4 Favorite, Terrific Books for Applying Emotion Vocabulary

Need some help working on emotions and social skills with your students? In my last posts, I shared some tips and some amazing links for free information to use with a slant toward older or more skilled students. For me, that happened to be my emotionally disturbed students, who lack the emotion vocabulary needed for interactions with their peers, especially in terms of conflicts and problem solving.

This week I am sharing some of my favorite books and resources for younger or more limited students. In my case, this is my students who are on the autism spectrum. Unlike the students I discussed last week, who initiate interactions with their peers, but then misinterpret social cues and get into conflicts, this week’s post is geared more towards students who have limited interactions with their peers or who interact without ever realizing that everyone else does not have the same interests that they do.

I still start with emotion vocabulary. See my last post here if you’d like some great links for the vocabulary resources. I choose targets to expand their language ability for thinking about and expressing their feelings, with activities based on the students’ ages and cognitive skills, and keeping in mind what problems they are showing in their school interactions.  After my students can use the new words expressively and identify the basic emotion group, I like to start using stories. First, practicing language skills in literacy activities is good practice, especially for my caseload of limited readers. Second, good stories can provide contexts for understanding emotions and situations that elicit them in a way that no amount of typical vocabulary exercises can. But perhaps most important of all, applying the new vocabulary in discussion of story plots begins to get my students to understand that people have different perspectives. What made the story character feel angry may make my student feel sad.
4 Go To Books for Emotion Vocabulary- Looks-Like-Language
While there are lots of picture books available for young kids, I am constantly searching for good books to use with older kids who are functioning at lower levels. I’ll share my favorites here, but please comment if you have another book for me to try! I’d be ever so grateful!

Books for Teaching Emotion Vocabulary
These links are ones I am looking into this summer to expand my selection of books to use:
The website has both a book list and teaching resource guides!

This link has the names of books sorted by the emotion it teaches, especially useful for targeting specific vocabulary.

This PDF gives ideas for how to use books to teach about emotions.

My go to resource presently for stories about emotions is one I purchased from Attainment Company: Focus on Feelings.  The stories feature older people, focus on specific vocabulary targets and review them in later stories. The stories have real photos and are short enough to maintain my students attention!  



If you’d like to download a great free sample of their style, try ‘Good Day, Bad Day.’

Favorite Books for Emotions and Perspectives- Looks-Like-Language
For picture books that you can purchase or sign out from your library, my personal favorites, which I have tried out, are No, David, A Bad Case of Stripes and Dear Mrs. LaRue. While these do not directly teach specific emotions, they are superb stories that do more than just allow you to discuss how the characters are feeling about the plot events. They provide multiple opportunities to compare how the different characters are feeling, their varied perspectives, and which one your students can relate to. A Bad Case of Stripes and Dear Mrs. LaRue also show how feelings and characters can change over time.

If you have a favorite of your own, please share in the comments! I’d love to have some recommendations!

Free Themed Token Boards for Autism- Cars

Themed Token Board Freebies- Looks-Like-Language
I certainly feel like this summer is racing away! I wish I could do something to help that, but it did get me making a car themed token board. 

TIP: Have you ever used token boards on a time basis? If you have students who can do short amounts of work, but then stop attending, you can set a timer for when they receive a token. Say, for example, they can attend for about a minute. Set the timer for irregular amounts of time, from a little below one minute to your goal of 2 minutes. If the student is attending and working when the timer goes off, they get a token. Make sure they can’t see the timer!

Students with more language skills can be told their goal of how long you want them to work consistently and only be given a token if they have worked steadily during the time period. Using irregular amounts of time is still probably the best, though.

Working orally? Get a count of how many response they can usually give before their attention starts to wander. Give tokens at irregular numbers of responses between the number where they are and the number you are aiming for. 


My fourth token board freebie has a car theme!  Download it here. If you missed my other themed token board freebies, click here, here and here.


How to Apply Emotion Vocabulary- Tips and Links for Free Resources

Vocabulary for emotions is so important to teach all children! It helps them be able to not only label, but think about and deal with the emotions they are feeling. Last post I shared some tips and resources for teaching the vocabulary and extending it into solving problems. To really be able to solve social problems, though, students need to be able to see another person’s point of view.

Applying Emotion Vocabulary in Real Life Skills- Looks-Like-Language
Use problem scenarios to apply the vocabulary your students just learned. Let them identify the feelings and take the perspectives of other people in varied situations, explaining the points of view on what events in the situation cause them to feel that way. This activity is great for groups, as students may have different takes or opinions on how the characters in the scenario might feel, and often want to convince their friends of their own perspective. Coming up with alternative ways to solve the problem situation and practicing what to say (and how to say it!) are important skills, too.




