Low Prep Christmas Social Skills Activities EP 107

Low Prep Christmas Social Skills Activities EP 107

In this episode of the Real Talk SLP podcast I am sharing easy, low prep Christmas social skills activities to help you rock your pragmatic language groups without stressing. Between the IEP meetings, finishing assessment reports, progress monitoring and running groups, you have zero time for planning. That’s why this round-up of Christmas social skills lessons will help you get to winter break with a smile!

Frameworks for Planning Your Group Social Skills Lessons

When it comes to planning your social skill groups, it can get overwhelming. Especially if you are starting to run out of ideas. To help me with planning overwhelm, I always use a framework that I breakdown in this podcast episode. It will help you with some of the ideas mentioned and give you tips for how to structure your lessons so you can stretch out. 

Low prep Christmas social language activities for elementary and middle school.

Christmas Social Skills Activities With YouTube Videos

Plan engaging Christmas social skills lessons with wordless short videos.

In this episode, I shared about a variety of YouTube videos you can use to work on pragmatic language skills such as perspective taking, thinking bubble, social inferencing, and social rules. Here is a round-up of the resources and blog posts I mentioned:


Other Christmas pragmatic language activities mentioned in this episode are working on gift giving through role playing how to respond when you get a gift, to understanding how to use a gift based on other’s interests. You can use worksheets and the lesson plan for gift giving in my social skills lessons resource

Discussing the expectations when visiting family for the holidays and how to communicate during those events is another great lesson plan idea.

For those quick days when you need something that feels like a game, using holiday social skills bamboozle games is a great way to go!


Group pragmatic language activities with a Christmas theme.

What Christmas Themed Pragmatic Language Activities Do You Plan?

If you have an engaging pragmatic language activity you plan with a Christmas theme, share the resource or activity in the comments. You can never have enough ideas to pull from when planning group social skills activities. 

Engaging Flexible Thinking Pragmatic Language Ideas – Guest Post

Engaging Flexible Thinking Pragmatic Language Ideas – Guest Post

If you work with clients on social-emotional skills, then this blog post is for you! Today, I have Allie Gallinger, a speech pathologist who works in Toronto, ON with students who have pragmatic language disorders. Allie is coming on the blog to share how you can structure your therapy sessions when teaching flexible thinking. I think you are going to love it!

What is Flexible Thinking?

At Express Yourself Speech, we frequently work with clients that have a hard time with flexible thinking. These clients tend to get stuck on what they want to do and have a hard time going with the flow. Whether they only want to talk about Roblox, don’t like when a plan changes or have difficulty when the rules of a game are altered, being a flexible thinker can be really hard. Here are some of my tips and tricks for working on this topic with my clients.

How to Introduce Flexible Thinking

Lesson plan ideas for teaching flexible thinking in pragmatic language therapy to help build social-emotional learning in your speech therapy sessions.

Step 1: Mystery Bag


When I am in person with my clients, I like to hide a rock and a sponge in a bag (This can also be done ahead of time with parents’ help if you are only doing teletherapy). I have my clients feel the two items and describe them without looking at them. While they do this, I write down their descriptor words. Some words that often come up:










Discuss the words flexible vs. stuck

Easy to implement flexible thinking lesson plan ideas to use in social pragmatic therapy
Easy to implement flexible thinking lesson plan ideas to use in social pragmatic therapy

I might need to ask some leading questions such as: Does the hard object bend? Is it stuck? What about the soft object? Can it change its shape? 

After taking out the objects and examining them, we talk about the words flexible vs. stuck. The rock is stuck. It is hard. It is rough. It cannot bend. It cannot change shapes. The sponge is soft. It is bendy. You can change its shape. It is flexible!

Go on a Scavenger Hunt!

Step 2: Scavenger Hunt

After this activity, I have my clients go around the room and find three objects that are flexible and three objects that are stuck. We discuss each object similar to step 1. 

Easy to implement flexible thinking lesson plan ideas to use in social pragmatic therapy
Easy to implement flexible thinking lesson plan ideas to use in social pragmatic therapy

Watch a YouTube Video to Identify Flexible Thinking

Step 3: Video

The last step in teaching the concept is showing this video from Sesame Street. While it is geared towards younger children, I have still had success showing it to my client’s ages 8-11. Depending on the needs of the client, I often watch it through once and then watch it a second time while pausing. Some of the highlights from the video that I like to focus on with discussion questions are:


  • 0:32 – When Grover finds out that today’s word is flexible and not bouncy, is he being a flexible or stuck thinker?
  • 1:10 – How do you think a plan can be flexible? 
  • 1:20 – When the plans change, is Grover flexible at first?
  • 1:26 – Does Grover end up being flexible or stuck?
  • 1:30 – Have you ever had a plan change? How did you react?
Easy to implement flexible thinking lesson plan ideas to use in social pragmatic therapy

Need More Resources and Lesson Plan Ideas for Teaching Flexible Thinking

Loving this lesson plan for teaching flexible thinking? Allie has more great resources and activities to use in your therapy groups at Express Yourself Speech. Head over to the blog to check those resources out and feel way more confident with your pragmatic therapy plans!

