In my specialist ASD primary school, I have been looking for narrative activities for a class of fairly verbal 7-9 year olds. Puppet pals (a free app) presents a wealth of different opportunities for expressive language in an individual as well as whole class setting and could work from preschool upwards.
Here’s a plan for a narrative group that has worked well over the past half term with a group of seven students. The students were highly motivated by the idea of making their own movie and watching it at the end of each weekly session.
- Choose two or three characters. These can be fictional characters loaded into the app e.g. kings/queens/dragons. Or in the case of my class, they wanted the teaching assistants (TAs) to feature. It’s very easy to take pictures of the TAs on the ipad during the session and insert under “Add actor from photo”.
- Choose objects which can help you build up SVO sentences. For example, create a picture of a cake in a symbol programme, take a photo of the screen on the ipad and then crop and insert into the programme as an ‘actor.’ Very easy to do.
- Choose a scene. My class were keen to use their own classroom as a backdrop by taking a photo and inserting it into the programme.
- Story creation. Each student creates a sentence for a story using the characters available. Depending on their level, they can be prompted to do this with colourful semantics picture options, e.g. The King/Queen/Clare baked/threw/sang a cake/ball/song. We started out producing fairly random stories but gradually changed the vocabulary options available to helping the students think through a more logical story progression.
- Writing the story. Type each student’s sentence into symbol software as you go along so they can see their story building up on the whiteboard. This is also helpful for reading back.
- Recording the Movie. Each student then records their sentence onto the ipad. In my group, several students were very distracted by being able to move the characters around on the ipad while they were talking – a tricky one to manage while trying to record.
- Name the movie. A good opportunity for students to take ownership of their class movie and give it a name.
- Play “movie” by linking up the ipad to the big screen (see previous post).