Down, Set, Think!

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My Atlanta Falcons are in the Super Bowl this year (WOOHOO!!), and to celebrate I made this fun social freebie! It includes six templates including a helmet, football, cheerleader, field goal, penalty marker and a water bottle.  All the templates are related to a social language concept that I work on with my students.  For example, the water bottle represents ways that we can cool down when we get upset and the helmet is to brainstorm ways we can keep our “head in the game” or stay on topic.

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You can print for each of your students to complete in a social skills lesson, counseling group or SEL (social emotional learning) in class lesson!  It would also be fun to create a banner to hang up in a room or on a bulletin board in your classroom as a reminder of the skills you are targeting with your kids!

You can also check out my other football themed freebie to use after the Big Game !  It’s a template to identify the social concepts in the amazing commercials that air during the game.  I even have one more freebie HERE for football themed conversation skills.  Can you tell that both of my boys played football and it’s my favorite sport? You have a whole week of therapy materials right here,  ready to download and go!

The concepts in Down, Set, Think! include:  maintaining topics, conversation, encouraging words, what makes a good friend or warning signs of someone who wouldn’t make a good friend, and ways to cool down when we get upset.  You can leave them black and white or color them in your favorite team’s colors for year round use!  As for me, my pictures will be black and red for my Falcons next weekend!   If you aren’t cheering for my team, that’s okay, we are all on #teamsocial !!

The Masks We Wear

mask blog template

My school has a self contained program for students with significant autism and emotional/behavioral disorders embedded in a general education elementary school.  We are lucky enough to have fantastic adaptive p.e., art and music for our students and these teachers come up with some amazing activities for my friends!

This past spring Mr. Rob, our adaptive art teacher, started making these cool masks with our kids.  They picked a color palate of tissue paper and created the masks using forms.  These got me thinking about the figurative masks we all wear.  How do we want the world to see us ?  For my kids on the spectrum or those who struggle socially, this is a hard question.  Emotionality is often what others see first in my students, but this isn’t all of who they are, just a tiny piece of them.   I adapted this great art activity to put a social spin on it.

For my late elementary kids (on up), we talk about the characteristics that define people: personality traits, physical characteristics, etc..  We use cartoon and movie characters to walk through this process together as they are often over-exaggerated personalities, and this is an easier way to start.  You can use movie or video clips for this as well.  I have a social videos board on pinterest that you are welcome to look through for some ideas.

Next, we make our masks.  If you don’t have the forms, you can make your masks flat on paper or let your kids brainstorm ways to give their masks shape (party stores have plastic masks that you can use as well). You can even take pictures of your student’s face (with parent permission) and print them out.  We label all the positive characteristics that we want others to see in us on the mask itself- you can write on the paper along the edge of the mask, use tape, stickers, draw pictures, etc..

With my older students, we also talk about the difference between being fake and what it means to “put your best foot forward” with others. No one is happy all the time, no one has it all together and definitely, no one is perfect!  This can be a pretty difficult concept to grasp, so this may extend your prep time and therapy discussion beyond one session, but that’s okay!  This can lead into making a plan on how your students are going to help others see the best in them.  Partnering with materials from Social Thinking and the Zones of Regulation curriculum is really helpful in formulating how to do this successfully (and what to do when things don’t quite go your way), but that’s another post for another day!

What are your thoughts on talking about the masks we wear socially?

Puppies, Prediction and Cars…

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I am a dog lover, so when puppy commercials come on TV, I get drawn in immediately. Subaru has a series of car commercials airing now that just suck me in. every. single. time.  They feature a family of Golden Retrievers (The Barkleys!) and their adventures in driving. There are no words in the commercials (duh, they are dogs) BUT they convey a message in each one very clearly. For my students with social language impairments, too much language muddies the processing waters, so these are perfect!  I have downloaded the series onto my social language Youtube channel playlists HERE .

