Copyright : Anna Omelchenko

Ganging up and Giggling

I run a little social dyad with two school-aged boys (almost middle schoolers). They both need a lot of support to appropriately initiate, and especially to maintain interactions. We use a variety of different strategies and approaches to help them reach their goals. Ask-Ask-Tell from our Social Adventures App, vocabulary and concepts from Social Thinking ™ (i.e. bubble thoughts, whopping topic change, etc.), lots of self-made visuals,  and even the Zones of Regulation to help when we get too silly. That is one of our biggest challenges…getting too silly and getting stuck.

Well recently I had to sit back and let us ride into the “yellow zone” and beyond…and hang out there.

zones 2

*Image from Zone of Regulation website

They were cracking themselves up while ganging up on the teacher (me). One of the boys set the alarm function on his phone to go off in the middle of our session. The other friend did the same on my iPad when we were using for a game. The had  coordinated this (clearly communicating and demonstrating great perspective taking by trying to be secretive…and failing:), and then couldn’t control themselves with laughter when the alarms went off. I tried to be “mad” at first, but then just sat back and watched them connect and enjoy themselves. What a typical social experience- ganging up on the teacher, acting “naughty,” and laughing together. It was important for me to appreciate the skills they were demonstrating: great communication, perspective taking, humor, and appropriate body language (looking at each other, matching their friend’s affect, appropriate proximity). It was awesome.


We now have to work on the concept that jokes are funny one time, sometimes twice…but usually not more. This has become something we want to do every week…but from my perspective, worth adding this new social goal.


The Biggest Valentine Ever

Title: The Biggest Valentine Ever

Author: Steve Kroll

Age: School Age

Description: Two friends from class decide to make a valentine for their teacher together. Working together proves to be quite challenging…


What I like about this book: It’s a cute thematic story for Valentine’s Day with a social focus.


  • Pragmatics/Social Language
  • “Wh” Questions
  • Narrative/Story retell

Therapy/Activity Ideas:

  • A great book for discussion of teamwork and working together. Have students talk about what is hard when working together, what makes it fun, etc.
  • Discuss ways to help make working together go more successfully: making a plan, “asking” vs. “telling,” giving compliments, looking at friends’ faces to determine how they are feeling, etc.
  • Role-play different scenarios in the story when the two mice are not getting along. Discuss what they could have done differently. What language could they use if they don’t like someone’s idea? (vs. what the mice do “you put too much glitter! Why did you make a heart in the middle?!). Discuss the effects of tone of voice. What if the mouse said it with a different tone of voice? Would that change the situation? Use thinking and speaking bubbles to help teach these concepts.
  • Have students work in pairs to make the valentine that was made in the story (a mouse out of 5 paper hearts). A context to help support the above stated skills…(tone of voice, negotiation, etc.)
  • Have students retell the story working on story grammar elements (characters, setting, initiating event, etc.). Pair with the Story Grammar Marker.

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

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


The Little Red Elf


Title: The Little Red Elf

 Author: Barbara Barbieri McGrath

Description: A play on the Little Red Hen, the little elf tries to get her friends to help her plant and grow a Christmas tree. The penguin, the hare and the reindeer choose to be lazy or do what they want rather than help their friend. They learn their lesson at the end of the story. hey

Goals/ objectives:

  • Early narrative (simple sequence story)
  • Past tense
  • Teamwork
  • Perspective taking
  • Early prediction
  • Question formulation/”who” questions

Why I like this story: Adorable pictures with lots of language opportunities. I’m a big fan of the original Little Red Hen, and this is a fun holiday spin.

Ideas for use:

  • simple story sequence to retell with repetition. Use the pictures and incorporate “first, next, then, etc.”
  • The little elf does lots of actions as she does all the work. A great story to elicit past tense verbs, with clear pictures and lots of opportunities (i.e. shoveled, cleaned, painted, etc.)
  • A good story for a group to stress “teamwork” and and “many hands make light the work” concept. A good message for this time of year as well. Have kids think about how they can help others…an obvious opportunity for some perspective taking.
    • Have children predict what the little elf will have to do next to care for a tree. First plant.. what do you think will be next? (water, bring in the house, decorate, etc.)
  • There is lots of opportunity to model, “Who will help me….” both for expressive and receptive “wh” question goals.
  • The pictures offer opportunity for emotions and perspective taking. Use thinking bubbles to assist kids understand what characters are thinking and why

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

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


Not A Box

Book: Not a Box

Author: Antoinette Portis

Age: Preschool and School Age

Description: A creative rabbit who turns a box into anything and everything. He makes it clear that it’s NOT a box!


