Speech Language Pathology

How To Use The Mixed Up Chameleon for Language and Social Skills

Grab the Social Skills & Language Companion HERE

About the Book

The Mixed Up Chameleon, by Eric Carle (author of The Very Hungry Caterpillar and The Grouchy Ladybug among others) is a story about a chameleon who envies other animals and wants a little bit of everything. As he changes parts of his body to become like other animals he loses key parts of what make him a chameleon. In the end the chameleon learns that maybe being yourself is best of all!

How I Use It to Help with Social Thinking Skills

Using Your Eyes For Clues

After reading the story we talk about how how we use our eyes. Using a visual anchor chart, we discuss that the chameleon’s eyes move in all different directions and ours can move several different ways. We talk about what our eyes are there to do (see) and that the Chameleon used his eyes to see what the other animals looked like.

Then we take it a step further and talk about eyes make a path, almost like a laser beam. If we follow a person’s eyes we can find out what they are looking at, and most likely thinking about. For the chameleon, he looked at the polar bear’s big body (compared to his small one) and white fur. So we know what happened- he turned white because he was looking at AND thinking about the polar bear.

Identifying Feelings

Once a child understands that they can follow an eye’s “laser beams” to find out what they are thinking, we add it identifying feelings based on eyes and nonverbal body language. First we complete the worksheet of a variety of peoples eyes displaying varying emotions. We label the feeling we think they feel based on LOOKING at their eyes and then state WHAT clues were there for us.

After we have completed this task, we have some fun with Feeling Charades. For this I typically introduce the different feelings and keep a copy of the feeling on the table. We cut out the feelings as we go over them, fold them up, and put them in a basket. Once we have talked about each feeling the kids take turns acting out the feelings using their body language and facial expression (including eyes!).

Putting It All Together to Make Inferences

The final step of our social thinking skills practice for this book is putting it all together using the How Did The Chameleon Know? worksheet. As a group, we go through each animal and talk about what the chameleon SAW (by tracking his eyes) and then pairing it with what we already KNOW (prior knowledge). For instance, the chameleon saw a big white polar bear and we may know they have that fur because they live in the Arctic. We can guess that the Chameleon, who likes warm weather, would not like to be the polar bear living in the arctic and the polar bear’s fur would be too hot for a dry climate.

How I Use It to Help with Language Skills

Wh- Questions

Throughout the story we “stop and discuss” to answer questions about the story. During the story we keep it simple with “who, what, where” so that the story can keep moving. Following the story, we do a guided retell using Wh- question visual supports.

Describing- Adjectives & Parts

Students complete worksheets to identify the main parts of each animal presented in the story. Another worksheet is available to match the animal to the adjective used by the chameleon to describe them. Next, we use the Expanding Expression Tool (visual writing tool provided) to describe the animal using key details. For groups, we will take two of the animals described by the students and fill in the compare contrast venn diagram to determine how the animals may be similar and different.

Inferences with Context Clues

Our last language activity is Inferencing BINGO. The students love playing BINGO and I love that this is a print and go activity. I print off a BINGO card (up to 4) for each student and give them chips to cover up their squares as we identify animals. I read the context clues for each item and the students say the answer out loud. The first student to get BINGO wins!

How I Use It to Help with Executive Function Skills

Working Memory

As we read the story I bring out the features of each animal that the chameleon changes to one at a time.. At the conclusion students are given the various parts of the animals and asked to retell by adding each key feature onto the Chameleon. The visuals reduce the mental load but still require significant working memory to put in order.

Organization & Planning

Students with executive function difficulties struggle to organize their work and maintain on task. Throughout this packet you find anchor charts for the students to refer back to along with graphic organizers. Tasks build on each other to get repeated exposure. We work on sorting out the key details from the “fluff” to assist in staying focused on the pertinent information to get the task completed.

As you can see…The Mixed Up Chameleon is great for working on so many goals! Make planning easier by taking this book and using the print and go sheets to target your student’s language and social skills goals! Grab this great companion HERE!

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