hard to be a verb

It’s Hard to be a Verb

Book: It’s Hard To Be a Verb!

Author: Julia Cook

Age: Preschool and School Age

Description: Louis (our friend from Personal Space Camp, and My Mouth in a Volcano) struggles with “focus.” His mom gives him some strategies to help him at home and at school because “it’s hard to be a verb.”


  • Social Skills
  • Body Language
  • Sensory Tools
  • Regulation
Why I like this book: Great for discussion about whole body listening, and helping kids find ways to help themselves.
Ideas for use: 
  • While reading, have kids identify how their body feels when they feel their body is a “verb.” Louis feels itchy and jumpy, how do you feel? Is it your body? It it your mind? Is it both?
  • A good book to introduce some body tools (best to do with guidance from your team OTs). What tools and strategies help them? Taking a break, moving their bodies, a drink of water, putty, reading a book, squeezing thier muscles and then relaxing, making a schedule with visuals, visual reminders, etc. Great to discuss how everyone uses different tools to help themselves. Provide some options and experiment.
  • Discuss how their bodies should look when they are “focused.” Focus on all different parts of the body. Listening eyes, listening hands, listening feet, etc. With younger kiddos you can do “NOT listening eyes,” then switch to “listening eyes,” and do with each body part.
  • Discuss WHY we need good listening bodies. What are other people (friends, teachers, etc.) thinking if we’re not listening with our whole bodies? What are some clues that we may not be listening? How can we help a friend that is having  a hard time?
  • Brainstorm places/contexts where it’s ok to be a “verb.” Playgrounds, outside, P.E. class, movement games in the classroom, etc. Can tie to safety awareness too.

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

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my mouth is a

My Mouth is a Volcano

Book: My Mouth Is a Volcano!

Author: Julia Cook

Illustrator: Carrie Hartman

Age: preschool, elementary school

Description: Louis is a “blurter” and constantly interrupting others and speaking when he should listen or raise his hand. His mother comes up with a simple strategy to help limit his volcanic eruptions.


  • Impulse control
  • Self-regulation
  • Patience (or impatience)
  • Sensory regulation
  • Empathy
  • Perspective taking
  • Social Skills
  • Reading Body Language

Why I like this book: The story is told from the perspective of Louis, the “erupter”, and is presented in an understanding, realistic light. Children easily relate to this story and are therefore, more willing to work on solving the “problem”.

Ideas for use:

  • Good book to read to a group or classroom of kids to identify the problem. The kids will laugh through the first reading at the entertaining illustrations.
  • As you read the book a second time, discuss how each character is feeling, (e.g. teacher, Louis, classmates, other interrupters). Use thinking bubbles and speaking bubbles to help.
  • Point out body language of characters and “why”
  • Engage kids in a discussion about how they feel when they are interrupted.
  • Many kids talk about their fear of forgetting what they want to say if they don’t “blurt” it out. Work on strategies with them to help them remember.
  • Remind kiddos to wait for a “pause,” raise a hand, etc.
  • Address the physical wiggling, jumping up, and sounds kids make when they interrupt. Provide sensory and motor activities to help their bodies remain calm (e.g. deep breathing, move-‘n-sit cushion, squeeze ball).

Submitted by:  Jill Perry, MHA, MS, OTR/L   and  Meghan G. Graham M.S. CCC-SLP

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Personal Space Camp

Book: Personal Space Camp

Author:   Written by Julia Cook and illustrated by Carrie Hartman

Age:   Preschool, Early Elementary, Upper Elementary

Description:   Louis is sent to Personal Space Camp in the Principal’s office.  When he discovers that “personal  space” is different than “outer space”, his disappointment abates as he learns how to better manage his body and space.


  • Body/space awareness
  • Body language
  • Spatial relations
  • Perspective taking
  • Tone of voice
  • Friendship

Why I like this book:  The story and illustrations grab kid’s attention as they watch Louis crash into others.  Once they are immersed in this book, kids find the concepts easy to learn.

Ideas for use:

  • Read before a play date to get kids ready to manage their bodies.
  • Read after a play date to help lower arousal levels and process body and space awareness.
  • Practice some of the activities described in the book that Louis does in his “Personal Space Camp”.   They are easy to do and fun.
  • Discuss the importance of tone of voice when Louis talks about his teacher’s “cranky voice.”
  • Spend time looking at and discussing facial expressions and body language depicted when Louis crashes into others.
  • Have children demonstrate some of the facial expressions seen in the book and have others predict what they are feeling and why they might feel that way.
  • Talk about why managing personal space is important for friendship.
  • Discuss various strategies that can be used to help kids maintain their personal space in various situations.
  • Have kids practice what to say to others when their personal space is invaded.

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

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