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medal lion

The Lion and the Mouse

Title: The Lion and the Mouse

Author: Aesop’s Fable

Age: preschool, early elementary

Description: A familiar story about helping one another in surprising ways

Goals/Concepts:

  • Helping others
  • Prediction
  • Perspective Taking
  • Not being a bully
  • Dramatic Play

Why I like this book: It’s a great story about not picking on people weaker than you and a reminder that little ones, even kids, can be smart and act kindly.

Ideas for Use:

  • Before reading the story, talk about what kids know about mice and lions – What size are they? What do they like to eat? Are they fierce or mellow, brave or fearful?
  • As you read the story, have the kids predict what the lion will do when it catches the mouse. This often can lead to discussions about bullying.
  • This is a great book to delve into expected and unexpected behaviors and the consequences of each. The lion released the mouse, which freed him, made him happy and resulted in the mouse freeing the lion on another day.
  • This is a great story for dramatic play. With a group of 3 – 5, have the kids take on roles of different small animals such as a mouse, bird, rabbit, or snake. Have them think about and act out how each of those characters might free the lion.
  • Acting out the story creates opportunities for motor play as the kids set up their animal homes and move like various animals.
  • When kids act out this story, they are working on self-regulation. The lion must be careful not to grasp the mouse too hard and when the lion is released from his net, he must figure out how to not struggle too hard.
  • If the motor planning element is too challenging and the kids can’t tell the story while they move, try using finger puppets or making paper bag puppets to use for a puppet show.
  • The best part of the story is that if we help someone, they may come back to help us later, and what a good feeling that is for everyone!

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

There are many MANY renderings of this story. Support books4all and order this book from our Amazon Store where we have added several of our favorite versions.  Thank you!

cedar-sandbox

Sand Box Garden

The Atlantic Magazine posted a wonderful article about the importance of play in helping stem anxiety and depression in kids. You can read the entire article here: All Work and No Play. Basically, kids need less adult-directed time and more free playtime together. As the weather is becoming nicer I love to see kids outside doing what they do best – PLAYING

The Atlantic article lists 5 ways play benefits kids:

  1. Finding and developing a connection to their own self-identified and self-guided interests.
  2. Learning how to make decisions, solve problems, exert self-control and follow rules
  3. Learning to handle emotions, including anger, fear and hurt
  4. Learning to make friends and get along with each other as equals
  5. Play is a source of happiness

In a local school this week I observed a class of 4 and 5 year olds on the playground. A large sand box with sort of dirty, wet sand elicited the creation of a garden. (Self-identified interest). Kids started digging with play shovels. When shovels ran out and kids started complaining, others offered suggestions to use sticks, wait their turn, dig with hands, or take on another job. (Solving problems). Some kids ran around collecting dirty, dead leaves to plant while others filled toy dump trucks to collect dirt and dump it on the planted seeds. (Making decisions). Kids then started talking about what plants they were growing. Some said flowers, some vegetables. It didn’t seem to matter. (Self-guided interests). When one boy began flinging dirt, the others told him to stop and to dig somewhere else. Happily, the child was able to move away and began filling a truck with sand to take to the garden. (Following rules, handling emotions). The sand box was filled with well-organized chaotic play. Boys and girls played together and all seemed to have jobs and ideas. (Getting along with each other). Best of all, they were all happy in their industrious, creative, pretend play.

throw sand

This may seem like a mundane scene that can be found on any playground. However, I wanted to highlight it here because we continue to pressure our schools and families to improve academics and keep up with children in other countries and cultures in math and technology. We also need to let the children play, for within the context of play, kids develop essential skills that enable them to flourish in the global economy. If our kids can learn to discover their self-interests and skills, make decisions and solve problems, self-regulate, handle disappointments, get along with others and find happiness, what more could we ask?

 

fireman small

Fireman Small

Title: Fireman Small

Author: Wong Herbert Yee

Age: preschool, early elementary

Description: One tiny firefighter works hard all day to help his friends when they are in trouble.

Goals/Concepts:

  • Rhyming
  • Auditory Memory
  • Sequencing
  • Prediction
  • Perspective Taking
  • Helping others
  • Dramatic Play

Why I like this book: The catchy rhyme in this book grabs kids’ attention and the simple plot line is great for inspiring dramatic play.

