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Body Talk

Many years ago, I first heard that communication was more about body language than words.  As an OT who worked with children who had motor planning challenges, I was fascinated by how limiting their inability to imitate was on communication.  Ever since Albert Mehrabian’s famous study in 1967, people have quoted his formula, misquoted it and speculated about it’s validity.  (Mehrabian, A. (1972). Nonverbal Communication. New Brunswick: Aldine Transaction.)  His striking claim established that communication is 55% body language, 38% tone of voice, and 7% spoken word.  Others have stated everything from 60% body language and 40% words to 90% body language and 10 percent spoken word.  The important takeaway here is that body language, facial expressions, tone of voice, and context, are all essential to being an effective communicator.

 My friend has a new baby.  It has been a blast watching this 5-month old stare at her mother’s face.  She mimics her mother’s expressions by smiling or displaying scowl marks on her little forehead.  Her miniature body moves in accord with her moods.  Excitement elicits wild arm and leg flapping and high-pitched squeals.  Sadness gives way to the pouting lower lip and tight limbs pulled close to her body.  This little one has no words but man… can she communicate! What happens when a child in school does not attend to his teachers’ face because he simply doesn’t understand that it is communicating anything?  The importance of body language, facial expressions, context and tone of voice has always been important to me – as a teacher, a mom, and an OT.  Yet, I STILL need reminders.  John, in my social cognition group flips around the room giggling and specifically NOT doing what I ask.  When I stop his body, get down to his level and say, “Look at my face.  What does this face mean?” and he doesn’t have a clue, I am still surprised.  When I say to another, “Listen to my voice.  Is this a happy or mad voice?” and Sara can’t tell me, I am still surprised.  When all the kids are assuming my favorite yoga pose, child’s pose, on the floor and Gabe is sitting in his chair and talking and I say, “Look at what the other kids are doing.  Can you make your body do the same thing?” and he simply sits on the floor, I am still surprised.   I don’t mean to imply that if I have a hard time remembering that many kids don’t use nonverbal communication well that you won’t.  I do strongly suggest that we are an incredibly verbose society and words are often our first line of action.  My go-to activity when I need reminders is to engage the kids in the STOP ‘N GO game featured in our Social Adventures App.  This game is played much like Mother May I? but without words.  It is important that the leader be an adult so that clear nonverbal communication can be provided.  When the leader looks at a child, the child needs to point to her chest to confirm that she knows she is the chosen one.  The leader then uses gestures, facial expressions, and body movements to communicate how that child should move forward:  big steps, little steps, crawling, jumping, fast, slow, backwards, etc.  After this game, the kids are primed to at least try to gain information from the teacher and peers by looking at them. Please check out our Social Adventures App for more activities addressing social interaction.  The app also includes 4, 8-week programs to be used with social cognition groups.  Most importantly, please consider the impact of non-verbal challenges when you encounter kids who seem to be acting out behaviorally.  They may want to follow your direction but just don’t have a body clue!

by Jill Perry, MHA, MS, OTR/L

PHOTO copyright : Lars Plougmann



I am invited to a party

I am Invited to a Party

Title: I Am Invited to a Party!

Author: Mo Willems

Age: Early Elementary/Elementary

Description: Piggie is invited to a party! He asks Elephant for some help because Elephant…he knows parties.


  • Social skills
  • Emotions
  • Body Language
  • Perspective Taking
  • Inferencing/Predicting
  • Narrative Language
  • Written Language

Why I Like This Book: There isn’t an Elephant and Piggie book that kids don’t love, and they all help me to address a number of goals.

Ideas for Use:

• A great story to address reading emotions and body language. The characters are very expressive. Have students identify emotions, act out, etc. Pair with other emotions apps for further understanding and work on emotions such as: ABA Emotions App, Emotionary App, Feel Electric App

  • Have students act out the story. Can they replicate the emotions with their face and body? Video record and have kids self-reflect. Did their bodies and voices match? This is great for a collaborative activity too. Can they work together to act out the story? Negotiate? Plan?
  • Add/cover up thinking/speaking bubbles within the story. Have students generate what characters are thinking and speaking
  • There are lots of opportunities for predicting what might happen next as Piggie and Elephant get ready for various types of parties. What will they need and wear for a pool party? For a fancy party? etc.
  • Good context to discuss party “etiquette.” Pair with Social Behavior Mapping from Social Thinking© What is expected at a party? What is unexpected? Role play situations in individual or group sessions if necessary (i.e. greetings at a party, giving and receiving gifts, playing winning/losing games, etc.).
  • A great story for character descriptions to develop narrative and social skills. Pair with Mindwing Concepts products. Here’s a great post by Sean Sweeney discussing these character descriptions.
  • Working on written language or hand writing? Use this opportunity to have student write invitations to others for a party. There are lots of apps that would provide a context for generating an invitation as well.
  • There is an example of some figurative language as well….a “pun” “We will make a splash” (with attire for the pool party). Good for discussion of this humor as well.