Beyond the complete cuteness overload, they are fabulous tools to work on the social language concepts of predicting and inferencing for my students!  The eight commercials convey social scenarios (for example: the mom getting her hair done) and are great to use to identify emotions, prediction, point of view and humor, all in about thirty seconds. Don’t forget about expected and unexpected concepts too (a puppy in a car seat-whaaaat?). These would be great to use with Playposit (you can read my blog post on how to create your own therapy activity by embedding questions into video clips HERE ).

Do you use commercials to teach inferences or other social language concepts?  I love using Dorito’s Super Bowl ads  and kid’s movie previews!  Please share your favorites here!

Growth Mindset and Social Language

growth mindset blog pic

Growth Mindset has been a big buzzword in the school community lately, so I started to read a little more about it to educate myself.  It is an idea originating from Stanford University psychologist Carol Dweck. She proposes that in a fixed mindset, people believe their best qualities, such as intelligence, are fixed, and that talent is enough to bring success in life, regardless of effort. However, with a shift towards a growth mindset, it’s the evolving qualities of a love of learning and resilience that brings true success in life.  This sounds an awful lot like advice my mom gave me when I was growing up- work hard, love what you do and never stop learning.

As I continued to research, the google rabbit trail also landed me on related Youtube videos for Class Dojo.  Our school has been using this system for a few years and the kids LOVE earning dojo points for expected behaviors and bonus, it aligns with our PBIS goals.  A light went on in my head, like in the last few moments of the movie “The Sixth Sense” when all the puzzle pieces click together, and it became clear!  I may be simplifying it, but these concepts are all related to social language concepts.  Flexibility, resilience, emotional IQ, understanding hidden and spoken rules, working in groups, whole body listening,  it’s all there (even if it’s called something else).

A complementary piece of this Growth Mindset curriculum would be Sarah Ward and Kristen Jacobsen’s approach to working on executive function skills.  Their guided map of starting with a solution and working the steps backwards rather than handing students a checklist, allows the students to problem solve and learn the tools to become resilient learners in the classroom (and beyond)!   Zones of Regulation would also be a nice fit into this process as well, allowing our students to integrate self regulation and emotional resilience into their toolbox of life skills.  Can you imagine a classroom that embedded all of these strategies into the day?  Wow, I sure would want to learn in an environment like that!

What is your school using to support your student’s learning and positive behavior?

 

Recess Rules!!!

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I don’t know about you, but with two weeks of school left, we are all a bit squirrelly!  You can feel the end is near and it’s making everyone a bit crazy and cranky, kids and adults alike.  Recess is a saving grace and the promise of EXTRA recess will motivate even the most active kids to focus and work a little harder.  I sit in a LOT of IEP meetings throughout the year, and recess comes up often for my friends with social language issues.  Unstructured times, like recess, are often the wild west of hidden rules for these kiddos.  You will either see them walking the perimeter of the playground on their own or trying to join in, but in unexpected and unwelcome ways.

I found several videos on Youtube that explain the rules of recess, from the teacher and student point of view.  You can find them on my Youtube channel under social play modeling  or on my social videos Pinterest board.  Many schools have adopted PBIS  (positive behavior intervention and supports) to address the “rules of the schools”.  PBIS often addresses recess and playground behavior specifically, so how great would it be to make your own school video or school posters to talk about the rules of recess?  You could brainstorm with your students about the rules (both spoken and hidden rules) of recess and then have them teach their peers through a video.  Talk with your administration and media specialist about sharing the videos at school; we have morning announcements that show on TVs in all the classrooms.  Bonus:  it’s a great way to work on tone of voice, volume, orienting your body towards to camera, thinking with your eyes and more social concepts that your student may be working on, as you film them!  Don’t forget to get parent permission first!

To further this concept, what about making videos to show how to join into games, ask other kids to play or even how to play certain games, like rock, paper, scissors ? Remember, our kids are not incidental learners, so breaking down the steps to play may seem too basic, but it’s often where we need to start!  We also know there are students that could benefit from this visual support that don’t have IEPs , but still struggle socially at recess.  I bet you could get a LOT of buy in from your counselor, other special education teachers and therapists in your school for a great project!  Think about tapping into Donor’s Choose to apply for funds for a great video camera and editing software too.

