ice cream

Should I Share My Ice Cream?

Title: Should I Share My Ice Cream?

Author: Mo Willems

Description: The beloved elephant, Gerald, labors over the decision whether to share his ice cream with friend, Piggie. Should he or shouldn’t he….?


  • Body language/facial expressions
  • Friendship
  • Perspective taking
  • Prediction
  • Emotions

Why I like this story: A beautiful story about Gerald who doesn’t want to share his ice cream but knows it would be the friendly thing to do. He thinks about what Piggie might be feeling and makes a decision. The twist at the end is the icing on the cake (or the whipped cream on the ice cream)!

Ideas for use:

  • Great book to lead off discussion about why we share and how it makes us feel.
  • Talk about Gerald’s facial expressions and body language and how that communicates what he is thinking and feeling.
  • Kids may want to act out Gerald’s exaggerated body language and see if others can guess what they are feeling or thinking.
  • Have kids predict what Gerald will decide based on his page by page reasoning.
  • Discuss how Gerald feels when the plans change unexpectedly. What does Gerald do? What would the kids listening to the story do?

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

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Title: Moondance

Author: Frank Asch

Description: Bear has a wish to dance with the moon. Before his wish comes true, he learns a little bit about weather and a lot about friendship.

Goals/ objectives:
• Wishing vs knowing
• Inferencing/ Prediction
• Sequencing/ retelling
• Describing supportive friendships
• Simple weather concepts

Why I like this story: It is a classic, it is very sweet, and it can be read and discussed at a number of different levels.

Ideas for use:

  • Wishing for something to happen vs knowing that something will happen can sometimes be confusing for little ones and this can lead to disappointment. This story provides an opportunity for talking about the difference between the two and for introducing the notions of flexibility and finding joy in alternatives
  • For younger or more concrete learners, this book provides an opportunity to introduce some simple weather facts and vocabulary (fog, clouds, rain, puddles, condensation, evaporation, etc)
  • Discuss the weather sequence in the story and other weather sequences (seasons, leaf sequence, etc)
  • Bird is a wonderful role model of a supportive friend throughout this story. His encouragement of Bear to consider alternatives comes up often. He helps Bear find alternative dance partners and he offers Bear another perspective when Bear feels left behind. Following the reading of this book, discuss Bear’s reactions to Bird suggestions and follow up with a discussion of how thinking flexibly is important.
  • The simple story line offers a great opportunity to introduce Braidy, the Story Grammar Marker from Mindwing Concepts.
  • Dancing is a major theme in this book. In a group, encourage kids tune into body language by first demonstrating how they might dance differently in fog, rain or a puddle. What about mud, snow or wind? Peers can try to guess where friends are dancing based on salient clues (e.g., shivering while dancing in snow, feet getting stuck in the mud, etc)

Submitted by Karen S Head MS CCC-SLP

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My Friend Has Autism

Title: My Friend Has Autism (Friends with Disabilities)

Author: Amanda Doering Tourville

Description: A delightful story of friendship along with some objective information to help explain autism to children. This book is not typical of the books we usually review, but we wanted to let people know that it is available and written beautifully. As we know, autism is a spectrum disorder and the child described in this book is at one end of that spectrum, so it is not a universal explanation, but it does express universal themes of the pure acceptance of a true friend. The “teachable information” (e.g., “Did you know? That children with autism have trouble communicating…”) is presented in a bubble format which is imbedded in a sweet story of two friends sharing an interest. Therefore (if read aloud), the reader has the choice to include the “Did you know?” bubbles or not.

Goals/ objectives:
• Introduction of some common characteristics of autism to children
• Enhance understanding that difference is just that… different
• Reminder that similarities are the “most important thing”
• Discussion of the qualities of true friendship

Why I like this story: It is written from a child’s perspective and it is so heartwarming.

This book is just one in a series of books entitled Friends with Disabilities. When reading it, I was reminded of a beautiful blog post written by mother and blogger, Mom – Not Otherwise Specified. She educates her child’s class about autism through the use of a very accessible metaphor. You can read it here.

Submitted by Karen S Head M.S. CCC-SLP

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Picture 6

Little Blue Jackal

Title:  Little Blue Jackal

Author:  Niyaa educational apps

Description: A simple book in the form of an app. An Indian folk tale about a Jackal who gets into some trouble, and learns a valuable lesson.


  • Why Questions
  • Perspective taking
  • Narrative/Retelling
  • Auditory Comprehension
  • Reading Body language

Why I like this book: Cute story with some interactive properties that keeps engagement, but not too many that take away from the story or experience itself.

