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Lesson Plan by Lauren Martin M.Ed.

Social Stories

Pixton Lesson Plan on Social Stories

Make autism spectrum resources come to life with comics!

Including these awesome activities:
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Featured Layouts

When students complete the activities in this lesson plan, they will use the following comic layout types.

  • Comic Strip
  • Storyboard
  • Poster
  • Mind Map

Your students will create amazing images like these in no time!

Pixton Lesson Plan on Social Stories
This free, printable Pixton lesson plan brings autism spectrum resources to life with comics and storyboards.
Pixton Lesson Plan on Social Stories

Featured Props

Social Stories

Student creations come alive with these themed objects – in addition to our library of over 3,000 props!

  • Arrow
    Arrow
  • Book
    Book
  • Desk
    Desk
  • Door
    Door
  • Music
    Music
  • Ornament
    Ornament
  • Pencil
    Pencil
  • Prop Paper Pad
    Prop Paper Pad
  • Question
    Question
  • Sign
    Sign
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Teacher Guide

Social Stories

Step 1Class discussion with students

Getting Started

While many teachers use Carol Gray's trademarked Social Stories™ in their classrooms, few use them correctly. Why? The evidence-based formula can seem time-consuming and overwhelmingly complex. It doesn’t have to be. The rules, steps and samples below can be used in a comic strip template to create quick, easy and effective social stories.

Social stories are not classroom procedures in picture form or interventions for misbehaviour. Social stories do not include steps, directions, tips or commands.

Social stories for students with autism spectrum disorders are like phonics lessons for students with reading disabilities. While most students learn to read "naturally" by following along as an adult reads aloud, some students need to be explicitly taught the basic rules of phonics. Similarly, while most children learn social norms by observing their caregivers and peers, students with certain developmental disabilities need explicit instruction to recognize appropriate behavior and communication expectations.

Social stories describe a common social experience using literal, step-by-step language so that a student can understand what they can expect from any given situation, and what others will expect of them. Educators can illustrate these communication expectations using comic strips. Students can also create their own comic strip social stories to practice conversation skills and appropriate responses to common situations.

Opening Discussion

Use the below guidelines to create simple and effective social story comic strips.

SIX RULES

  1. Use first (I) person perspective for young children and third (he/she) person perspective for older students. Never use second person (you) perspective to avoid a negative tone.
  2. Use literal, positive, objective observations instead of subjective opinions, negative judgments or any non-literal statements that could lead to misinterpretations, false assumptions, negative emotional responses or harmful, unsupervised action.
  3. Use descriptive sentences (following directions helps the teacher) instead of directive sentences (I should try to follow directions; I must). If the story contains coaching sentences (I will try to follow directions; I can), there must be twice as many descriptive sentences as coaching sentences.
  4. Include a relevant title, introduction (to provide necessary context), details (to clarify) and conclusion (to summarize the overall goal).
  5. Answer the questions who, what, when, where, why and how.
  6. Make the story meaningful and relevant by incorporating past, present and future information that the student can relate to and generalize to various settings. Ask the student and/or parents about the student's perspective, interests and strengths to make the social story relevant and engaging.

FIVE STEPS

Create one comic strip to illustrate each social goal or intended positive social story. Each comic should illustrate who, what, where, when, why and how this social story will take place. The answers to these questions are often combined into one sentence so that an entire social story may be just three sentences long. Identify the goal or intended positive social story before illustrating answers to the following questions in a social story comic strip:

  1. Where and when does the social story take place?
  2. Who is involved?
  3. What concepts, activities, experiences, social actions or interactions are expected as the "norm" from all individuals involved (in the goal/intended positive social story)? What does it look, sound, smell, feel, taste like from the student's perspective?
  4. How is the student expected to behave? How does this look, sound, feel, etc. from the student's perspective?
  5. Why is this behavior positive, productive and necessary for the student and others involved? What is the reason for the behavior?

SAMPLE SOCIAL STORIES

Don't remake the wheel. Depending on if you are introducing a complex concept, classroom procedure or everyday social interaction, adapt the following sample sentences to illustrate each step of your own social story. Insert each descriptive sentence into a thought or dialogue bubble in a multi-panel social story comic strip.

Sample Topics & Titles

  • How to greet a stranger
  • What do I do when I feel sick in class?
  • What do I do when I feel frustrated?
  • How to share toys at recess

Sample "When, Where, Who?" Sentence Starters

  • Wherever I go...
  • During recess, I…
  • At home, my parents and I…
  • Before school, my bus driver…
  • After lunch, my classmates are…
  • In line at the grocery store, other customers…
  • While I wait for the bus in the morning…
  • When I need to go to the bathroom during class, my teacher tells me…
  • Sometimes, my classmates want to…

Sample "What?"Sentences

  • The fire alarm sounds loud.
  • I have a question in class.
  • We sit in our chairs to eat lunch at our desks.
  • The teacher calls my name to ask me a question.
  • The sink is for washing my hands after using the toilet.
  • I feel frustrated when my pencil breaks.
  • I feel nervous when my teacher calls on me.
  • One classroom rule is to enter the classroom silently.

