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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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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

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Dragon

Me and My Dragon Scared of Halloween

Title: Me and My Dragon: Scared of Halloween

Author and Illustrator:  David Biedrzycki

Age:  preschool, early elementary

Description:  A boy tried to help his pet dragon to not be afraid of Halloween.

Goals/Concepts:

  • Perspective taking
  • Body language
  • Early prediction and inferencing
  • Trying new experiences
  • Narrative language
  • Pretend play
  • Trickery
  • Social skills
  • Halloween vocabulary

Why I like this book:  The illustrations are incredible and keep kids engaged. An adorable story with a nice sequence of events for kids to retell and/or act out. There is also an Elvis reference, which I find awesome…I mean why not? :)

Ideas for use:  

  • A great story for labeling emotions and what characters could be thinking. Create a “thinking” bubble and hold over different characters heads to discuss. Point out and act out body language. Pair that with the character facial expression and discuss the context. There are great examples of “trickery” too- the dragon eventually dressed up as a dragon, but adults and kids think it’s a kid dressed as a dragon. A great opportunity for what do people “think” versus what is really happening.

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  • Encourage “detective eyes” to look for “clues” to help kids make inferences and predictions throughout the story. You can use the “remember” + “know” = “guess” framework for inferencing. For example in the first scene help students REMEMBER (see the clues) of the burned cake, small fire, burned clothing, soot on faces, holding fire extinguisher). What do they KNOW about dragons and fire? (they breathe fire, extinguishers are used to put out fires, etc.), helps us GUESS that the dragon accidentally burned down the cake and presents with his fiery breath!
  • Have students act out the story. Someone can be a dragon, the boy in the story and the various other characters (parents, other kids, etc.). Make a visual plan with the sequence to keep kids on task.
  • There are many opportunities for social skill discussions. A concept we work on constantly is “friends don’t make other friends wait.” The dragon has a tough time selecting his candy while trick or treating. The children in line are visibly frustrated. A good opportunity for discussion.
  • Pair with the Zones of Regulation for different emotions are how our body feels. Lots of opportunity for discussion around regulation. The Dragon obviously is “scared” and even “terrified” which can be at different “zones” in this program. Discuss the differences and what tools could help.

Z of R

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  • There are lots of examples of halloween vocabulary including werewolves, zombies, frankenstein, mummies, costumes, etc.
  • There is lots of “subtle” humor throughout the story that can be pointed out if language skills allow for it.

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

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A Day Without Rules

Title: A Day Without Rules

Author: Billy Boston, Illustrated by Joel McNatt

Description: A classroom of children get to see the effects of not having rules for the day. They learn to see the importance of respecting each other.

Why I like this story: A good story for the preschool/kindergarten classroom, as the story provides situations that kids can really relate to, along with great illustrations to help with understanding of emotions.  Our social groups have really enjoyed this story, and has led to great discussion.

Goals/ objectives:

  • social skills/ pragmatic language
  • perspective taking
  • friendship
  • prediction skills
  • early narrative language, retelling
Ideas for use:
  • Role play the various situations that happen in the story (i.e. purposely knocking over a block tower, grabbing objects out of hands, etc.), and discuss characters feelings and thoughts. Exaggerate and discuss body language. Have children act out the “right” way and the “way without rules.” Great for discussion and practice of social appropriate responses/actions
  • Use bubble thoughts to discuss what characters are thinking and why
  • Have students generate what rules they would want to live without. Great for prediction skills…What might happen if we don’t have to keep our cubby clean? Not wash our hands before snack? Take toys/books home? etc. Students can even generate their own stories around not having these rules and the effects. Create the stories on story creation apps like Toontastic or Book Creator.
  •  Great for early narrative skills. Clear characters, settings and initiating events. Pair with Mindwing Concepts story grammar marker or Story Grammar Marker (SGM) App.

Submitted by Meghan G. Graham M.S. CCC-SLP It is noted that all4mychild was provided with a copy of this story for review. However, options expressed are our own and no other compensation was provided. *Like this review and activities? Check out the Social Adventures App for more activities for children.

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Thank you!

