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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

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

 

pet doctor

The iPad and Beyond – Pet Doctor Inspires Collaborative Play

The iPad and Beyond – Pet Doctor Inspires Collaborative Play

We love using apps in therapy and in our Social Adventure Groups but we are all too aware of how kids can get over-focused on them. We have taken to using some of them as inspiration for play. One of our favorites is Toca Boca Pet Doctor. This adorable app introduces kids to some unexpected pet problems, such as a beaver who needs his teeth brushed and a bird who is stuck in gum. Playing this game for a few minutes before we start dramatic play can really get the kids thinking.

Once the kids have some ideas about what could go awry with their pets, we give them some time to work together to pick equipment to represent a house, a pet doctor’s office and an ambulance. Then the fun begins! Kids never get tired of taking turns calling 911 about their pet problem, riding in the ambulance to the pet doctor of course using all of the fun doctor kit items to take good care of that pet.

Just a few minutes with this wonderful iPad app leads to many more minutes of creative, collaborative dramatic play!

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

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

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

Snow_friends_L

Snow Friends

Title:  Snow Friends

Author: M. Christina Butler and Tina Macnaughton

Description: A little bear wakes from his winter nap and has no one to enjoy the snow with. He decides to build a snowman to play with and meets some friends along the way.

Goals/ objectives:

Narrative/Retelling
Early inferencing and predicting
Why questions
animal/winter vocabulary (winter animals: bear, rabbit, otter)
social skills/friendship
body language

Why I like this story: A cute winter story that encourages friendship and thinking about others.
Ideas for use:

Great story for retelling and identifying the story grammar elements (characters, setting, initiating event, etc.). I pair with “Braidy” through Mindwing Concepts. A clear kickoff and plan (bear needs a friend so builds a snowman…)
use to discuss setting (woods, cave). Draw a big winter wood scene and have child add the various winter animals to retell the story.
Good for description as well as the pictures are textured….sparkly, shiny, white, cold snow. etc.
Great for early prediction/inferencing (e.g. What could be under the snow making noise? (rabbit in burrow), what will they use the sticks for?)
Good for modeling and exposing to “why” questions. Why do they need carrots? Why is the rabbit upset? Why is the bear lonely? etc.
Beautiful illustrations for body language and emotions. Have children act out the body language.
Good story to act out in a group or dyad . Use big exercise balls to act as snow balls. One child holds the bottom while the others, “make” the other snow ball. Encourage team work and communication as they roll the balls.
Discuss friendship and thinking of others. Why did the animals make another snowman? (They didn’t want the snowman to be lonely when they left to do other activities). How can they include others?

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

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*Like this review and activities? Check out the Social Adventures App, available on the Social Adventures - all4mychild, for more activities for children.

Red head pic

Red Hat

Title: Red Hat

Author: Lita Judge

Description:  Similar to Lita Judge’s winter story, Red Sled (see review here) a little girl leaves her red hat outside on the clothes line, and many forest animals decide to borrow it for some fun. However, when they return the hat…it isn’t the same.

Goals/ objectives:

  • Early narrative (simple sequence story)
  • Perspective taking
  • Early prediction
  • Emotion/Facial Expression/Body language
  • Vocabulary (forest animals: rabbits, raccoons, bears, porcupine, etc.)
  • Social Pragmatics and Problem Solving
  • Speech Production

Why I like this story: A nice sequel to the Red Sled story, with wonderful illustrations as a mainly “wordless” book.

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. Practice the “set up” of the play: assigning roles for the different animals, choosing objects to represent the house, the clothes line, the hat, the forest.
  • Use thinking and speaking bubbles and have kids fill them in. What are the animals and the little girl thinking, saying, etc.
  • A nice story to discuss simple problem solving. What did the girl do when she saw her hat ruined? Could be a nice discussion for staying “calm” when a problem arises, and working together as a team to fix the problem (as she and the animals knit the hat back together).
  • 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 “steal” the hat and play within the forest (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?
  • Work on similarities and differenced between the Red Sled and the Red Hat. What is the same? (concept, some animals, same main character, etc.) What’s different (different season, different animals, borrow and use vs. take and destroyed)
  • I myself am not particularly crafty…however it seems a construction paper hat with red yarn and a pom pom could be a nice pairing with this story:) Could incorporate temporal markers throughout the steps, and direction following during the process.

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

Please support books4all and order this book from our Amazon Store

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

Dragon

Me and My Dragon Scared of Halloween

Title: Me and My Dragon: Scared of Halloween

Author and Illustrator:  David Biedrzycki

Age:  preschool, early elementary

Description:  A boy tried to help his pet dragon to not be afraid of Halloween.

Goals/Concepts:

  • Perspective taking
  • Body language
  • Early prediction and inferencing
  • Trying new experiences
  • Narrative language
  • Pretend play
  • Trickery
  • Social skills
  • Halloween vocabulary

Why I like this book:  The illustrations are incredible and keep kids engaged. An adorable story with a nice sequence of events for kids to retell and/or act out. There is also an Elvis reference, which I find awesome…I mean why not? :)

Ideas for use:  

  • A great story for labeling emotions and what characters could be thinking. Create a “thinking” bubble and hold over different characters heads to discuss. Point out and act out body language. Pair that with the character facial expression and discuss the context. There are great examples of “trickery” too- the dragon eventually dressed up as a dragon, but adults and kids think it’s a kid dressed as a dragon. A great opportunity for what do people “think” versus what is really happening.

