Wednesday, 3 April 2013

Dear Zoo

We all have our favourite children's books, ones we remember being read to us, and the ones we could read for ourselves. Among my favourites were 'the Tiger Who Came to Tea' and 'The Very Hungry Caterpillar'! 

One I have grown to love as an adult and read frequently to my own children is 'Dear Zoo'.  I love the repetition and predictability, and for this reason it is also a great therapy tool! 

The flaps make it perfect for anticipation as well as encouraging child participation.  Also, who hasn't made all the animal sounds? By the way, what is the sound a camel makes?!

So, how can we make it accessible to those children with communication difficulties?


I have used picture matching along with a book, or a lesson in one of the severe learning difficulty special schools I worked in, it really helped to keep the child (who had severe autism) focused to the teacher, even where he had severely impaired auditory processing skills.  

With the children I work with, I would start with teaching the animal vocabulary and give them a choice of pictures to match up with the animal under the flap.  Start with showing two, and asking "where's the ...[animal]?" 

As you can see, I found some similar pictures from a Noah's ark story book I had at home to use for picture matching, and didn't need to use pre-prepared symbols or photos. 


Repetitive stories are great for children who use AAC devices, particularly when first introducing them.  Big mack switches are very simple to record with a single message e.g. "So they sent me a..."  

Other devices with more switches or buttons, or some of the iPad apps can be recorded with other phrases from the book so that you and your child can take it in turns to read together.  What a lovely way to be able to share a bedtime story with your 'non-verbal' child?!

What other books would you like to use, or do you use in therapy?  How else would you use my choice of book?  I would love to hear your thoughts below!


  1. What a great way to start your blog, I especially love the idea around reading a bedtime story with your child as this is something all parents want to do, and this is a lovely way to make it more interactive for a child with special needs.
    I look forward to following further blogs you make (I'm not very blog-savvy either so not sure if that is the right way to say it!!) as I agree in that there are few ideas/support networks for children and families at the more severe end of communication difficulties. Jo :)

  2. Thanks so much for your support Jo :) feel free to make suggestions for future topics!