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mouse

The Kitten Who Thought He Was a Mouse

Title:  The Kitten Who Thought He Was a Mouse

Author:  Miriam Norton

Illustrator:  Garth Williams

Age:  Early Elementary

Description:  An abandoned kitten is adopted by a  mouse family.  The kitten grows up believing he is a mouse until the children of the house get involved.

Goals/Concepts:

  • Theory of Mind – both cognitive and emotional
  • Narrative development
  • “s” sounds
  • Body language and emotional inferencing
Why I like this book:  This book is wonderfully illustrated and the story lends itself to lots of discussion of Theory of Mind and perspective taking.
Ideas for use:
  • While reading this book aloud, talk with the kids about what the kitten “thinks” and what the other animals “know.”  Once you reach the part of the story where the kitten is held up to the mirror, discuss how seeing himself changed what the kitten thought.
  • For kids who don’t yet understand that the kitten “thinks” he is a mouse, try acting out the story and focus upon all of the actions that the kitten does that are “mouse” actions and how those would be different from “cat” actions.
  • For kids who may understand the cognitive Theory of Mind (i.e., thinking vs knowing), this story is also great for discussion emotional Theory of Mind (i.e., how the kitten feels during the different parts of the story).
  • For an even higher level challenge, this story can lead to a discussion of deception and the motives for that deception as well as how all of the characters feel as a result.
  • On a lighter note, for kids who simply need some articulation practice, this book is filled to the brim with “s” words.
  • This story is also wonderful for use with the Story Grammar Marker from Mindwings for story retell and narrative development.

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

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Thank you!

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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

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

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

 

join in and play

Join In and Play

Title: Join In and Play (Learning to Get Along®)

Author: Cheri J. Meiners, M. Ed.

Illustrator: Meredith Johnson

Age: preschool, elementary school

Description: One in a series of books by free spirit publishing that gently and effectively teaches young children foundational social skills

Goals/Concepts:
• joining play
• managing rejection
• interpreting body language
• understanding facial expressions
• building general social skills

Why I like this book: I often think books that directly teach social skills are written from an adult perspective in a way that makes them less relatable for kids. This book breaks that mold for me. The body language and facial expressions are realistic. For example, when a group of kids tells a girl she can’t play with them, it is clear that they are playing 4 square and all squares are full. It is clear that they aren’t being mean. And yet, looking at the expression on the girl’s face, it is also clear that she is a little sad and wondering what she should do next. The book gives multiple realistic solutions to this situation that kids encounter every day.

Ideas for use:
• Talk about body language and facial expressions as you read the book
• Before reading the page, ask kids what they think is happening in the pictures. Each page contains lots of visual information!
• Many kids think it’s wrong to say “No” and not let others join in and yet, there are times when it is not possible or desirable to let others join. Talk about when and why and how to gently say “No” to a friend.
• Discuss tone of voice with discussion of each scene that takes place.
• Act out ways to effectively join a group of children who are playing.
• Act out solutions when kids are told “no” they can’t play.
• Don’t forget to discuss feelings throughout. Acting out the scenarios helps remove some of the fear, anxiety, sadness and anger that often accompanies rejection. It’s a great way to try out ways to manage rejection when the stakes are not so high.

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

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.

 

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

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.

IMG_0724

Send Thank You Notes with the Talking Train app

 

Another use of our Talking Train app is for parents and therapists alike. Parents can have their children “write” the dreaded thank you notes from the holidays, using the app. Take/import pictures of the gift, your child playing with it, etc. and some brief words or drawings thanking them for the gift.

 

You can even record the child’s voice thanking the gift-giver. Then email the note and voila, you’re done!

 

As a therapist, you can use this activity as a pragmatic/perspective taking activity. Why do we write thank you notes? How will it make the gift-giver feel when they see you enjoying the gift? What would be appropriate words to thank someone for a gift? You get the idea. Would be great to pair with thinking/speaking bubbles to aid in understanding if necessary. Download the app now from the Talking Train - all4mychild and get started sending those notes :)

NOTE: If the gift-giver doesn’t have an iOS device, you can use  Switch to convert the .caf file to an mp3.  That way it can be heard on any device.

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

For more ideas on how to use the Talking Train app, check out these reviews from SpeechieApps and SpeechTimeFun

Try this converter, Switch

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

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.

