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Epic- Fail videos by Ellen is a hit in speech therapy

Updated: Oct 15, 2020

I really like to use Youtube in my sessions whether it’s showing children short Pixar films or using commercials. Ellen DeGeneres is a favourite among all with her witty and fun personality. She has a fun video series on YouTube called “Epic or Fail” which I enjoy using in the sessions as you get to target several goals in the

rapy. They are fun and engaging (so you don’t need to worry if the child’s going to pay attention).


In Epic or Fail, Ellen plays a couple of short clips and she gives her audience paddles to vote. She pauses the clip at a critical point and they guess if the video is going to be epic or fail. Then she shows the rest of the video clip so that the audience can see if they were right or wrong.

It’s amazing how interactive, motivating and engaging this game is! It’s perfect for mixed groups so you can have kids of all age ranges and at different language levels together so that one becomes a model learner for the other. Also, you can make it a family game where everyone can make predictions about how the video is going to end. There are lots of videos of this game on YouTube and these are appropriate for children to watch.

Speech goals that we get to target here are:

  • Descriptions/Narration

A child can describe what they saw in the clip. For example, I saw that the man was trying to jump off the cliff. The girl was trying to ride her bike on a ramp. For younger kids, it can be as simple as the boy is eating or the boy is running. At this point, you can ask more “Wh” questions like, What did he do? Where is he? Who is he with? etc to build on his narration. This exercise helps in sentence building, reporting and narrative skills. Also, with the older kids, you can practice sequencing the events in the correct order.

  • Making predictions

One important higher-order language skill that children can learn through these videos is making predictions. When the video is paused, you can ask the children to think what’s going to happen next and based on that make their prediction whether they think the video will be epic or fail. Children can engage in conversations and ask each other what they think will happen. This way they also work on asking questions. He will jump. The lady will fall down. They will go down the slope. These are few predictions that they can make.

  • Sharing opinions

Children can learn to give opinions along with a reason through these videos. They can do that by sharing why they think that the video will be epic or fail. For example, if they say that I think it will be a fail because there is no way that he can jump from that height without getting hurt. So in this way, they can practice supporting their opinions with a reason.

  • Making comments

Children can learn to make a variety of comments, reactions and expressions by watching Ellen, the audience and other children in the session. Few examples of these comments are

1. That was so cool. Wow! He got lucky. Are you kidding me? That was the best video ever. That was so funny. Incredible!

2. Oops! That must have hurt. Uh oh. That was crazy. Oh! I hope he is okay. I would never do that. What was he thinking!? What?!Oh no! Haha! Wow!

  • Look for Evidence/Inference

They can learn to look for evidence which can be either a visual, verbal or an audio clue along with the background information they have in order to make predictions. They acquire the skill to pick up and focus on the nonverbal cues which helps them to formulate their prediction. For example, that screeching sound tells us that the man won’t be able to go down the slide or I see how fast the lady is going and she will definitely fall down. This is a good practice for them so that they learn to pick up social cues when having a conversation.

  • Social skills

We can practice social skills by asking them questions like What is the man thinking? Why does he look tensed? How would he feel if he fails? Why is he doing this? How would you feel if you were in his place? What would you do differently?

  • Vocabulary

This exercise also helps in building the core vocabulary of the kids. It can be either new verbs, expressions or comments.

To use these videos in your session or at home, just play it on the computer/iPad/laptop/TV. Explain the instructions of the game to your kids which include reviewing what Epic and Fail means. Pause the video strategically at various times for more discussions and sharing. If you don’t have paddles or signs to give to the children just ask them to show thumbs up or down or verbally share if it’s epic or fail. Also, share few visuals with the kids to remind them to look for clues and to share opinions with a reason like I think this video is epic because…

You can find these videos on YouTube or use our Epic or Fail by Ellen speech therapy playlist.

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