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The Joy of Story Telling

Story telling is fundamental to human interaction.  It is the way that we share experiences, relate to one another and empathize with others.  Story telling is the way we keep family memories alive, study history and understand our place in the world.  Story telling starts very young.  Children as young as 2-3 years begin to share experiences by stringing sentences together (called Heaps by Hedberg and Westby (1993)) and very soon thereafter (age 5) begin to tell well organized cohesive stories with a central character and sequenced events.  But, like so many other communication skills that come easily and naturally to many, narrative skills don’t come easily to all.  Children may struggle with the linguistic components of a narrative, they may struggle with word retrieval and formulation or they may struggle with taking the perspective of the listener.  For these kids, the joy of a story well told is often unattainable.  But there is help available.

The Story Grammar Marker 

MaryEllen Rooney Moreau, founder of  Mindwing Concepts , developed the Story Grammar Marker© more than 20 years ago to support children’s narrative development.   According to their website, “ MindWing’s methodology stems from research on oral language development, narrative structure and narrative development by Applebee (1978), Stein and Glenn (1979), Roth and Spekman (1986), Merritt and Liles (1987) and Westby (1991). Our research-based methodology and multi-sensory tools provide an explicit, systematic approach to instruction and intervention on narrative (story) development and expository (content area) text. Our methodology is designed to be implemented across the curriculum and throughout all grade levels targeting the development of oral language skills necessary for comprehension, writing, critical thinking and social-emotional growth.”  And now… the Story Grammar Marker is available as an app for the iPad!

And Now it’s Digital

Together with all4mychild, the Story Grammar Marker app was developed to provide teachers, therapists and parents another way to expose kids to this amazing tool.  This versatile app can be used to teach the individual components of a narrative or can provide a story scaffold appropriate to the child’s developmental level.

 

Text and images are easily imported onto a virtual Braidy (the Story Grammar Marker’s nickname) building a visual support …

Once the Braidy is complete, the child can record the story and have it played back as though he is a newscaster on WSGM…

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For Younger Kids

All4mychild has also developed the Talking Train app to provide support for our youngest story-tellers.  This engaging app uses the framework of a train to provide support for a main idea or story topic (the train engine) and 3 or more details (the train cars)..

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Once the child has recorded the story, it can be played for instant feedback or emailed along.   The email includes the Talking Train image as well as the child’s recording.  But the best part of all is that when the child hits the “GO!” button the train chugs down the track, disappears for a moment, and then comes right back and this is all accompanied by delightful train sound.

So whatever the age of your little story-teller, these two apps will provide the just-right support.

photo by Alexander Lyubavin

Elmer

Elmer

Title: Elmer

Author: David McKee

Description: Elmer the elephant isn’t like all the other elephants. He’s colorful and struggles with that difference. After trying to be like all the other elephants and failing, he realizes how much his friends appreciate his uniqueness.

Goals:

  • Friendship
  • Social Skills
  • Narrative language/Retelling
  • Animal Vocabulary

Why I like this book: A good example of appreciating people’s differences, and teaching children to be themselves.

Ideas for this book:

  • Have each child come up with something they can do (i.e. sometimes do friends ideas even if it isn’t exactly what they want, ask a friend what their favorite game is and play it together, let another friend go first, etc.), or something that they are good at, that makes their friends think/feel positively towards them. Discuss how Elmer was good at making the other elephants laugh and enjoy themselves. This made his friends like him, and want to spend time with him. Could they use one of their “talents” or traits to enjoy their time with friends? Maybe they are great at legos- they could make a lego tower together with a friend? Maybe they are good at drawing- they could draw a picture for their friend of their friend’s favorite thing. Encourage discussion around what others are thinking about and feeling when they do these things. They could even draw pictures of this, and share. Use thinking and speaking bubbles to demonstrate how what friends would be thinking and saying.
  • If in a group- have kids each come up with something positive about another group member. What is something that they like about that friend? What makes them special? Again, pair with thinking and speaking bubbles.
  • A great story to identify story grammar elements (i.e. characters, setting, initiating event, etc.). I like to pair with MindwingConcepts story grammar marker /”Braidy” to help students identify and retell the story.
  • Have children retell using “Braidy” or using the pictures from the story. Encourage temporal markers and cohesive ties during their retell.
  • Elmer walks through the jungle and sees various jungle animals. Have children describe and generate other jungle animals. Great to pair with the Expanding Expression Tool (EET) for added description. Could also work on comparing and contrasting of various animals.
  • At the end of the story, the elephants each color themselves in honor of Elmer one day a year. Provide students with an elephant, and have them decorate their own. How would they design themselves? If in a group- a great activity to see how everyone would color themselves differently. Discuss how we all are different, and have different ideas in our head. A great discussion for how much more interesting life is because of our differences. This is illustrated well in this story.