Screenshot 2014-10-07 14.06.42

  • Encourage “detective eyes” to look for “clues” to help kids make inferences and predictions throughout the story. You can use the “remember” + “know” = “guess” framework for inferencing. For example in the first scene help students REMEMBER (see the clues) of the burned cake, small fire, burned clothing, soot on faces, holding fire extinguisher). What do they KNOW about dragons and fire? (they breathe fire, extinguishers are used to put out fires, etc.), helps us GUESS that the dragon accidentally burned down the cake and presents with his fiery breath!
  • Have students act out the story. Someone can be a dragon, the boy in the story and the various other characters (parents, other kids, etc.). Make a visual plan with the sequence to keep kids on task.
  • There are many opportunities for social skill discussions. A concept we work on constantly is “friends don’t make other friends wait.” The dragon has a tough time selecting his candy while trick or treating. The children in line are visibly frustrated. A good opportunity for discussion.
  • Pair with the Zones of Regulation for different emotions are how our body feels. Lots of opportunity for discussion around regulation. The Dragon obviously is “scared” and even “terrified” which can be at different “zones” in this program. Discuss the differences and what tools could help.

Z of R

Screenshot 2014-10-07 14.04.08

  • There are lots of examples of halloween vocabulary including werewolves, zombies, frankenstein, mummies, costumes, etc.
  • There is lots of “subtle” humor throughout the story that can be pointed out if language skills allow for it.

Submitted by:  Meghan G. Graham M.S. 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.

 

 

photo by David Lytle http://bit.ly/1sLluBU

Let’s Pretend…

Talking toys, ready-made projects, iPads, and electronic games are all super fun and enticing. However, they don’t help our kids develop communication, collaboration, critical thinking and creativity. These are the skills that will ensure life long learning and problem solving not only through school but throughout careers and family life as well. What will happen to the next generation of kids if they don’t learn these critical life skills?

In an effort to help 4 – 6 year olds develop these skills in our Social Adventures group we read books with simple themes such as “Good-night Gorilla” and “The Little Red Hen” and act out the stories in the gym. This has been quite a challenge for our little ones as they show difficulty negotiating roles, identifying props, figuring out how to use the space available to them and staying with the theme.

To help the kids grasp early negotiation skills, we provided each child with a ball or tactile play item and when another item looked more interesting to them, they asked a friend to trade. If a friend wanted to trade, he said, “Sure”. We taught the kids to say, “In a minute” if they didn’t want to trade and then encouraged the swap shortly after.

play doh sharing

photo by https://www.flickr.com/photos/maximeauger/

Last week, we decided to play “Grocery Store” with the 4-5 year olds in our Social Adventures groups. It happened sort of organically when one child suggested the game and the others enthusiastically agreed. In discussing roles, the kids said we needed a “Scanner”, a “Delivery man”, a “Shopper”, and a “Grocery Worker” to stack the shelves.

 

IMG_0022

The food (cardboard blocks) was delivered to the store via scooter board and the child stocking the shelves organized the shelves by color. He assigned exotic names to the food such as “spicy yogurt” getting more creative as the game proceeded. The shopper used a laundry basket as a grocery cart. The Scanner chose to stand inside the upright barrel to scan the food and then send it down the slide.

The kids began wanting to change roles. Sometimes a friend would say, “Sure” and other times they would say, “In a minute”. They then surprisingly switched roles in about a minute! Each child adapted his or her roles to suit their personalities. When one boy said the grocery bill was a whopping $9.00, the “customer” exclaimed, “WHAAAAT?” and then obligingly paid up.

You may think I am overreacting but I felt this session was no short of a miracle. The kids were engaged, negotiating, planning, problem solving, collaborating, and thoroughly enjoying themselves! So let’s put the electronics on the shelf and let the pretending begin.

 

 

download

A Day Without Rules

Title: A Day Without Rules

Author: Billy Boston, Illustrated by Joel McNatt

Description: A classroom of children get to see the effects of not having rules for the day. They learn to see the importance of respecting each other.

Why I like this story: A good story for the preschool/kindergarten classroom, as the story provides situations that kids can really relate to, along with great illustrations to help with understanding of emotions.  Our social groups have really enjoyed this story, and has led to great discussion.

Goals/ objectives:

  • social skills/ pragmatic language
  • perspective taking
  • friendship
  • prediction skills
  • early narrative language, retelling
Ideas for use:
  • Role play the various situations that happen in the story (i.e. purposely knocking over a block tower, grabbing objects out of hands, etc.), and discuss characters feelings and thoughts. Exaggerate and discuss body language. Have children act out the “right” way and the “way without rules.” Great for discussion and practice of social appropriate responses/actions
  • Use bubble thoughts to discuss what characters are thinking and why
  • Have students generate what rules they would want to live without. Great for prediction skills…What might happen if we don’t have to keep our cubby clean? Not wash our hands before snack? Take toys/books home? etc. Students can even generate their own stories around not having these rules and the effects. Create the stories on story creation apps like Toontastic or Book Creator.
  •  Great for early narrative skills. Clear characters, settings and initiating events. Pair with Mindwing Concepts story grammar marker or Story Grammar Marker (SGM) App.

Submitted by Meghan G. Graham M.S. CCC-SLP It is noted that all4mychild was provided with a copy of this story for review. However, options expressed are our own and no other compensation was provided. *Like this review and activities? Check out the Social Adventures App for more activities for children.

Support books4all and order this book from Amazon.com.  Thank you!
Thank you!

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

elf

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

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.