Dinosaur School – Socialization Group for Children between the Ages of 4 and 9
Dinosaur School is a therapeutic intervention that through stories and games, children learn specific skills that encourages positive behaviors and improved relationships with peers and family. Dina Dinosaur’s social skills and problem-solving curriculum was designed to teach children friendship skills, appropriate conflict management strategies, successful classroom behaviors and empathy skills.
Puppets, Children and Clinicians
Headmistress Dina Dinosaur, Fireman Pat, Marishka Ballerina, Wendy Skater, Alex Fisherman, and Tiny Turtle together with our HDWC clinicians, tailor each session according to the children’s needs, interests, attention span and developmental abilities. Dinosaur School is a 12-week long group where birth parents and foster parents get involved in the planning of the sessions and actively participate at the end of each session.
Curriculum and Activities
Dinosaur School uses all the puppets throughout the sessions to stimulate children’s discussions, demonstrate problem solving and prompt role-playing. For example, the clinicians will teach the vocabulary for many different feelings, such as sad, happy, tired, angry, etc. while Marishka and Wendy will help the children to identify and express their own feelings and recognize feelings in other people. Fireman Pat teaches how to identify problems and solutions. Fisherman Alex loves to share his books and toys, therefore he is great at teaching how to make and keep good friends and say no to bad things and bullying. Sometimes children (and adults too) are too mad to be able to solve a problem and when that happens, Tiny Turtle, coping skills specialist, physically demonstrates how to calm down. Headmistress, Dina Dinosaur’s role is very important and she occasionally appears to reinforce all the concepts learned.
Dinosaur School is a comprehensive social skills and problem-solving curriculum that uses videotaped vignettes, discussions and activities. Each session provide opportunities for children to earn tokens for positive participation and peer-group interaction. At the end of each session, children exchange their tokens for a toy that they can take home and stickers that are prominently displayed on a board in the group room, thereby allowing them to view their progress while motivating them to engage in positive behavior. In addition, efforts are made to carefully plan for generalization by asking birth parents and foster parents to help by watching for and reinforcing specific skills at home.
Dinosaur School at Harlem Dowling
The Dinosaur School experience has been wonderful at HDWC. Thanks to the generosity of the Van Ameringen Foundation, a total of 26 children ages 4-8 participated in the three cycles of Dinosaur School offered by the Department of Clinical Services during the Spring and Fall of 2009 and Fall of 2010. The groups were very diverse, we had children with different life experiences, children in our foster care programs, two siblings that had just been re-unified with their birth mother, children that had been adopted, or were in the process of being adopted, and other friends of Harlem Dowling.
Every child that has experienced some form of trauma should and can learn from the skills taught in Dinosaur School.
*Dina Dinosaur Puppet © 2011 Axtell Expressions, Inc.