Friday Favorite: {At the Bottom of the Sea}

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It’s another “Minnesota’s closed” day due to the wonderful new batch of snow dumped on us last night. Because I can’t share one of my new favorite activities with my ECSE classroom this morning, I’m going to share it with you! Enjoy your day inside, and hopefully this intervention will inspire you to daydream of warmer oceans ūüôā

This activity is adapted from the song “At the Bottom of the Sea” by Ralph’s World. Here is a link for the song. You will need a large blue scarf (the texture is a great sensory item) and several beanie ocean animals. I use a jellyfish (open to interpretation as an octopus as well), crab, colorful fish etc. and put them in a small cloth bag to “hide”.

Begin by moving the scarf up and down with large, slow movements and sing…

At the bottom of the sea

Where the mermaids murmur

You’ll find me

At the bottom of the sea

At the bottom of the sea

Where the crabs walk backwards

You’ll find me

At the bottom of the sea

Choose a child to ask, “Who’s at the bottom of the sea”? Depending on the group, you can give them hints to guess the animal, or just pull each one out and have them identify it. Have the child throw the animal into the sea, aka the scarf.

Using small, fast, up and down movements sing….

And we’re gonna swim, swima, swim, swim, swima, swim, swim, swim

At the bottom of the sea

This is a great activity to address a variety of goals such as gross motor, animal identification, palmar grasping, and self-regulation. What animals can you find at the bottom of the sea?

Monday Music and Movement: {Five Little Ducks}

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One of the ways I like to mix up my individual therapy sessions is to try new spins on client’s favorite songs and activities. During our recent trip to the AMTA national conference, Andrea and I had the chance to experiment with a lot of new instruments, and one of my personal favorites that just arrived are the quack sticks. They look very similar to colored egg maracas, but they make the sound of a duck instead. I have been wanting to experiment with making a gross motor activity using the song 5 Little Ducks for a client of mine that is working on imitation, attention-to-task, and following 2-step directions. In order to make this intervention successful for his diagnosis, the activity had to have a plenty of sensory input, opportunities for body movement, and lots of structure.

For my intervention, I began by attaching velcro weighted “web” feet to my client’s ankles to provide proprioceptive input and help him become aware of his body in space. Together, we lined up ¬†3-5 color dot mats on the floor that make a path to our “hill”, which is a medium slide that requires him to climb 5 steps before sliding down. Next, we put two quack sticks at the bottom of the slide, and make one more path of 3-5 ¬†dot mats. At the end of the path, there are 5 beanie ducks (or visuals of ducks) and each time through, a duck is removed.

After a big “Ready, Set, GO!” I begin playing on the guitar and singing:

Five little ducks went out one day (begin on the first dot and walk to the next one until reaching the slide)

Over the hills and far away (climb up the steps and slide down)

Momma duck said, quack quack quack quack (grab quack sticks and shake)

But only four little ducks came back. (walk from dot to dot until you reach the ducks and remove one)

Continue until you have counted down to zero.

*Note: I have done several specific things just for this client, such as using the webbed feet with ankle weights, a slide as the “hill”, and colored dots on steps of different heights. Some days, when the weighted feet don’t provide enough input, I also give him a backpack of weighted beanie ducks to carry as well. After he makes it through the course each time, he takes one duck out of the backpack and leaves it on the ocean drum “pond”. You can adjust and adapt as you need or see fit.

Happy Quacking!

Friday Favorite: {Pete the Cat, Wheels on the Bus}

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We’ve shared how much we love the book, “Pete the Cat, I love my White Shoes” in one of our first posts. Well, Pete the Cat is back as a bus driver in this fun singable book.

One of the songs that all of the little hunnies in our ECSE classrooms love is “Wheels on the Bus”. We have a gross motor imitation goal so the song is a great opportunity for the kids to practice imitating actions while singing.

In addition to imitation, this book adds some novel verses to the old standard (The kitties on the bus say, “Let’s Rock Out!!”). For children struggling with rigidity, we want to practice change within the context of something familiar. This book is perfect to work on flexibility and why I love “Pete the Cat, Wheels on the Bus”.

We hope your little ones have as much fun singing and imitating the actions of this book as I have had this past week in my classroom groups!

Friday Favorites: {Old Gray Cats}

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We have been busy at Toneworks getting grant applications ready so that we can start our work again in Early Childhood Special Education classrooms at several Minneapolis schools! In preparation, I have been going through my book of songs and found this gem that is a traditional song, but in Lynn Kleiner’s “Kids Make Music, Babies Make Music Too” with some great ideas for movement.