Ideas for use:

  • Lots of inferential based and explicitly stated “why” questions to ask students (e.g. Why is the jackal running away? Why do the animals think the blue Jackal should be the king?
  • For home programming- have parents read the story (or have the story read to the student- both are options) and answer the provided comprehension questions under “parent-child activity.”
  • Tie to science/animal/jungle curriculum- There is a page of “7 hidden facts about animals.” Rich with vocabulary (e.g. migrate, pride, stag, etc.).
  • Use “thinking bubbles” (actually make, use a white board). The Jackal has unintentionally tricked the other jungle animals. A great example of “trickery” and with one animal thinking one thing, and the other animals thinking something different. The story even has 2 bird characters throughout the story that give their own ideas/perspective. Would be great to model (the birds talk) or have them think about the story from the birds’ perspective.
  • A good story to pair with Mindwingconcepts for students to retell. A story with multiple initiating events.
  • Have students read body language of the characters. Imitate, have them attempt! Why are they feeling that way? How can you tell?
  • The author provides a “moral” at the end of the fable. For older students see if they can come up with a “moral” of the story. The author suggests “how we look does not change who we really are,” however, there are a number of other lessons that can be learned from this story (i.e. the negative effect of lying).
  • Have older students generate their own fable based on a moral
  • Find this app on iTunes

Disclaimer: all4mychild was provided with a promotional code for this app

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

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Percy Plays It Safe

Title: Percy Plays It Safe

Author: Stuart J. Murphy

Description: Percy is a cute giraffe who restricts the fun of others with his raucous play on the playground until he learns how to “play it safe”.

Body language
Motor planning
Social skills
Safety awareness
Respecting one another

Why I like this story: This is a direct teaching book that is short and to the point. The author lists questions at the end of the book to help direct discussion with kids.

Ideas for use:
*Read to the class when a kid plays too “rough” on the playground
*Talk about expressions on faces of the kids and discuss how they feel
*Good book to introduce and emphasize the concept of “respect”
*Use to discuss rules of safe play
*Good to use with Michelle Garcia Winner’s Behavior Maps. For example, talk about how one child’s unsafe behavior affects the play of friends and thus affects his own ability to have fun?

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

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Stop the Silliness!

Silliness (and how much is too much) is one of the most difficult concepts that we tackle in our groups. So often, silliness is initially an adaptive means of initiating an interaction. But repeating the same silly behavior over and over (and over and over) again, is not so adaptive. This week, we were having one of those days…the kids were feeding off of each other and the silliness was about to take over the entire group. These were 2nd and 3rd graders who are usually pretty responsive to being told the “rules.” So we explained that “silliness is funny one or two times, but then it stops being funny.” A couple of the kids got it, but the silliness instigator was too far gone in his giggles to process. I think that all he saw were our mouths moving and all he heard was “blah, blah, blah.”

Often within our groups, we use a wonderful tool called a Behavior Map which was introduced to us by Michelle Garcia Winner in her wonderful book, Thinking About You Thinking About Me. Behavior Maps essentially help a child or children appreciate the impact that their behavior has on others and the feelings that result. I thought that our silliness problem called for a Behavior Map. I chose to do it visually for greatest impact.

I whipped out my handy dandy Whiteboard app and drew the following, while saying, “this is Bruno. He likes to make people laugh. Today he accidentally kicked off his shoe when kicking a ball in gym and everyone was laughing hysterically…”

At this point the silliness had ceased and everyone was looking attentively at the whiteboard, so I continued, “Bruno thought that all that laughter was great, so he kicked his shoe off at recess, and in the classroom, and in the hallway, and in the cafeteria, and well… anywhere he possible could. Soon all of the kids looked like this…”

Then I asked the boys in the group how Bruno’s friends were feeling, and the silliest one of all said, “annoyed!!” and others said “mad.” When I asked them, “How is Bruno was feeling now?” the lightbulbs went off. For the rest of group, the silliness abated. Here’s hoping those simple drawings will now have meaning when I flash them at the group next week…

By Karen S Head, MS, CCC-SLP

Image by: Ewey

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

they didn't use

They Didn’t Use Their Heads

Title: They Didn’t Use Their Heads

Author: Jo Ann Stover

Description: A cute story that has “mini- lessons” that encourages children to think about others.

Goals/ objectives:

  • Perspective Taking
  • Early inferencing and predicting
  • Why questions
  • social skills/friendship
  • body language

Why I like this story: Simple drawings that are great for prediction, and allow good discussion about thinking about others for school, friends and in the community.

