Kick-Off the Kick-Off - MindWing Concepts, Inc.

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Kick-Off the Kick-Off

by Sean Sweeney January 12, 2011 2 min read

In some recent posts I have described some visual and interactive activities to complement the instruction in It’s All About the Story establishing the concepts of character and setting. In keeping with the sequence of lessons in MindWing’s Autism Collection, I’d like to move on to a few ways technology can help you introduce the Initiating Event or “Kick-Off “ of a narrative. As the lessons describe, you can discuss how in a particular setting, something happens to characters to “change the ‘Ho-Hum’ day” and start the story! An additional language strategy is to teach the words and phrases that signal a Kick-Off: suddenly, just then, etc. Taking a step beyond the visuals in the lessons, you can teach your students to apply the concept of the Kick-off using a few fun interactive technology resources.

First of all, I’d like to mention Kerpoof (NOTE: Kerpoof closed its doors in 2014) again, as it is one of my favorite teacher-friendly resources. Kerpoof is absolutely perfect for introducing the Kick-Off in a multisensory manner that will let kids use their creativity. Check out my handout and grab your teacher account on Kerpoof, then use the Make a Picture activity to choose a setting:

Make a Picture activity

Kids can then use the sidebar and captions features to click, drag, and illustrate characters and a Kick-Off that might occur in that setting:

Illustrate characters and a Kick-Off

For a different take on Kick-Offs (geared toward a younger audience), try Sesame Workshop’s adorable Pinky Dinky Doo site, which integrates audio podcasts (you can listen to right on the site), visual activity sheets, and an interactive story creator to present fun, engaging, yet simple stories you can discuss in your sessions. You can use Pinky Dinky Doo’s podcasts to ask kids to identify Kick-Offs (and focus on auditory comprehension) as suggested in It’s All About the Story, and you can also create your own:

Sesame Workshop’s adorable Pinky Dinky Doo

This site would also be wonderful to share with parents to continue your work at home!

An additional resource for instruction regarding Initiating Events is one that would be more appropriate for upper elementary or older students: Five Card Flickr. This “game” site pulls from approved photos on the photo sharing website Flickr in order to create an interactive digital storytelling experience. You can modify it by only selecting with students a setting, character(s) and Kick-Off to emphasize the interaction between the three elements and the Kick-Off signal words:

Five Card Flickr

In this case, perhaps, a dog was running on a tropical seashore when??? Draw 3 of 5 will tell!!!

Enjoy exploring Kick-Offs with your students!

Sean J. Sweeney, M.S., M.Ed., CCC-SLP is a speech-language pathologist and instructional technology specialist working in the public schools and in private practice at The Ely Center in Newton, Massachusetts. He has presented on the topic of technology integration in speech and language at the ASHA convention and is the author of the blog SpeechTechie: Looking at Technology Through a Language Lens, which won the 2010 Best New Edublog Award. He can be contacted at

Sean Sweeney
Sean Sweeney

Sean Sweeney, MS, MEd, CCC-SLP, is a speech-language pathologist and technology specialist working in private practice at the Ely Center in Needham, MA, and as a clinical supervisor at Boston University. He consults to local and national organizations on technology integration in speech and language interventions. His blog, SpeechTechie (, looks at technology “through a language lens.” Contact him at

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