How to Write Language Development Songs for Children with Special Needs


Hey, everyone. Welcome back to The Rhythm Tree.

“If someone does somethin’ nice for you, tell you what, what you could do. You could say… ‘Thank you!” That’s it! You could say, “a’thank you!”

Alright, alright. So, that’s this little ‘thank you’ song that I wrote for my clients. You know, I feel like non-musicians out there who might be trying to pick up some skills with this video blog, they might see something like that and be like ‘Whoa, whoa, whoa! I can’t play the guitar, I’m not that good of a singer and I don’t know how to write a song like that.’ So, I’m here to help you out with that. First of all, I think instead of writing an original song with an original melody, it’s much easier to take a familiar melody. Some great ones are the melody to ‘Old McDonald,’ ‘Brother John,’ ‘Wheels on the Bus,’ ‘Twinkle, Twinkle Little Star,’ of course, ‘Skip to my Lou’… Songs like that that most people are familiar with. So, let’s see. If I wanted to write us a ‘thank you’ song using one of those melodies… What I usually do is hum the melody first, so, start with ‘Twinkle, Twinkle’… “Someone gives something nice to you, you can say… ‘Thank you!’ You can say… ‘Thank you!’ Yes, you can say… ‘Thank you!’ If someone gives something nice to you, you could say… ‘Thank you!’” So, I mean, I do this all the time so it’s a little bit easier. But, I bet if you spent a few minutes working with a familiar melody and some expressive communication with your child or your client, you would be able to come up with something fun, musical and motivating.

A couple of other things about this video clip… One thing I didn’t do but I could have done is bring in some hand puppets. As you know, I love hand puppets. It could have also been fun to have a hand puppet saying ‘thank you’ and, again, putting pressure on the hand puppet if it’s really challenging for the child or having the child teach the hand puppet what to say… Those are great strategies. I did role model and took a lot of turns so that’s how I worked that in. But, another thing I think is really important is immediately generalizing the skill. Yeah, it’s great to sing these songs with kids but if you don’t put it to practice and generalize it in real-life environments, I don’t really see the therapeutic value. I didn’t even wait until the end of the song… In the middle of the song, I stopped and said, “Okay, let’s practice this!” I handed my client a Boomwhacker, a fun instrument, and had him say “thank you” and we got right back into the song.

I hope you find this helpful. Please check out the other videos on my video blog at Please check out my store – there are some fun things going on in there with my DVD package and I hope to see you again next week.

Take care, thanks.


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