Submitted by: Meghan G. Graham M.S. CCC-SLP

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Thank you!

*Like this review and activities? Check out the Social Adventures App for more activities for children.


mother goose

My Very First Mother Goose

Title: My Very First Mother Goose

Editor: Iona Opie

Illustrator: Rosemary Wells

Age: preschool, elementary school

Description: Dozens of Mother Goose rhymes presented in familiar verse with exceptionally charming watercolor illustrations that appear to move across the page.

• Rhyming and rhythm
• Phonological awareness
• Reading readiness
• Vocabulary
• Body language
• Attention to detail
• Reinforce friendship and family

Why I like this book: As my youngest child prepares to turn 18, I find myself reflecting on her childhood often. When she was 18 months old, Ali had a very high fever and croup. If her fever wouldn’t come down, I would need to bring her to the emergency room, again. Ali refused to swallow Tylenol with her hacking cough and I refused to bring her to the hospital. So, she sat on my lap in the rocking chair while I began singing each rhyme in this book. Ali did not let me stop until every single rhyme had been sung and by the end of the book, she was relaxed enough to take the Tylenol. We never made that trip to the hospital and that’s why I love this book!

Ideas for use:
• A classic book to read anytime. It’s great when you have a little time available between activities. If kids memorize a few rhymes, they can say/sing them with the adult during transitions while they practice visualizing the illustration.
• Discuss what the characters are doing in the pictures and what might happen next if the rhyme or story were to continue.
• Act out the rhymes after negotiating parts and creating costumes. Have kids use objects in the room representationally. (e.g. What can we use for a boat? Car? Big clock?)
• Create puppet shows with socks, paper bags or other materials. Have kids work in small groups and put on their “shows” for each other.
• Discuss the range of facial expressions and overall body language. Make copies of expressive characters from the book and put them on 3×5 cards. Have kids take turns choosing a card and acting out the character’s expression and movement without talking while others follow the clues to guess, like charades.
• Talk about what characters could be thinking (early theory of mind).

• There are numerous craft activities accessible on line as follow up activities

Submitted by: Jill Perry, MHA, MS, OTR/L

Please support books4all and order this book from  Thank you!

*Like this review and activities? Check out the Social Adventures App for more activities for children.


nuture shock

Relational Aggression

We want our children to have friends. We also want them to have pleasant interactions even with kids who aren’t necessarily their friends. We also don’t want our children to be bullied or to bully others.

There has been a lot of talk about bullying lately and although I work with children every day, even I am become weary of the subject. However, I recently read a book that put a slightly different spin on bullying. Nurture Shock: New Thinking About Children by Po Bronson and Ashley Merryman discusses many aspects of child development based on new research presented in a very accessible manner. The chapter titled, “Plays Well With Others” was particularly poignant. The authors discuss 3 types of child-on-child aggression that is prevalent among young children in our society. Physical and verbal aggression are familiar to all of us. The third type of aggression is relational aggression. In pre-school age children, relational aggression involves saying things like, “You can’t play with us” or ignoring children who want to play. Did you ever think of that as aggression? I hadn’t but it makes sense. Children with social cognition challenges want to play
and talk with peers. Being ignored or left out of play can have long-lasting effects.

We posed the following question to our 5 and 6 year old kids in the Social Adventures group.  “What do you do if you ask someone if you can play with them and they say, ‘No’ “? The answers included:

– “Say, ‘Please, please, please, PLEASE’ ”
– “Run away”
– “Say, ‘You can’t make me leave!’ ”

As we role played alternative responses we found the children we were coaching to say “No” didn’t know how to say no in a kind way. So, we worked on that as well.

