Peace & Joy


Today is Christmas in the United States.  It’s a time where the world seems to pause for just a breath; everyone seems kinder and the world has a sparkle to it.  Thanks for taking the time to read along with me at my blog this year, and I hope you have gleaned some helpful ideas on social language.  I am enjoying the season with my family and will see you in the New Year!  Here’s to peace on Earth and goodwill towards all in 2017.

Ugly Sweaters and Inferences.


Earlier this year, I posted about using T-shirt slogans for inferences.  Tis the season for ugly sweater parties, so why not extend this concept to the holidays too? I found this great freebie on TPT from LittleRed when you follow her store (you will get a pass code to download the clipart) with a variety of clip art holiday sweaters like the one in the picture above!. You can make your own slogan/picture activities for your late elementary through high school students to figure out the meaning  or guess who might wear these holiday sweaters.  If you don’t want to make your own, the internet is FULL of great examples. Preview first my friends, preview first, I saw a LOT of inappropriate sweaters (don’t use them, but they are sure to give you a laugh). On a related note, I also found a cool website, Stereotype Design, that gives a few sentences on a T shirt and you have to guess the movie ( well, hello figuring out the big picture from details!).

You can create a whole Pinterest board of ugly holiday sweaters/t-shirts to work on these skills as well (or just click for my board here; it’s a growing work in progress, just like me).  Walk them through a few examples to practice together, then see how they do!

The questions you can pose with the ugly sweaters could include:

What do you think the message or picture means (intent)?  

Is this literal or sarcastic?   If it’s humorous, what makes it funny?

Who might wear this?  Who would NEVER wear this?

What do you think other people might think or feel when they see this sweater?  

Where would it be okay to wear this sweater?  Where would it NOT be okay to wear this sweater? 

What first impression do you have of someone wearing this sweater?  

What background knowledge might you need to understand the slogan or picture?

Would you wear this sweater?  Why or why not?

If you disagree or are upset with a sweater picture or slogan, should you say something?  Why or why not?

*Ask your students to take pictures of any other interesting holiday sweaters that they see to extend this activity.  You can call it “operation sweater sleuth”! I would clearly state the rule that the slogan/pictures can’t have any profanity or inappropriate content, especially with your middle schoolers on up.

Any good, kid friendly holiday sweater slogans or pictures that you have seen recently?  Share here!




Have you heard about the 12 days of SLP Christmas?  Search the TPT hashtag #SLPChristmasSale for 50% off of great SLP materials this month!  My “How to Play Reindeer Games” is featured today for only $1.50!  This fun product is perfect for working on the social language concepts of playing with other, including making a plan, emotional regulation and predictable/unpredictable choices.

Check out more great deals from my fellow speech peeps this month!

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Tis the Season for Compliments!


The holiday season is upon us! How does it always feel like it sneaks up on me? It’s been a difficult year for our communities for many reasons, so I wanted to add a little kindness to my social skills activities to end the year.  I made these little Christmas stocking freebies to encourage my students to think about one another and offer up the positive things they see in their peers.  I added starter prompts on the compliment strips, but you could do this with blank pieces of construction paper too.  I like the black and white versions of the stockings so my kids can color and decorate the stockings to represent themselves (and bonus, coloring is a calming activity that helps many of my students stay in their Green Zone).    For your students who don’t celebrate Christmas, they can decorate their stocking to represent themselves or the holiday they do celebrate. This would be a great activity in the speech room, social skills groups AND the classroom!

Giving and receiving compliments is a hard skill for some of my students with social language impairments.  We build on the skill by talking about perspective taking, feelings, thoughts vs. words, non-verbals and emotional regulation. Pairing this activity with the book “How Full Is Your Bucket?” is a great way to extend the idea of kindness and how our words and actions impact others. This stocking activity is an opportunity for your students who often stand out because of their unexpected behaviors, to be recognized and seen for their strengths instead!

You can do the activity together with your students to give examples, both expected and unexpected, and talk about them before they get started on their stockings. You can have fun with this, and remember our kids with social language impairments are NOT incidental learners!  This teaching time helps our students understand the point of the activity (and what NOT to do). BTW, I do look at what they write before they share them with their peers, because sometimes their idea of a “compliment” might not be perceived as one (example:  Your hair is HUGE!).  It’s a teachable moment, so stop and talk about how someone might feel or think if they received that comment.

Once the stockings are done, you can create a holiday bulletin board (A Friendship Fireplace? A Kindness Corner?) and hang the stockings on the board.  If your kids are comfortable (and you do want to try and keep your therapy room a social “safe” zone emotionally), they can share their compliments directly with one another.  It would be a fun activity to pair with a hot cocoa kindness party too (really, ANY day is a great excuse for a hot cocoa party).  If my students are not as comfortable sharing directly, I have them write the name of the person they are complimenting on the back of the sentence strips and they leave them with me to stuff the stockings. I get to be the Speechy Santa!

Before the winter break, take the stockings down and send them home with the kids.   You might be surprised at how often they read what their peers wrote about them.  We all need to feel the positives now and again, especially our kids who struggle socially.  Here’s to kindness and a gift that keeps on giving!

How do you encourage your students to demonstrate kindness to one another?

That darn elf….


My boys are older now, but I admit I was sucked into the  Elf on the Shelf  phenomena (not to be confused with The Mensch on the Bench lol).  It was such a genius idea from a local author, Carol Aebersold , to celebrate a family tradition.  This was in the pre-Pinterest era (aka the “olden days”), thank goodness.  All that glossy, professionally lighted creativity gives me anxiety as a mama!  But soon the fun story and process of coming up with mildly naughty adventures for our elf (Elwood) became a bit daunting.  Elwood wrapped my car completely in streamers, spelled out my youngest son’s name on his bed in underwear (hilarious for a 6 year old boy, I promise) and hid in our Christmas tree at the last minute when I woke up late and had forgotten to plan the night before.  He always left a note saying good bye before heading back to the North Pole.  As my boys grew older, we passed our elf along to a younger cousin (I so owe my sister in law some good wine for that).

Looking back at those Christmas memories, it dawned on me that Elwood’s adventures would be a fun way to work on the Social Thinking concepts of Expected and Unexpected behaviors with my social skills groups.  My kids always had hilarious stories of the unpredictable situations their own elves got into (God bless their mamas!) and this can evolve into a fun lesson on what the unexpected might make us think, feel or say. You can take it a step farther and set up some predictable and unpredictable settings around your school or therapy setting with your elf. Snap some pictures on your iphone or ipad to use in therapy this month.  You can add some other characters (such as a stuffed reindeer, some older students or even your principal, if they are game) to add perspective taking skills to your pictures.  What are the others in the picture thinking, feeling or saying in the situation?  A fellow slp blogger, Activity Tailor, had posted a link to these cute headband thought bubbles that would be perfect to use in this activity too.  You could even make a tiny one to add to your elves!

You can extend the social language concepts by talking about hidden rules, identifying the right timing/people/place of being funny, and  predicting what might happen next! If you click over to the Elf on the Shelf official website HERE, they also have a school resource page with free, common core related activities and printables for your K-5 kiddos!  Easy, inexpensive and seasonal fun for your younger students?  Now that’s a gift!

How do you add holiday themed fun into your social skills groups this time of year?