Friday, July 6, 2012

Cool Ali

Cool Ali, by Nancy Poydar,  is a story set in the city in the heat of the summer.  A girl who loves to draw goes outside to escape the heat in her apartment building.  There she begins to draw with her chalk on the sidewalk. She draws pictures that serve to distract the attention of all the neighbors from the heat of the day.  As she draws scenes of cooler seasons, everyone suddenly feels refreshed. 

It is a cute and clever story well suited to our current hot summer.  This book is fun for all of my speech therapy clients.  Here are some of my therapy ideas for this book:

Articulation:  Pull targets from the story and create carrier phrases. 
/k/ initial - Cool
/l/ medial - Ali
/l/ initial - "likes to draw"
/r/ blend - draw
"ch" - chalk
Any sound can be addressed as you and the client "draw" your own "chalk" (crayon, marker, map pencils) targets on cards or paper.  It would also be a fun activity to go outside and make chalk drawings on the sidewalk, if it is not too hot. Here in East Texas it is usually too hot.

Language & Processing: 
  • Sentence Structure:  N-V-Obj: Ali draws an umbrella; cut apart sentences either word by word or in chunks (for lower functioning children) and have them reorganize the sentences.  For higher functioning clients, throw in some sentences that can be reordered in two ways; this way you can work out their mental flexibility skills as well.
  • Verb tense: Ali is drawing... / Ali drew / Ali will draw / Ali has drawn; for younger clients you may only pick one tense to work on or the tense they have as a target; for the older kids you could have them work on changing sentences to reflect all of the tenses.
  • Pronouns: She is drawing... Can also work on referent pronoun understanding: Ali drew an umbrella.  She colored it yellow and white. She=Ali / it= umbrella
  • synonyms: hot, heat, sweltering; see how many words you can generate to replace a target word or ways to reword a sentence to convey the same idea.
  • antonyms: hot / cold; Ali draws cool pics in the summer heat but she draws sunny pictures while it is raining.  This could lead to an "opposite day"...
  • Predictions:  What will she draw?  How will it make the person fell? What do you think the person will do?
  • Reasoning: Why did they feel cooler?  Were they really cooler? Were they pretending? Did they feel better in some way after Ali drew her pictures? Why/How?
  • Figurative Language: mop their brow, chilled to the bone...
One of the applications that I really like about this book involves helping children with ASD or abstract reasoning problems process the ideas in the story.  It requires them to think beyond the surface structure of the pictures and words to realize that the "coolness" the people are feeling is a state of mind contrary to the reality of the heat.  Also, at the end of the story it begins to rain and Ali's wonderful pictures are washed away.  This event can serve as a model for helping the ASD child to process change and disappointment without becoming emotionally upset. At first Ali appears concerned about her drawings but then she enjoys the rainbow of colors streaming down the pavement and contentedly takes up her drawing on paper in her apartment while the rain cools off the heat of the summer; now she draws sunny pictures.

I have found several nice resources online:

The Teacher's Guide lists lots of online games, links, printouts to address vocabulary, matching, spelling, word searches, etc.

Harcourt for Second Grade Teachers  scroll down until you find Cool Ali

Julian Beever's 3-D Chalk Art - Truly amazing art that will "blow your mind".  Great for discussing perspective and illusion (helping kids to understand things are not always what they seem).  What is real in each picture?  How does the artist make the pics look 3-D? What are the people doing that add to the realism in the drawings?...

Great video that shows the artist at work creating his 3-D chalk art.

This video shows the ways spectators interact with the drawing after it is completed.

Extension activities to chalk art:  3-Dimensions, perspective in drawing.

Other extensions to the story itself:  temperature, weather, drawing.

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