My new favorite book (and I’m pretty sure it is also Joey’s) is Seals on the Bus by Lenny Hort. Seals has everything I look for in a good picture book – a repetitive, rhythmic phrase or lines that a child can learn and sing/move along with, an interesting story line (or any sort of story line), animals (not just the cute ones), and good core vocabulary words. A preschool teacher recommended the book to me, and it is quickly becoming one of my favorites.
Seals on the Bus follows the familiar Wheels on the Bus song, but in this version, various animals climb on the bus, including seals, rabbits, snakes, geese, sheep, and of course, a skunk that ends up chasing off the people on the bus. In the end, the bus arrives at a party, where all the animals and people can play.
The book also worked out well for working on our core vocabulary, since it repeatedly uses the core words On, Go, Up, Down. We also added in emotion words like Scared (the people are scared of the skunk!), and Happy (everyone is happy at the party at the end of the book.) We also used the book to work on More, as more and more animals get onto the bus as it goes along.
Although Joey seemed to like the book the first few times we read it, when I came back two days later he was completely engaged while we read. Once he knew the book and was familiar with its rhythm, he was willingly ready to participate and sing/read along with me. He attempted to roar like the tiger with me, to erp like the seals, and bah like the sheep. It was fun to watch him smile as he “read” the book along with me, anticipating what was coming next, and what each animal would say.
The book is perfect for Joey in particular, because it includes a bus, which is one of his preferred words on his AAC device. He also loves animals, and prefers a goose toy I bring, because he can easily grip the goose’s neck while also making the G sound to say goose.
At the end of our session I sat back and looked at my data from the day. I was shocked by his amount of verbal words. It was clear he’d been attentive and engaged in the book, as he’d attempted to tell me he wanted the objects from the book like goose and bus, and he’d said “up” and “down” with me as we acted out the rabbits going up and down on the bus. He had not just said one or two words, but a string of them. Even better, he’d been primarily focused when he used his AAC device, and had used it to comment on the story, and not to ask to play something else.
Beyond just working on Joey’s core vocabulary, the book also gave us a great opportunity to work on his occupational therapy goals of strengthening his right arm. We used a big bus that he could drop play animals into as we read the book. By positioning the bus on his right side, we were able to encourage him to either cross mid-line to put the animal in the bus, or use his right hand to access the bus.
I love when we find a book that engages Joey, and lets us work on so many skills.