How do you support your students at recess?  Share here!

An End of the Year Treat!

 

 

TPT sale blog pic May

It’s almost the end of the school year and TPT is having a BIG sale as a treat May 3rd-4th!  I wanted to share a few goodies from my store as well as my wish list items that will be added to my own cart!!  Don’t forget to use the code CELEBRATE at checkout for additional savings! Happy shopping. I am linking up with SLPRunner and The Frenzied SLPs for a sale linky, so make sure you click through for more great product suggestions!

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You might want to snap up a few things from my store like my Lucky Duck! Social Skills game on winning and losing and a few for the start of the year, like my That’s Sick social skills unit on germs and hygiene (game, story, puzzles and a flip book are included).  My Social Skills Squish Bundle is seven different play doh mats, scenarios and extension ideas to practice social language concepts (and a great value)!!

Now what I am super excited to pick up from my fellow SLPeeps this week?  Take a peek …

Game Boards Clipart {Peachie Speechie Clipart}

I love to make up new games to play with my students (or have them come up with their own rules and ideas!) and this game board clipart from Peachie Speechie is perfect!  I can use these games with some of her fun activity sets  like these Social Skills Deck cards. Print and Go FUN for these crazy weeks!!

Social Skills: Social Monsters

Full disclosure:  I already own and LOVE this product!  However, it’s on my wishlist for one of my CFs (shhhhh).  Speech Paths has done it again with this engaging social language activity pack that is a fun way to work on hard social concepts with my elementary students.

No Prep Social Skills for Older Students

Speech Time Fun saves the day with a print and go social skills gold mine for my older students!  I am looking forward to trying it out this summer and then recommending it to my middle school CFs in the Fall!

Intergalactic Social Language!

Space themed AND social skills fun?  Done, done and done!  I am excited to grab this fun social language game from Jenn Alcorn.  My boys will LOVE it!

Social Language: Interruption Combustion!  Lessons & Activ

Anyone have blurters out there?   ME TOO!   I can’t wait to try this activity from Badger State Speechy to help my friends work on not interrupting using stories, activities and visual supports, SCORE!

What’s in YOUR cart???

Interactive Notebook for Social Skills

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I first was introduced to the idea of interactive notebooks when my youngest son was in middle school.  I thought it was a creative way to work on science units and make the information meaningful for him as a resource.   But it didn’t cross my mind until recently that this same format could work for social skills too.  The past year has been busy for me as I have been developing social skill trainings for SLPs and teachers of student with ASD.  I started looking for resources to share with them and found lots of great TPT resources and social language blogs.  However, I did not find a social skills interactive notebook working on social thinking concepts that matched what I wanted, so decided to make my own!  Necessity is the mother of invention, right?

I first outlined what concepts to include because social language is pretty broad.   I narrowed it down to concepts for my elementary students (or students functioning cognitively at this level) that could span several months of the school year and be used over and over. These included personal information (family, pets, foods, interests), emotional regulation, rules and PBIS, thinking about others (personal space, think vs. say) and templates for comparing solutions (good, better, best), comic strips, problem/solutions and more.   Visual support is so crucial to success with social skills and the ability to break down the steps to problem solving, emotional regulation and figuring out stated and hidden rules is a hard but necessary skill.  Creating an individual notebook allows me to refer my students back to topics we have talked about and work towards having them use these tools independently as needed.

interactive examples

One of my teachers mentioned that she had observed one of her students using their interactive notebook to introduce themselves to a new classmate, as well as sharing some of the important class rules they needed to know “to stay out of trouble”.  It would be great, as an end of the year class project for your current students, to create a “What you need to know about your grade/ your teacher”  interactive notebook for next year’s students to have.  Your students could also make additional interactive notebook social skills units for different areas around the school (media center, cafeteria) or for special events like field trips or school presentations.

You can find my Interactive Notebook for Social Skills (elementary) with more than 80 template pages (black and white, ink friendly) included, in my TPT store HERE   .

Have you used interactive notebooks in speech or the classroom?  Share your thoughts here!