Social Stories Activities

Instructor: Heather Turner

Heather has taught for 10 years as a lead special education teacher and Educational Diagnostician for a district. She has a doctorate in Curriculum Studies.

Social stories have recently gained in popularity. Once used primarily for special education students, social stories now can be used to meet a wide variety of needs. This lesson will discuss how to use and create social stories.

Definition and Uses of Social Stories

Ms. Holland and Ms. Taylor are teachers who co-teach special education students in an inclusive classroom. They have decided to use social stories to help teach routines and behavioral expectations to all their students.

A social story is a story used to describe how one should act and respond in a situation. Their purpose is to teach behavioral expectations and are primarily used with students with autism; however, teachers have started using them for describing routines and expectations for all students.

Generic Social Stories

Social stories can be used for routines that are generic and routines that are very student-specific. Generic social stories can be used to describe behavioral expectations for common routines.

For example, bathroom behavior is a common topic of social stories. Ms. Taylor, the homeroom teacher, recognized that there are certain expectations that all teachers have for bathroom behavior. She researched bathroom social stories online to find an appropriate one. Once found, she used the generic story to explain the general expectations of using the restroom. The internet is a great starting point for finding general social stories that teachers can use for their classrooms.

Social Stories with Clipart

It some cases, a teacher may want to explain a specific routine that is classroom- or student-specific. Ms. Holland, a special education teacher, recognized that a morning routine that involves unpacking, making a lunch choice, and starting morning work can differ for each homeroom teacher. A generic social story will not work in this case. Ms. Holland decided to use clip art to create a social story for explaining the morning routine for each of her students. Computer programs like Boardmaker can also be used to create such a story.

While Ms. Holland created social stories that were student-specific, Ms. Taylor saw the value in having her entire class create a social story to explain the morning routine. This allowed the students to voice their opinions on the expectations and pictures that should be included in the social story. Ms. Taylor recognized that by giving students a chance to voice their opinions, they are more likely to take ownership in the routine.

Once the story was created, Ms. Taylor read it to her class during the first few weeks of school. In addition, Ms. Taylor left the story accessible to the students throughout the year. If a student struggled to follow the routine or if the class needed a reminder after an extended break, Ms. Taylor used the social story to review the expectations.

Social Stories with Real-Life Pictures

Another fun way to use social stories in classrooms uses real-life pictures. Technology and phones are great tools for taking high-quality pictures that show a routine. In addition, this is a great strategy when a social story is used to help correct a problem behavior of a student.

Ms. Holland has a student with some emotional-behavior issues who has a goal to increase the amount of time she remains seated and raises her hand in class. Ms. Holland decided to engage the student by having her model the correct behavior. Pictures of the student demonstrating the correct behavior were taken and put into a story-book format. Now, the student has a book where she is demonstrating the correct behavior.

Ms. Holland also used the social story as a teaching strategy when the student forgot to follow the classroom routine. She produced multiple copies of the book and gave them to all the student's teachers as well as provided a copy to her parents. This helps to ensure that behavioral expectations are the same no matter the environment.

Student-Created Social Stories

Ms. Holland and Ms. Taylor also recognized the importance of having students create their own social stories. It is a great way to teach social skills while integrating language arts curriculum.

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