Traveling in and around the world, we constantly interact with others with varying degrees of success. From a baby’s first grin at a great hovering face to being able to sense that someone wants to be left alone based on her facial cues, humans make decisions based on social cues we learn to both read and perform. However, some children and adults with various social learning challenges may find it difficult to exercise these types of signals.
The Incredible Flexible You by Tom Chapin is a quirky new CD, created as an accompaniment to a Social Thinking curriculum, which can serve as a fun and pressure-free tool for children frustrated by social expectations. Social Thinking is a curriculum developed by Michelle Garcia Winner which “targets improving individual social thinking abilities, regardless of diagnostic label.” The CD is a catchy and fun collection of melodies that kids will love to sing-a-long to.
Tom Chapin, a Grammy-winning children’s music pioneer, has created songs that are clearly about identifying emotions and recognizing body language, but they are so fun and melodic that they don’t feel instructional, just enjoyable. Our favorite is “Show Me What You’re Feeling” which acknowledges how children might feel while providing the appropriate label, When you’re happy, you’re up and open/When you’re sad, you’re closing down/When you’re scared, you’re small and scrunched up/When you’re excited, you jump around. As with most of the songs on the CD, the song beckons the listeners to join in and take part in the call and response that is part of the chorus.
Another fun song that deals specifically with paying attention to social cues is “Look, Think, Guess, Know.” It leads children through clues to help them make a “real good guess” as to when it’s time for stories, clean-up, leaving time, and so on.
You can listen to the first song on the CD, “Where You Think a Thought,“to get a sense of Tom Chapin’s style. The Incredible Flexible You was designed especially to help promote learning in higher-functioning children with social learning challenges, yet the music has wide-ranging appeal, perfect for the classroom and for any family with elementary school-age kids.