Timeless Tunesday: {It Is Winter}

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I know some readers are in warm weather…but it’s been quite the winter in MN so far. As a result, it’s still appropriate for teachers to plan “Snow” as the theme of the month and for me to create this movement song with scarves! I set the words to the tune of “London Bridge”. During this music therapy intervention students can work on imitation, gross motor movement, including crossing midline, and use expressive language.

Pass out the scarves and sing to the tune of London Bridge:

Snow is falling to the ground (move scarves up and down or toss and catch)

To the ground, to the ground

Snow is falling to the ground 

It is Winter, Brrrr (rub arms & shiver)

Brush it off so we can play (sweep the floor from side to side)

We can play, we can play

Brush it off so we can play

It is Winter, Brrrr

Squish it up into a snowball (use both hands to squish scarf into a ball)

Into a snowball, into a snowball

Squish it up into a snowball

It is Winter, Brrr

Cover up and stay so warm (use the scarf like a blanket on lap and tap knees)

Stay so warm, stay so warm

Cover up and stay so warm

It is Winter, Brrr

Such a simple melody, but you can encourage so much movement and language with the added sensory stimulation of scarves on top of the music and movement. If it’s still cold in your area, I hope you can use this intervention!

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Timeless Tunesday: {Where is Thumbkin?}

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Timeless Tunesday is brought to you by one of my favorite mother goose rhymes! But seriously, it started as a rhyme, then Barney adapted it and sang it to the tune of Frere Jacques. I received a cassette tape of Barney in Concert which features this song, for my 4th birthday. I am not ashamed to say I still have it today, despite the fact that I have no tape player. The song is a fantastic way to engage children in finger play and imitation. In the past, I’ve used this activity for group music sessions, but recently, started using it to address fine motor and upper body strength goals with an occupational therapist for a 1:1 client (yay for co-treating!).  To adapt the activity, I held my guitar up in the air, and for each verse that “finger” strummed the guitar chords.

Where is Thumbkin, Where is Thumbkin (hide hands behind your back)

Here I am, Here I am (bring right hand around, then left hand)

Play my guitar, Play like me (OT strums guitar to demonstrate, then client uses the thumb to imitate)

Come and play, play the guitar

Repeat this each time with pointer, tall man, ring, and pinky fingers.

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 🙂

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?

Timeless Tunesday: {Washing My Fingers}

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Hey Everyone, it’s time for another Timeless Tunesday! Last week I was trying to think of a song about washing fruit to fit into a food theme for one of the schools that Toneworks works with. One look at Ms. Lyndie’s musical washboard and I was set. This song uses the tune of “Ring Around the Rosie”. You can work on goals of color identification, joint attention, turn taking, decision making, and peer interaction.

After passing out fruit (great opportunity to ask what colors the fruit visuals are), music therapist sings:

Washing my (fruit name), washing my (fruit name) (model scraping the laminated fruit)

Washing, washing, now it’s clean clean! (model taking both hands off the washboard and wiggling them to show “clean”)

Say something like, “we’re all going to take turns washing our fruit” and you can lead the group in using friend’s names

(NAME) is washing (fruit name), (NAME) is washing (fruit)

Washing, washing, now it’s clean!

I like to incorporate choice making by asking the child which friend they choose to wash their fruit next. Another twist you can use is to wash fingers instead of fruit. Just insert “fingers” instead of the fruit name and you’re set! You can talk about when you need to wash fingers, germs, etc. Of course, this intervention is so much fun that you get kids saying, “my fingers are still dirty!” so be ready for that 🙂

Have a blast washing fruit, fingers, animals, and whatever else your clients desire!

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: {Popcorn Chant}

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I’m sure many of you are familiar with the popcorn chant…

You pour the oil in the pot and you make it real hot

Put the popcorn in and you get a big grin

Sizzle, sizzle, sizzle

Sizzle, sizzle, sizzle

Pop, pop, pop, pop!

I love to use this chant with my individual and group music therapy clients on a gather drum with large and small poms from the craft store or dollar section of Target. You can work on goals of self-regulation (waiting, start/stop), imitating gross motor movements, a CVC word (pop), and following directions during this fun intervention.

I always transition into the intervention by having kiddos help me count the popcorn and placing my hand over them. Then, we all pour in the oil. Next we show the oil getting hot by making our fingers into flames, the same sign for “waiting”, which is a wonderful reminder! Finally, I take my hand off the pom poms and use my index fingers to sizzle.

The pom poms will start to bounce slightly, then have the kids start tapping faster and louder with all fingers to keep “popping” until the poms are all on the floor. I like to use music to transition back into the beginning of the chant. Sing whatever melody you’d like for directions of “picking up the popcorn, put it on the drum” several times. Then start all over for more popping fun!

