Playtime with Zeebu: Educational Resources for Children on the Autistic Spectrum

Table of Contents

User's Guide

Puppet Show Ideas

Interacting with our puppets is so much fun that children don’t even know they are learning!

  • Role play exact scenes from the video. This is a great way to reinforce and model.
  • Sing songs from the video with your puppet, have fun with it, dance around!
  • Create your own show; add some silliness to experience emotion sharing between you and the children. (Maybe you have a crazy monkey sound that makes them laugh every time)
  • Modify a scene just enough to add something that is specific to the needs of the child you are working with. This is an opportunity to target social areas that children need to practice.
  • Record your puppet shows and play them back for children to see.
  • Practice “What is your Zeebu puppet thinking about?” by following his eye gaze. After children find out what Zeebu is looking at and thinking about, they can ask Zeebu a question about it. (For example, if Zeebu is looking at the refrigerator, the child may ask, “Are you hungry?”)
  • Have children create a puppet character that represents themselves. It can be as simple as cutting out a body from paper and adding a popsicle stick. Children then can be added to any scenario.
    Download Popsicle Template (PDF Document, 319 KB)

Activities While Watching

Pause the Video
Stopping the video briefly highlights what is important to you. It is also a wonderful way to get children focused on a particular event or emotion.

  • Pause on emotions, whatever emotion the puppet on the screen is having, pause on that emotion and label it. Make the same emotion on your face so the child can reference how you look when you feel that way.
  • Pause to comment about what is happening. Make statements about how you feel. “Wow, they like to share, I like that” or “I hope they decide to play together.” Commenting rather than asking for a response to a direct question will help create a mindset of sharing perspective.
  • Pause to talk about what may happen next. You can make “I wonder” statements about what you think will happen next. Say; “I wonder if Neek and Jumby will look at their friend’s faces?” or “I wonder if they are going to share the train?” Children may join in with their own “I wonder” statements.
  • Pause to talk about where a character’s eyes are looking and what they may be thinking. You may say, “Neek is looking at Banya, he must be thinking about her.” Expand on this further by telling children why you think Neek is thinking about Banya. “Maybe he is looking and thinking about Banya because he wants a turn.”
  • Pause to practice 5 slow deep breaths. Talk to children about how the breaths make them feel. Share and model how you feel before, during, and after breathing.
Helpful Hint:

When pausing the video it is helpful to tell children before you start that you plan to pause it and talk about it. Some children may need to know exactly how many times you plan to pause. You can also let them know that after you go through and pause, children will be able to watch the whole video again without pausing the second time.

Use Zeebu to comment

With Zeebu on your hand, children feel like they are watching the video with a friend. He can make comments as the movie plays. When Zeebu comments, rather than asks questions, there is no right or wrong answer. Communication becomes about sharing Zeebu’s ideas and thoughts as well as the child’s ideas and thoughts. Children feel comfortable with this type of exchange.

Example comments are:

“I like it when Neek shares”
“That was funny!”
“Oh boy, Banya is scared.”
“I get sad when my friends don’t share with me too”
“Wow, now they are happy”
“They are having fun taking turns”
“The next time I play with my solar system I am going to share it”

Create a “T” chart.

As the characters in the video react to situations, record that character’s choice on a T chart titled OK choice and NOT OK choice. This helps children see that these are “choices” that characters make, which in turn will help children realize they have choices when they decide how to behave. It also reinforces acceptable and unacceptable behaviors in a visual way. Hang your chart on the wall as a reminder.
Download T-Chart Template (PDF Document, 311 KB)


  • Use the power of your eyes to build a tower. Can your child pick up the block you are looking at and thinking about? Take turns building.
  • Thinking about you ball game. Throw a ball to the person who is looking at you, because if they are looking at you they are thinking about you
  • What am I thinking about game. Look around the room at objects. Can children guess what you are looking at? When they figure out what you are looking at can they figure out what you are thinking about?
  • Power of your eyes for an hour game. Instead of talking, practice thinking and communicating with the power of your eyes. This is a great way to increase eye-contact and non-verbal communication skills. Children will make the connection, understanding that you can think with your eyes.


Create your own thought bubble.

Laminate a thought bubble of your own and put it on a stick. Use it to highlight your emotions and how you feel. Write down what you are thinking onto your thought bubble and hold it over your head. Children will notice that you have your own thoughts and feelings. The thought bubble spotlights emotions you are experiencing. Once they are hooked, children may want to start making thought bubbles for their emotions too.

Download Thought Bubble Template (PDF Document, 311 KB)

Use Zeebu for calming.

When you feel that a child may be showing signs of anxiety, put Zeebu on your hand and have Zeebu do five slow deep breaths together with that child. Zeebu will become a friendly calming tool. Children will learn to associate Zeebu with breathing deeply. Keep Zeebu in a spot where children can find him, this way children may learn to find the puppet all by themselves when they need to calm down.