Music is often used within different types of therapy sessions; speech and language should be no different. When kids hear music, they tend to be less anxious and more willing to try new and different things. When actively engaged with a music session, kids can let go of their fears and become more confident. While doing this, they will work on new skills, be less shy, and boost their fluency with songs. Kids of all ages will enjoy some time singing, dancing, and using music, so think outside of the box.
Younger kids will have fun singing songs that they recognize. If you are simply aiming to work on getting them to let go and use their language skills, finger puppets may do the trick. Pick some songs that kids will be able to sing and act out with these puppets. Pinterest is a great source to look for stick puppet printables that you can laminate and make. Three suggestions that work well would be Old McDonald Had a Farm, The Farmer in the Dell, and There Was an Old Woman Who Swallowed a Fly. These have a lot of parts that will keep multiple children involved. As you sing the song together, have the kids find the next item needed in the song. They can dance and sing while using this puppet. DLTK has a list of nursery rhymes and songs that are a nice starting point. Look to see what may work on sounds that you are targeting and go with those for certain students.
Older children may not want to parade around with puppets, but will enjoy singing silly songs. Use If You’re Happy and You Knit It to personalize it to the needs of those who you work with. Have a box of actions to randomly select when singing to mix it up. Another option would be to have items that begin or end with a specific sound that kids are working on. If the /s/ is the focus sounds they could spin, shout, and scowl. Younger children may enjoy a box of items where they have to make the sound of what they pull from the box. These could be car, trains, animals, or anything else to get them to practice using their voice.
Another more generic way to get kids to work on some sounds is to pseudo-sing. Take a song like Happy Birthday and tell everyone to sing “la” for each syllable of the song instead of the real words. Any other phoneme could be used based on what each child needs. Switch to different songs and mix it up. The kids will think it is silly, but it is working on their tongue thrust.
Share suggestions for kids to practice with families at home. Encourage them to sing together and send in their favorite song to share during a session. Therapists can request for multilingual families to share something that may be special to their culture or country that they came from.