These teletherapy resources are free, open ended and adaptable by any therapist or counselor and require almost zero preparation- Short animated films are a total hidden gem in the pediatric teletherapy world. These videos usually do not have dialogue, so they allow for open-ended conversation and endless language targets. These videos will be highlighted from a speech and language pathologist perspective and how to use them for language treatment; however, any mental health professionals out there could also utilize these films. Many of them focus on emotions and empathy and there’s often a “moral of the story”. They make great conversation starters.
We’re going to eventually get to the list of absolute favorite animated films to utilize, but first let’s review the therapy strategies and targets that pair well with these films.
Depending on the skill level or age of your client, either plan to pause the video every 1-2 minutes to ask them some “who, what, where questions”, or have them watch the whole video before you ask them comprehension questions. For older children, they could practice their note taking skills while they watch it, then answer “wh” questions at the end. You might also want to have a discussion about how effectively they were able to pull out key points (i.e., did they remember or take notes on the topics you asked about?). Another great “wh” question to target with these films is “Why do you think ____?”. For example “Why do you think the boy was crying at the end?” Expand on wh questions, by asking the child to support their answer with details from the film.
Story Retell/Note-taking skills/Main Idea and Details
This is an easy one to adapt based on your client’s skill level. For most of my middle and high school students, you can add a story map PDF to your resources folder on Theraplatform and ask them to fill it out after they watch the video. Once they are done, you can have them verbally retell the story. To adjust the difficulty level, think about whether the child would benefit from a discussion about the video before they start the project, or if they are independent enough to interpret all the meaning from the silent film themselves without any hints from you. Provide them with feedback on whether they pulled out the most important details from the story. Prompt them to use sequence terms like “first, then, last”.
Speaking of sequencing, that’s a super easy skill to target with short silent films. For an easy receptive task ask something like “Did the girl go to school before or after she went to the park?”. For an expressive task, ask the child to draw a three-step picture sequence on the whiteboard then use the pictures to retell the story using sequential terms like “first, then, last”.
This is one of the MOST relevant skills to target and one of the main reasons why these films are so great for therapy. Most of the films do not have dialogue. The child must infer constantly in order to figure out what’s going on. Depending on the child’s skill level, you may want to pause every 30-60s to ask “Ok so what’s going on now?” or “What do you think will happen next?”. As their skills improve, have them watch the whole video, then use their inference skills to summarize the whole film. Don’t forget to ask the child to support their answer with evidence from the film and have them rewatch scenes that they did interpret correctly.
Empathy/Emotion Education/Social Skills/Problem Solving
This is another one where the lack of dialogue is a perk. Help the child identify and discuss the character’s feelings. Talk about what their body language tells the viewer. Highlight to the child that we are always communicating, even when we aren’t talking. You might say something like “Isn’t it cool that they told a whole story without any words,” then talk about what sorts of “stories” we tell with our body language (e.g., laying our head down in class tells everyone we are tired or bored, crossing our arms might tell someone we don’t want to talk to them, eye contact tells someone we are interested in what they are saying).
The videos make an excellent visual prompt for all sorts of syntax and sentence formulation tasks. For example “We’ve talked about the word ‘analyze’ this week. I noticed someone analyzing something in the film. Tell me a sentence about the video, using the word analyze”. You could also pause every 30-60 seconds during the film, and ask the child questions to probe their use of verb tense. Talk about what ALREADY happened, what IS happening, and what WILL happen.
Conversational turn taking
Have the child make up dialogue that the characters may have wanted to say or may have thought in their heads. Use the whiteboard to add a visual component and maybe create a comic book like creation!
So that right there is how one can get through an entire semester of online therapy with almost no session planning time. If you do it right, you can get several sessions out of each video, and you can certainly circle back a month or two later, to a video you already watched. The second time you watch the video together, increase the difficulty of your tasks and reduce your support. You might just be amazed at the progress the client has made.
So without further hesitation here is the list...
Top 10 Favorite Videos on Youtube to Use in Teletherapy
1. Carrot Crazy (Ringling College of Art and Design)
2. Day & Night (Pixar)
3. Piper (Pixar)
4. Erste Christmas Ad 2018: What would Christmas be without love? (Erste Group)
5. For The Birds (Pixar)
6. Jack Jack Attack (Disney)
7. Lifted (Pixar)
8. Partly Cloudy (Pixar)
9. Pip: A Short Animated Film (Southeastern Guide Dogs)
Don’t forget that there’s no need to bookmark these links or pull up multiple tabs during your sessions. Just create a folder within your video resources on Theraplatform called “Shorts” and add them all, so they are there when you’re ready!
Let's keep this list going!! Mention your favorite Youtube Videos for teletherapy in the comment below and we will add them to the list.