Taking Perspectives Tips and Links- Looks-Like-Language
Perspective Taking Worksheets and activity ideas:
If you haven’t seen Jill Kuzma’s website yet, you should definitely go there first! It is one of the best resources I have found! http://www.creducation.org/resources/perception_checking/classroom_activities_on_perspective_taking.html
This site is a little slow to load, but it includes free downloads to pictures and activities that can be used in a classroom or adapted for therapy use.

http://web.uvic.ca/~letsface/letsfaceit/sites/default/files/Taking%20Perspectives%20copy.pdf This free download gives teaching hints for using interpreting faces in photos to figure out the person’s perspective. It includes actual photos to use, also!

Once my students can discuss these situations, it is time to get them using them in a more realistic time frame. Real life doesn't let us stop, think, discuss it with an adult and then respond! Playing games and role playing activities are the ways I get kids applying the skills more quickly. 

Bubble Talk is one of my favorite games! The pictures are hilarious and students need to interpret facial expressions and nonverbal cues to figure out what the people could be saying.

Other games and ideas can be found at:
https://www.stenhouse.com/sites/default/files/public/legacy/pdfs/8247ch10.pdf
This free download gives lots of ideas for group games to play.

This free download has activities for teens.

Role playing links include:
This free download has good suggestions for how to set up and use role plays as a teaching strategy, as well as some scenarios to role play.

Scholastic provides a lesson plan, 10 role play scenarios to download and a poster.

You have to sign up for a free account here, but new materials are uploaded weekly by ESL teachers.

Just in case you are looking for additional help, these links are worth checking out, too!

Normative information

Research on adolescents  and social skills

Great resource for varied topics related to learning disabilities:

I hope you find that these links and my teaching tips are helpful! Next week, I will be giving more resource links and some tips for students on the autism spectrum. See you then!

Free Themed Token Boards for Autism- Superheroes

Do you feel like a superhero some days when you get home from work just for lasting through the day? I know I’ve had days like that! Dealing with kids all day long can be draining, the more so when they have special needs. That is why we need visuals! Token boards give the message of how much work is expected, visually, to motivate students to keep on working.

Themed Token Board Freebie from Looks-Like-Language- Superheroes!While some students only look at token boards to see that they are getting closer to receiving their reinforcer, other students can work a little longer when their token board has a preferred theme.  I hope that one of these freebies will do that for you! Be sure to click here or here if you missed any!


My third token board freebie has a hero theme. Download it here.

Need more information for using token boards?  Be sure to comment and I will share as I post!


Practical Tips for Emotion Vocabulary and Social Language Skills

In my last post on teaching emotion vocabulary, I mentioned that both my students on the spectrum and my students with emotional disorders need to expand their vocabulary for feelings, but that I differentiate in how I use the same materials to better meet their different needs. Catch that post here.

Tips for working on Social Skills with E.D. students
Today I will share some tips on how I work with my students who have emotional disorders. In general, I have found that giving my students some control over the content or the activities they are being asked to learn is a helpful strategy for getting them to be more involved and cooperative. This also opens the door for giving them opportunities to practice the language for negotiating and compromising that I teach them, as well.

I start by using charts with vocabulary for mild, moderate and strong emotions for all of the basic emotions, having my students choose the specific vocabulary they want to learn and practice.  Many charts are available online, but here is a link which has a few nice variations: https://325424.com/2015/08/13/emotions-and-feelings-charts/.

Then I have my students do some hands on activities for learning the chosen vocabulary, like making personalized dictionaries and playing games. They can find images to make a picture dictionary or look up meanings using my favorite online dictionary for students: http://www.wordcentral.com/home.html.  If you need some other vocabulary ideas, check out http://www.nclrc.org/teachers_corner/classroom_solutions_yana/vocabulary_activities.html.

Matching the Intensity of Emotion Vocabulary to the Size of the Problem
Once my students have learned the new vocabulary words, it is time to put them to practical use! The first activity I incorporate is ‘How big is your problem?’  Using given criteria and varied social scenarios, my students have to decide how big the problems are and an appropriate emotion intensity to match that situation. Students who explode over every small incident need lots of varied vocabulary for angry emotions and practice determining the varied intensities of emotion that different situations call for. Explaining their reasoning for their answers helps them internalize the language and thinking skills for their own future use. 

Some great links to check into for this step are:


This website has a wealth of information on problem solving, including problem solving steps, a video of this in action (with a lovely Aussie accent), scenarios and some downloads.

This is an animated YouTube video about the steps to problem solving. The voice is a bit mechanical, but students may like the animation.

http://www.epasd.org/Page/4178 - links for a powerpoint to give students strategies for determining the size of the problem and videos the students made.


