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.
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.’
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!