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

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Being Frank

Title:  Being Frank

Author:  Donna W Earnhardt

Illustrator:  Andrea Castellani

Description:   Frank learns that “being honest” can be tricky business.  A wise grandpa suggests that “more sugar and less pepper” is often the best way to go…

Goals/Concepts:

    • Social skills, especially being honest yet kind
    • Emotions
    • Body Language
    • Perspective Taking
    • Inferencing/Predicting
    • Narrative Language

Why I Like This Book:   This book provides a fun and engaging way to discuss a nuanced topic.  I really appreciate the catch phrase, “more sugar less pepper” that is introduced in this book.  Also, the illustrations are fantastic!

Ideas for Use:   

  •  This is a great book to introduce the topic of being honest and kind to kids who may have difficulty with this concept.  There are several scenarios presented which offer opportunities to discuss how the other person might feel and to brainstorm another approach.  The introduction of the catch phrase, “more sugar less pepper” then provides a way for kids to apply this same approach to new situations.
  • In a group setting, this book is wonderful for acting out.  Kids can work on body language and facial expression to relate their emotions, both when their feelings are hurt and then later when they feel validated.
  • This is also a great book for discussing Social Behavior Mapping (Garcia-Winner).  Frank certainly feels much happier when his friends are happy with him because he treated them more kindly..
  • Once kids have the experience of acting out the book and they are familiar with “more sugar less pepper,” have two kids at a time act out a brief scenario.  Include the other kids by having them give a thumbs up if the child is honest and kind and if not, have the audience say, “more sugar less pepper.”
  • This book is also great to use to work on figurative language.  The idea of “more sugar less pepper” can be explored both literally and figuratively.  Then additional idioms can be explored by generating brief scenarios that would incorporate both the literal and figurative meanings.
  • The scenarios in this book are also good for inferencing and predicting.
  • The narrative structure and story retell can be made more fun by using the Story Grammar Marker App from MindwingConcepts.  This app gives kids the chance to be a newscaster and to tell the exciting story of Being Frank.  Kids can even record their “newscast” and share with others over email!

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

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Humpty

What REALLY Happened to Humpty?

Title:  What Really Happened to Humpty? (Nursery-Rhyme Mysteries)

Author: Jeanie Franz Ransom

Description: Humpty’s brother, Joe a detective is convinced that Humpty didn’t just fall…he was pushed. He is given one day to use the clues, and figure out who did it.

Goals:

  • Inferencing
  • Perspective Taking
  • Figurative Language
  • “why” questions/higher-level language/problem solving
  • curriculum connections: fairy tales/nursery rhymes
  • Story generation/narrative skills

Why I like this book: A great story for elementary to upper elementary students to address higher level language skills. The book is funny….kids are entertained while addressing lots of language goals.

Ideas for this book:

  • There are endless opportunities for students to practice inferencing skills. I like to use Mindwingconcepts approach to inferencing with the “Remember”(clues from text/pics) + Know (background knowledge)= Guess (inference) to break down this process. An example from the story. Detective Dumpty runs into Little Red Riding Hood who is feeling upset. She states that Muffin Man is scrambling to fill  a big order. She can’t even buy a muffin for her grandmother. “Why is she angry?” “Why can’t she buy a muffin?” “How do we know that she is angry,” etc.
  • Additionally, Detective Dumpty has lots of “clues” to put together to make a guess as to who may have wanted to harm his brother. Have students keep track of the “clues.” They can write them down on a white board, or even use an app to track: Popplet could be a good choice to track all the clues. A different popplet for each clue/character could be used
  • There are lots of perspectives in this story. Little Miss Muffet, a spider, even Goldilocks. To help students understand, pair with “Braidy” from Mindwingconcepts. Have students tell the story from each character’s point of view using story grammar elements. What was the initiating event/kickoff for Little Miss Muffet?
  • Use thinking and speaking bubbles to help kids understand character motivations. Why would Miss Muffet lie? What was she thinking about (want)?
  • There are lots of examples of figurative language: hard-boiled detective, shooting the breeze, hit the streets, bare/bear, etc. Have students use context clues to guess what these sayings could mean.
  • The book is filled with opportunities for students to answer higher level “why” questions.
  • The story references several other fairy tales/nursery rhymes. Have students look up these other fairy tales. Discuss their purpose/moral or resolution, and how it connects to the story. For example, what happened in the story of the 3 Little Pigs? Have students “retell” the story to you, explaining the “salient” parts. This could be paired with the Story Grammar Marker (“Braidy”) through Mindwingconcepts as stated above. Have students verbally explain the connection to this story.Encourage cohesive ties (i.e. because, so, etc.)
  • At the end of the story, Detective Dumpty discussed other future cases. Have students write the next story based on one of his cases (i.e. Dish ran away with the spoon, Little Bo Peep Lost her Sheep, etc.).
  • Available through Charles Bridge Publishing with a link to Detective Dumpty’s own website

