Pairing Objects and Songs-A Wonderful Way to Use Tangible Objects for Communication

Date Posted: 06/28/2011

A wonderful way to begin using tangible objects for communication is to select a set of objects and pair them with specific songs and rhythmic movements/gestures. This is a motivating and fun way that allows the student to learn to associate an object with a specific event (the singing and gesture of a song). There is no right or wrong way to get started. You can select your songs first or select your objects first. Do what makes sense to you! Here is one way you might approach the process:
  • Select a song you know your student likes. For example, "Row, Row, Row Your Boat."
  • Select an object to go along with the song. For example, you might find a colorful, plastic boat that you feel your student would find visually and/or tactually inviting.
  • Select a gesture to go along with the song and object. For example, for "Row, Row, Row Your Boat," you and the student might hold the boat together and while singing, push the boat back and forth.
  • Begin using all three elements together—the song, the object, and the gesture. Do this over and over until you feel your student shows anticipation or understanding of the routine. How will you know your student has made the connection between the object and the song/gesture? You might find that soon when your student touches the boat, he begins to move his hands back and forth in the familiar gesture. Or, maybe your student begins to hum the song when you hold the boat and move it together.
  • Gradually, add additional songs/objects/gestures. Try to have at least two combinations to offer to your student. Try to select a different type of movement for each song (i.e., shaking, rolling, tapping, etc.). This will allow you to present two objects and ask your student to pick which one he or she wants.
  • Present two or more objects and ask your student, "What do you want?" When the student reaches out for one of the objects, immediately use the object, sing the song and perform the gesture. Repeat over and over. The student can then request a specific song by reaching for the corresponding object.

    Example: Two different objects in a two-slotted schedule box. The pop beads represent the song "Pop Goes the Weasle." The adult and student pop the beads together and apart while singing. The star represents the song "Twinkle, Twinkle Little Star." The adult and the student reach their hands up together and put the star above theirs heads while singing the song.

    Object: Shaker

    Song: "I’m gonna shake, shake, shake my sillies out,…"

    Gesture: Shake in one hand

    Object: Roller with 4 Bells

    Song: "If you’re happy and you know it, roll the bells,…"

    Gesture: Roll the bells on wheelchair tray

    So, go ahead and make some music! Don’t forget to share your successes with us!

    Gail Feld, BESB Preschool TVI, (800) 842-4510 x4232
    Gigi Whitford, BESB Special Services TVI, (800) 842-4510 x4185

    Contact: Gail Feld and Gigi Whitford, TVI, Connecticut Stat

    Phone: (800) 842-4510 ext. 4232

    Email: or

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