Monday, March 25, 2013

The Gruffalo & Social Skills

I admit I just saw the great post at about speech and language activities to use with one of my favorite books, The Gruffalo. Be sure to hop over to the link and read her post... it is full of great ideas.  At the end of the post I saw a "blog hop".  I did not know what this was so I checked it out.  It is a place to link blog posts of a similar subject.  Since I love this book, I thought, "I want to be part of that!"  I checked out the posts and most of them discuss this book or other books by Julia Donaldson.  But, none of them seemed to touch on the "social thinking (R)" aspect of this story.  This was one of my favorite applications of this story. 
Spoiler Alert: Reading this post will give away the story, if you have not yet read it.

The story follows a little mouse who is approached by several predators while walking through the woods. This is no ordinary mouse, he is a very witty mouse who saves himself from becoming someone's dinner by using some clever tricks.  This story can be used to teach the following social skills sets:
  • Understanding the Perspectives of others: Mouse knows the others are thinking of "eating" him since they are natural predators. This idea can be used to address making "smart guesses" and using our brains to think about what we already know about things (prior learning).
  • Deception: He rightly interprets their invitations to dinner as being deceptive ways of getting him to their homes. You may need to discuss this with the student to see if they understand this idea that though the animals say "for dinner" they mean as the "main course", not as a guest.  (Multiple meanings/Hidden intentions). So many of our kids with social skills disorders are gullible or naive.  This might be a good way of introducing "stranger danger" or helping them to learn that some people might be deceptive for one reason or another (bullies).  They can learn to think about what they already know and make better assumptions about motives.
  • Problem solving skills:  Mouse taps into his prior knowledge or experiences (what he told the others about the Gruffalo and how they will react to seeing him) in order to escape being the Gruffalo's sandwich.
  • Theory of Mind: This reminds me of the Sally Anne test; who knows what? 
         What does Mouse know? (That Snake wants to eat him).
         Does Snake know that Mouse knows he wants to eat him?  (no)
         How do you know this?  (If he did, he would not believe the Gruffalo story).
         What does Mouse know that Gruffalo doesn't? (animals are afraid of Gruffalo)
         What does Gruffalo think, that is not true? (He thinks they are afraid of Mouse).
         Why does he think this? (Mouse told him they were & the animals run away).    

Other Speech Therapy Goals:
  1. Color the Gruffalo:  This page can be used to process information from the story by recalling the colors of the Gruffalo parts or to follow instructions in coloring the page.
  2. Story Sequencing/Story Telling with pics from many of the resources.
  3. Learning descriptive words: wobbly, prickly... & other vocabulary: warts, tusks...
On-Line Resources:

The official Gruffalo website: Interactive games, free cards to print, mask, finger puppets, recipes...

Itsy Bitsy Learners Preschool Pack: alphabet, numbers, cards...

tes connect: A teacher share site from the UK, where this book originates.  Click the link and it will take you to a wealth of book activities and worksheets.  You must join the site to access materials but it is free. Here a few of my favorites from this site:

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