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

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hershel and the goblins

Hershel and the Hanukkah Goblins

Title:   Hershel and the Hanukkah Goblins

Author:  Eric Kimmel

Description:  An adorable story about a how one clever villager saves Hanukkah.

Goals:

  • early elementary comprehension
  • perspective taking
  • problem-solving
  • reading body language
  • inferencing

Why I like this book:  During the holiday season, I always enjoy introducing a book from the Jewish culture.  While it is a story about Hanukkah, the themes are universal.

Ideas for this book:

  • While this story does not focus upon the religious components of Hanukkah, it does introduce some of the associated traditions; such as, lighting menorah candles and playing with a dreidel.  This provides a great opportunity for exposing children who don’t celebrate Hanukkah to this holiday to other holiday traditions.
  • As a follow up activity, have the kids play the dreidel game with some chocolate coins.  It is a fun group game that includes turn-taking and flexibility since it is more a game of chance than of skill.
  • Make your own dreidels using this template or download this Hanukkah Dreidel app.
  • This story is perfect for acting out.  The characters are well defined and who doesn’t like to play the role of a villain (goblin) once in a while…
  • The text in this book is on the longer side for a picture book, so just reading it can provide a great opportunity for sustained attention.
  • Each night, Hershel outwits another goblin.  While reading, ask kids if they can predict what the goblin will do.  This provides an opportunity to take the perspective of the goblin.  Why was Hershel able to trick them?
  • This is another great book to use with the Story Grammar Marker from MindWing Concepts.

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

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pumpkin

Spookley the Square Pumpkin

Title: The Legend of Spoookley the Square Pumpkin (ebook/app)

Author: Oceanhouse Media

Description: A rhyming story about pumpkin who is “different” than the rest. Although this is difficult, Spookley’s difference becomes very helpful to the other pumpkins in the patch, and they learn an important lesson.

Goals:

  • Phonological Awareness (rhyming)
  • Vocabulary (Halloween)
  • Social Skills
  • Narrative

Why I like this book: Because it’s an app ($1.99 iPhone/ipad) it has lots of capabilities. It can be read by children (and allows for recording of their voice), or read to students (there is a narrator, or you can choose to read it to them). There are some interactive components as well, but not so many that it takes away from the story itself.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Ideas for this book:

  • The entire book is in rhyme. Have children fill in the “blank” at the ends of phrases. Provide the initial phoneme, can they predict the rhyming word? (i.e…his friends, where they had curves, he had eeen______(ends)). Use google images, board maker, etc. to make visuals of these rhyming pairs for additional practice, rhyme generation of the pattern (i.e. rare, square, fair, etc.), or home programming. Pair with Rhyming apps such as What Rhymes? or Pocket Phonics App for additional practice
  • This is a great book to expose kids to Halloween vocabulary: pumpkins, patch, scarecrow, bats,  Pair with any of these great apps recommended by The Speech Guy here
  • Use to identify Story Grammar Elements (i.e characters, setting, initiating event, etc.). Great to pair with the Story Grammar Marker by Mindwingconcepts for students to retell the story
  • Great for discussion about “teasing” and “being different.” Have students discuss how Spookley embraced his “difference” – and how it helped save the day.
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Submitted by; Meghan G. Graham M.S. CCC-SLP