Old Gray Cats is a song full of little mice and sleeping cats. You may want to keep it simple for toddlers or pre-k children. Have the whole group pretend to be mice or cats for each verse. ¬†Older children can be divided into groups (hand out pictures/stickers of mice/cats to assign) and act out the verses at the same time. If you’re lucky enough to have Orff instruments, you can really utilize a variety of musical cues during this song. Try a slow beat on a tone bar or fifths on a xylophone for the sleeping cats, quiet staccato 8th notes for mice creeping, a wake up signal for the cats, and crazy pentatonic scales for running around!¬†Here is the sheet music on scribd.

Old Gray Cats

There is a lot of room for improvisation as a music therapist in planning this music therapy intervention. The intervention can be tailored to work on goals of imitating movements, working with a group, following directions, and sequencing. This is a great song to use at the beginning of a session to get some of the wiggles out and get children ready to focus for any interventions designed to meet academic or cognitive goals.

We hope your little ones have fun working together during this intervention like ours do. Contact Us by e-mail for more information on how to get Music Therapy Groups with Ms. Lyndie or Ms. Andrea at your school or daycare.

Friday Favorites: {Today is Monday} Singable Book

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I love Eric Carle’s books as a mom and a music therapist. The pictures are beautiful and eye catching and many of his books lend themselves to becoming singable books (Brown Bear anyone?). “Today is Monday” is versatile in terms of goal areas you can address. Goals include matching, gross motor imitation, recall, sequencing, sight words, choice making, and turn taking.

Here is a link to the sung version on YouTube and to buy the book on Amazon. The lead sheet to the song is in the book if you get it from a bookstore or the library!

Therapeutic Music Intervention #1)

For children who are working on pre-reading and pre-writing skills, you can utilize goals of tracking left to right, turning pages front to back, and picture matching. You will want to create copies of the food or use PECS or clipart and laminate. Pass out to children and tell them to hold up their picture or bring it up to the board when it matches the book. Sing through the books, using your finger to track left to right and have children take turns turning the pages after they have a matching picture (works on pincer grasp as well).

TMI #2)

Build on the first TMI by adding gross motor movements for each food as a memory device along with the song. Then, scramble the pictures after the book. If you’re working on recall, flip pictures face down or hold them in your hand. Ask children what foods we just sang about? If you’re working on sequencing with the group, ask children to help you put them back in order from Monday to Sunday.

TMI #3)

Finally, you can build on the previous interventions by leaving the book out. Print off the days of the week along with the pictures. Have a felt board where you place the days of the week. Children can take turns choosing the food they would like to eat on the day of the week. If children are working on sight words or letters, you can mix up the days of the week and have the children find the day before placing a picture on the board.

It’s important for us as music therapists to design interventions that create a scaffolding of academic and social skills and singable books, like “Today is Monday” make it possible for us to keep changing our intervention while using the same familiar song and book.

Thanks for reading and Happy Friday!

Friday Favorites: {Let’s Go Fishing!}

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Today’s Friday favorite is an activity that I adapted from my former (awesome) internship supervisor Julia Lundquist. Almost every child that I work with adores this game, and it addresses fine motor, gross motor, academic, social, and regulation skills!

For this game, you will need enough fish for everyone to have two, plus one extra. Here are the fish¬†that I use. I laminated mine since they happen to also be a favorite chew toy! Depending on the goal area, you can either write a number on each fish, or color them each a different color. To “magnetize” them, attach a small paperclip over the mouth of the fish, or cut small strips of magnet (from craft stores) and paste them to the back. For the fishing pole, I used a refrigerator magnet and taped it to some yarn and attached it to a rhythm stick. You can also just tie a magnet to a string and use any kind of stick from the great outdoors.

After you lay out all of the fish in a pond, choose someone to fish first and hand them the pole. Begin tapping your knees and chanting:

“Let’s go fishing, fishing in the sea,

And what kind of fish with _____ (name of child holding the pole) catch for me?”

The person to the right of the fisherman will say “Please pick the ____ fish.” After catching the correct fish and giving it to the person asking, the turn is over and the pole is passed to the next child.

The academic skills addressed in this activity are color or number identification, but you can also adapt it using sight words, math problems, etc.

Happy Friday and happy fishing!

 

 

Friday Favorites {Peek-a-boo, Where are the froggies?}

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One of the first mirroring activities that infants learn is “Peek-a-boo”. It’s a guaranteed way to bring a smile to a kid’s face, and it’s easy to adapt! For my version of the activity, I focus on the goal areas of following directions, body identification, imitation, and self-regulation. Begin by gathering enough frogs for each child and yourself to have one. I use beanie baby frogs because they have some weight to them, which is important as you will see later in the activity. Use your favorite transition song to pass out the frogs, and begin by having the kids “hide” the frogs behind their back. While holding the frogs behind your back, begin singing “Peek-a-boo”. Here are the words:

Peek-a-boo, where are the froggies?

