Monday, August 24, 2015

Social stories + freebie

What exactly are social stories? Social Stories were first written by Carol Gray in 1991 to improve the social skills of people with Autism. They are used to  help teach students expectations, routines, behavioral standards, social interactions, and reinforcement of correct behavior.

I use social stories frequently in my classroom. I use them to:

  • help extinguish certain behaviors, such as staying in your seat on the school bus 
  • introducing new social concepts, such as fire drill expectations in our new school
  • when I want  a student to try something new, such as a new food 
  • for teaching concepts such as time or money 
  • when I want to break something with multiple steps into smaller, more manageable steps.

I use social stories as a main part of my social skills groups. I either write them myself to target specific skills I want to teach or I try to find one online that covers the same topic. Why reinvent the wheel if someone else has put in the effort. Long ago, I figured out that the amount of time it takes to create something myself is wasted (my time is valuable, you see), when for $1 or a little more, I could purchase the same story on TPT in a fraction of the time. Only when I can't find what I need online or on TPT do I actually create it myself.

Here are some resources I have found that are free:   -tons of stories - tons of stories - tons of stories - free and easy to use schedules/social story maker. Has options for several different languages. - here you can make a schedule or a social story with 2 or 4 boxes. Lots of possibilities. many different social stories. Just put social stories in the search engine, or a specific social story topic, and you will find tons of stories, some free and some you have to pay for. 

When using them to reinforce correct behavior, I typically read the social story when the behavior is NOT occurring. I send the story home with the student for the parent to read to their child, we read it during social skills period, and to the targeted child before the event usually occurs, such as before going to breakfast and lunch in the cafeteria for a student who eats trash. But never as the behavior is actually occurring.

The complexity of the stories really depends on the students.  Stories for individual students can be tailor made, from simplistic one page stories with a few words and some pictures, to more complex stories in paragraph or book form with one or two visuals, or without.

When I use them in my social skills class, I usually use a one page simple version with visuals as my students have such different skills. I usually have an interactive version for my non-verbal and or low or non readers. But we also role play and practice so everyone has a chance to participate.

Here are a couple of examples of the complexities of these stories. The first one is a one page story about touching that I use in my social skills group. It's meant to be an introduction to  a lesson. The second one is part of a book that I wrote for one specific student who ate trash and other things he found on the floor. I had to rewrite it several times to address very specific behavior.

Social stories are a mainstay of my social skills curriculum and there is no one way to do them. 

Please go HERE for a Free social story: When My Teacher Is Not At School. It is editable so you can insert your own name or add/delete what will fit your classroom.

So much more could be written on this topic, but I will stop for now. 


  1. hi Jannike, I love social stories too, but forget to apply them. Thank you for this reminder and for the freebie, I can definitely use it! Paula

  2. How long is each social skills segment that you teach daily? 30 minutes? 45 minutes? Do you do the same routine everyday? I don't enjoy teaching social skills because I feel like I don't know what to do. Thanks : )

    1. It is 15-20 minutes. No, the routine would change each day, but remain the same each week. So for example, on Monday I could introduce the skill we were working on, elicit prior knowledge with questions and watch a you-tube video pertaining to the skill. The next day, we could review and read the social story and answer questions. The following day, my Paras and/or myself, could model the behavior. The following day we could have the students practice the behavior. The last day, we could videotape it, or review it again, or practice the behavior in a realistic setting, etc. Basically, just one skill a week.

  3. Any chance I could get a copy of your social story about not eating garbage or things we find on the floor?
    Thank you!