Using Disney Shorts in Speech & Language Treatment

Disney shorts are the secret to my success with telehealth. When the word switched to online treatment due to the COVID-19 pandemic I started using these videos as an unstructured activity for grammar, pragmatic langauge, and narratives. Since then I’ve done lots of research about attention and brain waves during video calls and I find that it helps both my patients and me if we take a short video break half-way through our 45-minute appointment.

Conversational Grammar

As a private practice provider, I believe a huge part of my focus on functional skills is helping children use age-expected speech and langauge skills during conversation. For many of my patients, this means we work on them using correct grammar during conversation.

To work on conversational grammar with Disney short videos I periodically pause the video and ask the child, “What happened?” If the child gives me a grammatically-correct utterance (“Jack Jack grew”) then we play more of the video. If they make a grammatical error (“Jack Jack growed“) then I’ll repeat what they said as a question with emphasis on the error word (“Wait – is it ‘growed’?”). If they’re not able to fix their error I’ll give them choices (“Is it grew or growed?”).

I find the hardest target to work on for this is irregular past-tense verbs so I made a list of irregular past-tense verb targets for my favorite Disney shorts.

Here are some more ideas for working on irregular past-tense verbs.

Narrative Recall

For years I struggled to find stories that were short enough to fit into appointments, yet had solid narrative structure. Many Disney shorts have a good narrative structure, yet they’re often under 10-minutes.

To work on narrative recall with Disney short videos I watch the video with the child then switch over to my FREE narrative worksheet. If a child needs help I’ll either re-watch part of the video or give the child an incorrect response (“Did the little birds want ice cream?”). If that doesn’t help then I’ll give the child hints (“The little birds were happy before the big bird landed”), ask them questions (“When the big bird landed on the wire the little birds all got squished together – what do you think they wanted?”) or give them choices (“Did the little birds want the big bird to go or to stay?”).

Here are some more ideas for working on narratives.

Pragmatic Language

For a lot of kids who are learning to navigate our highly-social world, some of the most advanced skills are inferencing others’ wants, needs, thoughts, and relationships. When I worked in a clinic with lots of people around I had lots of opportunities to practice these skills while using my colleagues and their patients as examples. Since I became a solo provider this has become much more difficult. Disney shorts have become one of the easiest ways to target these skills and they work well for telehealth, too!

Here’s my growing list of pragmatic language questions and answers for Disney shorts.

And here are some more ideas for working on social skills.

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