You don't have to know me well to know that I love to read. And it's hard for me not to bring that into my sessions with kids! I use books for most of my lessons, either as a jumping off point, the main focus, or related activity.
Since one of the best ways to pass the time at home right now is reading, I thought I'd put up a list of some of my favourite books. But I have So. Many. So I'm hoping to do a few lists. Today I'll be listing some of my favorite books to work on social thinking - whether it be problem solving, perspective taking, compromise, identifying emotions, etc. There are some great books that are created specifically for Social Thinking curriculums (like these), but I love using story books in addition to a more curriculum focused book. Really, almost any book can be used for social thinking in some way, but here are some of my favourites (in no particular order except roughly younger to older readers):
Horse Meets Dog by Elliott Kalan and Tim Miller
This is a delightfully hilarious story about a dog and a horse meeting for the first time. Dog things the horse is a huge, oddly shaped dog. Horse thinks the dog is some delusional, tiny baby horse. They can't figure out why the other doesn't like the same things they like. This book is short, full of laughs, and also a great one for discussing perspective taking and compromise!
The Monster Next-door by David Soman
This is a very cutely illustrated book about a boy and a monster who become friends...until one of them plays their music too loud! Then, all bets are off. The boy starts listing off all the things the monster did to slight him (really and imagined) and ends up in a broiling rage. However, after finding himself in the monster's house, he realizes that maybe he was a bit too harsh. This is a great book for looking at perspective taking, friendship, and emotional regulation.
Giraffes Can't Dance by Giles Andreae and Guy Parker-Rees
This is a lovely book about overcoming preconceived notions about what you're capable of! If your child has ever said "I can't..." then this is the book for you. (It's available on Vooks free right now too!) Giraffe thinks he can't dance, so he is humiliated at the annual jungle dance...that is until a helpful friend gives him some support. Sometimes all you need to succeed is to be flexible and think about things in a different way!
Z is for Moose by Kelly Bingham
One of my favourite books for targeting emotions. Poor Moose his having trouble waiting his turn in the alphabet, so he tries to take Duck's turn and gets in trouble. When he finally (finally! waiting is so hard!) gets to M, he finds out that his turn was given to someone else. He hits the red zone immediately and scares the owl and smashes a pie and knocks over a queen! However, he's able to calm down by the end and gets the reward he deserves.
Unicorn and Horse by David Miles
Another one available on Vooks right now. This is a great book about friendship, as well as dealing with feelings of jealousy. Sometimes it's hard to take another's perspective if we think they're too perfect!
Rosie Revere, Engineer by Andrea Beaty
This is a great book for talking about perseverance. This book celebrates failures as a part of the process. Often the kids I work with see their difficulties as failures, so when we read this book, we talk about how we can incorporate all of the parts of who we are into ourselves and keep on trying! You can see astronauts on the ISS reading this book here!
Narwhal and Jelly by Ben Clanton
These books are a hilarious account of two unlikely friends. The stories revolve around a jellyfish and narwhal who are best friends. But just because they're friends doesn't mean they don't have their arguments! This is a great book for looking at themes of friendship, social problem solving, being flexible, perspective taking, and using your imagination. This book is great for reluctant readers.
Ape and Armadillo Take Over the World by James Sturm
Another cute comic book about two unlikely friends, this one delves much more into the conflicts that can arise during a play date. We can see what happens when one player wants to dominate all of the play (and also the world). It makes the other player have some big feelings. But don't worry! The book has a happy ending with ice cream!
Bird and Squirrel by James Burks
Yet another story of two unlikely friends and all of the bumps in their friendship. These books are hilarious and pretty easy reads for reluctant readers. I also find them great for targeting expected/unexpected behaviours (bird is almost always doing something unexpected!), perspective taking, and flexible thinking.
I'm curious to hear some of your favorite books! This is just a sampling of mine, and I love to expand my library regularly, so feel free to comment with some recommendations!