  • Flexibility
  • Ideation
  • Social Skills
  • Early Prediction
  • Question Formulation
  • Sentence structure (“not”)
Why I like this book: Great for discussion about flexibility. While reading, kids love to make guesses as to what it could be next.
Ideas for use: 
  • After reading a couple pages, see if kids can guess what it could be next? What could he be standing on? What could he be sitting in?
  • After reading the book, give kids their own box. What can they turn it into? If struggling to come up with ideas, have them act out the ideas in the story. Add on to the sequence. First it’s a car. Where will they drive to? What will they do next? Great for working on pretend play schemes and sequences.
  • In a group? Give each kiddo a piece of paper with a square (box). Give them 10-20 seconds then have them FREEZE. Switch papers. Give another 10-20 seconds. Exchange as many times as you’d like. Have kiddos talk about how their idea was changed. Great to discuss how we all have DIFFERENT ideas in our head. This can be challenging for our friends who struggle with flexibility…but a great exercise. If changing their own picture is too challenging, you can just have 1 box, and each add to it. A good exercise to discuss how teamwork can make a cool picture!
  • Great for modeling question formulation and auxiliaries  (i.e. Why ARE you sitting in that box?, What ARE you doing on top of that box? etc. ) You can modify these for your use. Have the kiddos ask the rabbit.
  • Great for modeling sentence structure of ” It’s NOT a box.” Ask your kiddo’s “Is it a box?”- “No, it’s NOT a box!”
Submitted by: Meghan G. Graham M.S. CCC-SLP

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Can I Play Too?

Title: Can I Play Too?

Author: Mo Williams

Age: Early Elementary

Description: Piggie and Elephant plan to play catch when another friend (snake) wants to join in. They are struggling to figure out how include snake because he doesn’t have arms! They work together and after some failed attempts, come up with a solution!


  • social language
  • friendship
  • perspective taking
  • reading body language
  • emotions
  • flexibility

Why I like this book.: A wonderful book to teach friendship. They don’t quit until they can find a way for everyone to be included and happy.

Ideas for use:

  • A great book for reading body language. Use cut out thinking bubbles and discuss how characters are thinking and feeling and why.
  • Read to a social group. Discuss how everyone was included.
  • Role play how to think of a role for everyone. Give them a game (i.e. tag, catch, hide and seek, UNO, etc). See if they can think of a “role”if someone were to join (i.e. change the game, add another “job” , wait and take turns, etc.)
  • Great for discussing and modeling less straight forward emotions such as “embarrassment, concern, determination, etc.”
  • Great book to read when working on tone of voice. Have the kiddo “act” as a character, and read their lines with appropriate tone of voice and body language.
  • Talk about flexible thinking.  After trying the same solution to the problem over and over again, how did Piggy come up with a totally novel idea?  Talk about other ways this problem could have been solved.  Create a “problem” in a game and have the kids solve it to practice including everyone.
  • When snake was accidentally hurt,  he didn’t get angry because he understood his friends were trying to help.  Talk about intention and attitude with kids.  This is especially important for kids who have trouble reading body clues and for kids with sensory modulation issues.

Submitted by: Meghan Graham M.S. CCC-SLP and Jill Perry MHA M.S. OTR/L

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duck rabbit pic

Duck! Rabbit!

Title: Duck! Rabbit!

Author: Amy Krouse Rosenthan and Tom Lichtenheld
Age: preschool, early elementary
Description: A story of perspective. Is it a duck? Is a rabbit? It all depends on how you look at it!


  • Perspective Taking
  • Flexibility
  • Social Language Skills

Why I like this book: It’s a great model for perspective taking, fun illustrations, and kids love it. It always gets kids talking, and in social groups with each other (which is often the goal)!

Ideas for use:

  • It’s a great model when teaching kids about flexibility, and that everyone has different ideas.
  • A great compliment to Michelle Garcia Winner’s Unthinkable Program© (Social Thinking© ) when introducing “Rock Brain” (a character who is inflexible).
  • Draw an abstract shape (anything will do, oval, cloud shape, square, etc.) and make copies. Give to kids and have them turn the shape into something. See how many different ideas there are, and how there are no right answers. We all have different ideas in our head.
  • Great book to discuss tone of voice with early elementary kids and older. The dialogue in this story is great for modeling how we say things. Have students try the dialogue and try different tones of voice. Sarcastic, angry, friendly/joking….and different situations when that would be expected/unexpected (language from Social Thinking©).

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

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