Author Archives: jillkuzma

Student Log to get baseline of time management needs after school

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After school time log

Quick post as a follow-up to yesterday’s post about the Time Management powerpoint for kids….   Here is a log that I have used with students to get an idea of how they are currently managing their time after school….  It’s nothing fancy that you couldn’t quickly create yourself….but why make more work for yourself?

Get it here:  Weekly After School Time Log

- Jill :)

Time Management PowerPoint for Kids

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Time Management PPt slides screenshot

Hello all – I wanted to share a short PowerPoint I put together to introduce kids to the concept of “Time Management”.   You might use this as an introduction to a unit about executive function skills, perhaps in a study skills class, or even in a life skills class for middle/early high school age kids.  There are 10 slides in PowerPoint.   Slides 1-5 are the presentation slides defining time management at school and home, and slides 6-10 are meant to be printed off in a full-page format, stapled together and presented to the students as a tool to take “notes” on as you go through the initial slides.

Download the tool here:  Time Management ppt for Kids

Enjoy! – Jill

Perspective Taking Skills…with Tacky the Penguin

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Tacky and the Emperor book jacket       Have you read the “Tacky the Penguin” books with your students?  Author, Helen Lester and illustrator, Lynn Munsinger have created this endearing little penguin character who, frankly…..has some challenges reading social cues.    I have been working through the Tacky the Penguin books with my students over the past couple of weeks, working on various language skills such as comprehension, comparing/contrasting (with the character, Penguin Pete by Marcus Pfister), story structure/narrative work, and vocabulary.

      One of the books, “Tacky and the Emperor”  particularly lends itself for some opportunities to work on Theory of Mind/perspective taking skills.  I created a guide for you to use with this book when targeting 1st order and 2nd order “false-belief” types of perspective taking questions.  “First-order false belief” tasks refer to understanding what one person might believe/know/think about a another person.  An example from this book might be, “Do Tacky’s companions know that the visiting Emperor is really Tacky?”  “Second-order false belief tasks” refer to one’s ability to infer what one person believes/knows/thinks that another person believes/knows/thinks.”  This adds another layer to the social understanding.  An example of a second-order false belief question from the book might be, “Does the Emperor know that the Penguins found out that Tacky stole the Emperor’s fancy clothes?”  Perspective-taking questions with a socially-ladden theme can be a great way to work on higher level inferential comprehension in text, as well as “theory of mind” skills in learners with social cognitive needs.

Check out the book from your library, and download the question guide here…Try it with your students this week!

Tacky and the Emperor Perspective Taking Questions

Here is a small screen shot of the question guide:

Tacky PT questions

 

 

 

Elephant and Piggie books – and Talking/Thinking Bubbles!

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I love, love, love the Elephant and Piggie books by author, Mo Willems!    These books are FABULOUS to use with students working on basic notions of perspective taking.   The simple text, expressive illustrations, and the strategic use of THINKING and TALKING bubbles in the text are perfect for your work with young learners working on social cognitive skills.

I used these books this past fall as my first set of read-aloud books during social skills groups.  We spent many, many group periods with my Kinder – 3rd grade students reading these books, and exploring how expressive the character’s face is, making predictions about how Elephant or Piggie is feeling at the time, and looking in the text for actual thinking and talking bubbles.  At first, for my young students, we were simply identifying the shape of a thinking or talking bubble, and then reviewing the descriptors of what these are (see my previous post on 1/6/2013 for visuals to use for this).  Most of the time, I would spend one 25 minute group period with one book.  The kids got so excited to see which book we would explore that day.  My purpose for using the books was to introduce what Talking and Thinking bubbles might look like in text, as well as to have a simplistic – yet shared social context to explore basic thoughts and feelings.   While exploring each book, I would post questions to students such as:

1)  “What is Piggie thinking right now?”  (If the student makes a noise, sound-effect or re-enacts an emotion with his body, rather than using language to describe the likely thoughts or intentions – prompt them with something like...”Yup – I bet that is what they would do, but what words might be in their thinking bubble?”)