How's everybody doing? The rain has returned a bit here in Vancouver, so getting out and about has been a bit tougher. It's been a great time to break out some board games. I absolutely love games! They're great learning tools (and the kids don't even know they're doing "work!") They're also a good way to bring families together. I've compiled a list of just a few of my favourite games below. They're organized by general age, but I play a lot of these games (even the middle-school ones) with my own kids, so the ages are just a suggestion. And, since this is a speech pathology blog, I decided to add in a few things the kids can learn while playing each game. Feel free to chime in with your own in the comments! And happy playing. :)
[No affiliate links, mostly because I'm a blogging novice!]
Pop Up Pirate
I have yet to meet a Speech Pathologist who does not own this game. And they aren't easy to find anymore!! This game is an instant winner - the anticipation of that pirate flying into the air is just too much! Nevermind the fact that the reason he's flying into the air is because we're stabbing him with swords...what were the game makers thinking!? Well, they must have been onto something, because this one is a hit. It's fast, it's exciting, and it can be used for so many learning opportunities! Sometimes we just use it as a reinforcer (ie: practice your skill and then take a turn), but it can be used for so much more! Here are just a few of many ideas:
Feed The Woozle
This game has it all! Gross food, tongue twisters, silly movement, a monster. Seriously, what's not to like! The turns in this game can be quite complex if you play the full version, but it's often motivating enough that even young kids will get through it. If not, however, it's easily adaptable. Just cut off a few steps in the turn and voila! the kids are still able to play. In this game, you take turns rolling the dice to see how much food you get to feed the Woozle (a little monster guy who waits patiently a few steps away). Then comes the fun part, you get to choose which foods you'll put on the spoon. Will it be the Fried Sock? Soggy Meatball? Bathwater Soda? Place the foods on your spoon and then spin the wheel to see how you'll move to the Woozle. You might have to spin, walk backwards, Hoola dance, or even do the dreaded bunny hop! (I drop them every time on this turn!) Do your movement, feed the Woozle, and then your turn is done. With so many steps in the turn, this game incorporates a grand slam of skills to practice. Here are just a few:
I love this game. It's cute and simple and made of wood. I received this game as a gift over a decade ago, and it's still going strong! In this game, 12 penguins shelter different coloured eggs (2 of each color). On your turn, you roll the dice, which will turn up 2 colors. You can look under 2 penguins to find the eggs that match those colors. With such a simple game, you'd be amazed how well this game captures kids' attention! Here are a few things you can practice with this game:
This is a great little game for all ages! And it's one that kids can actually win without adults "helping." Or maybe I'm just not very good at this game. :) It's a bit like if I Spy and War had a baby. The idea is that each player has a deck of circular cards with an array of pictures on them. You each turn over one card at the same time. Whoever finds the picture that is the same on both cards gets to keep them. It's that simple! But roaringly fun. It also builds some key skills:
I found this game when a fellow SLP friend of mine acquired it (thanks Carla!) and I have been loving it ever since. In this game you roll dice to make different flavours of lemonade to sell to your customers. Each time you make a successful sale, you get some coins to put in a pretend jar. If the jar gets filled, you win. But if you don't deliver the right flavours of lemonade, you lose. I have to say, we have rarely won this game!! Lemonade Shakeup is put out by Peaceable Kingdom, which might be my favourite game company ever. They make cooperative games, which I love. This game works on:
Good ol' fashioned Memory Match!
