Reading Body Language

K-5  (could be adapted for older students)

Bryan City Schools (OH) / Ike

Jackie Boyd, School Counselor

Social Skills / Small Group or Individual Activity



Students will read someone else’s body language and adjust behavior accordingly.

Students will be better accepted and liked by others.


School therapy dog

Animal puppets


Tell the small group that they are going to do an experiment on how to read Ike’s body language.

Explain to them that body language means we can tell by Ike’s reaction to an event if he likes or dislikes it.

Allow a student volunteer to interact with Ike in front of the group as he/she desires. When an inappropriate action occurs, such as putting a toy on the dog’s head, teasing the dog, etc., notice how the dog reacts.

Stop the student and point out what just happened to be sure the student understands the avoidance behavior (wincing, backing away, etc.) that Ike showed. Even though it might be subtle, the dog will react in some way to the negative stimulation. Ask the students how they could tell that Ike disliked what happened.

Now ask students how they can tell if a person dislikes what is happening by watching the person’s body language. Answers will vary (running away, crying, etc.). When a student uses inappropriate behavior with his/her peers, the same kind of avoidance behavior that Ike showed will be shown by classmates.

Practice saying and doing things that will elicit positive responses from classmates. This part of the activity can begin with things Ike enjoys, such as talking, petting, brushing, playing with a toy appropriately, and then it can be changed to involve the student in person-to-person role play using puppets or actual pairs of students.

At the end of the activity, ask what things they learned about body language. Answers will vary, but the most important thing they should mention is that positive body language can be seen when they use appropriate, kind behavior around other people.


Ask teachers to report any inappropriate behavior they see in the classrooms or anywhere at school.

Reinforce this activity by periodically asking students about body language they have seen that indicates people are happy about something. Role play as needed throughout the year.

For a Printable PDF of this Lesson Plan, download this file: AP-LessonPlan-BodyLanguage

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