Prepare children for new social experiences by making social stories and acting them out with shadow puppets!

Getting ready for a birthday party, talking about what to do when you get lost, or outlining the rules of behaviour on the playground? I bet that as a parent or a teacher, you have done it plenty of times! The social story shadow puppet kit will make such conversations interactive, educational and fun.

What Is a Social Story?

Simply put, a social story is a story that teaches children how to behave in social situations.

Over the course of their childhood, children find themselves in a great variety of social situations. Meeting new people, going to visit relatives, attending birthday parties, playing on the playground, going to a doctor, taking a public bus — these are all examples of social situations that children usually get introduced to throughout their few first years of life.

Playing on the Playground Social Story

If they lead a reasonably active social life during those first years, most children naturally develop a knowledge of social norms in the situations they are frequently exposed to.

But what if something changes throughout their childhood, and they must adapt to new social situations? A big move to a new place can influence the social situations they encounter, and, of course, beginning school when they turn the right age is a tremendous change in their environment! As children grow and mature, they get exposed to new social situations and need to come up with an appropriate response.

As adults, we can help and prepare children for those new situations by describing in advance what will happen in any given situation. That’s what social stories are good for!

Why Supplement Social Stories with Shadow Puppets?

In their simplest form, social stories most often come up in conversations between adults and children, as the former prepare the later for an unfamiliar situation, such as a visit to a dentist or attending a wedding.

But if you want to make the experience more profound, you may look for an appropriate picture book on the subject – think about all those first-day-of-school books! When children read a social story book or watch a social story video, the pictures provide additional visual aids.

Social stories with shadow puppets take it a step further and add the elements of interactivity and role-playing.

When presenting social stories with shadow puppets, you have the possibility to:

1. Present the whole social story by yourself with the help of puppet manipulatives.

2. Make the story interactive by relegating one of the roles to a child. Describe the situation and ask questions, but let them make decisions and come up with answers. This will allow you to assess the child’s readiness for the situation and identify possible weak spots.

3. Perform again with the child reprising his/her role or taking over the whole script. While manipulating shadow puppets, children can role-play social situations, develop social experience and try out different social strategies.

Using this shadow puppet set, you can reenact a wide selection of social stories! There are silhouettes of four children of different ages, two adults, desk, front porch, cake, balloons, gift, ball, dog, scooter, bush, and playground.

Examples of social stories you can stage with this kit include meeting new people, getting lost, buying something at the store, playing on the playground, interacting with a toddler, approaching a dog on a walk, greeting adults, going for a play date, going to a birthday party, and hosting a birthday party.  The number of social stories you can make does not end here though—you can create as many as your situation needs!

Want more written examples? You can browse through this large selection of printable social stories.

Social Story with Shadow Puppets Kit Includes

  • sixteen shadow puppets (four children of different ages, two adults, desk, front porch, cake, balloons, gift, ball, dog, scooter, bush, and playground)
  • three example social story scripts – Going to a Birthday Party, What to Do When You Are Lost, and Making New Friends
  • guidelines for creating your own social stories

Example of Social Story with Shadow Puppets

These are the extracts from the Going to a Birthday Party social story script, not the full story, but it can give a pretty good idea of how the social story shadow puppet kit works.

“I’ve been invited to a friend’s birthday party! When it’s time for the party, I put on my clean clothes, take a present and go to my friend’s house. Sometimes parents are invited to stay, and sometimes the party is just for kids – in that case, my parents will drop me off and pick me up later.

Dad: Bye! Have a good time, and I’ll see you in two hours

Me: Bye!

“When I see my friend, I will give my friend the gift I brought.

Me: “Happy birthday!”

My friend: “Thank you!”

My friend may open the present right away or later, together with presents from other children. There will be toys and books inside of the presents. If I like something, I can say, “That’s a great gift!” I will try not to feel bad or jealous– when it’s my birthday, I will get presents too. If I like something very much, I can tell my parents about it later.”

“At some point, all the guests will be invited to have cake. We will gather around the table and sing a birthday song to my friend.

All children together: …Happy birthday to you!”

Soon, it will be time to go. I can congratulate my friend again and thank my friend and my friend’s parents for the fun party

Me: Happy birthday again! Thanks for inviting me.

My friend: Thanks for coming! See you soon.”

How to Make Shadow Puppets

You can read the instructions on how to cut shadow puppets here. There are several different ways to make this a very easy craft – you can use scissors and a hobby knife, a silhouette cutting machine or print the designs on clear vinyl.

Need a shadow puppet theatre? Here are some easy instructions for making one from a poster board!

Get the Social Story Shadow Puppet Kit!

If you want to get the shadow puppets that are already cut, you can order the physical set here.

More on Social Education

This printable emotion paper doll changes poses and expressions instead of dresses and teaches children how to successfully read other people’s body language.

Free printable emotion wheel for tracking moods and emotions.

Thanks for reading!

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