8 Interesting Interventions for School Age Children

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Looking for new interventions to bring to your sessions with school age children? Here are a few helpful interventions to try, suggested by MTSP intern, Madalyn Hupf!

Instrument Repeat

Goals: memory recall and sequencing.

My personal preference is to use this during in person sessions because I can provide multiple layers of stimulation for the client (auditory stimulation from guitar and instrument play, tactile stimulation from holding instruments, and cognitive stimulation from sequencing). 

(Suggested) Repertoire: “Nations of the World” 

Equipment: Any assorted percussion of your choice. I've used Cabasa, jingle bells, boom whackers, double headed drum, and more.

  • Place instruments on a hard surface
  • Prompt client to choose an instrument with sung directives (“first we play the [chosen instrument], [client name] plays the [chosen instrument]”) 
  • Accompany instrument play for 4 to 8 measures
  • Sing through the sequence of instruments chosen (“first we played the …, next we played the …, then we’ll play the …” etc.), having the client put one instrument down before moving to the next
  • Repeat steps until all instruments have been played

Additional Considerations: Make instrument sequencing in sections of 4 to provide a strong musical association. Adjust the length of the sequence based on time and attention. Spread instruments out to work on crossing midline. 

Hidden Instrument Bingo

Goals: sustaining attention and increasing engagement. 

Equipment: Spinner, bingo sheet, instruments on the sheet, expo marker if in person. You can adapt this to include whichever instruments you would like.

  • Hide instruments before the session starts
  • Hand out bingo cards to each client
  • Pull up a physical or virtual spinner (I like to use an app called Daily Decision)
  • Take turns spinning the wheel and finding the corresponding instrument
  • Each individual must play the instrument found for the duration of a standard I, IV, V progression (repeated twice) before crossing it off of the card.
  • Repeat until someone has a bingo. 

Additional Considerations: This intervention can take up to 30+ minutes in session. To accommodate for time, it may be helpful to lower the amount of instruments used during the intervention, or hide the instruments in easier / more difficult spots. In virtual settings, it has been helpful to move the computer around the room until the client says stop. Alternatively, you can encourage auditory discrimination by lining up the instruments to see if the client can remember the order of the instruments by the sound they make off screen.

Screenshot 2024-06-27 at 3.27.27 PM

Escape Room Session

*goals addressed will vary based on the interventions you choose to include.  

Goals: increasing participation in preferred activities, increasing on task behaviors, leadership and collaboration 

Suggested Interventions: cup rhythms, hidden clues on instruments, rhythm decoding, egg toss

Equipment: Cups, Rhythm sticks, White board, expo marker, sticky notes,, thunder tube, rain stick, frame drum, singing bowl, note cards, egg shakers, drums, iPad, visuals

  • Use approximately 5-6 interventions in session
  • Place a “lock” on door before client enters session room 
  • At the conclusion of each intervention reveal a number as part of a code
  • At the end of the session client will arrange numbers to find the correct code 
  •  Client will place the correct code on the “lock” in order to “escape” the session

Additional Considerations: consider adding more interventions to make sure that the entire session time is filled. Continue to use the theme and swap out certain interventions.


Goals: gross motor skills, academic skills (counting), and sustaining attention

Suggested Repertoire: “Rocket Ship Run” by Laurie Berkner (lyrics are changed to “5, 4, 3, 2, 1 hopscotch, another hopscotch hop”)

Equipment: Guitar, 2 dice, dot visuals 

  • Place dot visuals on the floor as you would drawing hopscotch numbers 
  • Sing the song as a count down to roll the dice
  • Roll the dice
  • Jump (hopscotch style) to the corresponding number on the floor
  • Throughout the activity, encourage the client to count the number of dots on the dice and the number of dots on the floor 

Additional Considerations: 

To work on fine motor and continue to promote counting from 1 - 6, use a dice you can draw on and encourage clients to draw the dots for each number. Consider using other children's songs to piggyback on for variety. Use of a spinner if preferred by the client 

When I Feel (Blank)

Goals: anxiety management, emotional processing, identifying coping skills 

Suggested Repertoire: 12 bar blues; When I Feel (Blank)

Equipment: Guitar, paper and pencil/google doc

  • Pull up When I Feel (blank) lyric rewrite. 
  • Choose an emotion to fill in blank 1
  • Identify three coping skills
  • Place one coping skill in blanks 2 - 4
  • Encourage client to demonstrate coping skills in each verse
  • Sing through each verse upon completion
  • Repeat the process for 3 - 4 verses

Additional Considerations: Add or subtract verses to the rewrite depending on client’s engagement into intervention. Having emotions already put into verses may be beneficial if there is concern about choice fatigue. The use of an emotion wheel is great to use to help clients think about more complex emotions.


Five Pirate Ships

Goals: pre-academic skills (counting backwards from 5 to 1)

Suggested Repertoire: Five Pirate Ships (to the tune of “The Farmer in the Dell”)

Equipment: visuals, lyrics, guitar if wanted

  •  sing song  
  • have the client count on one hand showing five fingers
  • Client can then take the visual off the visual board 
  • Repeat until there are no more ships left 

Additional Considerations: Adjust for older children by including a larger number range (include 10+ items), or changing the visuals to a preferred theme. Make visuals big enough that children can see from far away in person or can see clearly on a computer screen.

Rattlin Bog Tongue Twister

Goals: language development, sustained attention 

(Suggested) Repertoire: “Rattlin Bog”

Equipment: slideshow, computer/iPad, guitar

  • Pull up the slide show on your device
  • Encourage the client read the first slide out loud
  • Each new slide will have one new line the client has to read out loud.
  • Starting on slide three the pictures on each slide coincide with the next line on the next slide. 
  • Have the client guess what the next line of the song will be based on pictures.
  • Once the client reaches the final slide, have the client try to say all the sentences as fast as they can without music one time and then add guitar the second time. 

Additional Considerations: work on the pronunciation of certain words in the slide and then give clients time to say the entire tongue twister. As you move forward, see how fast they can say it. If you are on Zoom, the guitar may not always be helpful due to internet lag. In these situations, consider instead using the recorded song and see if the client can go as fast as the song.

Screenshot 2024-06-27 at 3.55.45 PM

The Calming Song

Goals: anxiety management, emotional processing, identifying and practicing coping skills

(Suggested) Repertoire: The Calming Song (1-4-5 progression)

Equipment: Guitar, paper and pencil / Google Doc

  • Pull up lyric sheet 
  • Teach client call and response (my turn, your turn) for the first verse of the song
  • Encourage client to choose three coping skills to go into the blanks for the second verse
  • Practice call and response singing through second verse
  • Encourage client to demonstrate each coping skill every time they sing it in the song
  • Play through the song 2-3 times 

Additional Considerations: Add or subtract verses to the rewrite depending on client’s engagement. If you choose to add more verses, consider discussing situations when identified calming techniques can be used. The use of a list and or pictures of different coping skills and calming techniques may be helpful if this is a new topic for them.


I hope that these interventions help you to plan for future sessions!