Singing in Speech Therapy

Guest Authored By Elaine Tierney, MS, CCC-SLP

We sing a lot of songs in speech therapy! This is because nursery rhymes and made up songs are a great opportunity to work on speechlanguage, and listening skills. Songs are also a perfect time to work on eye contact, gestures, sounds, and words

  How to work on eye contact:  

  • Infants – Sit on the couch with your infant resting on your legs, facing you. This is a wonderful position to build eye contact while singing because your child is looking up at your face and watching your lips move.
  • Toddlers – Sit facing each other and start singing. If your child does not join in, then you can periodically pause singing the song and wait for them to look at you to resume singing.  

For example  

adult: “the wheels on the bus go…”  

child: (looks at you)  

adult: “round and round” 

How to work on gestures:  

  • Gestures encompass a variety of body movements, such as reaching, pointing, waving, and basic sign language.  
  • Infants – While you are singing, model little gestures that go along with the song. For example, roll your hands during The Wheels on the Bus.

  • Toddlers – Use the same gestures that you have been modeling, but now we want your child to use them with us. If your child is not yet talking, gestures can be a great way to request a certain song or continuation of the nursery rhyme.  

For example  

adult: “the wheels on the bus go…”  

child: (rolls hands)  

adult: “round and round” 

How to work on sounds:  

  • Infants – Encourage your baby to babble and make sounds while you are singing. Feel free to copy those sounds back to him to make up your own little songs. 
  • Toddlers – We can progress from gestures to sounds to have your child request continuation of the song. Now when we pause, your child needs to make a sound such as the first sound of the next word or an “m” sound for ‘more.’  

For example  

adult: “the wheels on the bus go…”  


adult: “round and round” 

How to work on words:  

  • Toddlers – We now want your child to say the next word or phrase when we pause our singing.  

For example  

adult: “the wheels on the bus go…”  

child“round” or “round and round”   

adult“the wheels on the bus go”  

Below is a list of some of our favorite songs to sing in speech therapy. But feel free to make up your own songs about things you are doing together around the house or fun toys.  

If You’re Happy and You Know It 

I’m a Little Teapot 

Jingle Bells 

Old Macdonald 

Five in the bed 

10 Green Speckled Frogs 

Patty Cake 

Happy Birthday 

Head Shoulders Knees Toes 

5 Little Monkeys Jumping on the Bed 

Open Shut Them 

Baby bumblebee