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pigs

Not By the Hair of My Chinny Chin Chin

Who says our kids need pretend playtime? It’s really a lot less demanding on us as adults to read them books or let them look at books (thought this is obviously important as well), let them watch TV, or play those educational games with iPads. Why should we go to all the hassle of providing props, setting up the environment, sometimes teaching our kids how to go about pretending and even occasionally engage in this play with them?

In an article posted in Psychology Today on line, Dr. Scott Barry Kaufman writes, “The research reviewed by Berk, Mann & Ogan, (2006) and Hirsh-Pasek, Golinkoff, Berk, & Singer (2009) suggest that make-believe games are forerunners of the important capacity for forms of self-regulation including reduced aggression, delay of gratification, civility, and empathy. When children use toys to introduce possible scenarios or friends, the representation of multiple perspectives occurs naturally. Taking on different roles allows children the unique opportunity to learn social skills such as communication, problem solving, and empathy (Hughes, 1999).”

When our group of 5 and 6 year olds act out the Three Little Pigs,  the social and life skills practice is evident. After reading The Three Little Pigs, the acting out came naturally to our 4 boys. They first chose roles and built their own homes. They chose to play this game repeatedly even during free playtime. Once they practiced a few times, they were completely independent in their negotiating roles, setting up the environment, and cueing each other. The play changed over time as the boys began to build homes together to make them more elaborate. They created different endings as they problem solved various ways to keep the wolf out of the house.

So, let’s examine how this one play scenario can help kids develop self-regulation as described by Dr. Kaufman.

agressive kid

Reduced aggression – What happens when a child doesn’t get the role he wants? Does he lash out? Refuse to play? Some of our 3 little piggy players did just that at the beginning of this activity. It took lots of explanation, opportunities to sit out and watch initially, and practice for them to learn that they may not get the role they thought they wanted but they could have fun all the same.

Delayed gratification – Once kids learned that we would act out the story over and over and over again, they relaxed about the roles and houses they were assigned. They knew that at some point, they would be able to have the role they wanted.

Civility – Learning to enjoy and even compliment each other is a really hard but important lesson for children, young and old. As kids acted out their parts in their own unique ways, rather than saying, “No, that’s not how you do it”, they learned to appreciate the uniqueness of their peers and support one another in their differences.

Empathy – The actual story of the three little pigs exemplifies empathy. When one piggy’s house is blown down, the others don’t laugh, they say, “Come to my house. I’ll help you stay safe!” Sometimes the kids even showed empathy toward the wolf and ended up inviting him in for cookies if he promised not to eat them!

Understanding multiple perspectives – Why does the wolf want to blow the houses down? Why does he talk in a mean way to the pigs? Why are the pigs afraid? These questions can lead to some pretty sophisticated discussions about our preconceived ideas about people and how we can listen to one another and try to understand.

planning

Communication – Initially, kids wanted to jump into the story. Over time they learn that some talking time is necessary to plan. They become much better and more efficient and almost formulaic about planning. For example, the kids now say, “Who wants to be the wolf? Who wants to be the first pig?” Next they ask, “Where will you build your house? Mine will be here.” etc.

Problem Solving – This one is obvious but I must add that in the beginning, kids are so anxious about making sure things so “their way” that very little problem solving occurs without adult intervention. We’ve written about this before but the value of acting out the same story over and over again is that anxiety goes down and problem solving emerges.

Enjoy make believe play. It’s fun to join in as an adult to throw the kids some unexpected changes and see how they manage. This is also a fun activity with finger or hand puppets. Please check out Dr. Scott Barry Kaufman’s article as it is refreshing and informative.

Image by: Will Sawney

 

 

 

 

 

 

lemonade stand

Who Wants Lemonade?

I always struggle to find good activities to address higher level language concepts such as inferencing, predicting and problem solving. I often know what I want to work on, but finding the right tool that is motivating is another battle.

But of course with the iPad…anything is possible.

Recently I found the app Lemonade Stand. I can’t remember who recommended this to me (probably the genius Sean Sweeney at www.speechtechie.com), but it any case I’m grateful.

lemonade stand 2

Today it became an app that I used individually and in the group setting. The app is essentially a virtual lemonade stand, where you are given conditions (a weather report, and potential events in the area), and then you are to decide how much lemonade to make, how to make it, how to advertise, and how much to charge. An obvious lesson in basic economics…but that is NOT what my focus was (I steer clear of math if possible). Instead, we brainstormed ideas for what would make people want to come to a lemonade stand (weather, good tasting lemonade, fair price, good signs, etc.) and what would keep them from coming back. We then created our own lemonade sign, which was a great perspective taking activity (and in a group- teamwork and flexibility activity). What information needed to be on the sign (and why!) and how it should look was a session all on it’s own!