The beautiful thing is that you could practically see their self-esteem meters rising as we worked on how to say ”No” and how to respond to “No”. The kids learned to tell each other to come back later and the ones who were gently rejected in this way, went on to play with others. Happily, this little exercise transferred to the playground time and we witnessed kids being more relaxed about the freedom to say “No” without worrying about being mean. Kindness begets kindness. We witnessed little relational aggression that day. Hopefully, the kids went home with another tool in their box to help them experience more positive social interactions.

submitted by:  Jill Perry, MHA, MS, OTR/L


Kimochi Means “Feelings” in Japanese

Months ago we purchased a set of 12 Kimochis to use in our groups and
individual therapy.

Kimochis® are an engaging and effective way to introduce the
fourth “R”—reading, writing, arithmetic, and RELATIONSHIPS—into a
child’s life.

Each little Kimochi is a stuffed circle made out of soft material, bearing the name
of a feeling such as happy and sad along with the more elusive emotions such
as brave, proud, embarrassed, and the ever important, silly. On the other side
of these stuffed circles, you will find simple line drawings of facial expressions
depicting the emotions.

We use these little Kimochis for our action-emotion game. Kids choose a
Kimochi from a bag and a card with an action written or drawn on it. They then
combine and act out the emotion with the action while the other kids watch and
guess; similar to charades. We have observed sweeping sadly, embarrassed
jumping, and frustrated eating. Needless to say, this game becomes a little silly
but it has been a non-threatening way for the children to talk about, practice
assuming and reading facial expressions, and recognize body language as a way
to express emotion. It’s also a motor planning challenge to show emotion with
the body and facial expression while also executing a simple action.

I bought a couple large Kimochis recently as well. These stuffed animals have a
whole personality attached to them. Bugs is a shy caterpillar with wings tucked
in pockets behind his back. His wings can be pulled out to reflect bravery. I
have used this particular Kimochi with a little girl who has constitutional shyness.
She couldn’t look at or even talk to another person in the clinic. After carrying
Bugs around, she has been able to show me without using words, when she is
feeling brave enough to talk to another child. She has been able to interact, play,
and negotiate with another child in the gym for several weeks now with the help
of Bugs.

There is so much more to these appealing stuffed characters. I encourage you
to check out the web site, educator’s tools and products at

As we all work to support the social and emotional health of our young children,
it’s great to have tools such as these to use and enjoy!

by Jill Perry, MHA, MS, OTR/L

For more therapist-curated toys, please click over to our Amazon Store so they know who sent you.


Easi-Speak USB Recorder Pumps Up the Drama

In our Social Adventures Groups, we are often looking for motivating activities for addressing “tone of voice”.  One of the games we play is one we call “My Voice Says it All.”  During this game, we have kids choose two cards, one from the “Emotion” pile and one from the “Phrase” pile.  We then ask them to say the phrase with the chosen emotion and friends provide feedback.  Sometimes, we have the speaker choose the cards in private and then the rest of the group is asked to guess the emotion used.  (See our Social Adventures Apps for detailed instructions and Parent Tips)

This game has always been fun, but with the addition of the Easi-Speak USB Recorder, each child’s inner drama king/queen came right out!  Something about holding such a realistic-looking microphone helped the kids really get in the mood.  Not only did their tone of voice more closely approximate that of the chosen emotion, but so did their body language.  It was really incredible!  Gotta love a great prop!

But that’s not all… this microphone is also a digital recorder.  It saves audio files right on the microphone, so we were able to record each of the kids as they took their turn.  If the kids were having trouble determining a friend’s emotion, we were able to stop the game, playback the phrase and talk with the group about what changes in tone of voice would better convey that emotion.  The kids LOVED listening to themselves on tape, so they were much more motivated to keep trying until they got it right.

Many of us have also used this microphone in our individual sessions to motivate kids to generate narratives.  Just the other day, one of my kids who doesn’t typically string more than 2 sentences together narrated an entire Berenstein’s Bear book.  He held the mike and described each picture while I flipped the pages and smiled a great big smile.  Then… we plugged the mike into the USB port of my laptop and sent the recording to his mom who was, needless to say, thrilled!

Finally, we have used this recorder during evaluations.  Again, it increases kids motivation to speak, records with excellent quality and is super user-friendly.  So, we give the Easi-Speak USB Recorder a definite “thumbs way up”!  If you are asking, “Is there anything that could make it even better?” then we would say that it would be really cool if the Easi-Speak offered an amplification option.  And they do… it is called the Easi-Speak Sound Station. We will be using this mike and sound station a LOT in our individual and group therapies!!

