child’s social participation, and may be especially impactful for children with social, emotional, or communication challenges.

    Participation in virtual classrooms and activities limits social participation in a way that limits the opportunities to make friends and nurture friendship relationships.

    Children who struggle with social skills or social participation in a typical school setting can have a difficult time with making friends.

    Even more to consider is the impact that this past year has had on a child’s perspective of interacting with others socially. One study took a look at children’s perspectives as a result of this year’s events.

    The study also noted that children expressed concern, anxiety, and worry about leaving their home after being on a lockdown mode. Because, here’s the thing: staying at home is safe, right? It’s where kids are protected. Staying home and interacting with others virtually has a sense of security.

    But, when kids are asked to leave the home, we are starting to see an emergence fear of going outside. There can be a fear of interacting with others.

    And that’s where an issue with making friends could come into play that REALLY impacts our kids down the line.

    It’s really interesting when you think about it.

    Because of the need for virtual interaction, kids are bored, angry, overwhelmed, tired, and lonely because they have to stay at home without being able to go out. Because there are so many unknowns related to the current situation, it’s hard to identify specific strategies to help kids struggling.

    But, there are options to assist with social and emotional supports. There are tools for mental health supports.

    attention must also be paid to the emotions of fear, worry, guilt, loneliness, boredom, and anger, with an emphasis on strengthening resilience and offering psychological support to parents and children, a point that has already been emphasized by a number of scholars during this crisis (Coyne et al., 2020)

    One thing that has been determined that we need to do for sure is to foster children’s resilience.

    Resilience refers to specific personal attributes that help children manage disappointments and even traumas to a point. In part, resilience involves emotional regulation and social emotional development.

    One specific way to foster resilience and social emotional development is through the discussion of friendships, specifically relationships that may be missing as a result of needing to work and learn online and in virutal settings.

    That’s where this writing about friendship activity comes into play. Use the interactive slide deck and Jamboard activity to drive discussion on friendships and offer a source of discussion points for building friendships during this strange time.

    Friendship Writing activity for handwriting and developing resilience in kids as part of social emotional learning.

    Free Writing About Friendship Slide Deck

    In the friendship writing activity slide deck, you’ll see that there are several aspects of friendship that kids can write about and dive into. These handwriting tasks each dive into aspects of social development, making friends, and understanding friendship. The writing activity can even be used as a tool for social supports during a time when kids are not interacting with freinds on a face-to-face basis.

    Maybe the slide deck is a starting point for coming up with ways to interact with friends virtually. Or, kids can explore how they can maintain friendships even when they do not see their friends for a while. This is all part of resilience that we can help to foster in kids.

    Help kids to identify  and write about qualities of a true friend paragraph writing that can develop social emotional skills.

    Sort the qualities of a good friend

    The first part of this slide deck is two slides that allow kids to sort aspects of good friends from qualities of “could be better” friends. The slide deck is interactive when it’s used on edit mode of Google drive, so kids can actually slide the images into the correct category.

    Use this friendship writing slide deck to work on handwriting and writing about friends.

    Identify ways you are a good friend

    Users can then identify ways that they are good friends to others. This is a place where users can type in their responses, making the ways to be a friend very open-ended.

    This is a nice space to identify novel ways of maintiaing friendship during a time where virtual interactions are necessary. How can kids interact and maintain friendships with others when there is not face-to-face school or activities?

    Children can use this space to identify aspects of friendship that can be maintained virtually or from a distance.

    Kids can work on typing skills here. Or, take the writing piece off the computer and ask that children work on handwriting on paper. Focus on letter formation, letter size, margin use, etc.

    A friendship mind map to explore social emotional skills.

    Friendship mind map

    The next slides ask kids to copy onto paper, a mind map. This is a great visual motor activity as they see the image and break it apart into pieces so that they can copy the shapes. Work on visual motor integration and ensure the child doesn’t miss any pieces, overlap lines, and copies all aspects of the mind map. This is a great way to work on the skills needed for reading and writing.

    Then, on their own friendship mind map, kids can write qualities of a friend. This visual exploration turns friendship into a picture as kids brain dump various aspects of social friendships.

    Friendship words for working on handwriting skills, in a free Google slide deck for therapy.

    Friendship words handwriting activity

    The next slides on the deck are spaces where kids can copy various friendship words. This part of the friendship writing activity can meet various needs.

    Children can work on copying words with accuracy, and correct letter formation, without omitting or adding letters. This is an exercise in visual perceptual skills.

    Kids can work on letter formation as they write the letters on their paper. I’ve included directional arrows for proper letter formation.

    Cursive writing activity with a friendship theme, in a Google slide deck for occupational therapy.

    There are slides with cursive writing, too, for older children working on their cursive handwriting.

    And, finally, there is a visual cue of lined writing space with highlighted portions for smaller letters. In these spaces, kids can type right onto the slide to copy the friendship terms.

    AND, maybe my favorite part, is that when you access this free deck, you’ll also get access to the JAMBOARD version, so kids can “write” right on the screen using a fingertip, stylus, or mouse. Then, they can write the words on the lines with they highlighted spaces. Therapists, teachers, or parents could also use the lined spaces to correct or star good use of the lines.

    Friendship writing prompts for social emotional development and handwriting.

    Friendship writing prompts

    The next aspect of the slide deck is a writing prompt. Kids can use the writing prompts to write sentences or a paragraph onto paper to further extend the activity.

    Free Friendship Activity Slide Deck

    Want access to this free Google slide deck?

    You can get access to this free slide deck and JAMBOARD by entering your email into the form below. This is necessary to deliver the PDF containing a link to the slide deck to your Google Drive. Save the PDF because you can add it to your toolbox for future use.

    Save that PDF file, because you can come back to it again and again and send it to the kids on your caseload (or classroom) so they can make their own copy on their Google drive.

    Be sure to make a copy of this slide deck and not change the url to indicate “edit” at the end. When you make a copy of the slide deck onto your Google drive, you will end up with your own version that you are free to adjust in order to meet your student’s needs. By changing the url to “edit”, you can potentially mess up the original version that many other therapists and The OT Toolbox users are given.

    FREE Writing About Friendship Slide Deck

      We respect your privacy. Unsubscribe at anytime.

      More Social Emotional Learning Resources

      Want to help kids explore social and emotional learning through play? Exploring Books Through Play inspires social and emotional development though play based on children’s books. The specifically chosen books explore concepts such as differences, acceptance, empathy, and friendship.

      Exploring Books Through Play: 50 Activities Based on Books About Friendship, Acceptance and Empathy is filled with hands-on activities rooted in interactive, hands-on, sensory play that focus on creating a well-rounded early childhood education supporting growth in literacy, mathematics, science, emotional and social development, artistic expression, sensory exploration, gross motor development and fine motor skills. Kids can explore books while building specific skills in therapy sessions, as part of home programs, or in the home.

      Click here to explore acceptance, empathy, and friendship through play.

      Colleen Beck, OTR/L is an occupational therapist with 20 years experience, graduating from the University of Pittsburgh in 2000. Colleen created The OT Toolbox to inspire therapists, teachers, and parents with easy and fun tools to help children thrive. As the creator, author, and owner of the website and its social media channels, Colleen strives to empower those serving kids of all levels and needs. Want to collaborate? Send an email to contact@theottoolbox.com.

      Coyne, L. W., Gould, E. R., Grimaldi, M., Wilson, K. G., Baffuto, G., and Biglan, A. (2020). First things first: parent psychological flexibility and self-compassion during COVID-19. Behav. Anal. Pract. 6, 1–7. doi: 10.1007/s40617-020-00435-w