I love playing memory. I even have memories (hah!) of playing it as a kid and loving it. It's such a simple and great game and you can use almost any cards with it - even make your own! That way you can make sure to include your child's interests. It works on so many great skills too:
This game is another classic. And it's another one that was a favorite of mine as a child. Ask questions to be the first to guess your opponents secret person! There are so many great versions of this game coming out these days (with more women and people of color, thank goodness! The classic version only has 5 women and 0 people of color.) Some of the new versions are even aliens or animals. This game is great for:
Race to the Treasure
Yet another Peaceable Kingdom game. Did I mention how much I love these guys?? Your object is to get to the treasure before the evil ogre does. On your turn, you pick up a tile. If it's a path, you get to add it on the board to make your way to the treasure. If it's an ogre, you add him to his own path. If you get too many ogres before you reach the treasure, you lose! I mainly use this game for reinforcement and fun in sessions, but my kids love it at home too. They're learning:
Caves and Claws
I can't even remember how I acquired this game. It may have been a random Value Village purchase. (So many great games are!) But, however it came into my life, it is one of my favourites. It's another one that involves placing map tiles onto a board. But in this game, you and the other players work together to move around the map and find different treasures. But watch out for the obstacles!! They can really get you into a sticky situation. This is another cooperative game, so it works on that skill, but also many others:
Just like with Pop Up Pirate, I don't think I've ever met an SLP that didn't have Hedbanz. It's pretty much the ultimate language game. Not to mention super fun and silly! Put a card on your forehead where you can't see it. Then ask your opponent questions about the card and make a guess about what it might be. Kids can learn:
Later Elementary/Middle school
This game is so, so fun. When my kids ask to play this game, I never roll my eyes - it's fun for adults too! In this game, you have to move your character through a maze to find 5 treasures. Sounds a bit like caves and claws, I know. But, in this game, the maze MOVES. Each turn, you have to push a tile back into the board, moving a whole row one tile over. So, you can be quite aggressive with blocking your opponent! With this game, you can practice:
Apples to Apples
If Hedbanz is the king of all language skill games, Apples to Apples is the queen. This game is a rockstar of language skills. I play it a bit differently than the regular instructions, mainly because I'm often just playing with 2 people (so there's no impartial judge). But, the way I play it also incorporates some more language skills. In this game, you are dealt 5 red noun cards. A green "adjective" card is turned over, and you are to pick the noun from your hand that best fits the adjective. Instead of passing your cards in face down to be judged, I play that you put your card in face up and you must describe why your noun fits with that adjective. Then the best description wins! Sometimes, you need to get really creative, which is why I love playing this way. For example, "A mitten is sticky....when it's covered in candy" or "A lion is peaceful...if it's sleeping." Playing this way, you can work on:
5 Second Rule Jr.
This is a game of quick thinking and categorization. You get cards that tell you to think of 3 things in a certain category (ie: what are 3 green foods). Then you only have 5 seconds to think of an answer! This game can go really fast, so it's good to squeeze into short times. It's also pretty portable (because you can even play it without the actual game if you think of your own categories!) Skills it can be used for:
This is a fantastic family game for older kids. It's colourful, fun, and reeeeally stressful if you play it by the rules!! With younger kids, I often adapt it to be more fun (you can even just use the coloured tiles to make cool mosaic shapes), but with older kids, it's fine to play it in its true form. This game has less of a language component, unless you incorporate one. It mainly targets:
CodeNames and Codenames Pictures
This is my new favorite board game. Fun for adults, but older kids can play too! (My 7 year old even plays a rule-loosened version of it.) In this game, you are presented with an array of random words (or pictures). Your teammate has to say one word to get you to guess as many of your team's "target words" as you can. But beware! If you say one of the other teams target words, they get the point! You won't understand unless you play, so go play it already! This game uses the following skills:
I hope you get a chance to try one of these board games while holed up at home these days! Remember to try to support your local businesses while they've probably had to close their physical storefronts. If you can order your games locally, that's the best option!
Fun while social distancing? What!? Now that we're passing a week of this, you might be asking if that's even possible. I'm here to tell you that it IS! Below, in no particular order, I will share with you some of my favourite home-bound activities to try while we all try to keep our sanity. You don't need fancy schedules done up - this is home-funning not homeschooling. But you can still provide rich learning activities for your kids. After all, kids learn best through play! Just remember the 5 M's: Movement, Make, Music, Motivation, Mood:
Good luck to you all. And if you have any other ideas or questions, feel free to comment!
Well, this month has been interesting, hasn't it? I'm sure you're reading this from home because, let's be honest, we're all stuck at home these days. It has definitely been interesting trying to keep my kids (aged 4 and 7) busy while also trying to get some work done. Fortunately, I was mostly scheduled to be off on Spring Break this week, so not too much has changed in our daily routine. Yet. :) I'm sure most of you are going through the same things!