How Do You Teach Flexible Thinking In Therapy?

What ways to do you help your students learn about flexible thinking? Share in the comments resources and activities you have found successful. The flexible thinking vocabulary and approach is from the Social Thinking curriculum. To see more ideas on how you can teach students about using flexible thinking to build social-emotional skills, head to Allie’s blog post HERE. It is filled with great ideas and resources!

Ep. 33 Co-Treating for Self Regulation and Social Communication with Brittany and Allie

Ep. 33 Co-Treating for Self Regulation and Social Communication with Brittany and Allie

Hey Hey SLPs! In this week’s episode my guests are Brittany and Allie from expressyourselfspeech.ca. This OT and SLP dynamic duo is known for co-creating for self-regulation and social communication.  In today’s episode, Brittany and Allie will guide SLPs on how to approach social pragmatics while co-teaching with an OT.  They give practical tips to help with teaching social communication while being mindful of the child’s regulation and also how to facilitate self regulating strategies during a therapy session. Get ready SLPS! If you have been struggling to find a solution for a student in the classroom or in sessions, you will take away lots of ideas on ways to support them better. I am excited about this team collaboration because it gives the child another opportunity to practice and generalize their goals and skills to be even more successful. Brittany and Allie do not disappoint! Whether it’s trying new things, or leaning on one another for support, this team does what it takes to help children be successful!


in this episode: 

You’ll hear

  • What self-regulation is and what it might look for a child to struggle with self-regulation.
  • How can SLPs decipher between true language disorders or self-regulation and collaborate with the OT about these types of referrals?
  • What self-regulation strategies can SLPs use when their students are struggling with paying attention?
  • For students that struggle with impulse control, and controlling how they express their emotions, what strategies may help them to self-regulate to participate more successfully in a session?

Keep in touch with Brittany and Allie:

Brittany’s instagram – @ot.with.brittany 

Allie’s instagram – @express_yourselfspeech





Connect with Felice        

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/Thedabblingspeechie

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Pinterest: https://www.pinterest.com/dabblingspeech/

YouTube: https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCB_cZ4io1LK4XJIajDMHLfg

Website:  https://thedabblingspeechie.com/

Using Conversation Scripts to Teach Communication

Using Conversation Scripts to Teach Communication

Have you ever been in a session with a student that is struggling with navigating the components of the activity or conversation planned? 

As you begin implementing scaffolded prompts with the activity, you find that the child is needing a LOT of verbal and visual support to get through the activity.

By the end of the session, you may even be thinking, “I need to figure out a different way to teach the structure of the conversation.”

That’s what happened to me when I wanted to teach two of my student’s conversation skills for playing, Go Fish. I did the activity with no visuals and gave auditory directions.

It became quickly apparent that both my students were lost with the rules of the game and the language to use during each turn. So, I verbally and visually prompted EVERY.SINGLE.TURN.

The kids did not improve with their understanding of the game. I chalked it up to them just learning the game for the first time. So, I tried the next session in the same manner. There wasn’t much progress even with all the prompting I was providing. 

After the session, I went back and reflected on what was missing from that social interaction. That’s when I realized that I needed some visual supports to help reduce the cognitive load of understanding the steps of the game and a visual cue to guide my students what they could say when it was their turn in the game.

What I discovered when I began using visual supports

Use conversation scripts as a visual support to help students navigate a conversation activity with ease!

That’s when I discovered conversation scripts and made one for the game Go Fish. My next session was entirely different because of the conversation script. My students were able to take turns in the game, use some of the language necessary for the activity, and I was prompting less and less by the end of the session.

After that session, I became hooked on using conversation scripts to help provide structure to social interactions. If you want to grab that FREE Go Fish conversation script, click the pink button below! To read more about Go Fish, head to this blog post.

Today, I am going to explain what conversation scripts are and how you can use them to increase student participation with social communication.

What are conversation scripts?