2) “If our author, Mo Willems chose to draw a talking bubble on this page, what do you think Elephant might say?  What words would Piggie say back if he had a talking bubble?”

3) “Look – our author, Mo Willems,  gave his readers a clue about how Elephant is feeling!  Look carefully at the lines by his eyes – what do you think Elephant might be feeling right now?”

4)  “What do you suppose Piggie might do next?  Lets make a smart guess about what Piggie is going to do…”

5)  “Oh boy……look at Elephant’s face and body!  His body is sending us a clue about how he is feeling!  See how his arms look like they are waving around, and his eyes are wide open.  I wonder how he is feeling?   Hmm….Mo Willems didn’t put a talking bubble on this page.  Lets make a talking bubble for Elephant and tape it on this page.  What words would Elephant say right now?”

6)  “Does Piggie know what Elephant is going to do?    Do Piggie and Elephant have the same information in their thinking bubbles?”

These are just a few of the questions I might pose while exploring the books.

I also borrowed the plush stuffies of Elephant and Piggie from our media specialist to use with actual Thinking and Talking bubbles to have students re-tell the stories.  As a Speech-Language Pathologist, as well as their social skill teacher – I am always looking for activities to incorporate receptive/expressive language tasks for kids that are targeting these skills, as well as the social/emotional skills my students are working on.  We would tip a table over on it’s side, sit behind it and create an instant puppet theater!

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Watch for another post soon about using the Elephant and Piggie characters to teach about emotions, and connecting language to emotional states.  - Jill

New Descriptors of Talking and Thinking Bubbles

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Hello all – I wanted to provide a copy of some slightly revised visuals I have been using lately to introduce “Talking” and “Thinking” bubbles to younger learners, and share an idea for therapy or social skill groups.    These “Bubbles” are simple visuals are essential tools to introduce the basic perspective concept of defining a “thought.”    This year, much of my caseload consists of younger learners on the autism spectrum kindergarten – 2nd grade.  Many of my students (even in the upper elementary grades) are very early in their perspective taking and theory of mind development.   I have found these visuals to be helpful “anchor visuals” to continually refer back to throughout various activities:

Thinking Bubble

 

Talking Bubble

 

You can get the PDF link of these visuals here:  Talk and Think Bubbles new

Here is one idea for an activity to use with younger learners to introduce “thoughts” versus “words”, and how thoughts are unknown to others, unless you “pop your thinking bubble so the words can fall into a talk bubble”  (actual language I use with kids.)

IDEA #1:   “My Secret Treat”

Ask kids to think of their favorite treat, or dessert.   Have some pictures of  dessert or treat options available for them to choose from if needed.    Here are some photos if you need them:   Dessert Thinking Bubble pics    Provide multiple copies of the same treat, in case more than 1 child wants to choose that one.   Cut the pictures out and lay them out for the students to look at.   Each child should choose a picture of their treat – keeping it hidden from the other groupmates.  Tell them to hold the picture tightly between their hands, close their eyes and make a picture of this treat in their mind.   Remind  them that it is a secret – don’t say any words.  Just make a secret picture in their brain.  (This task also helps activate non-verbal working memory skills – being able to “hold” a mental image in one’s mind.)

Instruct the students to open their eyes, but to keep hiding their picture in their hands.  Call each student up in front of the group, and  tape the treat picture on the back side of a double-sided thinking bubble.  Here is a template for one if you need it:  Thinking Bubble Print Here    Hold the bubble above the child’s head with the picture facing away from the peers.  Ask the other students to tell you what their classmate’s favorite treat is.  Quickly, point out that… we don’t know!  This information is still in his thinking bubble!  Use the visual described above of the thinking bubble to review what thinking bubbles are.   (An idea in your brain, silent – other people do not know what is in a thinking bubble, etc.)