Peek-a-boo, where are you?

Peek-a-boo, where are the froggies?

Peek-a-BOO!

When you sing the last “Boo” pull out the frog and place it on a body part like your head, shoulder, knee, elbow, etc. After each child identifies and imitates the position of your frog with their body, the frogs can be “hidden” again and the song starts over. This activity can be adapted using any kind of animal beanie that you have, and for an additional challenge, have the kids take turns leading the activity and choosing a body part for the frog to rest on.

Ribbit Ribbit!

Monday Music & Movement: {Old Blue}

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Pretty much every little one I know likes puppies. Today’s therapeutic music intervention uses the first verse of the traditional “Old Blue” to work on expressive and/or receptive color identification, joint attention, matching, turn taking, and fine motor skills.

Start by saving the image above or searching for a black and white clipart of a puppy. You will want to print off two for each color you are working on. Go ahead and laminate them too, because we all know there is a good chance these puppies are going to get chewed on!

Pass out the dogs with whatever transition song you like to use. This would be a great opportunity to incorporate a transition song during which you sing the colors once while holding them up and use PECS or sign if any of your little ones use them. Then, hold up one color dog using your thumb and pointer (pincer grasp to encourage use of fine motor skills) and encourage all of the little ones to do the same. Start singing using the color you are holding first.

The lyrics are very simple, I just changed the last line in to a question:

Had a dog and his name was _color_

Had a dog and his name was _color_

Had a dog and his name was _color_

Who has a _color_ dog too?

Wait for the correct answer and reinforce! Then to have even more practice association the color with the name, sing another time with the child’s name.

_____ has a _color_ dog

_____ has a_color_ dog

_____ has a _color_ dog

Come put it on the board!

The children are matching the dog they have with the one you will be holding (a pre-reading and pre-writing skill). The little ones will also be identifying colors receptively by holding up the green or using their words or sign to indicate that they have purple. Finally, your group will be turn taking and working on joint attention by attending to the dog you have and the color of dogs their peers have in the group.

Here is a link to the sheet music and chords.

We hope you can use this intervention with your clients or little ones. You can mix it up by using different animals or cutting animals out and placing them on different shapes to identify!

Monday Music and Movement: Here Comes Peter Cottontail

One of my favorite songs growing up was “Here Comes Peter Cottontail”. My sisters and I would change the words to go on a scavenger hunt around the house to find different¬†items that my mom would hide.

In this version, the melody of the song is used, but different verses are substituted to focus on different goal areas. Here is the song so you can hear the melody that is used. These goal areas include, the gross motor movement of ¬†“hopping” over and collecting the item requested, identifying objects, colors, and letters, as well as self-regulation to “freeze”.

“Here comes Peter Cottontail, hopping down the bunny trail. Hippity, hoppity, hippity hoppity, FREEZE!”

“Can you find the Easter basket? Hop over to the Easter basket. Hippity, hoppity, hippity, hoppity, FREEZE!”

“Can you find the jelly beans? Hop over to the jelly beans. Hippity, hoppity, hippity, hoppity, FREEZE!”

“Can you find the _____(pick a color) egg? Hop over to the ___egg. Hippity, hoppity, hippity, hoppity, FREEZE!”

“Can you find the letter ____ (pick a letter)? Hop over to the letter ____. Hippity, hoppity, hippity, hoppity, FREEZE!”

Items to find can be purchased at a dollar store or use props that you have at home.

Friday Favorites: {Baby Animals in the Spring}

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Baby Bunny Rescue #2

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We think there are endless possibilities for piggybacking classic children’s songs (examples here¬†and here). Today’s Friday Favorite is no exception! In honor of the supposed start of spring, which meant wind chills of -10 for us in Minnesota, we bring you a song about baby animals sung to the tune of “Wheels on the Bus”.

You can use this song to address goals of gross motor movement, cooperation, and academic skills such as matching pictures of baby animals to mama animals. You can review pictures of the animals and movements that they make before you start singing. Have the kids stand up and even move in a circle if they are old enough to do so. Here are the lyrics:

The bunnies on the farm go hop, hop hop

Hop, hop, hop. Hop, hop, hop.

The bunnies on the farm go hop, hop hop in the spring time.

Chicks – flap, Horsies (or baby foals) – gallop, Baby cows – swish (tails) and on and on!

Happy Spring from us at Toneworks Music Therapy Services! We are excited to move into our new clinic space in the coming month and will keep you updated on new classes starting.