Ideas for Use:

  • This story contains a repetitive rhyme that recurs several times within the story. Have kids complete more and more of the rhyme each time it occurs to encourage auditory memory skills
  • The problems related in the story have rather obvious solutions so this is a great book for introducing the idea of problems and solutions within a story.
  • This book can also be used to introduce the category of community helpers. Discuss the different roles that each community helper plays in our community and then play a round of the Bag Game to reinforce those concepts.
  • The narrative structure of this story lends itself very well to use with the Story Grammar Marker App. Have kids retell the story with particular focus on the “kickoff” (initiating event) for each problem, the accompanying emotion, the “plan” and the resolution.
  • This is a fantastic story for promoting group pretend play. Using small people figurines and dramatic play materials, the kids can set up a fire station and props for each of the story components. Kids can then take turns with each of the characters.
  • Kids can also act out the story with themselves as characters and gross motor materials as props. Acting out the story in this way provides a wealth of opportunity to experience movement, deep muscle input and tactile sensations. Using a scooter board or platform swing as a fire truck, a soft barrel as a well and/or a climbing pole as a tree provides lots of different sensory input while fostering representational ideation and play.
  • Fireman Small’s friends really appreciate him. Use this story to talk about thanking friends when they are helpful and how good it feels when we help others. Social Thinking Behavior Maps provide a great visual aid for talking about the connections between our actions and our emotions.

Submitted by:  Karen S Head, MS, CCC-SLP

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Rescuing Mermaids Takes a Whole Team

Playing board games doesn’t always have to be competitive. Some games are designed to get kids working as a team. This is a common theme in our Social Adventures Groups – working as a team. It seems a simple concept, but difficult for our kids to grasp. Kids in general are pretty egocentric around ages 3-7, but some kids really have a difficult time thinking about others. This makes it difficult for them to play collaboratively with others and this can lead to them being left out of lots of play opportunities. So we break the idea down into small steps and try to play games that highlight how working together gets everyone to a final goal quicker than if everyone tried to do it alone.

One of the games that we often use to bring this idea home is the Mermaid Island Game from Peaceable Kingdom. Here’s the set up. There are three mermaids who start off together on an island. There is also a witch who starts off on a different island. The goal is to get all 3 mermaids to the island before the witch gets there. But here’s the kicker, the players do not identify with one mermaid as they would in say, Candyland. Instead, as each player takes a turn, they must decide which mermaid to move in order to keep them all together. This is an excellent game for teaching the concept of “the needs of the group are more important than individual needs.” Almost every child who first plays this game becomes invested in a particular mermaid. It requires a lot of processing to make the point of working as a team. Once they get it though, it is a great way to talk about the same concept in different contexts. Oh and for those who may feel that this game is a “girl game” because it includes mermaids – we have never had a boy complain – whether boys or girls are playing, they are helping others and that is just wonderful!

Support all4mychild and order the Mermaid Island Game from our Amazon Store.

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A Tale of Two Beasts

Title: A Tale of Two Beasts

Author: Fiona Roberton

Description: A little girl rescues a strange beast (a squirrel) in the woods and brings him home to take care of him. The “beast” is not happy and escapes, and tells his own version of events. The book is broken up into 2 short stories to illustrate these two perspectives.

Goals/ objectives:

  • Perspective Taking (social language skills)
  • Narrative Language
  • Friendship Skills
  • Grammar: adjectives
  • Why Questions
  • OT/SLP goal: pretend play (ideation, motor planning, etc.) 

Why I like this story: The two perspectives are wonderful for discussion, and the story is really funny and entertaining. Kids of all ages will love this.

Ideas for use:

  • Have kids tell from the 2 different perspectives. Using a tool like the Story Grammar Marker from Mindwing Concepts to tell from the little girl’s perspective and then from the “beast’s” perspective. Discuss their different “kickoffs” (initiating events): little girl was walking through the woods when suddenly she saw a strange beast stuck up a tree…” vs. “I was hanging from my favorite tree singing happily to the birds  when I was ambushed…”
  • Great for social language discussion around how different interpretations of the same events can happen
  • Do Compare/Contrast of their perspectives, and even their lives. Tie in curriculum around habitats, and animal behavior. Discuss WHY the squirrel may not have liked what the girl was doing to him (i.e. bathing, walking on leash, dressing).
  • At the end of both “tales” they come to realize maybe the other wasn’t so “strange”- great for discussion with social groups about friendship and staying flexible and open minded.
  • Grammar: there are lots of wonderful examples of use of adjectives and adverbs to make sentences more complex and engaging: strange little beast, whining sadly, lovely bath, gorgeous new hat, beautiful house, etc. You could have students find synonyms for these words as well as compare to what adjective the “beast” would use (likely antonym).
  • In a group or dyad, act out the story! Would be great to have kids use various objects to represent the setting and events. What could be the woods? What could be the bath? Who can be the “beast?” Have students sequence events, narrate, negotiate roles and props, etc. Have them generate their own story with 2 perspectives, using the same frame of the story
  • Write their own version of story using different characters, but following this frame. Use apps like Book Creator to generate a story.

Submitted by Meghan Graham M.S. CCC-SLP

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

The Biggest Valentine Ever

Title: The Biggest Valentine Ever

Author: Steve Kroll

Age: School Age

Description: Two friends from class decide to make a valentine for their teacher together. Working together proves to be quite challenging…

 

What I like about this book: It’s a cute thematic story for Valentine’s Day with a social focus.

Goals:

  • Pragmatics/Social Language
  • “Wh” Questions
  • Narrative/Story retell

Therapy/Activity Ideas:

  • A great book for discussion of teamwork and working together. Have students talk about what is hard when working together, what makes it fun, etc.
  • Discuss ways to help make working together go more successfully: making a plan, “asking” vs. “telling,” giving compliments, looking at friends’ faces to determine how they are feeling, etc.
  • Role-play different scenarios in the story when the two mice are not getting along. Discuss what they could have done differently. What language could they use if they don’t like someone’s idea? (vs. what the mice do “you put too much glitter! Why did you make a heart in the middle?!). Discuss the effects of tone of voice. What if the mouse said it with a different tone of voice? Would that change the situation? Use thinking and speaking bubbles to help teach these concepts.
  • Have students work in pairs to make the valentine that was made in the story (a mouse out of 5 paper hearts). A context to help support the above stated skills…(tone of voice, negotiation, etc.)
  • Have students retell the story working on story grammar elements (characters, setting, initiating event, etc.). Pair with the Story Grammar Marker.

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

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

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

kids in the boat

Inspired by Friendship Month

Did you know that February is Friendship Month?  We didn’t until last week when our friend Tiffani over at Special-ism let us know.  For some time now, Meghan, Jill and Karen have taken a hiatus from the online portion of all4mychild.  We moved our clinic a couple of years ago and took some time to focus on that.  We have missed our online friends, however, and felt that there was no better time to return than in celebration of Friendship Month.  We spend every day working with kids to help them feel more socially confident so that their friendship circles can grow.  Now we want our online friendships to start growing once again as well.

If you don’t already subscribe to our newsletter, you can do so HERE.  We are excited to start blogging again, to review more books, to continue to offer special promotions for our APPS  and to add more exciting features to our website. We hope you will follow along with us as we once again join this amazing online community of those who love children.

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.

Snow_friends_L

Snow Friends

Title:  Snow Friends

Author: M. Christina Butler and Tina Macnaughton

Description: A little bear wakes from his winter nap and has no one to enjoy the snow with. He decides to build a snowman to play with and meets some friends along the way.

Goals/ objectives:

Narrative/Retelling
Early inferencing and predicting
Why questions
animal/winter vocabulary (winter animals: bear, rabbit, otter)
social skills/friendship
body language

Why I like this story: A cute winter story that encourages friendship and thinking about others.
Ideas for use:

Great story for retelling and identifying the story grammar elements (characters, setting, initiating event, etc.). I pair with “Braidy” through Mindwing Concepts. A clear kickoff and plan (bear needs a friend so builds a snowman…)
use to discuss setting (woods, cave). Draw a big winter wood scene and have child add the various winter animals to retell the story.
Good for description as well as the pictures are textured….sparkly, shiny, white, cold snow. etc.
Great for early prediction/inferencing (e.g. What could be under the snow making noise? (rabbit in burrow), what will they use the sticks for?)
Good for modeling and exposing to “why” questions. Why do they need carrots? Why is the rabbit upset? Why is the bear lonely? etc.
Beautiful illustrations for body language and emotions. Have children act out the body language.
Good story to act out in a group or dyad . Use big exercise balls to act as snow balls. One child holds the bottom while the others, “make” the other snow ball. Encourage team work and communication as they roll the balls.
Discuss friendship and thinking of others. Why did the animals make another snowman? (They didn’t want the snowman to be lonely when they left to do other activities). How can they include others?

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

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Rabbit’s Gift

Title: Rabbit’s Gift

Author: George Shannon / Laura Dronzek

Description: A rabbit has a bit more food than she needs for the winter. Soon she learns that sharing with others leads to a wonderful surprise. This sweet story is based upon a Chinese Fable.

Goals/ objectives:
• Regular past tense
• sequencing/ Retelling
• early prediction
• why
• sharing and friendship
• /u/ and /o/ vowel sounds

Why I like this story: A cute winter story.

Ideas for use:
• simple story sequence to retell with repetitive phrases. Can make board maker pictures or use google images to find the various animals. (rabbit, donkey, goat, deer) and use to sequence and retell the story. Incorporate temporal markers (first, next, then, etc.)
• use to discuss setting (woods, cave). Draw a big winter wood scene and have child add the various winter animals to retell the story
• identify all of the verbs in the story and use different tenses to tell the story.
• discuss the idea of taking another’s perspective and the difference between “thinking” and “knowing”
• fun story to act out in a group, with focus upon the ways that the different animals move through the snow and facial expressions related to finding the turnip and thinking of who to share it with
• encourage kids to share personal stories of a time that sharing with others led to a similar surprise

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.