Social Stories for Lunch Time at School

Instructor: Clio Stearns

Clio has taught education courses at the college level and has a Ph.D. in curriculum and instruction.

Lunch time can be an exciting time for students with special needs, but it can also be stressful. The social stories in this lesson will give your students language and strategies for navigating this particular time of the school day.

Dealing With Lunch Time

As a teacher who works with special education students, you know that lunch time can be full of emotions; hungry kids are relieved for the opportunity to eat, and many children are also grateful for the relative freedom and social opportunities at lunch time. At the same time, the cafeteria can be an overstimulating environment, and food can lend itself to sensory and emotional challenges. Social stories offer scripted language that you can use with your students to help make sense of this time of the school day without undue duress.

When Lunch Time is Exciting

Every day, after morning meeting, reading, and math, my teacher brings us to the cafeteria for lunch time. At lunch time, we sit at long tables with the other kids in our class. Each of us takes out our lunch box and unpacks our food. Some kids get their lunches from the cafeteria at school, too. We are supposed to sit at our tables and eat our lunches together.

Lunch time makes me feel very excited! There are so many people around. There is a lot of noise, there is good food, and there are many things happening all at once!

Sometimes, when I get excited, it is hard to control myself. I feel like throwing my food around, eating really fast, or screaming. I might even feel like getting up and running around!

It is okay to feel excited at lunch time, but it is not okay to lose control. When I go to the cafeteria, I take a deep breath in and out. I check my body to make sure I am sitting down all the way in my chair. I set out my food neatly and eat one thing at a time. I eat slowly and talk to my friends politely while I eat.

It is also okay to have fun at lunch time! I like to talk to my friends and tell jokes with them. I like to enjoy the wonderful food my parents have packed.

When lunch time is over, I pack up my lunch box and throw my trash away. After lunch, we have recess, and that is a better place to get my excited energy out!

When Lunch Time is Stressful

The hardest time of the school day for me is lunch time. We have lunch every day between writing workshop and recess. I know lunch time is coming when writing workshop is almost over.

I feel worried and scared at lunch time sometimes. There are a lot of loud noises in the cafeteria. Sometimes I have to try food or smell odors that I do not like. All of these things make me want to skip lunch time. I can tell I am feeling stressed because I feel like I might cry. I want to hide or skip lunch time altogether.

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