It doesn’t matter what mood I’m in, as soon as I hear the opening chords to “Seasons of Love”- you better believe I’m about to belt it out. Likewise, I have little friends who LOVE to sing. They light up when they hear music. But some kiddos have difficulty participating and if you listen closely, they’re really only singing one word or muttering as best they can. Here are some suggestions on what we can do to help them out:
MAKE IT SLOW
I am forever searching for SLOW songs on youtube. Even wonderful children’s music channels such as Super Simple Songs often (not always) have tempos that can be too fast for children with language disorders or processing difficulties. Their videos are excellent quality and stinkin’ adorable however, so here’s a link:
Seriously… so cute, right?
(By the way: I have written a letter to youtube about this topic- if you see a “slow down” button next to the HD option in the future, let’s high five)
While I have not yet figured out how to hack youtube and customize each video to the needs of individual children (bummer), there are some apps available that allow you to slow songs on your iPad.
The “slow down” app I have experience with is Anytune. It’s easy to use and free (my two number one qualifications for any app). When using Anytune (as opposed to youtube) you loose the benefit of a cute animated video to go along with your song- and that is no small loss. For that reason, these apps may be more appropriate for our older kids with diagnoses such as dysarthria, apraxia, etc. I am still searching for alternatives but for now, click here for a more comprehensive list of “slow downer” apps.
MAKE IT TANGIBLE
I have a whole battery of little manipulatives I use for singing songs. Whether a kid wants to sing Old MacDonald, Baby Bumble Bee, or Itsy Bitsy Spider, you better believe Miss Lindsey has some sort of toy or puppet ready to go. I want to create the magic. The goofier the better.
One of the best investments I have made and, incidentally, the inspiration behind the SpeechyThings logo, is buying a bucketload of bee finger puppets from Oriental Trading Company. These little critters help my kiddos engage in music whether or not they’re ready or able to single along. I passed one bee out to each therapist in my clinic and so far, these little guys have also helped a nonverbal child say a /z/ and another autistic child demonstrate reciprocal play and turn-taking. Pretty cool! But that’s a story for another post.
Anyway. We are SLPs and should be the magical, toy-rich creatures God intended us to be. Get you some finger puppets or dolls to help your little friends engage and sing.
MAKE IT VISUAL
Visuals can be SO IMPORTANT for our younger kiddos and non-readers. Pictures are communication. That is why I created my very first Teachers Pay Teachers product:
I use these visual lyrics in a variety of ways for my kids who have trouble singing along. You should go check it out! It’s free!
I formatted the lyrics left to right, top to bottom, to promote pre-literacy skills. Additionally, only pictures representing key words are included. So many of my kids aren’t to the point where they can speak in 3 or 4 word phrases, much less sing along to an entire song of sentences. If they are ready to sing, they can produce the key words on their own with the help of the visual lyrics. If they’re not ready to sing, they can point along. When you provide them a pause, they can fill in the word with their words or by pointing to the appropriate picture. Bottom line is- they can participate! Who doesn’t love that?
(Since this blog was posted- more visual lyrics have been added to my TpT store! If you love Old MacDonald, click below)
I hope you found some of these recommendations helpful. As always, I would love your feedback and ideas! What do you use in the way of music in your therapy rooms?