The Incredible Flexible You and Braidy Make a Great Pair!

April is Autism Awareness Month, and here on the blog we wanted to showcase a connection between MindWing’s tools and interventions that target social learning for children with autism!

Over the past year since its release, I have found The Incredible Flexible You™ Curriculum Set (Volume 1) by Ryan Hendrix, Kari Zweber Palmer, Nancy Tarshis and Michelle Garcia Winner and published via Social Thinking® to be an invaluable teaching tool! Targeted to early learners—preschool through 2nd grade, but adaptable to older students requiring basic social learning lessons—the curriculum set aims to develop key social cognitive concepts through stories and play. The five storybooks that come with Volume 1 set the context for many lessons and play activities as the main characters, Evan, Ellie, Jessie and Molly, learn and demonstrate the core concepts in the set:

  1. Thinking Thoughts and Feeling Feelings - understanding that everyone thinks “thoughts” with our brains and that our actions can change others’ thoughts and feelings 
  2. The Group Plan - sharing a thought bubble with others is how we make and follow “group plans” for play and other actions 
  3. Thinking with Your Eyes - our eyes give us important clues about a situation, and noticing what someone is looking at can give us clues about what they are thinking 
  4. Body in the Group - one way we can follow a group plan and connect with others is to keep our body “in the group”
  5. Whole Body Listening - others think we are listening and feel good about us when it seems like our eyes, body and brain are listening.

Each story comes with a number of suggested play activities in which students are led to practice the related concepts- these are so fun! Both the books and play activities have a strong connection to story grammar, and we have found that Braidy, the StoryBraid® has been a natural complement to the program.

The books have five distinct settings— classroom, farm, space, ocean, and zoo—presenting a great opportunity to develop the skill of describing aspects of a setting, of course tied to Braidy’s setting icon! We have also tied in drawing activities to allow the students to draw the different settings in the books.

“Drawing

Books 2-5 all have clear narrative structures allowing instructors to scaffold retellings from the action sequence to complete episode levels. Successive lessons provide a great opportunity for review and additional practice, as students are eager to visit with Braidy and talk about the adventures of Evan, Ellie, Jessie and Molly. See below for an analysis of Book 4, Body in the Group, at the complete episode level:

Braidy "Body in Group" Analysis

Body in the Group can also be retold as a simple action sequence or reaction sequence because the kids in the story encounter a kickoff—a shark in a cave, from whom they safely escape!

Activities outlined in the manual provide more practice in integrating play and narrative. For the dramatic play activity following this book, we practiced “sharing an imagination” and making a group plan. We thought of all the ways we could use a box (I like the cardboard that comes with flip-charts for this activity) in our play- as a boat, a diving board, and of course the cave! Our play plan emphasized both “Body in the Group” and the narrative elements of setting and actions:

“Body-in-the-Group”

We hope that you will have fun exploring this easy-to-implement connection between Braidy and the programs created by our friends at Social Thinking.


Sean Sweeney
Sean Sweeney

Author

Sean Sweeney, MS, MEd, CCC-SLP, is a speech-language pathologist and technology specialist working in private practice at the Ely Center in Newton, MA, and consults to local and national organizations on technology integration in speech and language interventions. His blog, SpeechTechie (www.speechtechie.com), looks at technology “through a language lens.” Contact him at sean@speechtechie.com.



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