Category Archives: Social Rules

“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

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: