veggie garden

Planting Seeds of Language/ Social Skills with the Dr Panda Veggie Garden App

I work with so many kids who need to work on expanding their expressive language and social skills so I am always on the look-out for new activities for motivation. Lately I have been hooked on the Dr Panda Veggie Garden App. These are my top 5 favorite ways to use this app to expand language/social skills:

  1. For the kids who use primarily single words, this app is great for expanding to simple subject-verb or verb-object phrases (e.g., sun shine, mow grass)
  2. For the kids who need to work on articulation of a common word or phrase, I use this app for repetitive practice.  For example, I use this with kids who are working on /th/ sounds by having them use the carrier phrase, “I ___ this/these _____” (e.g., I rake these leaves, I water this tree)
  3. For kids who are working on adding descriptive terms, I use this app along with the Expanding Expression Tool to help them describe the various steps in the process (e.g. the little, green strawberries are turning red, ripe and juicy).
  4. For the kids who are working on stringing sequential sentences together, I take a screen shot of each step in the growing sequence while the kids are enjoying the app and then I visit the photos app on my iPad and have the kids describe each step along with each picture. The kids love to go back and forth between using the app to grow something and then telling the corresponding story with the pictures.
  5. This app is also great to use for encouraging social interactions. While playing the game, kids can work on taking turns, helping each other figure out what to do on each page, and talking to one another about the sequence of events. This app can also be a wonderful inspiration for some sequential dramatic play.  With spring soon upon us, the garden theme is particularly timely :)

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

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IMG_0681 (1)

More Than Enough: A Passover Story

Title: More Than Enough

Author: April Halprin Wayland

Illustrator: Katie Kath

Age: preschool

Description:   A beautifully illustrated story of Passover and the rescue of a special friend.


  • Passover vocabulary and concepts
  • Holiday traditions
  • Sequencing
  • Early Prediction

Why I like this book: The story and illustrations provide a simple, though elegant description of Passover while the chorus “dayenu” provides the opportunity for interaction during a read aloud.

Ideas for use:

  • While reading aloud, ask the children to join in the chorus of “dayenu.” The rhythm of the story provides cues for the timing of this.
  • If using this book as an introduction to Passover as part of a broader discussion of various spring holidays, use the glossary to assist in teaching the vocabulary and other concepts introduced in the book.
  • To use this book as an opportunity to practice sequencing events, make reduced-size copies of each page, present them out of order and have the children put them into the correct order. Use temporal markers such as, first, next, then and last to support the sequencing structure.
  • This book depicts a large family and could be used to introduce extended family members such as grandparents, cousins, aunts and uncles.
  • If using this book to prepare a child for attending a Passover feast, read one time as an introduction and then read it again and encourage the child to predict what comes next in the sequence of events while reading the story.
  • For older children, explain the connection between rescuing the cat and the story of Passover.

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

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.


  • 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” ( 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

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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.


  • 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

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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

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Crepes by Suzette Interactive Book App


Title: Crepes by Suzette

Author: Monica Wellington (See another story by Monica reviewed on all4mychild here

Description:  Suzette, the main character of this story, is a Parisian crepe maker and street-cart Vendor, who travels throughout Paris selling her delicious dessert. This app has wonderful interactive components throughout the story that including a labeled map of Paris with Suzette’s travels, videos and photos of real life experiences in Paris complimenting the story, and highlighted vocabulary provided in various languages (English, French, Spanish, Italian, German and Japanese). The story can be read yourself or to you in these language as well.

Goals/ objectives:

  • Narrative language with a focus on “character” and “setting”
  • Pair with Curriculum Concepts of: cities and maps; Paris, France; art/artists/museums
  • Sequencing
  • Play

Why I like this story: This interactive story app is so engaging, with endless possibilities for children. The music and pictures are appealing as well, and make the entire story experience quite enjoyable.

Ideas for use:

  • Narrative Language goals: Suzette travels all around Paris: Parisian streets, street markets, Luxembourg Gardens, the Seine River, Notre-Dame Cathedral, the Louvre Museum, Tuileries Gardens, Place Vendome, Palais-Garnier (opera house), carousels, and the Eiffel Tower. Use these places to work on understanding of “setting” and setting descriptions. Pair with the Mindwing Concepts Program and/or iPad App setting description (see below). The story lends itself well to describe all the senses that could be experienced.
  • IMG_1584
    • Retell the story focusing on the sequence of events. Add in temporal markers: first, then, next, after that, etc. 
  • Curriculum Concepts: The various landmarks described above could be expanded on with the Google Earth app. This would provide an excellent context for more description and understanding of Paris and/or the “city” concept. See Sean Sweeney’s informative post on Google Earth here and here for more info on the advantages and uses of this app.
    • Use Google maps and “street view” as well. Can you use Google Maps to get from one of Suzette’s locations to the next? Can you compare the map provided in the app (see image below) to Google Maps directions?
    • Would be great to pair with concepts of Maps and directions (north, south, east, west left, right, map keys, streets, bridges, etc.)
    • You could create a map and story in another major city. Can they generate new characters, describe new settings, etc.
  • IMG_1585
  • Sequencing Goals: Use pictures of the various locations (screen shots or google images) and sequence the events of the story. Pair with story retelling.
    • Make Crepes! There is a recipe and video of crepes being made in action. Discuss the various steps and order while following the recipe. This can be “real” or through pretend play! They can use the video examples to make their own “how to make” crepes video (use iMovie or the video recoding app on the iPad/phone)
  • IMG_1586        IMG_1587
  • Play Goals: Act out the story. Kids can be Suzette with their very own cart. They can use a cash register, cooking materials and “take orders” from their customers. More than 1 student, have them “be” the various customers that come to Suzette’s cart. Can they negotiate and plan out the play and the events? Pair with the Mindwing Concepts symbols to assist with the planning states and various “characters” and settings.” Can they generate their own ideas for a different day? A different city?
  • Submitted by Meghan G. Graham M.S. CCC-SLP
  • A promotional code for this app was given to all4mychild, however, the review are my ideas alone.
Book Dont wake up the bear

