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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Tips for Adjusting Voice Volume and Tone

Today, we are blogging over at  Voice volume and tone of voice are both subtle but critical aspects of social interaction. We all know a child who talks too loudly during interactions, their voice overpowering the conversation and negatively affecting their peer interactions.  There are the children who don’t speak loud enough for their opinions and thoughts to be heard by others, affecting their ability to maintain these peer interactions. Then there are the children who speak too harshly or aggressively, read more…


The Duckling Gets a Cookie

Title:  The Duckling Gets a Cookie!?

Author: Mo Willems

Description: Another adorable Pigeon story, where he doesn’t understand why HE doesn’t get anything he wants. A little Duckling helps him out (and himself) in the process.


  • Perspective Taking
  • Tone of Voice and Vocal Volume
  • Social Skills
  • Question Asking
  • Prosody

Why I like this book: Mo Willems never disappoints. I love the characters expressions (great for teaching body language) and the humor that keeps kids entertained while addressing some goals.

Ideas for this book:

  • A great book to have kids act out (adult can be a character if necessary). Practice the body language, facial expression, tone of voice, etc. Use thinking bubbles to discuss each characters perspective (i.e. How is the duck feeling when the Pigeon is yelling in his face?)
  • A great book to practice “Tone of Voice” with kiddos. Stress HOW you say something. Use voice recording apps like Quick Voice and have kids listen and analyze how the pigeon is speaking.
  • Lots of examples of various vocal volume. Pair with the Incredible 5 Point Scale for understanding of various levels the Pigeon uses. Was his volume appropriate?
  • A great story to elicit question forms. Have kiddos formulate questions for the Pigeon. He states that he asks for many things (i.e to drive the bus, for hot dog parties, etc.). Have them generate how the Pigeon would ask? What words would he use? Who would he ask? Role play.
  • Carry over the idea above for more perspective taking. Who would he ask? What might the person say back? Why? (i.e. asking a parent to stay up late- what might they say? Why?).
  • Pair the 2 ideas above with a great post by Sean Sweeney M.S. CCC-SLP at on using fake texting to take both perspectives. Kids love it.
  • Click here for a funny YouTube clip of the Pigeon being interviewed about the book and title. Mo Willems is involved.
  • I use these Pigeon books for my more advanced kiddos with Childhood Apraxia of Speech (CAS) to work on stress patterns for prosody. Lots of examples of increasing stress on words, or changing intonation patterns to demonstrate questions vs. comments. Again, you can use the voice recording to help with understanding.
  • A good book for general discussion of social skills (as highlighted above). How to communicate with friends, thinking about others feelings and desires, friendship skills, etc. What were some things the pigeon did that may have made the duck think negative thoughts (i.e. tone of voice, body language, body space challenges, vocal volume, etc.)
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Submitted by; Meghan G. Graham M.S. CCC-SLP

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Easi-Speak USB Recorder Pumps Up the Drama

In our Social Adventures Groups, we are often looking for motivating activities for addressing “tone of voice”.  One of the games we play is one we call “My Voice Says it All.”  During this game, we have kids choose two cards, one from the “Emotion” pile and one from the “Phrase” pile.  We then ask them to say the phrase with the chosen emotion and friends provide feedback.  Sometimes, we have the speaker choose the cards in private and then the rest of the group is asked to guess the emotion used.  (See our Social Adventures Apps for detailed instructions and Parent Tips)

This game has always been fun, but with the addition of the Easi-Speak USB Recorder, each child’s inner drama king/queen came right out!  Something about holding such a realistic-looking microphone helped the kids really get in the mood.  Not only did their tone of voice more closely approximate that of the chosen emotion, but so did their body language.  It was really incredible!  Gotta love a great prop!

But that’s not all… this microphone is also a digital recorder.  It saves audio files right on the microphone, so we were able to record each of the kids as they took their turn.  If the kids were having trouble determining a friend’s emotion, we were able to stop the game, playback the phrase and talk with the group about what changes in tone of voice would better convey that emotion.  The kids LOVED listening to themselves on tape, so they were much more motivated to keep trying until they got it right.

