There are so many reasons why I love watching animated clips while working with my social kids: they are short (so you can stop-start to discuss and still get through it all in 30 minutes), they are engaging (so attention is typically not an issue) and they usually don’t have much language (which means lots of opportunities to interpret facial expressions and body language).
I must have watched EVERY single short animated clip out there on YouTube and thought I’d compile my Top 10 that showcases a variety of perspectives and thoughts. If you haven’t read my post about using YouTube in therapy, then have a quick read (and learn from my mistakes before you make them!). I’m sure you are already a Social Thinking® fan (an amazing teaching methodology created by Michelle Garcia Winner) so you can use these videos to help develop TONS of perspective taking concepts discussed in Thinking about You, Thinking about Me.
My biggest tip to get you started is to have some visuals of different feelings and emotions handy and/or a list of emotions if you are working with older students. When I didn’t use visuals and probed ‘how is he feeling?’ I either got “I don’t know” or one of the ‘common three’ emotions as I call them: happy, sad, angry. My go-to list for older students or those with stronger language skills is from Wikipedia as it categorises emotions and allows for a great discussion and vocabulary learning exercise (“is he angry or outraged?”). For younger students I use Thoughts and Feelings cards as I find that they really need something concrete AND visual. It works well to give a choice of 3 (e.g. “What is the man feeling: frustrated, angry or excited?) until they have consolidated the word meanings.
- Mouse for Sale: This clip is about a mouse who looks different and is having a hard time being sold at a pet shop. It has some lovely ‘eyeball’ moments where we use our arrows to see what characters are thinking about. I also love getting my kids to ‘think with their eyes’ from a Social Thinking® perspective and tell me what might happen next.
- Tone Deaf: This is particularly lovely if you have girls in your social group as it’s about a tone deaf princess (who has the most awful voice) and is really quite unaware that her singing is terrible (she’s not checking in!)
Draws great parallels to your students who might also be missing a lot of social cues and there is a particularly great scene where they use a thought bubble.
- Playmate: I like this clip to teach that other people are thinking about our actions. A boy starts to mistreat his toy robot when he gets a new friend – has a great range of emotions and feelings.
- For the Birds: I love this clip because it can reflect what happens with my kids in social situations – where a friendly bird is not really reading the other bird’s facial expressions, body language and thoughts. Fantastic ‘eyeballs’ capturing a range of emotions.
- Partly Cloudy: This is great to whip out your thought bubbles for a lot of ‘what is he thinking?’ probes. It has some nice imagery for emotions when the cloud is sad (it rains) and angry (thunderstorms).
- Carrot Crazy: This is another funny clip and I love exploring vocabulary with this. We rank emotions and see how feelings start to escalate (e.g. from annoyed-frustrated-angry-furious-outraged etc.) as two hunters battle it out to lure a hungry rabbit with carrots – has a very unexpected ending – I like to get my kids to predict what will happen next along the way.
- Embarked: A boy moves house and his tree house decides to follow him. Very good to use with thought bubbles and to explore different vocabulary other than ‘sad’.
- The Egyptian Pyramids: This is a bit of a funny one involving a camel and an architect who discover something new in Egypt with a few surprises and confusion thrown in for different thoughts and feelings. I also like to put speech bubbles next to the characters and voice what they might be saying.
- Runaway: While this has some spoken language, I love the facial expressions and the eye gaze in this funny clip about a fridge that has broken and thinks his owner will replace him. A good clip for thinking flexibly about different scenarios.
- What the Fly: A conductor of an orchestra has to juggle flies buzzing around him while trying to conduct. Good facial expressions, but the body language is fantastic as it directly impacts the music… when the conductor moves his hand fast, the music speeds up.
I have many, many more favourites cued up on my playlist (have you got a YouTube playlist and account?), but feel free to follow my Pinterest board “Videos for Social Skills + Thinking” and I’ll keep adding!