Check out other products from Learning Resources, follow them on Facebook and Twitter

By Karen S Head, MS, CCC-SLP

Disclaimer:  this device was given to all4mychild free of charge with the express purpose of providing a review.

If you like these ideas, be sure to check out the nearly 80 activity ideas for promoting social cognition in our Social Adventures Apps.


Curious George’s First Day of School

Title: Curious George’s First Day of School

Author: Margaret & H.A. Rey’s

Description: Curious George gets into trouble again on his first day of school. However, his friends come to the rescue.


  • Emotions/Body Language
  • Friendship
  • Pretend Play
  • Story Retell
  • Figurative Language
  • Wh-Comprehension

Why I like this book: Curious George is always a hit with kids. This book can be used with a variety of ages based on your goals.

Ideas for this book:

  • A good story for the beginning of the school year. There is a range of emotions in the story (which is what our kids are likely feeling:) that is great for discussion. Excitement, nervousness, frustration, etc. The pictures provide great body language as well. Have students “act out” different emotions, and discuss why they may feel that way. Discuss strategies for how to cope with the negative ones.
  • When George inevitably gets into trouble, his friends jump in to help him.  A great lesson for students about helping their friends in need, and how “many hands make light the work.” Brainstorm other ideas for how to help friends and/or the class during the year (i.e. pushing in chairs, helping other clean up quickly, wiping your table after a snack, etc.) Great to introduce the concept of “teamwork.”
  • For younger students, a great story to “act out” with small objects. Have them act out a child (or a monkey) going to school. Incorporate a teacher and other friends. Help them sequence events, add dialogue, etc.
  • For older students, a great story for retelling. Pair with MindWing Concepts “Braidy” to identify story grammar elements.  A good story with multiple “kickoffs.”
  • There are a couple examples of figurative language: “having a ball” and “well-balanced snack”- both for which George interprets literally. For older students could tie to other idioms and figurative language. For younger students great to point out and discuss.
  • Tie to curriculum around “well-balanced” snacks. Brainstorm other healthy snacks and have after reading the story.
  • During and after reading, incorporate “wh” questions throughout. Why is George in trouble? How can you tell? What will happen next? Why?

Submitted by; Meghan G. Graham M.S. CCC-SLP

Please support books4all and order this book from  Thank you!

*Like this review and activities? Check out the Social Adventures App for more activities for children.


The Little Mouse, the Red Ripe Strawberry, and the Big Hungry Bear

Title: The Little Mouse, the Red Ripe Strawberry, and the Big Hungry Bear

Author: Dan and Audrey Woods

Description: A little mouse is thrilled that he finds a delicious strawberry, however, he hears that there is a big hungry bear who loves strawberries. Especially one that has just been picked….


  • Reading Body Language/Facial expressions
  • Narrative/Story Retell
  • Early Prediction
  • Speech production (s blends)
  • Pretend Play

Why I like this book: A classic that is loved by all children, especially the surprise ending 😉

Ideas for this book:

  • The mouse is very expressive. A great story if working on emotions, and reading body language. Have children act out the mouse’s expressions and body language and/or guess yours. There is an emphasis on scared/worried as well as happy and relieved. Add “thinking bubbles” above the mouse and have children think about what he is thinking/feeling.
  •  A great story for early story grammar elements as it’s a simple sequence. There are simple characters, setting, problem (kickoff), internal response,events and resolution. Great when introducing the Story Grammar Marker through Mindwingconcepts
  • As the mouse is trying to keep the strawberry from the bear, have children predict what he might do next? Will he hide under the rug? Under the bed? Turn it into pie? See if kids can think of new and different ways the mouse can hide or use the strawberry.
  • A great story to “act out” given its simple nature. I’ve used it in individual sessions and dyads (both as mice). What can they find to “be” the strawberry? What will be the house? The hammock at the end? If you don’t have a lot of space to act it out physically, use a little mouse and a strawberry for more traditional “pretend play.”
  • Lots of opportunity for /s/ blends (strawberry, sniff, smell, etc.) Readers can read the story, non-readers can repeat.
  • Add a craft for the story. One of the fantastic OTs that I work with created a strawberry out of red construction paper, and glued little lentils as the “seeds.”