Many of us have also used this microphone in our individual sessions to motivate kids to generate narratives.  Just the other day, one of my kids who doesn’t typically string more than 2 sentences together narrated an entire Berenstein’s Bear book.  He held the mike and described each picture while I flipped the pages and smiled a great big smile.  Then… we plugged the mike into the USB port of my laptop and sent the recording to his mom who was, needless to say, thrilled!

Finally, we have used this recorder during evaluations.  Again, it increases kids motivation to speak, records with excellent quality and is super user-friendly.  So, we give the Easi-Speak USB Recorder a definite “thumbs way up”!  If you are asking, “Is there anything that could make it even better?” then we would say that it would be really cool if the Easi-Speak offered an amplification option.  And they do… it is called the Easi-Speak Sound Station. We will be using this mike and sound station a LOT in our individual and group therapies!!

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By Karen S Head, MS, CCC-SLP

Disclaimer:  this device was given to all4mychild free of charge with the express purpose of providing a review.

If you like these ideas, be sure to check out the nearly 80 activity ideas for promoting social cognition in our Social Adventures Apps.


The Pigeon Wants a Puppy!

Title: The Pigeon Wants a Puppy

Author: Mo Willems

Description: The silly pigeon thinks he wants a puppy, until he meets one.


  • Perspective Taking
  • Reading Body Language
  • Tone of Voice
  • Prediction

Why I like this book: The pigeon always entertains children, and allows us to address some goals along the way.

Ideas for this book:

  • A great story for kids to “act” as the person the Pigeon is talking to. Have them converse with the pigeon. Given the Pigeon’s responses, what do they think the conversation partner said?
  • A great post by Sean Sweeney at about a “fake texting” activity where you could do just this.
  • The pigeon is very expressive, have children interpret body language and act out. You could even take pictures of these emotions and body language and  have kids create their own “body language” story with various emotions. Try apps like Story Patch to create this story.
  • If working on Tone of Voice, have kids speak with the Pigeon’s emotions. Use a recording device to give students feedback. Is that how they wanted to sound? Does it match the Pigeon’s body language? We love the easi-speak microphone for recording and so do kids!
  • Have student brainstorm what responsibilities you would have taking care of a puppy? Can they generate a list of other pets? What are the responsibilities? What are reasons why parents may not want you to have a pet? Can they take another perspective?
  • The pigeon decides that he’d rather have a walrus. Have kids generate what a walrus might need? What could be “scary” to the pigeon about a walrus? Would a walrus be a good pet?
  • Students could write the “next” book as the pigeon attempts to explain why he wants a walrus.

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

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It’s All in HOW You Say Something

One of our social groups has a number of friends with inappropriate tone of voice. I’m sure you all know those friends that use that “angry” tone of voice to both peers and adults when anything goes against their plan. It can be as simple as a friend bumping in to them, having to wait too long for a turn, or even asking a friend to try their idea. Many kids we see in our social group struggle with flexibility and perspective taking, so it’s not surprising that tone of voice is an issue. Too many times I’ve seen adults (myself included) say to kids “Is that how we talk to teachers/friends?” Of course the child knows the answer is “no” but how do we give them opportunity to really practice and understand how important tone of voice is? Jill and I attempted to do this with some help from Dr. Lynne Kenney who introduced us to Kimochis, these adorable stuffed toys that can be used to teach emotions.