Slider Bag Game Icon

“Who’s in the Bag?” Game

Meghan, Jill and I recently attended ASHA 2012.  We had an awesome time meeting lots of incredible and creative therapists.  We were really excited to talk with people who already had our Bag Game app and to hear that they were using it with clients of all ages.  One woman told us she loves to use it with her adult patients because it is a fun way for them to engage with their loved ones while still addressing such goals as improving short term memory, verbal description, and auditory comprehension.  Lots of people spoke of using it with young children as well.

A New Social Activity is Born

And then a therapist came along and wanted to know if we had any apps for middle school kids.  We told her about the Bag Game.  She looked at it for a bit and then she had such a great idea for a spin on the game that we just had to try it in our groups!  She suggested playing “Who’s in the bag?” and hiding pictures of friends.  The goal of the activity would then be to learn about friends and perhaps discover some new things they had in common.

Experimenting Leads to Success

So this week, we played the game with one of our 5th grade groups.  This group is rather small, so first we played a quick round of hiding each other in the Bag.  We encouraged the kids to ask questions like, “does this person like Minecraft?  Wii games?  space?”, etc.  Then more questions like,  “does this person have siblings?  live in a particular town? play a particular sport?”, etc.  Once the kids got the hang of it, they started generating their own questions and also commenting when they had a similar interest or trait.

Expansion Idea

Pretty soon we had exhausted all of the kids in group, but they still wanted to play, so we added a twist.  We had them hide celebrities in the Bag (we got the images from Google).  This new twist required some more sophisticated skills.  The kids had to think about someone that most kids know, but someone who would still be tricky to guess.

A Companion App

As we were playing, one of the kids mentioned that this game was “a lot like the Akinator (the Genie) App, but in our game, the kids get to be the akinators instead of the app”.  At one point the kids got stuck when trying to think of good questions to ask, so we paused our Bag game and played a quick round of Akinator.  This app asks questions in a “yes/no” format and gave the kids some good ideas for new questions.  We then returned to our “Who’s in the Bag?” Game and had an absolute blast.

Although we don’t remember her name, we want to thank the creative SLP who thought of this idea.  We love it and so do the kids!!

Now it’s your turn to play “Who’s in the Bag?” with the Bag Game app

By Karen S Head, MS, CCC-SLP

Dr Suess

What Was I Scared of?

Title: What Was I Scared Of?: A Glow-in-the Dark Encounter (Classic Seuss)

Author:  Dr. Seuss

Description:  A classic Dr. Seuss book that can now be purchased as an e-book – helpful in these last days of October if you need more Halloween books and have run out of time!  It includes Read to me, read it myself, and auto play options.

Goals: 

  • Perspective-taking.  (Why was the character afraid?   Who is really afraid?)
  • Reading facial expressions and body language.  (How do you know he’s afraid?)
  • Understanding white lies.  (Why does he say, I’m not afraid, when he is?)
  • Vocabulary (Halloween)
  • Phonological Awareness (rhyming)
  • Absurdity and humor
  • Inferencing
  • Feelings
  • Friendship and compassion

Why I like this book:  This is a typical Dr. Seuss story that speaks about real feelings and relationships in the most inventive and silly manner!  The unexpected ending supports new friendships.  Music can play throughout story even in the read it myself mode.

Ideas for this book: 

  • Discuss perspective and intent as you read the book exploring why the main character would be afraid of a pair of pants.   Note that the fear builds with each experience.  How does the character manage his fear?
  • Language describing physiological responses to fear and stress such as “shiver” and “heart thumping” provide opportunities to talk about how our bodies react to fear and anxiety and how we can work to control it through deep breathing, yoga, and other forms of relaxation.
  • The character lies about not being afraid when he clearly was.  This is a good way to talk about why and how some lies are OK.  This character felt calmer when he told himself he wasn’t afraid.
  • Lots of absurdities in this book are fun to talk about – What’s real and not real; what makes a particular scene comical.
  • Great book to talk about making inferences.  You could stop the book and have kids illustrate or act out how they think the book will end.
  • As an OT, I like to have kids act out books.  It provides opportunities for sequencing, ideation, collaboration, planning, adapting, and it’s fun!