Using the app to build language skills

We then played the app. In a group, a great opportunity for negotiating language, flexibility, and tone of voice as you discuss your ideas. Individually, great for discussing “why” you make changes to your plan. For example, “I added more lemons because I wanted the lemonade to taste better so more people buy it,” or “I charged less for the lemonade because the weather is yucky and I want to sell some.” There are no really right answers, as long as they support their idea. The app provides some “tips” in their information section which is great to have kids refer to if struggling. There are lots of opportunities for therapy….and it was lots of fun too.

Meghan G. Graham M.S. CCC-SLP

If you found the ideas in this blog helpful, you will definitely appreciate the activity ideas in the Social Adventures app available on the Social Adventures - all4mychild

kids drawing

Keep the Peace or Build Flexibility

Many aspects of life are paradoxical and this is one of the biggies for our socially challenged kids.  The children who participate in our Social Adventures Groups earnestly try to be flexible, to “go with the flow”, to try new ideas, or play a game with someone else’s rules, but it is SO very hard!

We did an activity that flopped miserably several weeks ago.  Each child received a piece of paper with a simple shape drawn on it and were given 30 seconds to create a picture using the shape.  Next, they passed their pictures to the person on their left who added to and changed the picture to match the image in their minds.  Six-year-old Joey fell apart.  We had explained and demonstrated the activity but he simply couldn’t handle it.  He cried, hid under the table then tried to flee the room while yelling, “YOU ARE MESSING UP MY PICTURE!”

Since that session was a wash, Meghan and I talked about how to follow it up the next week.  Do we let Joey draw his own picture to keep the peace or do we push the envelope?  The next week, Meghan and I demonstrated again how the activity worked while some of the kids added to Meghan’s picture and some to mine.  Then we switched.  We talked about the pictures in our heads and how they were all different.  We also practiced complimenting each other’s pictures.

Last week, the kids were each given 1 minute to change their shape into anything they wanted and would be able to take that picture home.  They were then given a second paper with a shape to draw on and switch.  This is what Joey did.  He was given a figure 8 shape and began turning it into a racetrack by drawing a little car on the side.  It was passed to his neighbor, Sam, who turned it into a large pair of eye glasses.  When the sharing time arrived, we honestly didn’t know whether Joey would lose it or love it.  They were such different kinds of pictures – a racetrack and a pair of glasses!  Comments flew around the table that it would be so cool to have a pair of glasses with a racecar on the side.  (Joey wears glasses, by the way).  We all held our breath until a generous smile emerged on Joey’s face.  When it was time to go, he ran to his mother with the picture, delightedly exclaiming that he and his friends invented a new pair of glasses!

This story exemplifies one of those balancing act events that everyone who has children in their lives experiences hundreds of times a day.  Happily, I think a little peace AND flexibility were achieved in Joey’s mind and heart that day… along with a cool pair of glasses.

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

image by:  David, Bergin, Emmett…

Check out the Social Adventures App for more activities like this.

mitten mystery

The Missing Mitten Mystery

Title: The Missing Mitten Mystery

Author: Steven Kellogg

Description: Annie loses her 5th mitten of the season.  While trying to find it her imagination goes wild.  It is found in a most unexpected place.

Goals/ objectives:

  • Question-asking
  • Negation
  • Flexible thinking
  • Sequencing/ retelling
  • Body language/ facial expression
  • “wondering” vs “knowing”

Why I like this story: A wonderful winter story about a lost mitten that’s found.  Always a good thing :)

Ideas for use:

  • while reading, talk about making “pictures in your mind”.  Have the kids generate picture memories of places they would look for a lost mitten (e.g.., in the driveway waiting for the bus, in the hallway on the way to class, on the playground at recess, etc).  Encourage kids to include lots of details.  This is a great excercise for practicing Lindamood-Bell Visualizing and Verbalizing concepts.
  • encourage kids to “imagine” what else the mitten might be used for.
  • identify all of the verbs in the story and discuss the different tenses used to tell the story.
  • discuss the concepts of “wondering” vs “knowing”.  Generate lists of things we wonder about before we actually know (e.g., birthday presents, etc) and what has to happen in order to “know”
  • the illustrations in this book are excellent for talking about facial expressions and body language and reasons for them.
  • have kids generate their own story using the same story structure (e.g., losing a hat in the spring or a kite in the summer)

Submitted by Karen S Head M.S. CCC-SLP

Please support books4all and order this book from our Amazon Store.