Sample "How?" Sentences

  • I follow directions the first time.
  • I raise my hand before asking a question.
  • I wash my hands before leaving the bathroom.
  • I wait for my friend to finish talking before I start talking.
  • When I don't understand something, I raise my hand and wait to be called on to ask my teacher for help.

Sample "Why?" Sentences

  • Following directions helps my teacher.
  • Listening without interrupting lets my friend know that I am listening.
  • When someone helps me, I say thank you so they know they were helpful.
  • I cover my ears and breath deeply to feel calm when there are loud noises.
  • When someone asks me a question, it is polite to answer their question.
  • If I don't understand a question, I ask them to rephrase the question so I can understand.
Step 2Pixton comic-making activities
  • Make a Comic Strip or Storyboard
    Teacher-Guided Social Story

    Share with students after discussing the social situation.

    View Activity
  • Make a Comic Strip or Storyboard
    Student-Guided Social Stories

    Prompt students to include appropriate settings, characters and peer and personal dialogue.

    View Activity
  • Make a Comic Strip or Storyboard
    Behavior Interventions & Difficult Situations

    Complete after discussing an "unsuccessful" social behavior, interaction or experience.

    View Activity
  • Extension / Modification
    Poster (Extension / Modification)

    Create a Poster of cause and effect situations to illustrate appropriate dialogue responses to common peer or teacher comments or questions.

  • Extension / Modification
    Mind Map (Extension / Modification)

    Create a Mind Map of appropriate words or actions to express frustration, anger, stress or another challenging emotion.

Step 3Concluding discussion with students

Social stories are one of the most, if not the most, effective tool to model positive social interactions and behavior norms to students with ADHD, autism spectrum and other developmental IEP classifications. Comics maximize the effectiveness of social stories by giving students a visual and kinesthetic method to process complex social concepts. Start creating you own social story comic strips today!

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Pixton Activity: Social Stories 1 Teacher-Guided Social Story

Featured Layouts

  • Comic Strip
  • Storyboard

Intro

Choose one social situation at a time to review with students. Create a social story to model the "correct" social "norms" of that situation. See the "opening discussion" for detailed instructions to create an effective social story. After you share your social story comic with your student, they can re-create or revise their own social story conversation to practice appropriate communication during common social interactions.

Instructions

Create a Storyboard or Comic Strip social story to illustrate ideal behavior during a common social interaction:

  • Include an appropriate title, description and/or dialogue for each panel.
  • Include an appropriate illustration for each panel.
  • Refer to the "opening discussion" for detailed instructions to create an effective social story.

See the rubric for grading guidelines.

Example Comic Strip

Blog 1 Comic 1: What to Do When I Want to Be Alone by Student

Here's the link to share this comic:

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Pixton Activity: Social Stories 2 Student-Guided Social Stories

Featured Layouts

  • Comic Strip
  • Storyboard

Intro

Choose one social situation at a time to review with students or ask the student to decide on a challenging or confusing social situation. Instruct your student to create a social story to model the "correct" social "norms" of that situation. See the "opening discussion" for detailed instructions to create an effective social story. Students should create their own social story conversation to practice appropriate communication during common social interactions. One option is to provide the topic, setting, characters and "other" character's dialogue, while your student simply fills in their own appropriate dialogue responses. The second option is to provide the topic and let your student brainstorm the likely setting(s) and dialogue of all characters involved. This more advanced option will help older students build their social understanding and independence.

Instructions

Create a Storyboard or Comic Strip social story to illustrate ideal behavior during a common social interaction:

  • Include an appropriate title, description and/or dialogue for each panel.
  • Include an appropriate illustration for each panel.

See the rubric for grading guidelines.

Example Comic Strip

Social Story: Using the Restroom by Student

Here's the link to share this comic:

Print this Activity

Pixton Activity: Social Stories 3 Behavior Interventions & Difficult Situations

Featured Layouts

  • Comic Strip
  • Storyboard

Intro

Social stories are never meant to be a consequence or punitive behavior intervention. They are never meant to be administered in a critical or negative way to scold a child or correct a child when they are upset. Social stories can be used in a calm, safe and positive environment to discuss an alternative to misbehavior or any "unsuccessful" social experience.

For older students, one example is to brainstorm a work experience, internship, job interview or co-op type situation to problem solve about what to do in difficult situations. Students can improve upon job experiences by first discussing a problem they had and how they did handle it (in a less than ideal way), and then creating a comic character to re-create the "problem" situation to handle in a better, positive way in the future.

Instructions

Create a Storyboard or Comic Strip social story to illustrate the "revised", updated, positive behavior to replace an "unsuccessful", negative or unproductive behavior or social interaction that the student has experienced:

  • Include an appropriate title, description and/or dialogue for each panel.
  • Include an appropriate illustration for each panel.

See the rubric for grading guidelines.

Example Comic Strip

Handle the Situation Better Next Time by Student

Here's the link to share this comic:

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