A conversation script is a set of dialogue that can be used in specific contexts communication situations. Imagine an actor using a script to learn their lines for a movie scene. Having a script of words a child can use to communicate in a social situation is beneficial for the child because it allows them the opportunity to participate in a social communication exchange. When they can be successful with communicating, this helps build language, social pragmatics, play skills, and self-help skills. A script contains questions and comments that a student would need to say in specific social situations such as asking to go to the bathroom, playing with Legos during free choice time, or how to ask a friend to play ball with them at recess.

Use conversation scripts to help autistic children learn the structure of conversation.

How do you make conversation scripts for students?

How to use conversation scripts in speech therapy

Scripts may have written words and picture cues to help lend support to students that are non-readers or need visuals. The SLP or classroom teacher/staff can read the script while prompting the child to use it. Another option to use an auditory script with a voice recording app. You can write a script as a single word or gesture, to full sentences.

Researchers have found that scripts can increase interactions and conversational speech. Using conversation scripts can also help with the generalization of these skills across new people and settings (school, community, home.) Often times, conversation scripts increase the occurrence of positive behaviors for a situation as well as improve vocational skills.

Who can implement conversation scripts with students?

Scripting can be taught and implemented by teachers, special educators, therapists, paraprofessionals, and early interventionists in educational and community-based environments. Parents and family members also can use scripting in the home setting. And, the awesome news is that conversation scripts are useful for preschool to high school-aged students, so it is a very versatile tool to use! Plus, I have even used conversation scripts to help with articulation carryover. You can grab more info and a FREE script template here.

What’s the BIG end goal for helping our students with conversation?

At the end of the day, we want our students to be independently communicating. Hopefully, they learn the foundations of social-pragmatic skills, so that they can understand the structure of conversation to communicate their thoughts, feelings, disagreements, protests, etc. without support for IEP team members. So, if you and the IEP team is always verbally and visually prompted the student to communicate, our students will struggle with figuring out what to say on their own in new, novel situations.


That’s why a conversation script is a tool to help create a structure to a conversation that not only helps reduce the cognitive demands on navigating the social interaction, it also helps provide reminders for the SLP, teacher, para educators, and parents to gesturally cue the student rather than overly prompt them on what to say. In the long run, with most of the studies involving conversation scripts, the research suggests that a gradual fading of the script is the preferred method as it supports great independence and generalization of the script to new communication partners and contexts.

Listen to this podcast episode about conversation scripts

using conversation scripts with Autism to improve communication

If you are wanting to learn more about conversation scripts and how to know if they could be a good fit for your students, check out this Real Talk SLP podcast episode where I talk about how to use conversation scripts with your students. 

Don’t forget to grab your free Go Fish conversation script to use with your students. I LOVE seeing my resources in action, so make sure to tag me on social media @thedabblingspeechie with this script in action.

Leveled and Editable Conversation Scripts for Bubbles

Doing a fun play-based activity such as bubbles can be a great opportunity for implementing a conversation script because children almost ALWAYS dig playing with bubbles.

With this conversation script for bubble blowing, you will have leveled scripts that are editable, so you can change out the pictures and written text to match exactly what your student would want to say.

This helps the script feel natural and individual to the student’s needs. Plus, it also saves you time because if you like the script as is, you just hit that PRINT button and you are ready to go for therapy. Grab this conversation script HERE.

What questions do you have?

So, if you are very intrigued with using conversation scripts, but have more questions, ask away. There ain’t any dumb questions in my neck of the woods. Just drop it in the comments and I will try to answer is ASAP! Take care.

Body In The Group With A Gingerbread Man Hunt

Body In The Group With A Gingerbread Man Hunt

During the month of December, I like to keep things festive, yet simple. And I like to use the same theme/book with as many groups as I can. The Gingerbread Man is a theme I use every year with my younger students. We can work on story retelling, vocabulary and perspective taking skills. Check out these activities I did last year to work on improving perspective taking using gingerbread man cookies. I find that the holiday season opens up opportunities for teaching perspective-taking and thinking about others. Today, I wanted to share a Body in the Group lesson I did with my 3-5th Special Day Classroom students using a gingerbread man hunt.

Body in the group activity using a Gingerbread Man Hunt to work on social thinking. #socialthinking #dabblingslp #autism #socialskills #bodyinthegroup #pragmatics #sped

What Is Body In The Group?

Body in the Group is a vocabulary term used from the Social Thinking Curriculum to explain how people demonstrate that they are part of a group conversation or social situation when they physically keep their body in a proximity of the group. When students work on group projects, or talk together on the playground, they show that they are thinking about group members by positioning their bodies nearby.

By teaching our students the concept of having their bodies in the group, we build their social awareness. They can better understand how to show others that they are thinking about them just by where they position their bodies.