Ideas for use:

  • Have kids look at the picture on the left, and then make a guess as to what might happen on the right if the child doesn’t think about others. For example, a boy swinging his yo-yo in the air without looking around….
  • Use thinking and speaking bubbles around the characters.
  • The pictures offer great opportunity to discuss body language. Have kids identify, and even act out.
  • There are lots of “lessons” in this story. Pick and choose. Some you may not feel are appropriate for your children. You can use one or two to highlight a concept, especially in a social group or dyad. For example one “lesson” talks about including everyone.  The story says “Two can have tea, but three can have a party.” You can use this to highlight joining play, or encouraging including more than just one friend.  Another “lesson” discusses sharing toys. The story says “A gift for one can be a joy for all.” Can use to highlight with younger children the importance of sharing. The pictures highlight how others feel when you don’t.

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

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Pushing Buttons

If you work with children, have children, live next door to children, see children in the grocery store, eat in restaurants next to children (OK, you get the point), you know exactly what I mean by “pushing buttons.” I think kids are born with the innate knowledge and skill set for finding out what annoys people and targeting behaviors to get a reaction. I feel like an irritable old woman talking like this but I do believe pushing buttons is one of MY personal buttons! It is so difficult to work with kids in social cognition groups on how to be a good friend while they seek to engage their “friends” by annoying them!

Meghan and I decided to take up this issue in our 2nd grade group the other day in a round about, yet concrete way and I think something may have “clicked” for the kids. We started the group by pulling out the ever-fascinating and engaging iPad. As the kids all clamored to find out what activity we would be doing, we simply asked each student to look at all the games on the iPad and push any button they wanted. After each child took a turn exploring a little we discussed why pushing buttons on the iPad was fun. The kids came up with thoughts such as: it’s fun; we want to see what happens; and we want to do what our friends are doing. We quickly progressed to a discussion on why we push each other’s buttons and discovered, the reasons were the same: it was fun; we wanted to get a reaction; we did it because our friends were doing it.

Each of the students then drew a picture of one thing that pushes their buttons. As we shared the pictures and wrote the “buttons” on the board, each child told how they feel when their button is pushed describing angry or sad feelings or both.

Finally, we routed back to the reasons why we push buttons and asked the kids if they think it’s fun to cause our friends to feel sad or angry. I could almost see the light bulb illuminating above their heads! We concluded the group by playing a board game and reminded the kids that they were working on NOT pushing each other’s buttons. Surprisingly and happily a peaceful, friendly time was had by all!

Submitted by: Jill Perry MHA, M.S. OTR/L

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


Just Say, “No”… Once

Today was one of those days when one of our 4 year-old group kids was really having a very bad day.  Well, to be truthful, he has been having a lot of bad days lately and the strategy he has decided to employ is to just say, “No” to EVERYTHING.  Although none of his peers or teachers particularly like this strategy, one has to admit – it is effective.  Suddenly, teachers become very engaged in trying to find a way to bring him back to the group.  We offer alternatives, to which he says, “No”.  We set “if/then” behavioral expectations, to which he says, “No.”  Pretty much no matter what we try to do to get the group back on track without leaving him completely out, he sabotages with one simple word.  As I said, very effective for him – not so much for the rest of the group.

So we knew that playing tag is his weak spot.  It is really hard for this little guy to say “no” to tag, so we pulled him back in with that trusty lure, and then… we told the kids that they were each to contribute one part of the tag game.  No surprise our little nihilist started right in with his favorite response.  It was then that we introduced a new rule – ONLY SAY “NO” ONCE.  We started around the circle again asking kids to share ideas (“how ‘bout…”) and then each of the kids could respond with thumbs-up or thumbs-down.  As expected, our friend was thumbs-down on the first idea, which was going in the tent once you get  tagged (an idea that he normally loves by the way).  I said to him, “Do you really want to use your ONE “no” now with three more ideas to come?”  Kind of a tricky concept, but this little guy is quite bright and he got it.  His little thumbs-down slowly turned to a thumbs-up.  The same with the next idea shared, and by the third idea – he had forgotten about “no” and remembered how much fun it was to play tag with his friends.  Whew!!  Another lost group averted.

by Karen S Head, MS, CCC-SLP

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Fiona’s Luck

Title: Fiona’s Luck

Author: Teresa Bateman

Description:  In this Irish folktale, Fiona uses her smarts to trick a selfish Leprachaun king who has taken all the luck of the land.


  • Narrative Language
  • Abstract/Figurative Language
  • Perspective Taking
  • Trickery

Why I like this book: An entertaining story that can address any number of higher- level language goals

Ideas for use:

  • Identify the Story Grammar Elements (characters, setting, etc.). I use with Mindwingconcepts “Braidy.” Multiple “kick-offs,” etc.
  • A great story for perspective taking and “trickery”- what is Fiona thinking vs. the villagers and the leprechauns.  Use thinking and speaking bubbles to assist with understanding
  • Teach/discuss similes and metaphors. Great for reasoning. What do you think the simile means? Have students create their own similes and metaphors.

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

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