Category Archives: Perspective Taking

“Tier 1 Collaborative Learning Lessons” and Whole Body Listening Larry!


WBL SchoolWBL Home

The books, Whole Body Listening Larry at School, and Whole Body Listening Larry at Home, have become invaluable resources for my new venture at school this year.  Authors, Kristen Wilson MS-CCC, and Elizabeth Sautter MA-CCC have provided educators an engaging children’s storybook that teaches learners that “listening” is more than just hearing with your ears.  Listening is a holistic process – engaging multiple senses and self-regulating behaviors to help focus your brain and body to be engaged in learning.  These books are fittingly published by Think Social Publishing, Inc – ( – these books align perfectly with the goal of teaching early childhood and young elementary age learners about all the components and social behaviors of good listening skills.

As you review the Common Core Learning Standards under the ELA category of Speaking and Listening for kindergarten and 1st grade learners, you will find standards that directly relate to specifically developing good listening skills in the classroom.  Consider the following standards:

  • Participate in collaborative conversations with diverse partners about grade 1 topics and texts with peers and adults in small and larger groups.  (CCSS.ELA-Literacy SL 1.1)
  • Follow agreed-upon rules for discussions (e.g., listening to others with care, speaking one at a time about the topics and texts under discussion). (CCSS. ELA-Literacy SL 1.1A)
  • Build on others’ talk in conversations by responding to the comments of others through multiple exchanges. (CCSS ELA-Literacy SL 1.1.B)
Wilson and Sautter’s books, Whole Body Listening Larry at Home, and Whole Body Listening Larry at School are the precise tools an educator needs to explicitly teach the skills discussed in these standards.    These books would be at the top of the list of “anchor read aloud texts” for preschool, kindergarten, 1st or 2nd grade classroom teachers, speech-language pathologists, parents, special educators, social workers/school counselors, etc.    Through the experiences of two sibling characters, Leah and Luka – children learn what “paying attention” means, as originated by the work of Susanne Poulette Truesdale and Nita Everly (More information about the original work here:
 WBL Senses

Tier 1 – Collaborative Learning Lessons

This year, I have been thinking about how I can bring some of my social skill resources and lessons into general education classrooms.  At my elementary building, we are continuing to reflect and adjust our teaching based on student data and growth – all the while using an Rti framework, implementing proactive positive behavior practices school-wide, and aligning instruction to the Common Core.  This year, I have committed to trying to weave some of my social/emotional strategies into 1st, 2nd and 3rd grade general education classrooms.  I am calling my efforts,Tier 1 – Collaborative Learning Lessons.   “Tier 1” = core instruction for all.  “Collaborative learning” = over the past few years, I have personally noted classroom activities are much more constructivist, interactive, and utilize social communication skills more than ever.  My intention this year is to go into each 1st/2nd/3rd grade classroom once per month and lead the students and teacher through a lesson that promotes positive social interaction necessary for learning in small groups and in the collaborative manner we are moving toward in education.  Stay tuned… I will take you on this journey and see how it pans out.
This month (October) is my first month of lessons.  It was without any hesitation that I chose to use the resources from Wilson and Sautter’s Whole Body Listening Larry series for this first round of lessons.  Each target grade level has learning standards related to active listening – I am finding that teachers are thrilled to find this resource to have in their classrooms to refer to throughout the day, and use the specific language to give feedback to students, “I need you to listen with your eyes”, or “I am noticing that everyone at table group 2 is doing a great job listening with their mouths!”
WBL Poster
   I look forward to adding this resource to my primary classrooms!  Check out this poster available from Think Social Publishing as well!
   Stay tuned for more posts about my venture with Tier 1 Collaborative Learning Lessons!  – Jill

Perspective Taking Skills…with Tacky the Penguin



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!



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!


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


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 🙂

Review: The Incredible Flexible You – A Social Thinking Curriculum for Preschool and Early Elementary Years


This resource is EXACTLY what I have been looking for!!!  As an avid proponent of the Social Thinking® resources from Michelle Garcia-Winner ( and her team for over a decade, I have truthfully struggled somewhat to adapt the materials for my younger learners in social skills group.  The Incredible Flexible You™:  Social Thinking Curriculum Set, Volume 1 most definitely fills this need.  Authors Ryan Hendrix, Kari Zweber Palmer, Nancy Tarshis and Michelle Garcia Winner, have created an interactive, engaging tool kit to introduce Social Thinking concepts and vocabulary to children ages 4-7 through storybooks, music & movement, and guided play skills.  This volume introduces the concepts of: “Thinking Thoughts and Feeling Feelings, The Group Plan, Thinking with your Eyes, Body in the Group, and Whole Body Listening.”  The storybooks are beautifully illustrated with engaging, diverse characters on adventures through high interest contexts for preschoolers – outer space, under the ocean, the farm, etc.

