We define what a thought is...
We use thought bubbles and various pictures to identify main topics group members like to think about.
We then discuss the idea of "smooth" vs "prickly" thoughts and comments. Smooth thoughts and comments are those that keep the group feeling calm and keep the interaction moving forward. Prickly thoughts and comments are those that make others feel uncomfortable and stop the interaction. Here's the visual that we use for prickly and smooth interactions. You can download it here.
We pass around a smooth ball and a prickly ball to further reinforce the concept of which was more comfortable.
You'll need a container, a pitcher of water, a strainer, food coloring, a bag of small sticks/rocks/mulch, and small strips of laminated paper with a sharpie marker.
We ask the group to decide on a color that will represent smooth thoughts. This was a minefield of negotiation and group decision making in itself! Finally, they came to the decision that they would use blue food coloring to represent smooth thoughts.
We mix up the blue water in the pitcher and then identify various prickly comments that could disrupt an interaction and cause prickly thoughts in others. We write them down with a sharpie on laminated strips of paper and added them along with the sticks (which represented other prickly comments or behaviors such as turning away when a peer is talking or interrupting) to the water pitcher.
We then pour the contents through the strainer (representing our brain filter) to model keeping the prickly comments in our heads and letting the smooth comments be expressed.
I hope that you'll find this activity to be helpful in your social and speech groups!