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Using Songs in Therapy: "Ducks Like Rain"

When I'm in a preschool class, I sing ALL. THE. TIME.  The running joke is that we are professional singers even though we are not great singers by any means.  To name a few, we sing to teach new concepts, we sing during transitions, and we sing to help children calm down.  For more information on how I use music in therapy check out this older blog post. 

A teacher who I used to work with taught me one of my favourite songs, "Ducks Like Rain." It is perfect for spring or farm themes.  It's ideal for preschoolers, but kindergarten children also like it.  It works well one-on-one and in groups.  Children who are hard to engage frequently respond to this song.   As well, it's perfect for children who are just starting to talk, are using PECS,  or using other types of visual communication systems.

The only props you need for this song is a spray bottle full of water and any communication systems you may be using.  Click here for a copy of the lyrics.  How I use this is that I will sing most of the song and then pause when we get to the "quacks." I then wait until the child(ren) responds with "quack" and then I spray them with water.  Some kids don't like to get sprayed.  I then teach them to respond with a phrase such as "don't spray" which I then honor.  Here I am singing it for you.

If the children want to hear it again, then I wait for "sing again," or "more ducks" or some such response.  One reason I like this is that it doesn't take long to sing.  Many children sing or do the actions during the song, so they become active participants.  

Let me know how it goes if you try it out!

Why Children Thrive on Routines

I had a friend say the other day, "Why do you talk so much about routines and being consistent?" We had been brainstorming ideas how to help her little one be more successful in preschool.  I'm a big advocate of consistency and routine regardless of whether they have a speech and language delay or not. Here are some of my beliefs.

1.  Children thrive on predicability.  Really who doesn't?  My day always run more smoothly when I know what is going to happen that day.  When I get to work, and everything has changed, and I have to react, I tend to become grouchy. 

2. Routines allow children to focus less or stress less about what is coming next.  Consistency allows them to concentrate on learning, playing, building language, or improving their speech.   

3. For children working on developing their language skills, routines allow children to hear and or practice vocabulary,  concepts,  frequently enough that it will help active their goals and help with generalization.

4. Routines, structure, and predictability allow children to test boundaries in safe ways.  All children test boundaries; it is a part of growing up and becoming more independent. BUT we want them to be relatively safe when doing so. We want the consequences of their tries to be successful.  Meaning that they will have pushed a boundary out and have gained more independence or they will learn that that boundary is firmly in place.  

5. Establishing routines, structure, and consistency at a young age helps children as they grow.  In school, children need to function in a classroom. They are in a group of many other children with only one or two adults in the room.  They need to be able to follow someone else's agenda and not have meltdowns because they are no longer in charge or have rarely heard the word, "No" and do not know how to handle it. In therapy, it means that they have to know that they are are going to follow the directions of the Speech-Language Pathologist and are not going to be upset when you are playing a different game today or worse yet, not playing a game at all.

So what can we do to help children establish routines?  

1. It is important to be consistent which can be tough if the routine you are introducing is unpopular.  It sometimes helps to have a game plan and write down what the new routines are going to look like and how you are going to react if the child(ren) you are with are not happy with the changes.

2. Use visuals.  They really do work, and I'm probably preaching to the choir.  Here is a blog post I wrote about why you should use visuals.

3. Keep in mind who and why you are creating the new routine.  Especially a the beginning try to use activities, games, rewards (if you use them) that the children enjoy.  They will be willing to participate if it is fun, or they are getting something out of it. 

Establishing routines can be hard, but the effort is well worth it and will help everyone function better in the classroom, therapy room or home much better.