Sunday, February 23, 2014

ECSE App All Star: Breathe Think Do With Sesame

Not all children who are referred to and evaluated by our team meet the criteria for special education services.   These children were referred because they are struggling with some aspect of development and their parents are often searching for resources and support. I collect parent friendly resources on a variety of child development topics to offer these parents.  Because we evaluate infants, toddlers and preschoolers, self regulation skills are frequently a topic of discussion and concern.  When I found Breathe Think Do With Sesame, in the app store, I knew that I had found a resource to add to my Self Regulation resource list. I plan to share this app with parents, our Occupational Therapy team and Early Childhood Special Educators.  This app is a great addition to our social emotional skills toolbox.  Currently the app is free.    

The app serves two purposes.  It educates parents and caregivers about self regulation skills and it provides opportunities for children to practice the skills in a structured but engaging way.  The Parent section provides tips and strategies for several challenging issues such as separation, persistence and aggression.  This section begins with an explanation of why self regulation skills are important and provides a script of what parents can say to children who are experiencing difficulties in this area.  Finally, a specific strategy in each area is given.  In the aggression section, the strategy provided is tracing a child’s hand and helping him think of 5 gentle things he can do with his hands so he can think of that next time he is upset.  Some of the sections include video clips.  A theme throughout the tips and strategies section is the framework of breathing, planning and doing. In the settings, the app has a personalization option.  Children are prompted to say phrases that will be repeated throughout the activities such as “think of a plan”.  The language can be changed from English to Spanish in the Settings area.  

The child section has 5 activities and features a monster. Each activity starts with animation showing the monster struggling with a challenging issue.  The issues are getting on his shoes, separating from his mother, a tower of blocks that falls, waiting to use the slide on the playground, and being fearful of the dark at bedtime.  After the introduction the screen changes to the monster surrounded by red and looking anxious, upset and/or mad.  The narrator encourages the child to tap the screen to help the monster take 3 breaths through his nose and out his mouth.  The background color changes from red to blue as the narrator talks about the monster getting calmer.  

Next, the narrator prompts the child to pop bubbles to make the monster think of a plan. The monster thinks of 3 options for a plan.  The child gets to choose which plan the monster will use and watch the result.  Self regulation vocabulary, such as calm, frustrated, relaxed, and anxious are used throughout the activities.  

This app is one of many resources Sesame Street offers in the Little Children, Big Challenges toolkit.  I have bookmarked several resources from the toolkit to share with parents.  Do you have any other apps you recommend for teaching and/or practicing self regulation skills? 

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