But how do we teach this elusive concept? After all, there isn’t really one rule that pertains to all situations. The amount we share with others can depend upon our relationship (we share more with family and friends than strangers) and context (we share less when chatting at a party than when we are out to dinner one-on-one). But for young children, those subtleties are too confusing. Instead, we go with the adage that during conversations, less is usually more.
To this end, we teach the concept of keeping stories “short and exciting” in our Social Adventures Groups. Most of the kids in our groups are 3-9 years old, so they are a bit too young to realize the impact their monologues have on others. Instead, we teach them to “keep it short and exciting” and we support them visually with our Topic Train. We made it using whiteboard and black tape and it looks like this:
We use it as a visual support for introducing a topic (engine), adding 3 important details (one in each car) and then passing the conversation along to a friend with a question (caboose).
As one child talks, we add simple line drawings (or words) to each component of the train and this really helps organize them. We reinforce the fact that friends are staying interested because the story is “short and exciting” and then (hopefully) they get to experience natural positive reaction from friends; that is, lots of questions and comments.
But sometimes the other kids in the group are not the best responders. So, we motivate them to participate by adding a puff of steam to the sky around the engine every time someone asks a question or makes a comment. Kids love to try to completely fill the sky J
Finally, we remind them that they need to pass the conversation along to a friend with a question like, “what did you do this weekend?” and we visually prompt them by putting a question mark or question word in the caboose. Once the child asks the question, we erase all of the train components and begin again with the next child.
Up until now, the whiteboard version has worked great. But then, we decided to make an app out of it and it should be available within a couple of weeks at the App Store. Here is a sneak peek:
Either way, we have found that introducing the structure of sharing just 3 details is very helpful for promoting a better understanding of what it feels like to take the just right amount of talking time. As kids begin to internalize this feeling and to master this early understanding of social timing, we can slowly begin to introduce more advanced concepts.
For more ideas on how to engage kids in activities which teach many of the nuances of social cognition, check out our Social Adventures apps, available for Apple devices at the App Store and for all other smartphones, laptops, Macs and PCs… HERE.
Submitted by: Karen S Head, MS, CCC-SLP
Karen is one of three founding partners of all4mychild. It is our mission to promote technology and other tools that bring people together. To this end, we have developed our Social Adventures and Bag Game apps and we are in the final stages of producing our Topic Train and FunTimer apps. We also review children’s literature and share therapeutic ideas at all4mychild.com.
all4mychild has been extremely generous and provided codes for 2 of their apps to giveaway! These two apps promote conversation, turn-taking, questioning, problem solving and more!
Bag Game: This app allows students to place an image they have chosen into a bag. This hides the object from the rest of the group. The others must ask questions in order to guess the unknown item. The developers have recently updated this app to include fall themed items and now you can upload your own pictures. This could be great for working on classroom vocabulary and more!
Enter for a chance to win 1 of 2 codes below!
a Rafflecopter giveaway
This comprehensive program was designed to address 7 key areas of social interaction created for use with young children, ages 4 to 9.
Use the Social Adventures App to teach:
- Initiating interactions
- Maintaining interactions
- Advocating and negotiating
- Getting regulated
- Interpreting nonverbals
- Negotiating personal space
- Experiencing humor
For your chance to win this app enter the raffle below!
a Rafflecopter giveaway
Thank you all4mychild for your great guest blog post and a chance to win these amazing apps!