Using Short Films in Speech Language Therapy: Benefits and SLP Companions

One of my favorite ways to help students develop language skills is by using wordless video shorts by Pixar and others.
My favorite things about using short films in therapy:
  • They're short! (Duh). These videos are the perfect length for 30-minute sessions- 5-10 minutes of video with ample time leftover for discussion.
  • They're free! Although I'm sure they are not supposed to be available for free on YouTube, many great short films are! This means that there is nothing to buy or haul around with you (except a viewing device), which is always appreciated by traveling SLPs and those of us working out of closet sized spaces.
  • Naturally approachable & engaging. Anything on a screen is inherently more engaging, but I think the wordlessness makes them even more approachable for kids with language disorders. They have a rare opportunity to engage with material without struggling to understand language and vocabulary - This is a luxury for kids with language impairments! Because the films are wordless, they usually feature interesting music/sounds, bright colors, and animated expressions - all of which adds more excitement than traditional picture stimuli.
  • Opportunities for inference and prediction making: I pause the video frequently as we watch to pose questions to the students and model my thinking. This allows plenty of opportunities for students to make and explain predictions and inferences - probably more so than any other activity I have to target these higher level language skills.
  • Extension activities galore: Sequencing and summarizing activities are natural extension activities, as well as vocabulary development and expressive language targets (e.g., expanding sentence length and complexity, using target grammatical constructions). Social language targets including problem solving, perspective-taking, and facial expression analysis/feelings fit in very nicely.
Data collection is always tricky, especially when trying to record a student's ability to make and explain inferences. I'm in the process of making data collection sheets that should help with that... I'm thinking of making a big set of them, but I'm offering the first one for free as I work out the kinks.

Comments and suggestions are welcomed!

See more great ideas for using short films from:


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