Learning and Sharing

Winter Break


Hope everyone is enjoying the break.  I did some shopping for new games for the New Year.  This is what I bought-


This game will require creating and updating friend files.  You must know your friends well to play this game.

I also got


This game is sure to have us laughing all through Lunch Buddies.

You must focus and think fast to play the next game that I bought


Looking forward to fun in the New Year!

My Best,


BTW- check out the new post on the Blog at  The first Lego Collaboration workshop was today.  It was a great time for everyone.

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Candy and the Dollhouse


We found Candy in the dollhouse!!  She is having way too much fun in Room 99!

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Executive Functioning is in the Roots of the Social Learning Tree


Michelle Garcia Winner, creator of the Social Thinking framework, writes, “effective social thinking and related social skills are those that can be applied across situations so that our students can use their social thinking while writing a paper for a class, interpreting content based instruction as well as using this knowledge within direct social interactions”.  The Lunch Buddies groups are working hard to develop a strong root system, or foundation, for the social thinking process.  Executive Functioning is part of the root system that supports the  Social Learning Tree.  Executive skills and processes are used each and every day to: make plans, keep track of time, use prior knowledge in discussions,  ask for help when we need it, be a part of the group, waiting to speak until we are called on, and mentally playing with ideas.
In the third and fourth grade Lunch Buddies groups,  we are always working on components of Executive Functioning such as, flexibility, persistence, and self-regulation.   Executive Functions include processes that enable us to engage in goal-directed or problem-solving behaviors. During the past couple of weeks I have introduced the word “goal” in order to prepare them for goal setting.   
Prior to our game of Deck the Halls Jenga, I write down the object of the game and mark it as our “goal”
Some students might want to remove a Jenga piece just to make the tower fall and cause an uproar at the table.  Those students need a visual cue to “focus on the goal”
These are the cutest!  I spotted them on Pinterest.  You can find then at  The creator has some terrific ideas about how to use Focus Sticks.  I decided to use them to cue the students to focus on the goal.
photo (5)
Focusing on the goal also means that you resist the impulse to blurt out words when it is someone else’s turn.
Providing opportunities to apply skills that the Lunch Buddies are learning is very important, especially when it is fun.
For more information on the Social Learning Tree and articles by Michelle Garcia Winner, go to
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Candy and her Friends Play School


Candy loves being the teacher!

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Celebrating Peer Mentors


When I thought of a peer mentor club at the beginning of the school year, my vision for it was very different than how it has actually turned out.  I thought that I would consult with teachers looking for that perfect match for my students.  I thought that we would spend hours in training and preparation.  Guess what?  In reality, it all happened so naturally!  I am so grateful for the peer mentor club and how they support the Lunch Buddies.  They provide excellent social models for the groups and so much more.  They are never “bossy”.  Instead of telling someone what to do, they might say, “this is how I would do it”.  Just their calm presence and mindfulness is a powerful influence on the group.

We celebrated this wonderful group of mentors today with a super fun party.


Pin the Tail on Rudolph




Deck the Halls Jenga

Oh and we chowed down on pizza and cupcakes, too!

Woo Hoo, Peer Mentors!

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Working on Conversation Breakdowns

two 3d humans with empty chat and idea bubbles

The first grade Lunch Buddies have been working on identifying and fixing conversation breakdowns.  I was so proud of them this week.  As we sat around the table eating lunch, I read the Keeping the Topic Going social story from the Holiday Social Skills packet from http:/ and available for purchase on (I must say that this packet is so worth the purchase if you have social skills groups).  The most common conversation breakdown within this group has been non-acknowledgment or being an unwonderer.  Conversations fall flat when one partner does not show interest by commenting or asking a question.

Next, we completed the worksheet together.  As we worked on this, we had many opportunities to practice how we could keep the topic going with questions and comments.


Finally, we had fun working on the comic strips.  I had to work to keep up with these darlin’ girls!  My role as facilitator is changing.  Most of the time I am there to open food packaging and monitor the time while they engage with each other!  Love that.

Enjoy your Saturday, everyone!

My Best,


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Candy and her Choir


…that’s the Jingle Bell Rock!

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Learning Social can be Fun Learning

photo 2

Candy left a present for the Lunch Buddies.  Jenga is a favorite and we have played the game in many forms, but the colorful Deck the Halls Jenga seemed like a brand new game.  Mrs. Rairden and I were inspired by Mary Keiger, at, who created Red Zone Jenga for her social skills group.

Before playing the Lunch Buddies version of Holiday Jenga, Mrs. Rairden reviewed the Zones of Regulation with the group.  For more info go to

zones sheet

Next, we discussed the “goal” of Jenga (removing a piece without causing the tower to fall) and how everyone needed to work toward that goal.

Then, Mrs. Rairden explained the rules of the game.  If a student removed a red piece they, picked a red card.  If a student removed a green piece, they picked a green card.

zones cards

The card might have a picture of a face.  The student then decides what zone that face represents and explains how they knew it.  Other cards have a scenario written out on them and the student might have to decide what phrases such as “butterflies in your stomach” mean/feel like.  What zone “butterflies” might put you in and what strategies you could use to get back to the green zone.

Here we are having fun.



Thanks for the present, Candy

Ho Ho Ho,


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Oh My! Look what’s in Ned’s head!

Ned's head

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Book Chat without a Book!


On Friday, I decided to ask the students in Book Chat to read a one page social story about the “Feelings of Others”.  During the holidays it is important to do your best to figure out how others are feeling so that we know how to react with words and actions that will help.  We also want to consider how the words we say can make others feel.  So, first, we reviewed




These terrific visuals are free downloads from  They are designed to help students understand the social consequences of their words and actions.  We discussed that when they say “Hi” to me first, it is like “music to my ears”.   If someone gave them a gift and they said “I don’t want that” it would hurt the giver of the gift just like getting his/her toe stomped on.

Keeping the above visuals handy, we moved on to silently read the social story about the “feelings of others” and complete the worksheet as a group.


This activity is from the Holiday Social Skills packet from and available for purchase at  After completing the worksheet, the group selected cards with descriptions of how other kids might be feeling under certain circumstances.  The group also read descriptions of holiday social scenarios and then decided what would be the best thing to say.  These cards came from the Christmas Social Skills packet from and available for purchase at

I think everyone loved this activity!

Book Chat is a co-taught reading comprehension class.  I want to share the Social Learning Tree visual (based on the work of Michelle Garcia Winner) from as a reminder to teachers and parents that students must have a strong root system of joint attention, executive functioning and sensory integration.  A strong root system supports the trunk which includes “thinking with your eyes”, abstracting and inferences and understanding perspective.  Without strong roots and trunk,  reading comprehension skills, written expression or working in a group, which are the branches, cannot be sustained.  Without strong roots and trunk, the leaves, which include understanding a characters motives,  cooperation with peers and being friendly, are unsustainable.


Visit the Social Thinking® website for more information:

My Best,


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