*Like this review and activities? Check out the Social Adventures App for more activities for children.
050213-heads-up-game-750x435

Ellen DeGeneres’ App is Great for Social Skills and Language

Ellen Degeneres makes me happy. I’m pretty sure she makes everyone happy. Usually she entertains me at night after work when I watch her show that I DVR. But lately, I’ve been getting to enjoy her during the work day. She created an app called Heads Up that is a speech pathologist’s dream. It’s a lot like the popular traditional speech and language game Headbanz…but it’s on the iPhone/iPad which gives it lots of awesome features. Basically you place the phone, screen facing out, on your forehead. Whoever you are playing with then must describe the given word that is on the screen. If you guess correctly you quickly move the phone forward and back up to your head and a new word appears. If you need to pass because you don’t have a good guess, you move the phone backwards over your head. This is a great feature for many of my students.

There are various categories you can choose from for description, from animals to food. There is a new “kids” deck as well which is obviously filled with kid friendly words (including characters like Runaway Ralph and Zac Efron). The best part about the game is the video recording feature. While you are describing a word…the phone/ipad is recording you. You can watch the video after which is great for a good laugh, as well as an opportunity for some discussion around the child’s performance. (Ellen, can you provide a “pause” button for the video? That would be great for us therapists to breakdown the performance for some teachable moments!). 

I’ve used it with a number of kids for lots of different goals and objectives.

Here are some ideas:

Use in a social group.

  • Great for working together as a team. How many words can you describe and get your team to guess together?
  • It’s a game you CAN’T play alone (like our Bag Game App). Get kids interacting and laughing.
  • Great for body language. Make it more challenging by requiring no words – just body language to describe. This is awesome to watch back and point out on the recorded video. Can kids change their bodies if their friends aren’t getting it? Can they problem solve and think flexibly?
  • Great opportunity for perspective taking from positioning the iPhone/iPad so others can read it, to thinking about saliency (what’s the most important thing) for others to know about something to help them guess
  • Have kids watch the video and give feedback to their friends. Can they give a compliment for what was helpful and/or creative that helped them guess it correctly? What could they have done differently? Can they provide this feedback with appropriate tone of voice and word choices?

Use for individual therapy.

  • Use for description. Pair with the  EET and encourage thorough description. Discuss the importance of starting with the most important/salient information. Especially since this is a timed game
  • Use for generalization of speech production work. Can students use their targeted speech sounds under pressure? At the sentence and discourse levels?
  • Use as a “reward” for completing challenging work within a session. A great language based game to play for fun!

Thanks Ellen for finding another way to make us all happy, even while at work:) 

By Meghan G Graham, MS, CCC-SLP

angry child

Your Strong-Willed Child at Camp

Today, we are blogging over at Special-Ism.com.  This is the last in a series of blog posts about children, temperament and summer camp.

If you have a strong-willed child, you probably notice that they are charismatic and creative, move quickly, make their own rules, and let you know what they want and when they want it (now!).  They tell other children what to do and refuse to do what they don’t want to do.  Your strong-willed child may insist on being first, having the best toys, and always knowing the right way to do things.  Since your child is also clever and endearing, here are some tips for helping your strong-willed child be happy and enjoy friends at camp.

Read more here

Photo by Gerry Thomasen

Quirky

Your Uniquely Quirky Child at Camp

Today, we are blogging over at Special-Ism.com.  This is the 4th in a series of blog posts about children, temperament and summer camp.

Your child loves computers, video games, or anything mechanical.  He or she would love to stay in the house and play on the iPad or computer all day every day.  It is unnerving and a little (or maybe a lot) scary to see how absorbed your child becomes in these devices.  You plot and plan how to get him or her outside or engaged in physical activity during the school year.  How will you manage a whole summer????  I know…sign him or her up for camp; a nice out door camp with lots of kids who like to swim, do crafts, play sports, and essentially, like being with other kids.  What a great idea!  But then half way through the first week your child says he won’t go back to camp.  Nothing there is interesting.  The other kids are annoying.  Now what?  Of course, this may be an extreme example of what some uniquely quirky kids and families go through (or maybe not) but here are a few tips to help you and your child get through the camp experience.

