Part I here
Snippets & Songs
Though preschool is a time when many children learn nursery rhymes, chants and songs, starting with song snippets works well for children with speech difficulties. A snippet is simply a short, repetitive phrase from a given song. Examples might include "e-i-e-i-o" from Old MacDonald, "perhaps she'll die" from There was an old lady who swallowed a fly or "hi-ho the der-ry-o" from The Farmer in the Dell.
Though each snippet has a different melodic contour, requiring some vocal manipulation, children are not challenged with remembering all the song's lyrics which may pose problems with pronunciation, as well as producing the entire melody. To keep students engaged when using snippets (or entire songs), reinforcing both language and song sequence can be achieved through use of song picture books. These are tradebooks of well-known children's songs, with illustrations (and sometimes recordings), that provide children a visual reference to enhance the auditory experience.
Articles by Jalongo & Ribblett and Routier suggest many language and/or reading applications for these resources; a partial listing of representative books follows this article. A particularly effective snippet from the song, Goin to the Zoo by Tom Paxton, would have children chime in on the underlined rhyming words: "We're goin to the zoo, zoo, zoo, How about you, you, you, You can come too, too, too, We're goin to the zoo, zoo, zoo."
These words are sung on the same pitch so little pitch sense is needed plus the musical lead-in flows naturally to the target pitch. Both a song picture book and recording (by the composer) are available to supplement instruction.
Reinforcing Speech Skills
Regarding actual songs, Mary Zoller, MS, CCC-SLP, advises the purpose of using songs in therapy is not to teach [children] how to sing but to use songs to teach. She adds enunciation, articulation and sequencing of sounds and words within songs can facilitate, stimulate or refine speech.
If you are working on a particular phoneme, say "m," try using the first verse of Miss Mary Mack, a children's hand-clapping song. A soft "p" can be reinforced through Pawpaw patch or a hissy "s" using Sally go round the sun. These songs have a minimal range of pitches plus they are short and very repetitive.
When a song doesn't exist, just create one using a familiar tune. Rain, rain go away is especially adaptable!
When singing, the use of recordings affords the speech professional some musical support and often establishes a key conducive to young voices. Contemporary singers of children's songs include Raffi, Julie Berkner and Joni Bartels. Earlier performers include Hap Palmer and Ella Jenkins. Public libraries and the internet are excellent sources for locating these materials.
Rachel Arnston, MS, CCC-SLP, a speech-language pathologist and author of Kids Express Train teaching tools, highlights the positive use of music in speech-language therapy, and emphasizes that interventions extend beyond the therapy session.
Using vocal play and songs, children can reinforce speech skills on the playground, at home and riding in the car.
- Lindeman, C. (2011). Musical children: engaging children in music experiences. Upper Saddle River, NJ: Prentice-Hall, p. 2.
- Jalongo, M. & D. Ribblett. (1997). Using song picture books to support emergent literacy. Childhood Education, 74(1), 15-22.
- Routier, W.J. (2003). Read me a song: Teaching reading using picture song books. Paper presented at the 48th International Reading Association Annual Meeting. ERIC ED479645.
- Zoller, M. (1991). Use of Music Activities in Speech-Language Therapy. Language, Speech, and Hearing Services in Schools, 22, 272-276.
- Arnston, R. (2006). Music integrated with speech and language therapy. Poster presentation, Miami: American Speech & Hearing Association.
Article from Speech-Language Pathologists and Audiologists