If you need an idea for a fun transition out, you can flip over the gather drum and hold it at an angle so the drum head is off the floor. Divide the pom poms among all the kids and have them take turns throwing the popcorn into the drum to say goodbye. The larger pom poms make a surprising amount of noise that makes it fun to say bye.

Hope you have fun making popcorn!

Timeless Tunesday: {We’re Making Soup Today~The Farmer in the Dell}

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We have a new category of favorite interventions to share with you…Timeless Tunesdays! We are looking forward to sharing some of the many classic folk songs whose melodies have been adapted into activities shared with us from our music therapy mentors. Many of these songs also bring back personal memories of my grandmother singing them to my sisters and I as children. We would make up crazy body rhythms to keep us entertained on long winter evenings. The catchy tunes and easy rhythmic structure make it ideal for creating new lyrics with a familiar theme.

With windchills in Minneapolis nearing -20 degrees, I am trying to make an effort to keep interventions interactive with both gross motor movement to keep every thawed out, and cognitive challenges to keep our minds alert. I believe that the best way to get warm is to eat (or sing about it!), so I brought out my big soup bowl, aka gather drum, and had the students in my ECSE classrooms work together to make a pot of soup today.

This activity is ideal for 2-5 children. Begin by gathering visuals of food (here is a link of vegetables I like to use) so that there are enough for each child to add one item to the pot of soup. Have the children sit around a large gather drum that is turned upside down. I like to place colorful scarves in the drum so the students have “broth” to stir.

Using the melody of “The Farmer in the Dell”, have students pat their knees and sing,

We’re making soup today

We’re making soup today,

Stir, Stir, Stir the soup

We’re making soup today.

Next, I model directions by choosing between two visuals and placing my choice, the tomato, in the drum with the scarves. Using a drum mallet, I stir the soup while the children sing and tap their knees.

We’re stirring in tomatoes

We’re stirring in tomatoes

Stir, Stir, Stir the soup

We’re stirring in tomatoes.

Choose a student to go next, and have them choose between two foods. After adding the food to the gather drum, have them stir, and encourage students to sing and tap their knees. Substitute the new food choice for the word tomato.

This activity is easily adapted depending on your food themes or group goals. You can have students come up with ideas of food to add on their own, give everyone a mallet to stir together at the same time, or work on food group identification.

What are some of your favorite food themed music therapy interventions? We would love to hear about them!

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!

Monday Music and Movement: {I had some Apple Seeds}

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Much to my happiness, December’s collaborative academic theme in my ECSE/MHC classrooms is…drumroll please….FOOD! Some of my favorite music interventions include classics like the singable book “Today is Monday“, a body rhythm chant “I like to Eat”, or today’s special, “I had some Apple Seeds”.

The first thing you will need is visuals of various foods, depending on your objective. Using the melody of “Do Your Ears Hang Low“, sing each verse, substituting your foods for “apple”.

Oh I had some apple seeds (cup your hands like you’re holding seeds)

And I planted them in the ground (pat the floor to “plant” the seeds)

And the sun came up (raise your arms in the air to make a circle, like the sun)

And the rain came down (have your arms float back down while wiggling your fingers)

So I slept all through the night (pretend to lay down your head, I like to add snoring sounds)

And I woke up to see (make a surprised face and point to the ground)

That some little apple seeds (put hands together in front of your body)

had become an apple tree  raise them up to make a tree)

To adapt this activity, I let the students give suggestions for what kind of tree to grow. Depending on the class, I give the option of choosing between two visuals of foods, or let them come up with their own ideas. You can have them identify a variety of foods, choose foods that belong in specific categories like fruits or vegetables, or have them come up with silly ideas. Some of my favorites have included growing a bulldozer, donut, or cello tree! Working in a culturally and linguistically diverse school, I am able to incorporate foods from other countries as well, which encourages students to learn about their peer’s backgrounds.

Monday Music & Movement: {5 Little Turkeys}

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We can’t believe it’s Thanksgiving week! Here’s a little song that we have been using by changing the words ever so slightly. You can find the original melody on a video HERE. This intervention is a great way to work on counting with 1:1 correspondence, joint attention, and imitation of gross motor movement.

5 (five fingers up) little turkeys went out one day

Over the hills (trace a hill)  and far away (use hand to shield eyes as if looking out)

Mother turkey said, “gobble, gobble, gobble, gobble”

But only 4 of the turkeys came back

(Repeat with all the little turkeys)

Sing directions: “Let’s gobble to find all the little turkeys”

Then count the turkeys back again from 1-5. I used this free clipart as the body and cut out feathers freehand before laminating it all.

Hope you enjoy the long weekend coming up!