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The Power of Visualization

To visualize means to imagine something or to create a positive mental picture of something.  Visualization can be difficult for adults and I have always thought it to be particularly tricky for many of the kids I work with.  These children are in-the-moment kids.  They blurt out comments without thinking, switch the topic of conversation without realizing what they’ve done, and have an enormously difficult time taking the perspective of another person.  While these kids seem quite good at following the train of their own thoughts to imagine something or create an image; their difficulty following along with the thoughts or agendas of others left me thinking that visualization was not easy.  One day, with the help of Lori Lite’s Stress Free Kids Curriuculum, I decided to try visualization with a group of 2nd and 3rd graders.

After a particularly rousing group we asked the kids to lie down or sit with their heads on the desks.  They were instructed to make themselves comfortable, keep their bodies away from other children, keep their eyes closed, be a good friend by not distracting others, and listen.  We then played the 7 ½ minute CD story of A Boy and a Turtle.  Some kids became still instantly, some watched their friends for awhile and some tickled or poked others.  But when the CD ended, all 6 kids were able to get up, go to the door calmly and return to their classroom with much less support than they normally would have needed.

Here is the best part…our friend who tends to talk non-stop, who constantly interrupts, who expresses his own ideas in response to the sharing of others, who works incessantly to make his friends laugh at his silliness, who pokes and prods other children unceasingly…THIS is the friend who benefited the most from the visualization exercise!  He put 2 chairs together and draped his body across them, lying on his back with his arms hanging limply at his side.  He closed his eyes and didn’t move a muscle until the story ended.   He breathed in the colors deeply and released his breath slowly as described in the story.  Now, this child exists in a state of high arousal.   If he can use visualization to achieve a state of relaxation intermittently throughout his day, will his friendships improve?  Will he listen and learn with greater ease?  Will he feel and be more successful in all of life?  I hope so.  I have learned (once again) that it is important to try a variety of strategies even if conventional wisdom and experience tells me not to.  These little, and sometimes big surprises, keep us going and growing.

Check out all of Lori Lite’s CDs, books, lesson plans, and other resources at www.stressfreekids.com.

by Jill Perry, MHA, MS, OTR/L

photo by Rebecca L. Daily

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

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The Runaway Bunny

Title: The Runaway Bunny

Author: Margaret Wise Brown

Illustrator: Clement Hurd

Age: preschool, early elementary, elementary

Description: A little bunny decides that he wants to run away from his mother. However, she won’t allow it, and finds a way to always follow him wherever his imagination takes him.

Goals/Concepts:

  • why questions
  • inferencing/prediction
  • descriptive language
  • “if, then” sentence structures, causals
  • early narrative- retell

Why I like this book: Most children can relate to strong message of love and commitment of the mother bunny.

Ideas for use:

  • A great story to model “why”/”because”: Why does the mother follow the bunny? Why did she want to be a fisherman? Why did she want to be a mountain climber? etc.
  • Have children make guesses as to what the mom would become when the little bunny decides to find a way to get away (i.e. he says he’ll be sailboat and sail away- what could mom become (wind)?; He says he’ll join a circus and fly away on a trapeze- what could she be to catch him?(tight rope walker))
  • Read the story to the child, without showing the colorful picture scene. See if they can visualize ( (great to pair with the Visualizing and Verbalizing program)- What do they envision? Have them draw what they picture. For example, the circus- Help them develop the scene: what would they see (clowns, crowds), hear (lions roar), smell (popcorn), etc.
  • The story models “if, then” syntax throughout the story. During retell could also model causals (i.e. the mommy said she’d become a mountain climber beacuse the bunny wants to be a mountain)
  • Use the pictures, and have students “retell” the story. Encourage temporal markers (first, next, then after that). Can make boardmaker pictures to go along, and have students sequence and then re-tell.
  • Have students add to the story to address narrative generation, as well as sentence structure practice. What else could the bunny do to “get away”, and what would be mommy do? (i.e. If you run after me, I will become a horse, and ride away…..the mommy would become a cowboy, and ride the horse back to the stable.) They can illustrate the story

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

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