Tell the child that you are going to “pop their thinking bubble so the words will fall out” and the child can now, “make a talking bubble” to tell the friends what their favorite treat is.  Make a tapping sound on the thinking bubble picture – (or I pretend to pop the bubble with one of those hand/finger pointers that teachers use), remove the taped picture from the backside of the thinking bubble and tape it to a talking bubble (found here if you need it:   Talking Bubble Print Here.)  Hold the talking bubble by the child’s mouth and instruct them to say the word of their favorite treat.    Review the descriptor of a “Talking Bubble”, provided above.

If some children choose the same treat, point out that they were “sharing a thinking bubble” with each other.  When they were making a picture of their favorite treat – they were sharing a thinking bubble by  having the same idea of their favorite dessert.

The BIG TAKE AWAY IDEA is to explain to the students that people usually do not know what is in another person’s thinking bubble.  But, if we “make a talking bubble” (a.k.a.  use our words), other people can find out what you want, and learn about your ideas.  These are important cues and concepts to reinforce with kids in this activity.

Watch for more ideas to use with learners to increase their understanding of thoughts that provides the foundation for further perspective taking skill development.

- Jill :)

New Children’s Book to Teach about Resiliency!

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Oliver and Hope Book

One of my fabulous 1st grade students shared with me a wonderful children’s book called, Oliver and Hope’s Amusing Adventure.   The authors/publisher describe the story:  At the heart of the Oliver & Hope series is a focus on resiliency. The characters in our stories thrive on creative problem solving and encouragement when encountering life’s challenges. That resiliency is demonstrated at the conclusion of Oliver & Hope’s Amusing Adventure, when the two friends realize that the journey is every bit as exciting as the destination. “

Not only is this a fabulous read aloud book for elementary age children, but this book is created by the talents of folks at the UnitedHealthcare Children’s Foundation.  The UnitedHealthcare Children’s Foundation (UHCCF) is a 501c3 charitable organization, supporting UnitedHealth Group’s Mission of “Helping People Live Healthier Lives.”  UHCCF offers grants to help children gain access to medical-related services not covered, of not fully covered, by their commercial health insurance plans.

I encourage you to check out this book, and the UHCCF website.  The group anticipates adding more books to the Oliver and Hope series, focusing on social/emotional health for all children.   Here is the link:  http://www.four51.com/UI/Customer.aspx?autologonid=84ca1676-d37c-4ef4-88df-27d5b5e81470

 

 

I’m on Facebook (finally…)

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Well, I have been sitting here “Liking” so many more Facebook pages of fellow Speech-Language bloggers today as I spend a day off from school blog hopping, Pinteresting, etc.  Well, I finally figured that I should join the Facebook page bandwagon for my professional endeavors.  It took me about 30 minutes to figure out how to do a community Facebook page, rather than a personal Facebook page, but I think I have it (roughly) figured out :)

So – find me on Facebook and “Like” me.  Here is the link:  https://www.facebook.com/kuzmaslp

Also, as long as I have your eyes… my Pinterest boards are expanding!  I have 81 boards now, and roughly 65 of them are teaching-related boards.  This past summer, I finally went through my gigantic board that was titled “Social-Emotional Skills” – and broke it up into several boards for more specific skills, such as Perspective Taking, Emotion Management, Body Language/Facial Expressions, Bullying, Listening Behaviors, Friendship Skills, Conversation Skills, Anxiety Resources, Anger Resources, etc.  I have some personal boards on there, but you can select specific boards to follow that fit your professional needs.

You can find my Pinterest boards here:  http://www.pinterest.com/jillkuzma/boards/

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Meet Woodfin!!! A children’s book to promote social self-confidence and celebrate individuality…

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Woodfin

Hello readers!  I want to share about a fabulous children’s book that I used with my social skill students to kick off the school year.  The book, Has Anyone Seen Woodfin?, by Susan Egner and illustrated by AJ Dewey, has been such a hit with my students!!!

