I love using stories in therapy, it such a natural way to engage children in language learning. One of my all-time favorite therapy tools is the original Matt and Molly series, or Autism & PDD Picture Stories and Language Activities. (from Linguisystems). First, let me say, I am in no way affiliated with Linguisystems, or getting any compensation for talking about this great series. I just happen to love it!
Autism and PDD Fall cover:
If you have never seen the series, there are five sets with eight stories each: one for each season and an animal story set. I originally began using the sets with the picture cards, but am now projecting the stories from the CD on the interactive whiteboard in the classroom! It is not just for kids on the spectrum, it’s great for language development in the 3-8 year bunch, depending on their developmental level. If you have the ability to show the story on an interactive smartboard or on computer, you’ll be fine with just the CD.
Each simple story has four story-sequence pictures featuring the stick-figure Matt and Molly characters, who are having some fun adventures. They are bright and colorful, with no distracting backgrounds, perfect to help children focus on the story.
Why do I love it?
1. Perfect for classroom-based group services. It benefits not only the kids on your case-load, but the others in class as well, and provides an opportunity to model prompting for the teachers and staff. Project it on the board, and you have grabbed a whole group at circletime. (The CD is narrated, or you can tell it yourself.) Add a few simple story props for story-retelling, and its magic!
For the story, A Frog in the Tree, I use these props. The kids are delighted as the frog “hops” around the top of the smartboard (and maybe on a few shoulders, elbows and knees to practice answering “Where is the frog?” and name those body parts.) The silly frog finally jumps down from the tree, but SPLAT! He lands in Molly’s ice-cream cone. The kids love it!
2. Familiar characters increase engagement. The same two characters appear in all the stories (along with a few animals here and there), and the kids really respond to their “friends” Matt and Molly. (As a matter of fact, I have been told I look like “Molly”, with my dark, curly hair. My preschoolers shout “Molly’s here!!” when I walk into their classroom at circle time! (I really do need to get a red dress and be Molly for Halloween!)
Autism PDD Spring Cover
3. Tons of opportunities for language, and easy to modify up or down as needed for each child. Go beyond naming nouns! In A Day at the Lake we talk about size concepts small. medium and large, as we go fishing. In Swat That Fly! We name to a description and discuss categories. “Today our story is about an animal that has wings. Tell me some animals that have wings”. We talk about up position concepts high/low, inside/outside.
We buzz that fly around the group seated on the carpet. (Watch ‘em squeal as it lands on their head!) We target verbs as everyone gets a chance to “swat” the fly (And some of mine have stomped on him for good measure too!). “What is he doing?”- flying, swatting, sitting. We answer who, what, where, why, what doing, when, how. We name new vocabulary and make requests. “May I have the flyswatter?” We sequence the story, act it out and re-tell!
4. Story re-tell, story retell! Did I say story retell! Sooo important. The predictable four-part format increases comprehension and allows for plenty of story-retell practice. Describe the characters and action on a single pic or re-tell the whole story. Predict what will happen next.
The CD provides interactive questions after the story. Children answer wh? questions by choosing from two pictured answers, touch the named vocabulary, or answer yes/no questions. They can also drag and drop the pictures to sequence the story.
What does the rabbit do? Screenshot:
5. Each story can be used for multiple sessions. Repetition is key for our kids who are at earlier developmental levels. My extended resource teacher reads the story for 3 days with her class, then I come and present it with props on the 4th. Kids who otherwise rarely initiate are excited to name the familiar vocabulary and interact with the props.
Versatile, fun and 40 different stories to take you through the year! Planning made simple, and group delivery sure helps with caseload management. If you try it, I bet you’ll love it too.