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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

 

 

 

 

 

 

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!

Rosies Walk Cover

Rosie’s Walk

Title: Rosie’s Walk

Author: Pat Hutchins

Age: Preschool, Early Elementary

Description: Rosie the hen goes for a walk around the farm. Little does she know that there is a fox following her.

Goals/Concepts:

  • Early narrative
  • Simple sequencing
  • Farm vocabulary
  • Basic concepts/prepositions (around, over, under, etc.)
  • Early perspective taking
  • Early prediction (Will the fox get Rosie? What do you think will happen?)

Why I like this book: The story is simple, and kids love it. Great pictures, and simple humorous ending.

Ideas for use:

  • Great introducing of “setting” (the farm) from the Story Grammar Marker. Discuss other settings, and describe them (what do we see here, hear, feel, etc.)
  • Use “Braidy” (www.mindwingconcepts.com) for a simple sequence story to have kids retell.
  • Use the pictures in the story, and have kids be “the teacher.” Encourage temporal markers: first, next, then, last.
  • Practice prepositions. Have kids “act” out what Rosie does. Have a toy hen (or have them be Rosie!) and have them walk around, through, under, over. Use props.
  • Act out the story. Have a dyad…one child is Rosie, and one can be the fox. Help them make a plan and act it out. If 3 children, have one be the “narrator.”
  • Discuss why Rosie doesn’t know that the fox is behind her. How do we know? Point out body language, where her eyes are, how the fox is likely moving and sounding, etc. Why doesn’t he want her to know…

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

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

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

 

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

mr bounce

Mr. Bounce

Title:   Mr. Bounce (Mr. Men and Little Miss)

Author:  Roger Hargreaves

Age:  preschool, elementary school

Description:  One of the “Mr. Books” that outright speaks to those overly active, well-meaning, but tough-to-manage kids.

Goals/Concepts:

  • Self-regulation
  • Body awareness
  • Motor planning
  • Perspective taking
  • Good intentions
  • Understanding consequences of actions
  • Accepting help from an adult

Why I like this book:  First of all, this is a series that I used when I was teaching in the late 70’s, and it is adorable.   Even though it’s “old”, kids respond to the characters and story.  There are few books that specifically address those bouncy kids and, as an OT, I am happy to use this one.

Ideas for use:  

  • Before reading, discuss times when you moved too quickly or moved without looking which caused a problem for you or others.  For example, knocking over a coffee cup or tripping over a pair of shoes.  Have the kids offer suggestions of times their high activity level caused bad things to happen.  This helps “normalize” the situation without pointing a negative finger at the “Bouncers.”
  • As you read the story, have the kids anticipate what will happen.  There are lots of opportunities for visualization.  For example, “… you can guess what happened next, can’t you?” and “As you can imagine, that made things very difficult.”  Taking time to think about and discuss these concepts helps kids with ideation and planning.
  • Discuss feelings as you read.  How did Mr. Bounce feel about falling in the water?  The simple line drawings actually have very expressive faces.  Have the kids work on mimicking the expressions.
  • Young kids may not know they need help from adults to manage their high activity level.  They may be disciplined for accidents they cause and feel that they need to figure it out on their own.  I love that Mr. Bounce seeks help from an adult in this book.  Talk with kids about how we, as adults, are here to help them, not punish them.
  • Play a variation of the Silly-Calm body game from the Social Adventures App after reading this book to help kids recognize they can have control over their bodies.  When you say, “Bounce” kids can move, dance, or bounce around the room.  When you say, “Red Boots” (the shoes that were given to Mr. Bounce to help him be more grounded) the kids will freeze their bodies or pretend to sleep, or go back to their seats and remain still.

Check out their great website for lots of fun stuff http://www.mrmen.com

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

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.

 

51DA3ygWPEL._AA160_

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

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

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

red sled

Red Sled

Title: Red Sled

 Author: Lita Judge

Description:  A little girl leaves her sled outside at night, and realizes that she is sharing it with many forest animals!

Goals/ objectives:

  • Early narrative (simple sequence story)
  • Perspective taking
  • Early prediction
  • Emotion/Facial Expression
  • Vocabulary (forest animals: moose, raccoons, opossum, porcupine, etc.)
  • Social Pragmatics
  • Speech Production

Why I like this story: This story was recommended by a good friend (and also People Magazine ;)) and has been a hit with so many children. It’s mainly a wordless book with adorable illustrations.

Ideas for use:

  • Have children be the “teacher” and read it to you. Encourage temporal markers (first, next, then) and expanding on their language. Would be great to incorporate with early learning of story grammar elements (character, settings, initiating event, etc.) and pair with “Braidy” from Mindwingconcepts.
  • A great story to “act out” in a group. Have different children be the various animals and get on the sled (can use an actual sled, a carpet square, blanket, etc.). Great to work on “sharing space.”
  • Use thinking and speaking bubbles and have kids fill them in. What are the animals thinking, saying, etc.
  • Mainly a wordless book, but lots of opportunity for speech production. For example, I have been using for syllable sequencing kiddos, and making up different sounds the animals make (appropriate for their targets) as they travel down the hills (i.e. wooogoooo, gaaaaaadeeeee, moooooowaaaa, etc.). You could do this with straight articulation targets too.
  • The illustrations are great for working on simple prediction. What animal will be next? What will happen next?
  • Have kids write a “sequel.” What would happen the next day? Would they try another winter sport? Would new animals join? Kids can draw their own pictures, could create on a story making app (i.e. Story Patch), use google images, etc.

Submitted by Meghan G. Graham 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.

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.
40-p13-Rabbit’sGift (1)

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.