Woodfin is a precocious, adventurous little chameleon who likes to match the vibrant colors of the forest around him.   But, his family worries about his safety when winter comes and the effervescent colors of summer fade to muted colors of winter where “ordinary” chameleons  remain safe from predators in their camouflaged shades of green and brown.   The message is to “be your true self”, and is captivating for children- and adults – of all ages!

As a kick off to my social skill groups with my learners on the autism spectrum this fall, I wanted to find resources that supported a positive self-concept to start the year with optimism and excitement.  I work with most of my students for 6 years (Kindergarten-5th grade) – through thick and thin.  Some of the situations we work on are “thin” –  there are certainly many occasions where I am supporting a child through social misunderstandings, feelings of social failure, and exclusion that sometimes result in subsequent feelings of confusion, anxiety or frustration.  As I thought about returning to my students this fall, I wanted to find some tools to promote positive self-concept and celebrate individuality.   Woodfin was just the ticket!  My students enjoyed reading the stories, exploring the characters on the author’s website, creating crafts about Woodfin, and………..meeting the author!!!!

Yesthat’s right!!   You see….one of my own precocious little 1st grade students asked where the author lived.   Of course, I turned to the back flap of the book cover to find out.  Well, you can only imagine my excitement to learn that Susan Egner lived less than 5 miles from my school!!   It took me all of about 8 seconds to hop on my email to contact her!  Susan Egner was so gracious and excited to come meet my students the following week and shared a fabulous visit with my special group of kids – complete with Woodfin costumes, an interactive program, and most importantly –she fostered the excitement my students had about meeting a “real” author and reinforcing the message to “be your true self.”   Woodfin

These books are a wonderful addition to any literary library – they can be used to support social/emotional skills as I do in my work, but there are also solid character and setting elements, with a clear story structure to use as an anchor text to teach literacy skills.  Check out the Woodfin website at: http://www.woodfin.cc/books.htm

Souls on Board Susan Egner has also published several e-book novels – available on her professional website:  http://www.egnerink.com/  .  I think I will start reading the 1st novel in a series called, Souls on Board for some “fun” reading if anyone wants to join me in a virtual “book club”.  I’ll bring the virtual wine, cheese and crackers….

Video-game obsessed students? Check out Julia Cook’s new book… But, It’s Just a Game!

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But Its Just a Game

 

Does anyone out there have a student or child totally obsessed with playing video games?  Uh…I can definitely join those ranks!  The gentle hum of the Xbox is a regular source of background noise in my own house.   If you also have children – or students – that obsess about video games – have I got a resource to share with you!

My favorite children’s author – JULIA COOK – does it again!  The book, But It’s Just a Game, tackles the issue of video gaming and screen time taking over every aspect of a child’s social life, daily thoughts, and focus/attention skills.   But It’s Just a Game, helps kids understand the difference between a “game controller” and a “life controller.”    I love this metaphor!  I read this book to my 4th and 5th grade social skills group – their conversation quickly revealed an immediate connection with the character, Jasper.  Throughout the story,  Jasper realizes how excessive gaming impacts his participation in sports, performance on his schoolwork, impacts his friendships, and his ability to listen and focus on others, just to name a few.    This book was a springboard for my social skills crew to have an insightful, mature discussion about how gaming impacts their lives.

But It’s Just a Game was also featured on the blog, Moms Everyday.   Julia was featured as a guest blogger to share parenting tips to help kids regain control of screen time and live a more balanced life.  Check out the article here:

http://www.momseveryday.com/home/justformoms/misc/juliacook-just-a-game-224613651.html

This book is a wonderful resource to add to your social skills teaching library!  It is truly a gem for your collection that tackles the topic of gaming and screen time in a way that paves the way for open discussion, decreases defensiveness in kids about this precious commodity in their lives, and teaches kids the importance of living with balance.

        Check it out here: 

       http://www.juliacookonline.com/books/life-issues/1649-2/