You could also check out these packets of mine for varied skills and levels:

Think About How I Feel- Looks-Like-Language      Walk a Mile in My Shoes by Looks-Like-Language    Getting Along Game by Looks-Like-Language


Did you find some new resources? Do you have any that I missed? Next week I’m sharing many more, including taking perspectives!

Token Boards for Autism- Freebie 2!

Token boards are a wonderful strategy for students who are on the autism spectrum. Teachers love to use them to help students build up the amount of work that students can do, among other reasons. I have seen them used in a variety of ways for a variety of purposes, but no matter how they are used, I also love the communication opportunities that they regularly provide. 

I will be sharing some thematic token boards, hoping to provide you with a varied set this summer. While some students only look at them to see that they are getting closer to receiving their reinforcer, other students can work a little longer when their token board has a preferred theme.  I hope that one of these freebies will do that for you!

My second token board freebie has a farm animal theme! Download it here.

Need more information for using token boards?  Be sure to comment and I will share as I post!

Awesome Links for Non-Verbal Communication and Emotions You Need to Know

The longer I have worked with moderately-severely involved students, both those on the spectrum and those with emotional disabilities, the more I realize how important a role that weak social language/pragmatic skills play in their inability to function in a mainstream environment.  While these skills are important for both disabilities, I have observed that the way that they impact my students differs. 
Awesome Links for Non-Verbal Communication and Emotions You Need to Know
My emotionally disturbed students tend to flare up easily.  They misunderstand idiomatic language and inferences their peers are making, misread body language cues, facial expressions and gestures, interpreting situations as more negative toward themselves than they may actually be.  Another situation that occurs is that they are correct in reading the social situation as being negative, but then don’t have the language skills to work out compromises and negotiate solutions peaceably. They often understand the basic emotions but lack the nuances and vocabulary for sophisticated emotions to be able to regulate their emotions using language. For example, if you can only think about angry and furious, how do you think/talk it out that what happened is aggravating and not worth getting in more trouble over? Of course, in reality it is not this simple, but the language for emotions does play a role in the big picture.

Students on the spectrum may not even realize that non-verbal communication exists. They often have poor eye contact, so spend less time looking at facial expressions to begin with. Between interpreting the language they understand very literally, and misunderstanding the facial expressions, gestures and body language people use to communicate, it is not surprising that many students would rather live in their comfortable space with their preferred topics. So much of what goes on around them is so confusing!


Despite the impacts of these deficits displaying themselves in different ways in these populations, the materials that I use for building vocabulary for emotions are the same. The differentiation occurs in choosing the the materials and vocabulary level based on the cognitive skills/maturity of the students, and then in how the vocabulary is elicited in application activities afterward.

These are working links at the time of posting, but I’m sure you have noted that online links change all the time!

Emotion Vocabulary & Non-Verbal Cues Links- Younger/Lower Level

A game to help young children understand the eye gaze is an important communication tool.

Hover over the faces to see them change from neutral to the named emotion.

http://www.exploratorium.edu/mind/emotion/making_expressions/v1/ 
Explore online how changing the eyes and the mouth on faces makes different emotions.

Match the exact same faces in a robot game.

Choose girl/boy/man/woman and then find the face in a field of three that matches the named emotion.



This article, written by a parent, offers some free downloads as well as activity ideas.

Emotion Vocabulary & Non-Verbal Cues Links- Older/Higher Level

Free download for games with graphics for older kids:
Memory Pairs
Aging Face Timeline Game
Name the Mood Games
Odd Face Out Game

Dominoes and other printables with the same graphics.

Printable materials for emotion vocabulary using clip art geared toward older kids.
The manga theme appeals to many kids, and lets you teach the vocabulary for facial movements (ex. Eyebrows drawn in) as students are making the avatars.


These resources are great for teaching nuances of emotions, how we can feel combinations of emotions, and that they vary in intensity. Find more free resources on this site!

Pictured faces and emotions, as well as scenarios for each, which can be used with games or as stand alone activities.

Lesson plans for teaching varied social skills

A variety of games and activities for emotions and social skills

Given a scenario, make a comic strip. Discuss the emotion that the characters could be feeling and do some problem solving! Speech bubbles give practice in formulating language for conflict resolution.

This site is another great one for creating comics. Let our students decide on the problem, chose the appropriate character to show the emotion, and use their vocabulary in the speech bubble dialogues.

Are you looking for some ready made, easy to implement materials? Click here!

I hope you are enjoying this summer series on helpful links and tips! You can see the first post in this series here. If I missed any great resources, I’d love it if you would share your faves in the comments!
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