Our group is full of very energetic boys. Given this, and their difficulty with using and interpreting body language, we decided to ensure movement was a component of this activity. The boys were to choose a Kimochi from a bag. Each stuffed toy has an adorable simple facial expression, with the emotion written on the back (e.g. confused, excited, mad, happy, etc.). The child was to then move their body up the ramp (if you don’t have a ramp, do it across the room) demonstrating the particular emotion they chose. Holding the Kimochi was helpful for them to “check in” to see if their face and their body matched the emotion in their hand. The other friends were supposed to guess what emotion they were “acting” out. Then, when they got to the end of the ramp, and before jumping into the ball pit (an exercise in impulse control too), they were given a phrase to say in the given emotion. This same phrase “It’s dinner time.” was used for every emotion to demonstrate that you can say the same phrase a million different ways, and it changes the meaning. This led to lots of discussion with everyone around why you might say the phrase that way. They were able to generate that you may say it like you are mad because you don’t want to stop playing your Wii. You might say it sad because you know you’re having broccoli and you hate broccoli. You might say it excited because you’re going out to dinner!

Next week, we plan to shift the activity to phrases that they often say “It’s my turn,” “Can you stop?” “I don’t want to do that,” etc. in the moment, and practice the differences in tone, and point out others’ body language in reaction to their words and tone. How does it change? What does it mean? Should they try to say that again? The hope is that through continued repetitive practice of tone of voice, kids can start learning that how you say something makes all the difference.

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

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Watch Me Throw the Ball

Watch Me Throw the Ball

Title:  Watch Me Throw the Ball!

Author:  Mo Willems

Description: A clever multi-level story about the pure joy of throwing a ball regardless of skill and how to support a friend, keeping unnecessary competition out of the picture.

Approximate Age/Language Level: Preschool, early elementary

• competition
• futility of bragging
• learning new motor skills
• friendship
• turn taking
• reading nonverbal communication
• emotional regulation
• tone of voice

Why I like this book: Elephant and Piggy are true friends who enjoy and sometimes annoy one another. They show off at times and also learn from each other. I love the many aspects of friendship that are represented in this book. It also depicts the importance of having fun in a motor-based activity…even when you are not too skilled.

Ideas for use:
• read before teaching a new motor skill and discuss the value of having fun as you learn
• read to a group of children before or after recess, de-emphasizing competition
• have kids act out the story and talk about which attitude feels better
• have kids re-tell the story by looking only at body language and facial expressions in the illustrations
• discuss what makes a friend and how friendship was evident in this story
• talk about false pride and bragging and how it makes others feel. Use thinking bubbles to help kids think about what others are thinking

• See if kids can identify the tone of voice the characters are using, and how that makes the other feel as well. Have kids imitate and “try again” with a more appropriate tone of voice. How does that change the situation? Maybe even practice using different words? (i.e. Good try, I can help you vs. You did not throw that very far!)


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

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Personal Space Camp

Book: Personal Space Camp

Author:   Written by Julia Cook and illustrated by Carrie Hartman

Age:   Preschool, Early Elementary, Upper Elementary

Description:   Louis is sent to Personal Space Camp in the Principal’s office.  When he discovers that “personal  space” is different than “outer space”, his disappointment abates as he learns how to better manage his body and space.


  • Body/space awareness
  • Body language
  • Spatial relations
  • Perspective taking
  • Tone of voice
  • Friendship

Why I like this book:  The story and illustrations grab kid’s attention as they watch Louis crash into others.  Once they are immersed in this book, kids find the concepts easy to learn.

Ideas for use:

  • Read before a play date to get kids ready to manage their bodies.
  • Read after a play date to help lower arousal levels and process body and space awareness.
  • Practice some of the activities described in the book that Louis does in his “Personal Space Camp”.   They are easy to do and fun.
  • Discuss the importance of tone of voice when Louis talks about his teacher’s “cranky voice.”
  • Spend time looking at and discussing facial expressions and body language depicted when Louis crashes into others.
  • Have children demonstrate some of the facial expressions seen in the book and have others predict what they are feeling and why they might feel that way.
  • Talk about why managing personal space is important for friendship.
  • Discuss various strategies that can be used to help kids maintain their personal space in various situations.
  • Have kids practice what to say to others when their personal space is invaded.

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

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