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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

fireman small

Fireman Small

Title: Fireman Small

Author: Wong Herbert Yee

Age: preschool, early elementary

Description: One tiny firefighter works hard all day to help his friends when they are in trouble.

Goals/Concepts:

  • Rhyming
  • Auditory Memory
  • Sequencing
  • Prediction
  • Perspective Taking
  • Helping others
  • Dramatic Play

Why I like this book: The catchy rhyme in this book grabs kids’ attention and the simple plot line is great for inspiring dramatic play.

Ideas for Use:

  • This story contains a repetitive rhyme that recurs several times within the story. Have kids complete more and more of the rhyme each time it occurs to encourage auditory memory skills
  • The problems related in the story have rather obvious solutions so this is a great book for introducing the idea of problems and solutions within a story.
  • This book can also be used to introduce the category of community helpers. Discuss the different roles that each community helper plays in our community and then play a round of the Bag Game to reinforce those concepts.
  • The narrative structure of this story lends itself very well to use with the Story Grammar Marker App. Have kids retell the story with particular focus on the “kickoff” (initiating event) for each problem, the accompanying emotion, the “plan” and the resolution.
  • This is a fantastic story for promoting group pretend play. Using small people figurines and dramatic play materials, the kids can set up a fire station and props for each of the story components. Kids can then take turns with each of the characters.
  • Kids can also act out the story with themselves as characters and gross motor materials as props. Acting out the story in this way provides a wealth of opportunity to experience movement, deep muscle input and tactile sensations. Using a scooter board or platform swing as a fire truck, a soft barrel as a well and/or a climbing pole as a tree provides lots of different sensory input while fostering representational ideation and play.
  • Fireman Small’s friends really appreciate him. Use this story to talk about thanking friends when they are helpful and how good it feels when we help others. Social Thinking Behavior Maps provide a great visual aid for talking about the connections between our actions and our emotions.

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

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.

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.

breathe deeply

What’s So Hard About Breathing?

What could be simpler than breathing? We don’t have to think about it… it just happens even when we sleep. But guess what? Breathing to create a relaxation response may take some work and practice, especially for children. BUT it is well work the trouble and this is why:   Children who struggle with social challenges often live in an anxious state. When stressed, heart rates increase, blood is diverted away from the stomach to the muscles of the legs for flight, and stress hormones such as cortisol are released. This physiological response to stress is also known as the fight, flight or fight response.   How can we expect kids to remain seated in school, stay focused on a topic, respond to and play appropriately with peers, and learn when their nervous systems are working against them? We can teach them to breathe.   Deep breathing is so much more than relaxing. It can train the body to react differently to stressful situations. For example, when faced with frustration, anger, hurt, loneliness, fear, uncertainty and anxiety, breathing can help a child make wiser choices regarding how to respond in each circumstance.   However, it can be difficult to teach young children how to breathe. They often breathe quickly and shallowly as if in a race – who can breathe the loudest or fastest? They can’t see their breath and don’t have patience to slow down their breathing when their bodies are racing 90 miles per hour. In addition, many children who operate in this fight, flight or fright mode don’t possess the body awareness needed to understand what slowing and deepening their breath actually feels like.   We have been experimenting with ways to teach children the experience of inhaling and exhaling deeply while helping them notice and reflect on how this type of breathing affects their bodies and moods in the moment. We’ll be sharing thoughts and experiences using these strategies in upcoming blogs and would love to hear about your thoughts and experiences as well. In the meantime, just breathe…   photo by Amanda Hirsch https://www.flickr.com/photos/89917639@N04/

edublogs-nominated-bestnewblog

FRIDAY FAVORITES

Every now and then on a Friday we like to post one of our favorite blogs.  This week we thought it would be fun to share this one:

LOW TECH SOCIAL FUN

The tag line for our web site is “Collaborative Tools and Technologies” and I am bursting to write about a collaborative tool that is not based in technology. Our group of 5 year-olds just finished an 8-week project that brought much delight to the kids (and, therefore the group leaders). After playing several different board games that involved dice, cards, and spinners, the kids decided they wanted to make a dice-based game. They talked about all kinds of activities and other things they liked until they happened upon something they all enjoyed – pets. We used the side of a cardboard box to draw a game board. The kids made marks on several spaces that served as the “bad things happen” spaces. The “bad things” were a T-Rex, a cage, a dark cave, and a fire-breathing dragon. Each child chose a “bad thing” which they drew and colored on the game board. It didn’t matter that the drawings were roughly depicted. The kids knew what they were supposed to be and encouraged one another.

Pictures of animals were cut out and glued around the game path to keep things cheery. Game pieces were made by stringing small beads on pipe cleaners and closing them in a circle to become pet collars. The kids talked about making a “good thing” square so they glued a star on the board. If you landed on the star, you got to jump to the other star placed further along the path. They decided that everyone should be able to finish the game, so when they reached the end, their pieces were placed on a “bench” drawn by one of the kids, to watch and wait until everyone completed the game.