Don’t Wake up the Bear

Title: Don’t Wake Up the Bear!

 Author: Majorie Dennis Murray

Description: A sleeping bear becomes a warm, comfy place for many animals to keep warm in the cold. But this becomes a problem when a mouse with a cold wakes up the bear.

Goals/ objectives:

  • negation and contractions (“don’t”)
  • sequencing/ Retelling
  • early prediction
  • why
  • animal vocabulary
  • vocal volume

Why I like this story: A cute winter story.

Ideas for use:

  • simple story sequence to retell. Can make board maker pictures or use google images to find the various animals. (hare, badger, fox, squirrel and mouse) 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.
  • have kids predict what animal is next? Can they think of another animal that lives in the woods? What might happen if they wake the bear?
  • kids can add to the story with more winter animals and write their own stories
  • Great for simple why questions. Why are they whispering? Why are they sleeping with the bear?
  • lots of repetition of “don’t” if practicing or exposing to negation or contractions
  • could use for voice volume. Lots of examples of whispering (when bears sleeping) vs. yelling (when bear wakes up). Could tie to the The Incredible 5 Point Scale and use for vocal volume.

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

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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…


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)..


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

Old Lady

There was an Old Lady Who Swallowed Some Books

Title:  There Was an Old Lady Who Swallowed Some Books!

Author: Lucille Colandro

Description: Another version of the little old lady who swallowed a fly, but with a back to school twist….


  • Sequencing
  • Story retell
  • Early Prediction
  • Phonological Awareness (Rhyming)
  • Speech Production (s-blends, /sw/)

Why I like this book: There is something about this crazy old lady that kids seem to love. It always gets a reaction, and therefore some discussion, and participation.

Ideas for this book:

  • Create Boardmaker or google image pictures to help children sequence the story as you read, and/or for retelling the story after it’s complete. Encourage temporal markers such as first, then, next, after that, last
  • Have students make guesses as to what she may swallow next. Encourage them to use the previous clues to make a guess (i.e. what could she do with  the pen?)
  • Stress the rhyming words and/or provide the first sound and see if they can “fill in” the remaining sounds. Can they generate additional words that rhyme with each pair? Great to pair with the What Rhymes? App, or Pocket Phonics App
  • Given the repetitive story line, there is lots of opportunity for word or sentence level /sw/ blends (i.e. swallowed)
  • Have kids create their own, There Was an Old Lady Who Swallowed a X. Would be great for reasoning skills, rhyming and story generation. You could use Story Patch app to make this story and even email the story home to share with parents.

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

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Dog’s Colorful Day

Title:  Dog’s Colorful Day: A Messy Story About Colors and Counting

Author: Emma Dodd

Description: Throughout the day, a dog accumulates various different colored spots on his body.


  • Basic Concepts/vocabulary (colors and numbers)
  • Early Sequencing
  • “why” questions (simple, highly contextualized)
  • “s” blends (spots, squish, squash, splash, swish)

Why I like this book: An adorable, simple story for early story telling/retelling.

Ideas for this book:

  • Great to pair with counting and coloring apps to help children learn these early concepts. See app stories like Kindertown Apps to search. Lots of activity ideas from other websites such as Making Learning Fun or a whole pintrest page dedicated to ideas here.
  • Make colors spots like in the story. Have kids “retell” the story using the colored spots. Can they remember the order and where the spot came from (i.e red was the jelly when he was waiting under the table at breakfast time, blue was paint from the front door, etc.). Encourage kids to use temporal markers such as “first, , next, then, last”
  • Help teach/model “why” questions. Why does he have a green spot? BECAUSE he rolled in the grass. Why does he have a gray spot? BECAUSE he splashed in the mud, etc.
  • lots of opportunity for /s/ blend practice. Have kiddos repeat the stimuli. Great to pair with articulation apps for more drill work such as Articulation Station or Artik Pix

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

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