Bring Children’s Lit into Therapy with “The Hockey Sweater”

I have been feeling a little nostalgic of late and in honour of Canada’s 150th birthday, I thought I would talk about using the book, “The Hockey Sweater” in therapy (no affiliate links).  It is a classic Canadian children’s book.  It is about a boy growing up in Quebec in 1946. All he wants is a new Maurice Richard Montreal Canadiens jersey.  What he gets instead is a Toronto Maple Leafs jersey. Needless to say, he was devastated. This is a great book for early elementary students, especially sports crazy boys.  

“The Hockey Sweater” lends itself perfectly for social language groups.  One of the reasons is that this really happened to the author, Roch Carrier. Here are some ideas:

1. Identifying emotions:  Roch goes from the highest of highs to the lowest of lows.  Students can identify how he is feeling and why he feels the way he does.  

2. Problem solving:  There are many opportunities to talk about solving problems.  What would you do if you were given the wrong jersey? What would you say to your mom? Would you have worn the jersey? How would you have dealt with the hockey coach or all the other children who tease him? What would you have done if you got a penalty? What would you have said if your friend showed up with the “enemies” jersey?

3. Getting to know about another:  This provides a great opportunity to work on conversation skills. What is your favourite sport, team, player?  Why?  What should the children do if they don’t like another child’s favourite team?  This also makes a great writing exercise.

Here is a great National Film Board video retelling the story.  If you are thinking about showing it to your students, just know that there is a little French at the start and the narrator has a Quebecois accent. 

Along with social language, it is great for targeting hockey related vocabulary, verbs and I have also had the children work on describing different hockey jerseys.  In addition, I have had the children design their own jersey (homework) then describe it the next time in therapy.  How would you use this book in therapy?
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