We previously recommended some of our favorite wordless picture books and how they can benefit language learning. Which made us think, what do kids (often) enjoy more than books… videos! Find me a technologically savvy child (which seems to be a good majority these days) who has not yet explored YouTube and I will be very, very surprised.
The short videos we have listed below are not only fun and engaging to watch, but they are a great (FREE) learning resource. They are appropriate for almost all ages (school-aged child to adult) and are a quick and interactive way to elicit language and make inferences. For a <5 minute video, there is an abundance of language, problem solving, and reasoning skills that can be targeted.
Wordless videos for language learning (with link):
Let’s break down one of our featured videos, Mouse for Sale:
In Mouse for Sale we have an adorable, big-eared mouse who is anxiously waiting in a pet store to be purchased and find a home. He goes through a series of emotional ups and downs during this process, as he has been overlooked or blatantly turned away by some of the store patrons. Until he encounters a boy with whom he shares a connection and is brought home (awww).
So how can we incorporate all of these language skills into this unspoken, concise narrative?
Emotional inferencing: pause the video to take a closer look at each character’s reaction to certain situations. Ask questions like, "What made [character] feel that way?" or “How does the mouse feel after the boys weren't kind to him?”
Making predictions: aka, asking questions like, “What will happen next?” or “What do you think [character] is going to do with [object]?” Did events turn out as predicted or did something "unexpected" happen?
Commenting and asking/responding to questions: use this opportunity to elicit comments and/or ask questions of your own (e.g., “Check it out!”; “Why do you think [character] is ___?”). Another tip: give language to some of the characters in the story and guess what each could be saying.
Expanding sentence structures: take turns describing different characters and events in the video. You can start by using subject + action (e.g., “The mouse is playing”) and increase to a structure like, subject + action + object + location (“The mouse playing with the ball in the pet store”).
Navigating problems: pause the video during a conflict or situation. Identify the problem/conflict and brainstorm probable solutions. Did [character] solve their problem? Are there alternative solutions to the problem?
Retelling: have your child/student retell what happened in the story. Use this opportunity to incorporate transition words (first, then, next, last, etc.) and retell the sequence of events.
Story elements: watch the video and comment on the various story elements featured. Such as, setting, characters, main idea, plot, etc. If you are doing desk work, this can also easily turn into a worksheet or story map.
If you have any other videos you would like to recommend, or share how you use them in therapy - feel free to let us know in the comments below!