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

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.

specialism

Getting the Hang of Social Timing – Part 2

Today, we are posting over at Special-Ism.  This post is the second in a series of 4 posts introducing strategies for promoting a better sense of Social Timing.  Visual supports like our Talking Train can be powerful tools for supporting those with social learning challenges.  Head on over to Special-Ism now to read this first post HERE and then stay-tuned for more on the 23rd of each month.  While you are there, be sure to browse around this fantastic eMagazine!

The Talking Train is coming to iTunes!!  Stay tuned!

ideation

Ideation

Do you know kids who:

  • say “I don’t know” a lot
  • copy the behaviors of other children
  • wait until another child offers an answer or idea and then agrees
  • appear a little reticent to play
  • rarely initiate
  • don’t suggest things to do or games to play in a highly engaging environment
  • have trouble sequencing simple steps to a project or physical activity
  • have difficulty remembering what they did last week or yesterday or this morning
  • cannot predict what will happen in a story as it’s being read


All of these behaviors exemplify children who have trouble with ideation; a concept that plays an enormous role in all aspects of life.  Two of my favorite definitions are:

1.  Ideation is the creative process of generating, developing, and communicating new ideas… Ideation is all stages of a thought cycle, from innovation, to development, to actualization. (From Wikipedia)

2.  the capacity for or the act of forming or entertaining ideas (from Merriam-Webster dictionary)

Ideational challenges make learning, social interactions, and physical activity problematic and negatively impact self-confidence and self-esteem.

Here are a few ideas we have tried with children in our groups with moderate to significant success:

  • Practice visualization.  Have the kids talk about and describe things that are familiar to them.  My co-worker, Sue Savoy, MS, CCC-SLP asked kids to describe Dunkin’ Donuts (If you are from New England, you can find a DD just about every 2 blocks!).  As the kids talked, they were able to “see” and describe more and more details such as the color of the sign, where the donuts are displayed, the color of the sprinkles on the donuts, and the people in line.
  • Follow the visualization exercise with a story without showing the pictures.  Have the kids describe the picture in their minds based on the words.  If the story is about a witch with stockings, what color are her stockings?  How old is the witch?  What does her hair look like?
  • Acting out stories is always fun.  Once a story is read, the kids can pick parts and picture where they will be acting out scenes and what they might use for props.  If they haven’t seen the actual pictures of the story, they will feel less like there is a “right” and “wrong” way and will be free to imagine and express themselves.
  • When kids are getting ready to transition from one room to another, take a moment to have them picture and describe the hall – what is in the hall?  Is anything on the walls or a rug on the floor?  What does the room they are going to look like?  Have the kids describe items and location of these items in the room with as much detail as possible.  Tell the kids where you expect them to go when they enter the room and have them visualize themselves going there and sitting down.  See Cognitive Connections and Sarah Ward, MS, CCC-SLP at http://cognitiveconnectionstherapy.com for good information on executive function and visualization.
  • Before playing a familiar game, ask kids to close their eyes and imagine themselves playing the game.  What color is their piece?  With eyes closed, have them describe details of the game board.  The kids can then describe how to play the game – a nice sequencing activity.  While they are imagining themselves playing the game, talk about how they are cooperating with each other and having fun to reinforce the good sportsmanship.
  • Visualization for relaxation can also be helpful.  See www.stressfreekids.com for lots of ideas and resources to help kids practice visualization.
  • Before asking a child to remember what activity they did last week or what they want to do this week, have them close their eyes while providing them with leading cues.  “Let’s see, we were in the gym with the rainbow mat last week and there were big cushions in the room…” If they can visualize the environment, they may be able to “see” themselves there, giving them the context for the activity.
  • Practice “spin offs” of familiar games and activities.  Play tag and then have a child change one small thing about the game such as using a base or playing freeze tag or team tag.  When children with ideation challenges experience success in being original in this small way, their anxiety goes down and self-confidence soars.


A final personal thought:   we are inundated with visual images that are thrust upon us at every turn.  I know…we are all sick of hearing about the negative impact of TV, computers and other technological devices.  However, if we don’t provide our young children the physical, mental, and emotional space and opportunity to create their own images in their heads, how will they develop the capacity for “the creative process of generating, developing, and communicating new ideas”?

Jill Perry, MHA, MS, OTR/L

Photo by: ralmonline alm

If you like these ideas, be sure to check out the nearly 80 activity ideas for promoting social cognition in our Social Adventures Apps.