WHAT ARE SOCIAL STORIES?
Do you use social stories in your classroom?
Social Stories are simple, relatable stories that you can read with students who may have difficulty managing themselves in the classroom. Often, these are social skills that the students need help with managing independently. The skills are taught directly – both as a group, and (ideally) also in the moment.
These stories are game changers in my classroom. After 20+ years of teaching, I have learned that if I can’t get on top of social skills and classroom management, then none of my lessons will be effective – so it’s my number one goal at the start of each year. I originally started using social stories for my students with autism because the direct teaching of skills and expected behavior helped so much. However, over the years I have found they are helpful for all students!
HOW MUCH TIME WILL I NEED?
As the school year starts, I make these social topics our theme – we call it our “Kindness and Friendship Theme”. These essential topics include listening skills, interrupting, personal space, calm down strategies, fire drills, using an inside voice, etc. Students really love learning about these topics and take the lessons very seriously. They also receive brag tag rewards for each topic completed, which they love!
We spend about a week or so on each topic. Usually, the lesson plan is for one week, but with all kinds of special events in the primary classroom, it can sometimes take up to two weeks. We also spend a lot of time reviewing what we’ve already learned. I don’t rush through these topics – it is time well spent!
HOW TO BEGIN
Getting started is simple: think about which social issues are causing the most disruption in your classroom right now. Write down what the problem is, validate the feelings that may arise, and then state the desired behavior. I pre-write each lesson with these notes so I can just read aloud to my students, and save the notes for next year. Very often, we go off script about our own personal experiences, but that’s okay!
REINFORCING CONCEPTS AFTER DISCUSSING
For the rest of the week, we do activities such as role playing, partner plays, sorting, writing and games relating to that topic. Often, as conflicts arise, I will quickly make up an activity to reinforce that topic. This makes all of our activities relevant and meaningful (see below).
STORY BOOKS FOR THE CLASS LIBRARY
In addition to using my pre-written teacher script, I like to start all of my social skills lessons with a read-aloud. We create or read simple stories that tell about a child’s experience in the classroom, and explain why a particular social skill is so important.
We print these stories for our class library, and my students love to choose them at shared reading time. They also enjoy making their own mini-books on each topic (written in first person). These don’t have to be fancy; you can fold a single piece of paper into quarters and ask students to copy the title and then write their own social story. Or, students may wish to make their own copy of a story you write together.
REVIEWING TOPICS LATER
There’s no point in teaching social skills if there’s no transfer into my students’ peer interaction. I hang posters from each lesson on the wall so that I can refer back to them whenever the situation arises. Having these visual reminders on the wall is so helpful, especially for little ones.
Quite often, I will ask students who are having trouble with a particular skill to be “in charge” of making us a class poster for that topic! This makes them feel like an “expert” for that particular skill, and makes it more likely that they will focus on improving it throughout each day. Give it a try and you’ll see what I mean!
WRITE AND REINFORCE
Any of these posters also make a great journal prompt for any time of the year! You can pick one each day to write about, or let students choose which one appeals to them. Don’t forget these lessons in a sub-tub so that students are practicing their social skills even when you are away.
You may wish to start “collecting” a list of the social problems that arise most often in your own classroom, so you can create some social stories, activities and posters around them.
Or, if you would like to see the social stories, books, partner plays, and other activities that I use in my own classroom, you can take a quick look by clicking HERE.
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If you’d like some free sample pages from this bundle, scroll down to the bottom of the page.
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MORE SOCIAL EMOTIONAL LEARNING IDEAS
If you are looking for more lessons and fun activities for teaching about social skills, you can see hundreds of lessons in the yearlong SEL program called The Kindness Classroom! This program covers the topics listed on the cover below, along with teacher scripts to introduce your lessons, printable storybooks for your classroom library, and lots more!
What are some of the benefits of this curriculum?
Would this be helpful for your classroom?
Click HERE to take a quick peek at LOTS of pictures!
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Looking for your free pages? Click below!
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