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Matt and Molly: Puppets Teaching Social Skills!

Matt and Molly: Puppets Teaching Social Skills!

The intervention in brief:

Matt and Molly is an intervention that is intended for Speech-Language Pathologists or SSWs. It ideal for students on the Autism spectrum or with Developmental Delay diagnoses. Matt and Molly are main characters in a series of extremely simple stories. Each story describes one appropriate social behavior in the classroom, home and community settings. The characters also come in puppet form, which I use frequently with my ECSE (early childhood special education) group as well as with Kindergarten students. ECSE is definitely the place I use Matt and Molly the most, in a small group context.

Where I got it and how I changed it:

When I started working with the Early Childhood students in my district, Matt and Molly were the foundation of the current social worker’s intervention.  I quickly figured out why. Matt and Molly is a very flexible program that is also very engaging.

The social worker can relay a simple social scenario using the provided story cards. Each card relays a specific scene, breaking apart activities like taking turns on a slide or sitting down for lunch. I point to the faces or bodies of the children in the scene and ask the students how they think the characters feel.  The curriculum provides many  questions that can help students reflect on ways to detect emotion and mood (eg. why is the teacher frowning?). Some of the stories also lend themselves to “acting it out,” which works well for students who learn better in motion. 

I also use Matt and Molly as a Tier 1 intervention with Kindergarten students. The puppets themselves became a core part of that work as I deviated very, VERY far from the original curriculum. In the Tier 1 setting, the puppets are often characters in whatever simple social scenario I choose. Matt and Molly model learning things like listening, sharing and turn-taking in the basic puppet role-play. I then lead a discussion or read a book about the behavior Matt and Molly demonstrated. 

How I measure it:

All of the students who receive this intervention from me at the Early Childhood level have social work goals per their IEPs. Thus to a certain extent, my assessment of their goals is a partial measurement of this intervention. The intervention itself provides for possible “homework” options, which may be a possible to implement in the future.

If I could go back, what I would do differently:

In the future, I should assess or evaluate Matt and Molly with better specificity. There are some ways that the materials could be manipulated to make this work, especially at the Tier 1 level. This would require assigning homework, which makes me a little nervous, but that is a post for another time.

About The Author(s)


Ruth Orme-Johnson is a school social worker at James Giles Elementary School in Norridge, Illinois. She earned her MSW from Boston University in 2012 and a Bachelors of Education in Social Policy from Northwestern University in 2009. Prior to school social work, Ruth was in non-profit fundraising for five years.

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RSS Community Discussions

  • question December 15, 2018
    Who’s schools use MTSS and has successes implemented it??
  • post December 14, 2018
    Gratitude Friday:  Feeling Like a Kid AgainAs the semester ends and everybody feels a bit ground to bits (myself included), I found myself at the movies last night with our 3 teenage sons watching "Into the Spider-verse." And for 2 hours, it was a rush of remembering being a middle school kid again (just like […]
  • question December 13, 2018
    Looking for information detailing the required/suggested ratio of SSW to students in their state? (Dr. Uretsky, PSU Prof.) Share state and links plz.
  • post December 7, 2018
    Early Childhood SW PLC face-to-face meeting with other EC social workers on Friday, January 11, from 1-3:00 pm at Ann Reid Early Childhood Center at Naperville #203. Donna Nylander from the Governor’s Office will be joining us for a brief discussion on the Pyramid Model. Please let me know if you would like to join […]

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