Photo by: Tim Pierce

Read more here

exhuberant

Your Exuberant Child at Camp

Today, we are blogging over at Special-Ism.com.  This is the 3rd in a series of blog posts about children, temperament and summer camp.

Camp seems like the perfect place for an exuberant child who is excited about everything.  However, these are also the kids who may melt down at home or unexpectedly, at camp.  They may seem fine one minute and then explosive the next.  Here are a few tips and suggestions for helping your energetic child have a positive camp experience.

Read more here.

Photo by: Ctd 2005

edublogs-nominated-bestnewblog

FRIDAY FAVORITES

Every now and then on a Friday we like to post one of our favorite blogs.  This week we thought it would be fun to share this one:

LOW TECH SOCIAL FUN

The tag line for our web site is “Collaborative Tools and Technologies” and I am bursting to write about a collaborative tool that is not based in technology. Our group of 5 year-olds just finished an 8-week project that brought much delight to the kids (and, therefore the group leaders). After playing several different board games that involved dice, cards, and spinners, the kids decided they wanted to make a dice-based game. They talked about all kinds of activities and other things they liked until they happened upon something they all enjoyed – pets. We used the side of a cardboard box to draw a game board. The kids made marks on several spaces that served as the “bad things happen” spaces. The “bad things” were a T-Rex, a cage, a dark cave, and a fire-breathing dragon. Each child chose a “bad thing” which they drew and colored on the game board. It didn’t matter that the drawings were roughly depicted. The kids knew what they were supposed to be and encouraged one another.

Pictures of animals were cut out and glued around the game path to keep things cheery. Game pieces were made by stringing small beads on pipe cleaners and closing them in a circle to become pet collars. The kids talked about making a “good thing” square so they glued a star on the board. If you landed on the star, you got to jump to the other star placed further along the path. They decided that everyone should be able to finish the game, so when they reached the end, their pieces were placed on a “bench” drawn by one of the kids, to watch and wait until everyone completed the game.

Pride, simple joy, companionship, feeling supported, being supportive, winning gracefully, losing gracefully, fun, successful, and happiness are all words that come to mind as I picture the little faces of the kids as they played their original game. Oh…and let’s not forget collaboration!

This 8-week Collaborative Project is one of 4 outlined in our Social Adventures Apps. Find our more HERE.

by Jill Perry, MHA, MS, OTR/L

country mouse

Country Mouse and City Mouse

Title: Country Mouse and City Mouse

Author: Based on an Aesop’s Fable. App by McGraw-Hill

Illustrator: Joyce Hesselberth

Age: preschool, elementary school

Description: A mouse that lives in the city visits a mouse friend who lives in the country.  Although they both enjoy the visits, they long for their familiar homes.

Goals/Concepts:
• Perspective taking
• Trying new experiences
• Flexibility
• Managing the unexpected
• Being kind even if you don’t like someone else’s ideas or things

Why I like this book: I have always liked this story and recently discovered that it is also available as a sweetly illustrated e-book which did not disappoint! I remember reading this book or hearing it read to me when I was very young and was intrigued by how different the city and country environments were from one another. I enjoyed seeing the various activities each mouse shared with the other. I love this book today for the same reasons!

Ideas for use:
• Great story to read before a play date. Talk with your child about the fact that their friend has had different experiences and may have different ideas about play.
• Play a game called “If You Like” with a group of children after reading the story. For example, “If you like snow, jump to the wall”. Discuss and affirm differences as well as similarities.
• This is a great story to act out. Split the group into Country and City mice and have them use materials around the room as props and sets. Have them invite the other group over to visit. The visiting mice will need to follow the lead of the “home” mice and then switch.
• Acting out the story provides a wealth of opportunity to experience movement, deep muscle input and tactile sensations. Rolling down a hill, sliding over ice, and climbing up a tree are a few of the actions that can be mimicked.
• The e-book presents different sounds for the country and the city. Discuss and explore sensory input that can be experienced through the senses in each setting. For example, traffic noises can be heard in the city and birds chirping in the country. You might find bakery smells in the city and smell flowers in the country.
• Split the kids into 2 groups and have each group create sets for either the Country or the City. Then have the kids write a script and make sock puppets for a puppet show.

• Lots of downloadable worksheets and more ideas for use are available on line. Here are just a few:

Scholastic Printables

Lesson Pathways

Please support books4all and order this book from our Amazon Store.  Thank you!

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

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