Submitted by; Meghan G. Graham M.S. CCC-SLP

Please support books4all and order this book from  Thank you!

*Like this review and activities? Check out the Social Adventures App for more activities for children.


I Didn’t Mean it!


J is wild!  He flips his body around the gym with abandon.  He understands the rules of safety, but upon entering the gym, he’s like a bull in a pen seeing red!  We review the rules of the gym regularly.  We play impulse games in the gym so J can experience stopping his body and then going again.  We work on visually scanning the environment at all times to register any possibility of danger toward himself or others.  And we see improvement.  J is beginning to be able to modulate his movement better on his own, without an adult reminder… but sometimes he doesn’t.

When a friend began crying in the gym, rather than offering words of comfort, J continued playing in sort of an expressionless manner.  The crying child was not clear about what happened so my co-leader stayed in the gym to console and work out the problem, while I took the other kids back to the classroom.  I quietly heard J remark, “I didn’t mean it.”  When I asked, he said, “I didn’t mean to hurt him.”

As Karen and I processed what happened, it turned out that J didn’t hurt the child.  The friend was crying because he wasn’t able to do what he wanted in the gym.  This had nothing at all to do with J!  So, we talked about how J got to the place of feeling guilty.  Did this happen often?  Did he go around thinking it was always his fault when he heard kids cry on the playground?  Does he not comfort friends because he feels responsible and can’t face them?

Now we know what to work on with J in the empathy department.  We will tell him, kids cry sometimes and it is not his fault.  It is always a good idea to go to a friend who is crying.  Even if it is his fault, asking if a friend is OK is the kind thing to do.  If he does hurt someone, saying “sorry, I didn’t mean it” are fine words to use.  Then, it is time to learn and let it go.  Don’t carry around the guilt and perception of yourself as one who hurts.  We all make mistakes; you are forgiven, J.  Now go play!

Submitted by: Jill Perry M.S. MHA OTR/L

image by Ben Francis


From the Ocean Floor to the Classroom Door

I am always trying to find new and innovative ways to help my students navigate the complex world of childhood. I am constantly manipulating strategies I find on social media outlets such as Pinterest and educational blogs. I love to see what other educators are doing and I enjoy trying to adapt these ideas to fit our diverse classroom.

After reading the all4mychild blog post about the interactive book The Angry Octopus by Lori Lite, I was compelled to check it out. After not just reading but experiencing the story with my students, I was inspired to bring that Octopus into our classroom permanently.

In the story, the Octopus becomes angry when his rock garden is ruined over night by some lobsters. We physically see his anger grow in the black cloud of ink that spreads further and further into the surrounding sea. That ink gives us a visual of what anger would look like if we could physically watch it grow. We can feel that growing anger as we watch the waves moving slowly and the screen getting more and more black. We feel mad and confused and we don’t understand why those lobsters messed up that rock garden!

Luckily, we are saved as the Mermaid rescues us with her soothing voice calmly giving the octopus, and his sympathizers, some strategies to manage anger. She suggests more than one strategy ranging from stretches to breathing realizing he may need more than one. She repeats this ritual until the ink has dissipated and the problem is small enough to discuss and solve.

We watched this story unfold as a class on our iPads. We stretched and took deep breaths with the Octopus and related his rock garden to experiences in our own lives. The students took this lesson to heart realizing while they will get angry it is up to them to control their anger before it spreads like the ink cloud in the ocean

After our meaningful discussion we decided to make our own Octopus to remind us how to manage our own anger.

We talked as a class and narrowed down 8 strategies to manage anger. (8 for 8 arms of course) We have everything from taking a break to dancing off our anger. The students were able to give their input and as such they took ownership of the activity and the strategies. We hung the Octopus on our door and refer to it often. I love the non-verbal cue I can give the students and I love watching them use it on their own to self regulate their emotions and the behaviors associated with them. Educational blogs like all4mychild have really transformed my classroom and my teaching alike. Our next lesson is only a click away!

Submitted by: Meghan O’Hara 

Meghan O’Hara is Head Teacher of 1st and 2cd grade at the The Tobin School in Natick, MA. We have had the pleasure of working closely with Meghan over the years and have loved watching the creative ways she integrates social cognition concepts into her classroom curriculum. We are delighted to introduce her as a guest blogger today and look forward to more contributions from her in our future Teacher Features.