Will You Be My Social Valentine?

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Valentine’s Day is upon us, and I am reminded again that it is a holiday that can be quite tricky for my students with social language impairments!  There is a whole lot of indirect language, hidden rules and emotional regulation in this holiday.  I found this adorable “monster crush” mailbox at my local dollar store (score!) and started thinking of all the ways I can use it this holiday, in my social therapy.  Here are few that you might want to try too!

ESL websites are a great resource of figurative language activities that also benefit my kids with social language impairments!  Here is one from EverythingESL on idioms related to the heart.  You can write the idioms on a paper heart and the students have to take them out of the mailbox and explain what the idiom literally means.  You can extend the activity by having them draw or write the meaning on the hearts and make a fun bulletin board from them.

For my upper grade students, I have this Cupid Quandary freebie in my TPT store.

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 It has sixteen sticky social situations for your kids to talk through (you can use the mailbox with this as well for turn taking).  It includes some blank template cards to add your own scenarios too.

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I use the Superflex® curriculum from Michelle Garcia Winner, and she has created a group of characters called Unthinkables.  These characters personify some of the challenges my students may have, such as not being a flexible thinker (Rock Brain) or poor emotional regulation (Glassman).  I have seen a few other SLPs (like Speech Room News ) create Unthinkable Valentines from these characters and have the students guess who they belong to.  You could also give the student the Unthinkable and ask them to write a card from the Unthinkable’s point of view (much harder)!  Extend the activity by talking about how the person receiving that Valentine might think or feel.

You could even get a little crazy and buy 2 mailboxes to sort valentine’s cards or hearts based on things you would say vs.things you should think or expected vs.unexpected comments related to Valentine’s Day. These are also social language concepts from Social Thinking®, so check it out if you haven’t already!

Want some more budget friendly Valentine’s Day ideas?  Visit my Instagram page @SmartmouthSLP each day this week for dollar store ideas to target social language concepts!

It’s not a box of chocolates, but I hope these ideas make your Valentine’s day social language therapy a little sweeter!

Growing Hearts

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It’s that time of year, hearts are everywhere! What a perfect opportunity to talk about how what we say affects people’s feelings (their heart), both positively and negatively. For some of my students, there is a disconnect between what they say and what they mean. We work on using our social filters (thinking before we say something), understanding that our thoughts, actions and words make other people have different thoughts and feelings and learning to regulate our emotions in relation to others.  This is difficult territory for many students with autism spectrum disorders (ASD) or my impulsive students with ADHD.   I love the book “How Full Is Your Bucket?” by Tom Rath and Mary Reckmeyer to work on the concept of thinking of others.  You can peek at a youtube read aloud of the book HERE .

I was in the dollar store the other day and saw this packet of “Wack-a-pack” hearts. They come in a four pack for a buck! Here is the cool thing about them.  You open the pack and they are four flat balloons (small, mylar,  and heart shaped, of course).

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Here are the directions!

When you smack them against a hard surface, it activates a small packet inside the balloon which then inflates it, just like magic!  But my lesson is on kindness, so instead of smacking the poor balloon, I use it as an illustration.  When when we hear sincere, kind and encouraging words, it makes us feel good.  We have what Michelle Garcia Winner describes as “having a good thought” about the person talking to us.  These good feelings can be described as “making my heart grow”.  Then we practice this with each other (it can get a little goofy, but that’s okay!).  I secretly push the packet inside the heart and voila’, it puffs right up, making our hearts grow right before our eyes!!

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Be Mine…awwww

Then we talk about how mean words can make our hearts break.  We chat about what mean things someone might have said to us and how that made us feel.  We also talk about how careful we need to be when we talk to others!  Mean or careless words can make people have sad or mad thoughts and feelings about us when we don’t use our filters and think before we talk.  I then take a pin and pop the heart.  Ouch!  A heart shaped Venn Diagram would be a great visual reinforcer of these concepts too or if you are feeling brave, bubble gum to “grow” and POP your hearts!

What social skills materials have YOU found at the dollar store?  Share here!

**Want some other great dollar store ideas for speech?  Check out my friend Kristen’s            blog,  Talkin with Twang, Linky HERE .

 

You Crack Me Up!

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The Dollar Store is quickly becoming my go-to place for inexpensive social language materials.  I found this pack of eggs with different expressions and immediately thought of my kids who are working on Theory of Mind (ToM) and reading nonverbals.  Doesn’t everyone? NO?!  Well,that’s where my speechie brain wandered that day 🙂

We brainstorm (or review) different feeling words and what it means to think about other people’s thoughts and feelings. It’s easy to get stuck at “happy/sad” but emotions go much deeper and wider than those fortunately! Now I know at least one of the kids will protest that eggs don’t have feelings and brains, much less faces. This is a great teachable moment to talk about using our imagination to wonder about things and it can be fun to do this!  Thinking about what someone else might be feeling or thinking is a hard thing to do, especially for kids who struggle with ToM.

I have them pick an egg-spression (sorry, couldn’t help it) and then give them strips with two choices:  a thought bubble and a heart. You can find a free, printable copy of the sheet below HERE.

feel and say sheet

I have the students make a guess and write down (or dictate to me) what the expression might be telling us as a feeling (angry, silly, shy,etc…) and what the egg might be thinking. I can extend the activity by cutting the sentence strips up and putting them in the eggs for the kids to check their guesses at another speech therapy session, or put them in the wrong eggs to see if the kids can identify if the thoughts and feelings match or not!

You can also read the thought/feeling strips aloud and see if the kids can match them to the correct egg/expression. If your students have enough language and you have the luxury of video in your session (hello camera phone!), have them create little videos about thoughts and feelings using the eggs as the actors.  How much fun would it be to have them make a video about “egg-spected” vs. “un-eggspected” behavior?!

Any other ideas on how you would use these crazy eggs in speech?  Share them!