Wordy Wednesday: Story Time!

CLICK THE IMAGE to download picture story starters in full page size.

Happy Wednesday, readers! This week, we bring you a set of wacky and absurd scenes intended to get your little linguist chattering!

Our story starter images can be used to work on language production at several levels. At the most basic, simply ask the child to describe what is happening in the scene. (“The man and the tigers are taking a bath.” “Two women are drinking coffee at a table.”) Beyond the level of basic description, the sky is truly the limit! Encourage the child to expand his story from what is purely observable to make inferences and hypotheses.

Many of this week’s pictures were intentionally selected to be funny or bizarre, which makes them great for pragmatic work. If your kid laughs (as one of my clients often does at some of these images), ask what makes this picture funny. Use pictures to spark conversation about cause and effect relationships (What would happen if …? What could have led up to this scenario?). Talk about feelingsHow do you think the man feels? Why? How would you feel in this situation? Emotions are a good opportunity to work on theory of mind*, a concept that some researchers hypothesize is absent or underdeveloped in individuals on the autism spectrum. Make connections! Have the child describe a similar event from her own life.

CLICK THE IMAGE to download story starter pictures in flashcard size.

I’ve started using images such as these with a teenage client, who really enjoys the deviation from rote rehearsal of language activities. I use this activity as a way to practice providing appropriate levels of detail in story telling. Obviously, for a story to be interesting, the teller should provide ample detail, but it can be hard to determine which details are relevant information and which are extraneous or irrelevant. At this stage, my client and I view an image together and he describes the scene. I provide prompting questions when needed to flesh out his description: Who is in the picture? Where are they? What is happening? Once I’m satisfied with his verbal description of the scene, I ask him to write a few sentences about the picture. Often his written description is more complex! This exercise allows us to practice several things: the basics of spelling and grammar in written expression, translating information from visual to verbal to written form and holding information in working memory as we move between modalities, in addition to all of the pragmatic language concepts mentioned above. 

We hope you can put these story starter pictures to good use! If you have ideas for future Wordy Wednesday topics, please share them with us in the comments!

Happy Wednesday from Growing Kids Therapy!

~Melanie and Elizabeth

* theory of mind: the capacity to attribute mental states (e.g. thoughts, feelings, beliefs, etc.) to oneself and others, as well as to recognize that others may have mental states that differ from one’s own

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