Friday Favorites: Brown Bear, Brown Bear Singable Book

brown bear cover

Image via Macmillan

I think most music therapists that work with kids know how versatile the book Brown Bear, Brown Bear can be during sessions. The words of Brown Bear fit with the first part of the tune of Twinkle, Twinkle. It’s not always a perfect fit of notes to words, so just in case you need a little bit of help, we’ve included a lead sheet with chords for you here. Simply repeat the musical line over and over for the whole book!

brown bear last page

Image via Building a Library

Goal Areas:

Language –

Print out clipart or use a pdf template that matches the animals in the book and laminate for durability. Have your children bring up the matching picture to you or to a felt board when their animal card matches the animal on the page. Symbol matching is a pre-requisite for letter identification and this book is a great way for little ones to practice matching. For easier matching, color in the pictures to match the book for identical symbol matching.

Pre-school Concepts –

Have children sing the color that they see on the page before you sing, or test them after you sing the page by singing “What color was the (animal)?”. You can also have laminated pieces of construction paper that the children can hold up or bring up to match the color of the animal on the page.

Kindergarten/Early Grade School Concept –

Print off the words of the colors in the book and laminate (e.g. Red or Brown). Use the color instead of the name of the animal because the color is always printed first on the page. Children can match their word by sight during the book. In addition, a pre-reading skill is to know that  books are read left to right and top to bottom, so having the children look for the “first” word in a sentence reinforces this concept.

Secondary goal areas and gains may include peer interaction and joint attention as children point to each other’s objects to help match colors and pictures. In addition, if there is matching involved, the children can work on cooperation and turn taking during Brown Bear. Finally, younger children can take turns pinching a page to turn to the next page to work on pincer grasp.

Thanks for taking time to read our post and we hope you can use this wonderful singable book with your little ones!


Friday Favorites: Merry Christmas Songbook

friday favorite songbook 1

While not everyone celebrates Christmas, the Reader’s Digest Merry Christmas Songbook has a abundance of songs that anyone can enjoy. The standard Christmas hymns and carols are present (e.g. “Silent Night”) in addition to songs like “Take Me Back to Toyland” and the ever so eloquent “Grandma Got Run Over by a Reindeer”.

Christmas songbook 2

I first saw this songbook while completing a practicum in hospice. The music therapist that I was observing and working with used it all of December so when I saw this book at Sixth Chamber Used Books a couple of years ago, I had to get a copy for my own songbook collection.

sonbook 3

The songbooks has over 100 holiday songs, a CD, and a lyric booklet. There are guitar chords, so even if you don’t know the chord, you can still play a Bb7/9 chord during the Christmas song, in addition to the melody line. Some of the songs are not in the most “singable” keys so not every song will be easy to sing for parents or caregivers to use at home. However, for the music therapists that took 4+ semesters of theory and ear training, this won’t be an issue right? ^-^

Next time you’re browsing the music book section at your local used bookstore I hope you’ll keep an eye out for the Merry Christmas Songbook for your own collection. Happy Holidays!

P.s. here’s a link to the songbook on Amazon…but I paid less and shopped local at Sixth Chamber Used Books in St. Paul, MN.

Wordless Wednesday: 12.19.12

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Friday Favorites: Wikifonia {Lead Sheets}

Do you have trouble finding free sheet music on the internet? I was struggling to learn a lot of songs from the 1920’s and beyond during my senior year of music therapy coursework during a practicum in hospice.

Cut to the day that I found Wikifonia…it was one of those “Hallelujah” moments for me. Wikifonia is a website full of lead sheets for personal use. You can search lead sheets by song name or artist. Once you find the song that you want, you can even change the lead sheet to the key that works best for your client! Click on the key you want the song transposed to, download, and print the pdf and you’re on your way to learning new music for your next music therapy session.

I will say I have had the most luck searching for music that is older, unsure if that is because of copyright issues or the demand.

Below I have gathered links to a few holiday songs that I found on Wikifonia over the years to use with clients. Happy searching to you on Wikifonia!

We Wish You a Merry Christmas

Jingle Bells

Silver Bells

Deck the Halls

Winter Wonderland 

Friday Favorites: Blue Scarf Canopy & It’s Cold Outside! (Lead Sheet Included)

scarf Image via Amazon

I love using a big blue scarf for gross motor therapeutic music interventions! There are endless possibilities. The blue scarf can be an ocean for felt fish to swim on top of. Children can lay under the scarf and watch the fish “swim” above them to relax. I have even used the scarf inside of a gather drum to hide objects that a child has to find during the song.

Here are some ways you might use the big blue scarf during music therapy sessions or at home with a child:

Gross Motor: Use beanie baby or other stuffed fish in the middle of the scarf and sing “Itty Bitty Pool” while moving the scarf. When you get to “boop, boop, ditum, datum, watum, choo”, fling all fish up in the air on “choo”.

Cooperation: Put a lightweight balls on the scarf and play a game of passing the ball to one friend at a time without having the ball roll out of the scarf.

Relaxation: Direct children to lie under the scarf. When the scarf moves up, children will take a deep breath in. When the scarf moves down, children will blow out their breath.

Prepositions: Mentioned last week, children can be fish going over, under, around, in, and through the water.

Body Identification: Pretend the big blue scarf is a blanket and cover up different body parts. The song that I use to identify body parts is a traditional tune you’ll recognize (more appropriate words for children though) and was adapted from an observation passed down from my internship site of AMTA’s current president elect.

Here is the link to “It’s Cold Outside

We’d love if you take the time to share your favorite songs to sing with big canopy scarves! Thanks for reading, and happy Friday.

Music & Movement Monday: Prepositions

elf prepositions

Image via

We address a lot of academic goals during music therapy with children. One academic goal is to learn preposition words or directional concepts (e.g. in front of, behind, over).

Since I had these cute felt fish (blogged here) , I wanted to write a song about the fish swimming around in different ways. My internship supervisor at the time suggested that the kids use one hand in a fist as a rock. During the song, the fish swim around, over, rest on top, or hide under the rock.

A gross motor therapeutic music intervention that fits nicely with this song is to sing “The Fish went Over the Water” to the tune of the bear went over the mountain with a big blue scarf or sheet. The children move in a circle while walking over the water, under the water (MT holds the scarf up high), around, and into.

The lead sheet below has the first verse with under the rock. For subsequent verses just sing these phrases instead…

2) swim over the rock 3) rest on the rock 4) swim around the rock

For older children I have also had the fish swim through the rock by having them create a space in their fist or hold the fish inside their hands.

We hope you can use these ideas and adapt to fit your client’s needs!

Link to All The Fish In The Sea PDF