What Is Brain In The Group?

Have you ever been in a place where your body is physically sitting in a group, but your brain is far, far away. Not sure why I just thought about my last department meeting? Hmmmmm……

We can teach our students the importance of having both their bodies and their brains in the group in order to show others that they are thinking about them. We show others that our brains are in the group by contributing relevant questions and comments that are on topic with what the speaker is talking about. This concept impacts our students in academic and social situations a LOT! If our students do not have their brains in the group, they miss a lot of information in the conversation. Typically, when my student’s brains aren’t in the group, they make off-topic comments. They will also talk only about their interests. When our brain is out of the group, this makes people feel like we aren’t listening to them. Which translates as rude behavior.

How You Can Work On Body In The Group On A Gingerbread Man Hunt

Has your school ever done a gingerbread man hunt during December? The teacher usually tells the students that there is a gingerbread man on the loose around the school. Students have to read the clues left by the gingerbread man to figure out where he went. It is a pretty fun activity that pairs well with the book!

Teach body in the group to your students with social skill needs by going on a gingerbread man hunt. #dabblingslp #socialthinking #bodyinthegroup #socialskills #sped #speechtherapy

I decided that I wanted to do this activity with my K-2 and 3-5 SDC classrooms. The teachers and staff helped with the activity. I printed up a FREE gingerbread man hunt and bought candy canes as the end of the hunt class surprise.

Teach body in the group to your students with social skill needs by going on a gingerbread man hunt. #dabblingslp #socialthinking #bodyinthegroup #socialskills #sped #speechtherapy

Before we went, I went over the hidden social rules that when we go somewhere as a group, we have to keep our bodies close by, so we stay as a group. We role played standing and walking as a group (no lines with with this activity).

Body in the Group Lesson Plan During The Gingerbread Man Hunt

As we looked for the clues and walked to the new locations to find the next clue, students had to practice staying in the group. You would be amazed how hard this was for some of my students. During the activity, I had to pause as we walked to remind students who had their body in the group and who didn’t. We talked about how others could be feeling when people walked away from the group. Some perspectives you could share with your students are as follows:

  • The teachers worry that you will leave the group.
  • When your body is out of the group, other students will be annoyed that the class has to stop the hunt until your body is back in the group.
  • Teachers and students will think you aren’t interested in doing the hunt if your body leaves the group.
  • Students who walk ahead of the group might make others feel like you aren’t thinking about them. You are only worried about getting to the next location and not waiting for friends.
  • Students may be thinking, “Where is he/she going?”

What other perspectives/skills can you teach your students during this activity?

Work With Older Students and Need Holiday Therapy Resources?

I know a lot of times SLPs working with middle school and high school students struggle with finding themed resources that appeal to their students. The gingerbread man hunt, for example, is a great idea for the younger crowd. I was thinking you could try this same activity, but go on a hunt for a stash of snowballs. Not sure how your students would like it, but I know my middle school students in the mod-severe classrooms would probably get into that type of hunt. With my older students, I use YouTube videos from the Elf movie and Simon’s cat holiday/winter videos. These video clips are great for working on vocabulary, summarizing, perspective taking and predicting! And they are free, low prep and funny (this is the SLP’s dream). Check out those blog posts for how I use them and  to find links to some of the videos. Planning activities for your life skill classrooms? You can make sugar cookies with gingerbread cookie cutters to give to family or friends. Or, pick a gingerbread recipe and prepare the treat for school staff members.

What Holiday Activities Do You Use To Target Social Pragmatics And Body In The Group?

I would love to know what activities and lessons you plan using a winter or holiday theme to work on social pragmatic skills. Share in the comments or email me at fe*********@th*****************.com

Progress Monitoring Social Skill Goals With Confidence

Progress Monitoring Social Skill Goals With Confidence

Progress monitoring social skill goals can be tricky — especially perspective-taking goals! Anyone else feel this way? I find that planning and conducting social skill therapy is a lot easier than measuring and quantifying a student’s progress. Of course, I can “see” my students’ progress based on their performances, but having hard data to support my therapy is something that I am continually working on getting better at.

progress monitoring perspective taking goals can be tricky! Tips, sample goals and resources are included to help make progress monitoring social skill goals easier to progress monitor. Reduce your stress and feel confident with accurate progress on speech goals. #slpeeps #schoolslp #speechtherapy

My Journey With Progress Monitoring Speech Goals

My two biggest professional goals over the past two years have been to improve my ability to write measurable goals and to improve on being more consistent with my data collection. It isn’t that I don’t understand how to write measurable goals or take data.  My challenges stem from not having the time to make sure my goals are aligned with my students’ needs and are clear enough  to measure in the real life therapy session, or to find the resources and materials to help me take data on student progress. The mixed group element always adds a nice new layer of distraction and overwhelm, too. Ha.

