I love using these talking trees with all the kids from Kindergarten-6th caseload; general education and mild-moderate. It’s a great way to teach conversation skills by breaking it down to a very basic level. I got the idea from Michelle Garcia Winner’s Social Thinking-Social Learning Tree which compared a child’s social learning to a tree (https://www.socialthinking.com/what-is-social-thinking/social-thinking-social-learning-tree) and "conversation trees". It works great with 2 children, although I have done it with groups of 3 and it works just as well. If I have a group of 4 I will have 2 talking blooming trees going on at once (break the kids into 2 groups of 2).
Here’s how I use the items:
• The roots are the topics of conversation. I have the children each give me 2 topics of conversation (e.g. movies, the weekend, favorite games) then I write each idea with a dry erase marker on the roots. We then pick one topic to talk about then circle the topic that will be used in the conversation.
• Each child is given 5 of each of the conversation cards (5 question, 5 comment, 5 answer). Child A initiates the conversation with a question card, and they place the question card above the roots and begin growing the tree. Child B answers the question and puts their card down, then Child A makes a comment.
• If either of the children says something off topic I insert the “off topic” card (red card) and make a ridiculous noise (just adds a little fun).
• It is going to start out very rigid with the pattern of “question”, “answer”, “comment”, “question”, “answer”, “comment” etc (blue card, yellow card, orange card). Then once the children understand the 3 basic aspects of conversation then I allow more freedom and they don’t have to stick with a certain pattern.
• Higher level children: With the higher level children that are familiar with the talking trees, I give them 10 of each cards and allow them the freedom of the conversation. When the conversation comes to an end (run out of on-topic things to talk about) I look at what cards the kids have left over. If one child has more question cards left over then we talk about how they need to ask more questions, or if one has more comment cards left over then we talk about how a conversation can’t be just questions and answers. (preview picture is an advanced group)
• The branches are just here to make the tree
• Once all the conversation cards are used up or the conversation is over, I give each child 4-5 leaves and a small dry erase marker. I have them write facts that they learned about their partner. Or I tell them that they each have to tell me 4 things they learned about their partner and I write them on the tree (depending on their age). One fact at a time, we add the leaves to the tree and make it bloom ☺ . *Make sure you tell them before starting the talking tree that they will have to make it bloom and remember facts about their friend.
The printing directions are on page two. I included a color copy for those of you who have access to color printers and a black and white copy for those of you who prefer to print on colored paper (the directions for what colors to print what pages are also on page 2). Download, select the pages to print and enjoy!