So, to help you guys out with the new challenges of entertaining kids without all of our usual activities, I decided to write a post that includes some of my favourite online resources. Stay tuned for another post all about my favourite stay-at-home (or otherwise social-distancing) fun activities.
First off, I want to add a little caveat. As a parent, language development expert, lover of all things kids and play, I have to say: It is okay for your child to be bored. I'm going to say it again for the people in the back.
It is okay for your kid to be bored!
Bored is not a bad word. From boredom comes the fire of creativity. Okay, maybe that's a bit much, but certainly boredom helps our children develop certain important skills like problem solving, emotional regulation, executive functioning, play skills, social skills (especially if your bored kid has an equally bored sibling!), and - yes - creativity. So, if your child is whining about being bored, maybe wait a smidge longer than usual before handing them some entertainment or suggestions. More often than not, after about the 5th (or 500th? Eesh) time they ask you to entertain them, they will go off and find something to do themselves.
BUT, that's not always the case. Sometimes they don't. And sometimes, we as parents just don't have it in us to wait through all the whining. And that's why I'm here to help! Here are a couple online sites (mostly learning-related) that you can give your child when they really need some downtime or screen time.
I wish you all the best in these trying times! Stay tuned for an upcoming post about my favourite do-at-home activities for keeping kids busy and learning. Feel free to comment with other favourite online resources below.
Thanks for reading!
As I mentioned a few posts ago, Grow has grown! Our two new clinicians have been getting familiarized with the clinic and our clients and have been having a great time engaging in fun therapy sessions over the past month. Please meet our second new clinician, Catherine, who has come all the way from England! Due to the recertification process, she is currently only working as an SLP assistant, though she is certified as a Speech Therapist in the UK. We're hoping her Canadian recertification process should be finished in the summer. For more about Catherine, read on!
Where did you go to school and how long have you been practicing?
I studied at Leeds Beckett University in the UK and graduated in 2013. I worked as an SLP in the UK for 5 and a half years. Since moving to Canada in July 2019, I have been working as a remedial teacher for students with language-based learning disabilities and am thrilled to now also be working with Amanda.
What made you decide to become an SLP?
I have an older brother with Down Syndrome. My family used a form of sign language called Makaton to help him to communicate before he started speaking verbally when he was around 5 years old. He also has a severe stutter, but due to a shortage of SLPs, he was unable to receive ongoing support for his language skills and his stutter. This inspired me to become an SLP so that more people can be supported with their speech, language and communication skills.
What is your favorite thing to work on in therapy?
Social Skills! I love helping children to work on their social communication skills so that they find it easier to navigate the idiosyncrasies of the social world they are living in. It's lovely to watch the children I work with to feel more at ease with understanding both their own and other people's body language, thoughts and emotions.
What is your favorite thing about being an SLP?
I can't decide between 2 favourites! 1) The moments when the children I work with begin to notice their progress and surprise themselves with their newly developed skills. The pride they feel and their growth in confidence makes the job so rewarding. 2) The amount I learn from children whom I work with. They open my eyes to new ways of thinking, providing different perspectives and helping me to continue growing both as a person and as a professional.
What is an area you'd like to learn more about?
For a long time I have been interested to learn more about how and why certain difficulties with cognition, language and social-emotional skills sometimes tend to occur together. One day I would love to research learning disabilities in greater depth to understand the different areas of the brain that affect these areas of development.
What do you like to do when you aren't helping kids improve their communication skills?
Vancouver is a prime spot for exploring the great outdoors! It is also a prime spot for rain. On sunny days I love to spend time exploring this wonderful city and hiking through the beautiful nature that surrounds it. On rainy days I can be found with my head in a book, sipping herbal tea and eating chocolate.
Carla Monteleone & Deborah Carter own and operate Grow Speech and Language Therapy in Vancouver, BC