I purchased this curriculum in May while attending the Minnesota Autism Conference sponsored by the Autism Society of MN.   I began using it the very next day at school with a group of eleven Kindergarten/1st grade students that I serviced daily for social skills instruction.  Truth-be-told, it had been a challenge throughout the year to keep eleven of these little cherubs engaged during 30 minute groups each day, especially in May as their brains were clearly “out of my group” much of the time.  The Incredible Flexible You, was just the catalyst I needed to re-engage them in some social learning as we wrapped up the final weeks of school.

One of the most engaging aspects of the program is the music CD that accompanies the full kit.  The authors selected the award-winning artist Tom Chapin to co-write and perform 12 songs that reinforce the Social Thinking series’ concepts.    My kids quickly learned the lyrics to the songs, and would continually ask over and over to play the songs.  Together, we created some actions and movements to accompany several of the songs – their favorite song was “When you Think a Thought”.  The students enjoyed what we called “Dance Parties” where we sang and danced to the music – sharing social enjoyment with embedded social learning concepts all together.


While most of the students in this group were on the “high” end of the autism spectrum, there was one particular kindergarten student that had limited functional language and adaptive skills than the other students.  Most of my learners are in the average intellectual range and pursuing the the same academic content and rigor as their age mates, yet they require more focused environmental modifications for learning and intense social/emotional instruction.  Given the differences between this one particular little boy and the others in the group, I often found myself struggling to adapt materials and activities to include this learner.    However, I was pleasantly surprised to see this little boy become enthralled with the storybooks and “dance parties” we had with The Incredible Flexible You kit!  While his expressive language skills are quite limited, resulting in difficulty determining what he is comprehending and getting out of the lessons, he clearly lit up when we used these materials!  He would use his limited verbal language skills to request particular books from the series, “Want group plan book…want group plan book!”  Even if the book was out of his view, he would approach me and initiate a request for a particular book, even during occasions where he was not scheduled to be in my classroom.  I would periodically catch him singing phrases of the songs to himself in the hallway and while engaging in sensory activities in our adjoining sensory-motor room.  He was so animated and social connected with his peers during our “dance parties” with the music CD, it was wonderful to see that this little boy, as well as my learners grasping social cognitive concepts along with me all year, were so engaged with the materials in this tool kit.

On the Social Thinking website (, the authors indicate that the upcoming Volume 2 of the curriculum will cover Social Thinking concepts of: “Expected and Unexpected, Smart Guess, Flexible versus Stuck Thinking, Size of the Problem, and Sharing an Imagination.”   I will most definitely be rushing to get my hands on Volume 2 in 2014!  I would highly, highly recommend this product to any speech-language pathologist, special education teacher, or clinician who is working with preschool-early elementary age children.  In the fall, I plan to use this curriculum for the initial 6 weeks of school with my incoming Kindergarten learners, as well as my returning 1st and 2nd grade students.  I plan to share this with the general education kindergarten team in my building as well – the concepts and Social Thinking vocabulary is perfectly aligned with proactive classroom management initiatives in my school building.  The storybooks and songs could be easily incorporated into beginning of the year classroom “morning meetings” and classroom community-building activities during the 1st month of school.  It would be wonderful to see my students in their general education classrooms play a leadership role with their peers as their classmates explores the Incredible Flexible You concepts together.

You can find out more information on this product here:

Teach Kids to Ignore…the right way…


As you know, I have been working with kids on Attention/Focus skills – I wanted to highlight another tool I use with my elementary-age kiddos to teach them what “IGNORING” means.  I often find that many of my kids don’t really implicitly understand broad concepts such as, “Use nice words”, “Respect others”, or “Ignore please.”  I find myself needing to really concretely define what these concepts mean – in a way that literally describes what the concept “looks like, sounds like”, etc.  Much of my caseload is composed of students on the autism spectrum, kids with ADD/ADHD, etc – and they need this level of defining.  Simply asking them to “ignore” is too abstract for many of my kids to apply.  They are often the kids who struggle the most with maintaining attention and focus – yet they are also the same students who cause disruptions in the learning of their classmates.  So, I created this little PowerPoint for kids to help them understand in a very direct, concrete way, what “Ignoring” means – how to DO it, and when NOT to do it….

Here are some screen shots from this 13 slide PowerPoint and here is a link for you:  ignoring PPT for kids  Best wishes!  Jill

Ignore SS 1

Ignore SS 2

Ignore SS 3