Pride, simple joy, companionship, feeling supported, being supportive, winning gracefully, losing gracefully, fun, successful, and happiness are all words that come to mind as I picture the little faces of the kids as they played their original game. Oh…and let’s not forget collaboration!

This 8-week Collaborative Project is one of 4 outlined in our Social Adventures Apps. Find our more HERE.

by Jill Perry, MHA, MS, OTR/L

social quest app

Social Quest App for Problem Solving

 

 

I’m always looking for activities to work with my late elementary and middle schooler students on critical thinking/problem-solving and perspective taking skills. It always seems challenging to find the right material to address these concepts in a one-to-one therapy setting. Recently, I’ve been using the Social Quest App from Smarty Ears to do so. It offers a great starting-off point for discussion around a variety of social concepts. The concepts are broken down into various contexts such as community, home, and school. The student or therapist selects a context, and the student is “transported” there, and then provided with social situations to problem solve. The app is set up in a game like format, set in the Renaissance era (which students really love), and provides rewards along the way as the student progresses through the questions. You can use in a group setting or individually, and it saves your data which can also be emailed/shared with parents. I’ve been pairing this app with other therapy strategies including Social Thinking’s © Social Behavior Maps,  a variation of Comic Strip Conversations ©, and even basic role play to assist students with problem solving the various social situations. Self made thinking and speaking bubbles have also been helpful to assist students with problem solving various situations when they are “stuck.” The settings allow various ways to adjust difficulty level. I’ve even been using a “low tech” means of covering up answer choices on the screen with good old paper, and having the student generate their own outcomes. They then can look at the provided choices, and make their decisions as to the “best” answer.  This app has been a great tool in recent therapy sessions, and led to important social discussions. For a more thorough review on the ins and outs of this app see Constantly Speaking who recently did a great post.

Submitted by Meghan Graham M.S. CCC-SLP

*all4mychild was provided with a promotion code for the Social Quest App, however the post is reflective only of Meghan’s personal opinion.

Grin and Bear it

Grin and Bear It

Title:  Grin and Bear It

Author:  Leo Landry

Description:  Bear wants to be a comedian but suffers from stage fright.  He and his friends come up with a creative solution to his dilemma.

Goals:

  • understanding humor
  • reading non-verbal communication through body language and facial expressions
  • gaining comfort in learning that many people get nervous
  • problem solving
  • inferencing and predicting
  • handling discouragement and failure
  • valuing friendship from giver and receiver perspectives
  • understanding theory of mind

Why I liked this book:  The bear with stage fright is relatable to kids and adults of all ages.  When Bear is embarrassed, his friends help him problem solve rather than laugh at him.  The first four chapters are titled:  A Dream, A Plan, Ready, and Showtime depicting steps we want our kids to follow for any challenging assignment or task.  The illustrations make me want to hug this book!

Ideas for this book: 

  • Read the 7 short chapters over a period of several days to allow time to explore all this book has to offer.  Discuss the steps to accomplishing something that the kids want.  Have them create the idea, make a plan, and prepare before diving in.
  • Discuss words and terms like “stage fright”, “embarrassed”, “rehearse”, and “nervous”.  This is a great opportunity to also discuss physiological responses to anxiety and ways to help decrease it through deep breathing, yoga, visualization, and other ideas.
  • When Bear falls apart, ask the kids to offer suggestions on how to solve his problem.  What should he do?  Give up?  Try again?  How could he be more successful the next time?
  • Discuss what good friends would do if they saw someone struggling like Bear.
  • Have kids practice and tell jokes to one another.  It’s a great way to help them understand humor both through spoken words and body language.  What makes a joke funny?
  • As always, I love having kids act out stories and this is a great one for that.

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.

Bertie

Bertie and the Big Squeak

eBook: Bertie and the Big Squeak

Author: Helen J Aitken

Age: preschool, early elementary

Description: Meet Bertie, the guinea pig, and join him as he helps his new friend, Jenny, find her squeak.

Goals/Objectives:

• Early narrative skills,
• Problem-solving
• Friendship concepts
• Interpreting body language
• Sequencing

Why I like this book: This eBook is the first in a wonderful series of stories with a simple narrative structure including all of the critical components – adorable characters, a clear “kick-off”, and several attempts to solve the problem. Oh, and of course, a happy ending. See Bertie and the New Baby 😉

Ideas for use:

– Have them retell the story using temporal markers of first, then, next, etc. Encourage them to use their own words, and use the pictures to help them along
– A great story to “act out.”. One of you can squeak and one can’t. Have fun finding objects to “be” the various places they looked for the squeak.
– Act out and point out the body language. How does the character feel? Why? How can you tell?
– A great book for discussion of how wonderful it feels to help someone else solve their problem. Share stories of times when each of you has helped a friend find something lost, or in some other way. Talk about how problems are best solved when everyone’s ideas are taken into account.

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

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