Reading Time: 3 minutes
Written By: Amy Fuchs
Maybe you have asked yourself any or all of the following questions when someone has mentioned social stories:
What are they?
How can they help in the classroom?
Aren’t social stories only for children with Autism?
Let’s talk truth about social stories. Carol Gray is credited with developing Social Stories when she was teaching students with Autism 30 years ago! The idea is used by many professions that work with individuals of varying abilities, not just Autism.
The term “social story” sometimes implies something complicated. “Stories” are hard to write, right?!? Not so. A social story should be brief, use simple vocabulary, and pictures are often helpful. Anyone can write a social story, you don’t have to be a trained professional!
Use social stories to prepare students for new activities or events throughout the school day. If you have never used social stories, you may not realize how helpful they can be in big and small situations and how very easy they are to create. Consider these scenarios:
- When introducing a new center or activity to your classroom, use a social story with 4 or 5 steps that gives students the expectations for that center. After you demonstrate the expectations to the class, students who need it could have a reminder card of the steps.
- How about going on a field trip to a play or a museum? Students need to know expected behavior. Use a short, simple social story to remind them of the basics, “we don’t talk while the actors are on stage”, etc.
Let’s take the example of going on a field trip to a museum. What are the most important things you want your students to know (think safety issues, behaviors that are and are not allowed, etc.)? Make yourself a list of these things, then put them in an order close to how they might occur or when they are necessary for the students to know (i.e. touching items in the museum without an adult giving permission- the temptation to touch will be there the moment you enter the front doors).
You can also use social stories with students who easily become frustrated and need reminders of how to calm themselves and work through their frustration. An app like Emotions and Feelings Social Story might help with this.
Social stories are teaching tools that take a little work to create and set up initially, but will “pay off” in their daily use by making your classroom run much more smoothly.
Here are just a few of the social story apps you can find on our App Search Tool: