Brown Squirrel…Fall Songs for Toddlers…Therapy Tip of the Week 11.11.17


I am continuing my series of fall songs and this is the second segment.

Most young children love music activities and singing songs.

But occasionally, a toddler will cover his ears or act uncomfortable when you sing, but his negative responses are due to his own auditory sensitivities, not your ability! When this happens, we should find a way to adjust to see if singing differently makes it more tolerable for a kid who hates singing!

Don’t sing…chant!

My favorite strategy when I run across a child like this is to try chanting – which is what we’ll be doing in this activity today. Speaking I this rhythmic, almost whispery way, can be very enticing for children who don’t like singing.

Music resets the vibe (for all of us!)

Music is important strategy for pediatric therapists because it can set (or reset!) the emotional vibe for all of us. It works well for adults who are feeling at a loss for what to try when things are falling apart. When all else fails, SING!

It works even better for toddlers with developmental delays who are dysregulated. Music can redirect or shift their focus away from external factors that have triggered a negative response. The right song can be calming for kids who are overstimulated. If you don’t want to be quite so technical about it, music can help a kid who’s in a plain old bad mood start to feel a little happier!

We should always have a song or two ready to go for these situations. Traditional songs are fine, of course, but today I want to teach you a super cute song for fall. This one is about squirrels.

Brown Squirrel

“Squirrel” will likely be a HARD word for lots of toddlers to say – especially for late talkers who are struggling to acquire speech-language skills. Now is not the time to be picky about articulation! Accept any approximation of this phonetically complex word!

Anytime a concept is new, it helps to have a visual representation to help kids link meaning. Since squirrel will be new for most toddlers, I sing this song when I’m outside with a kid or looking out the window and we’ve seen a squirrel. Otherwise, get yourself some kind of squirrel to use to make this word come to life.

My current favorite “squirrel” to use with toddlers is from a super cute board game called Sneaky Snacky Squirrel. I sing this song to extend the game with kids during sessions. Read this post for more ways to use this game with late talkers.

This song has fun hand motions, too, (watch the video!) which is a tip for helping redirect a child’s attention and reset his emotional response. I get a better response from toddlers when we sing this song standing. You may know this song as Grey Squirrel, but I sing it as brown squirrel since all of my props are brown!

The words are…

Brown Squirrel, Brown Squirrel

Shake your bushy tail.

Brown Squirrel, Brown Squirrel

Shake your bushy tail.

Wrinkle up your little nose,

Put a nut between your toes,

Brown Squirrel, Brown Squirrel,

Shake your bushy tail.



For variations, change the color word if you’d like to add more verses. When you’re working with a child who is obsessed with color words, you could certainly draw him in by changing the colors in this song.

Lots of adults may think about using this song to teaching or reinforcing color words for toddlers, but I’m not a fan of using my therapy time to teach these words to late talkers who have limited vocabularies. They need more functional words! Read about that here.

However, I do love this song for teaching body parts! In this song, you’ll work on “nose” and “toes,” very important words for toddlers!

More Resources

If you’d like more therapy ideas like this, especially to target receptive language, let me direct your attention to my newest resource for parents and professionals. It’s called Let’s Talk About Talking…Ways to Strengthen the 11 Skills All Toddlers Master Before Words Emerge. You’ll find 300+ pages of ways to work with late talkers! It’s filled with tons and tons of great therapy activities tied to prelinguistic skills that ALL kids must master before they begin to talk. Get more information at this link!




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