General Principles of using song to support early interaction, AAC and other learning

These are just some suggestions which might be helpful in adapting songs so that all learners can join in and enjoy them.

Enable learners to choose which song they would like to sing by offering a selection of symbols and words or a voice output device overlay which represent the song choices.

Sing the song slowly. You will notice the way the songs are sung on the CD. When songs are sung at this relaxed tempo, learners can join in making signs and sounds, controlling their voice output devices and following the activity.

AAC device big step
AAC device Big Step

Use age and gender appropriate voice on AAC voice output devices. I know this can be difficult to organize. One way I have found which works fairly well and is not too time consuming is to ask another learner who has a clear voice to record the AAC singer’s phrases onto mini disc. You have to have the mini disc player and loudspeakers available to you when you want to sing. You can then select the track you want and play it into the voice output device.

You’ll need to keep a record of the pitch of the first note. That way you will be singing in the same key as the AAC singer. Use a recorder or some pitch pipes to sound out the first note.

Always use signing while you sing, wherever possible.

If you are working in a small group, include everyone who is present in the activity as far as possible – teachers, learning support assistants, visitors &c. This way everyone gets a turn at being active and the learners can observe others’ performances at different skill levels.

When you are pointing towards someone in a group, try to use an open-handed, palm upwards point rather than a direct finger point. This is a gentler and less aggressive way of inviting someone to participate.

You will find simple books for most of the songs on the Widgit website. These use the Communicate: In Print program. This helps learners to develop literacy skills in a very supported and enjoyable way.

It can be helpful to make up ‘song packs’ in transparent pockets, so all the resources – voice output device overlays, switch cap symbols, ‘Communicate: In Print’ books, sign prompt sheets, large laminated symbols, large text set of words, symbolized set of words and anything else that is needed, can be organized in one place. The pack can then be placed in a box along with any props and AAC devices that are needed.

Also, if you find a new and effective way of using the songs or equipment, you can keep a record of it and it will not be forgotten.