Tips For Improving Your Skills With Progress Monitoring

I have found the best way to get better at progress monitoring is to do the following:

  1. Learn from your other SLP colleagues. Ask others how they are doing it and try their suggestions to see what works for you.
  2. Set a professional goal. Write down your intention to get better at writing goals, data collection, and/or progress monitoring. Pick a specific disorder you want to improve on and only focus on that disorder until you feel more confident.
  3. Think through your goals and what they will look like in your session. Make sure your goals are clear and can be measured in a “real” session. Plan out how you will measure them (with a rubric, with a quick warm up before the main content lesson, during station rotations, etc.).
  4. Find resources and materials that will help you collect data. Have you ever written a goal and then realized that you have NO materials for that area of need? I have! I am not saying you shouldn’t write a goal in an area of need just because you don’t have materials, but as you are in that goal writing process, reach out to colleagues or your district for support with getting materials. Pinterest and TPT are always great places to start as well!

Resources To Help Progress Monitor Social Skill Goals

I wanted to share some tips and resources I have found for progress monitoring social skill goals. I highly recommend checking out Maureen’s Social Language Rubrics, and SLPtoolkit has great social pragmatic rubrics and goals too. When you are struggling to quantify the presence of a social skill, I would consider using a rubric to take data. I also have some social skill data sheets in my TPT store that may help with quantify skills you are observing during your lessons.


Click Here to Download Your Free Printables!


When I progress monitor students’ goals, I try to set up how many cues/prompts I will provide during that data collection period. This helps me not to over prompt and also shows me what level of progress they are making.

Example Goals For Perspective Taking In Social Skills Therapy

Provided a hypothetical social situation and/or real social situation, (student) will explain how others are feeling and/or thinking about (him/her) and share at least one way (he/she) can modify (his/her) actions, words, or body language with 80% accuracy and no more than (insert independence and/or prompting level) as measured by therapist observational data collection using a rubric and/or tally of opportunities over three sessions.
Provided a verbal story, photo scene and/or video clip, (student) will make at least 1 prediction about what the person may need to do next in the social situation with 80% accuracy (insert independence or prompting needed) as measured by informal data charting over three sessions.
By (date), Provided a verbal story, photo scene and/or video clip, (student) will explain what the person could be thinking and/or feeling and at least one clue (body language, facial expression, action, background knowledge) from the photo, video or story to support (his/her) social inference with 80% accuracy with no more than (insert level of prompting) as measured by informal data charting over three sessions.

Resources To Help Measure Perspective Taking Speech Goals

For my social skill students working on making social inferences and explaining the non-verbal clues, I will use Simon’s Cat videos from YouTube (FREE) as stimulus items to collect data. We watch a small portion of the video, then I pause it. I ask the student, “How is the cat or man feeling?” and then I ask “How do you know this?”. I take data on those two things separately and prompt as necessary.

Using Simon's Cat Videos In Speech Therapy to progress monitor social skills goals, articulation, and language!


If the student is working on making predictions, then I will pause the video and have them make a guess what might happen next and the clues that helped them come up with that prediction.

I create playlists on my YouTube channel, so that I don’t have to search for videos that I like to use in therapy. Here are the Spring themed Simon’s Cat Videos and here are my favorite Simon’s Cat videos. You can read more about how I use Simon’s cat videos in this blog post HERE.

You can use wordless short videos to do the same concept. Here is my YouTube channel playlist for some videos I use. If you have any great wordless short videos, hit reply and let me know (I always need more videos)!

progress monitoring social skill goals when working on perspective taking in social skill therapyI also use Google photos, Pixabay, or my social inference flipbook to take data on interpreting non-verbal social clues and making a social inference about what the person could be thinking.


Click Here to Download Your Free Printables!


progress monitoring social skill goals in speech

When I need to work on answering social inferencing questions and what are people thinking, I also use real photos from my Social Skills Breaks Curriculum. This curriculum also includes social situations that I will read to students and have them explain what others could be thinking.

social skills progress monitoring

Or I will use social situations from my Help! I Need Social Skills to have students identify how others could be feeling or thinking based on the social situation.


social skills perspective taking - how to progress monitor goals

Do you have some tools and resources that you use for progress monitoring social skill goals? I am always trying to get better with progress monitoring and would love to know what you have learned!

Was this helpful for you? Would you like to see more goals and how I try to take progress monitoring data? Let me know in the comments!