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A Wise Old Owl

Updated: Jun 24, 2022

by Lynn Kleiner, Music Rhapsody (This song can be found on spotify!)

There's a wise old owl

with a pointed nose,

two pointed ears

and claws for its toes.

He sits in the tree

and he looks at you

Flap its wings

and he says Hoot Hoot.

Fill-In-The-Blank, is a technique music therapists use A LOT in bringing out speech production in infants, children who are typically developing and children with speech delays. Leaving the last word of each line blank triggers an autonomic speech response in our brain. It's weird for our brain that some words aren't sung/ are left blank in a song, so automatically, children feel the urge to sing it and Ta-da! with that response, we learn that the child was listening to us sing all these time, and the child IS PRODUCING SPEECH SOUNDS, and IS SINGING!

I use this technique a lot with my own children and the children I work with. I have seen results with a 6-year-old boy with Cerebral Palsy and visual impairment who have had NO speech sounds prior to music therapy sessions. We persisted with this technique for half a year singing his favourite ABC song, leaving initially one blank at the end of the phrase, slowly moving onto two to three blanks. The fact that the boy vocalized a few notes in tune showed us that he was engaged and happy, and that his participation in music was not limited to his mobility.

So, try the fill-in-the-blank technique with your own baby! Your infants may be cooing back at you or vocalizing a random sound, and that's OKAY! That's how they all start. Sing slowly and dramatize the pauses, turn any song into a social game. Start with your baby's favourite and move onto other songs that you want to teach them specific target words and leave those blanks! Try this for a few weeks and let me know if you see any changes =) Have fun!

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