Friday Favorites: {Circus Tightrope Walk}


Image via Wikipedia

One of the first things I did when I got to my internship was read, play, and sing through every music book that my internship site, The Family Partnership, had in the bookshelves. One gem that my senior intern (hey Shana!) shared with me was the book “101 Rhythm Instrument Activities for Young Children“. The book is geared towards music educators working with young children, but music therapists can make plenty of transfers for music therapy sessions. I would recommend this book to any new music therapy student, intern, or professional!


Image via Amazon

The therapeutic music intervention that I want to share today comes out of the “101 Rhythm Instrument Activities for Young Children”. The goals that may be addressed in this intervention are turn taking/waiting, cooperation, positive peer statements, and making a choice.

Materials needed: Tape for the “tightrope”, one jingle bell wristband, and song of your choice.

Depending on your setting, the song of choice may be a calming one or a rousing song. I always like to use “The Entertainer” because it can be looped endlessly and doesn’t get the children too amped up while they wait for their turn.

Start the intervention by showing the children how to walk across the “tightrope”. The goal for them is to keep the bell on their head and walk across the rope without the bell falling off. If the bell does fall off, make sure to encourage the child to pick it up and finish. I like to start a round of applause and encouraging words after each turn to get the children interacting positively with one another.

When one child is done, he or she can choose a peer to go next. After the first round, children can get creative by choosing how they want to walk across the “tightrope”. Will they go backwards, sideways, eyes closed, or hop on one foot?

This intervention is not all that complicated, but is novel enough to work on peer interaction and impulse control. We hope you have fun walking the “tightrope” with your little ones!


Monday Music & Movement: {We’re Going to the Circus}


Image via West Music

Scarves are a great way to motivate children to move in order to meet gross motor goals during music therapy session. Not only for gross motor movement, there is a sensory aspect to using scarves as children feel the light touch of the scarf on their bodies. In addition, children use their eyes to track the movement of the scarf so there is hand-eye coordination involved.

There are so many songs we love to use with scarves during sessions. Our song today also encourages imagination and cooperation during pretend play while “on the way” to the circus!

“We’re Going to the Circus” is a call and response song and the lyrics lend themselves to easy substitution for the interests of your little ones. During the chorus, pretend to drive by holding the scarf  with both hands and moving the scarf as a steering wheel. Older children may be able to handle moving around in a circle together while “driving” as well.

Here’s how we like to move during the verses:

Man on a tightrope = hold the scarf in front of you like a pole for balancing and walk forward and back

A girl on a horse jumping up and down = wave scarf up and down with one hand while jumping

A seal spinning round and round with a ball on his nose = ball up the scarf, hold on nose, & spin!

And an elephant dancing on his tippy toes = stretch arms and scarf up while dancing on tip toes

Here is the sheet music for the song. We hope you have fun moving around with scarves to this song and adapting it to your clients or children!

Monday Music & Movement: I Was Walking to the Circus…

The Circus

The Circus (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Welcome to the second song in the Circus Theme we’re sharing from Toneworks! Our first post was a song designed to meet the academic and kindergarten readiness goal of identifying basic shapes using singing. I came up with today’s song “I was walking to the Circus” to meet goals of recall and sequence. I got the idea from this song from my amazing co-intern who had a similar song “Walking in the Jungle”.

If you can’t read music, it’s easy enough to chant the lyrics of the song. I like to use rhythm sticks during this therapeutic music intervention, but I think it would work with just hands or anything that you can tap together. I also like to incorporate movement and singing together to get a kinesthetic learning experience so in the lyrics you’ll see how to incorporate that into the song.

“I Was Walking to the Circus”

I was walking to the circus and what did I see?

Many people rolling out the tent. [roll the sticks on the floor]

Roll, roll, roll. Roll, roll, roll. Roll, roll, roll. Roll, roll, roll and freeze!

I was walking to the circus and what did I see?

Many people hammering down stakes. [hammer one stick atop of the other]

Hammer, hammer, hammer….etc.

I was walking to the circus and what did I see?

Big, grey, elephants dancing on their feet. [walk the sticks vertically on the floor]

Dance, dance, dance…etc.

I was walking to the circus and what did I see? Fancy ladies brushing down some horses. [scrape sticks against each other]

Brush, brush, brush…etc.

I was walking to the circus and what did I see?

A crowd full of little children clapping with glee. [tap sticks]

Clap, clap, clap. etc.

I was walking to the circus

{sorry for the picture instead of pdf…technology problems at Toneworks today!}

I usually sing through the song 2-3 times. After that, there are several ways to ask the children to recall what they did during the song. You can simply ask them what they saw while walking to the circus. Another way is to ask how they moved the sticks during the song and then follow up with what the movement represented. After every correct answer, it’s fun for the children if you reinforce what they said by leading the group through the particular movement again (e.g. just sing the “hammer, hammer, hammer” line). For sequencing, you can have clipart pictures printed out that the children must match to numbers 1-5 or just place in order correctly.

Thanks for reading and we hope you can use this song with your little ones!

Monday Music & Movement: The Clown Juggles Shapes

royalty-free-clown-clipart-illustration-94054Image via

Some of the silliest sessions I have led had songs that centered around the theme of a circus. I’ll be sharing them through the Monday Music & Movement series with the category “Circus Songs” over the next month or so. It’s great to start off by asking your clients or children what they know about the circus already. By doing so you are not only encouraging peer interaction and speaking in turn, but you can also find out if any children have bad associations with the circus or clowns, etc.

“The Clown Juggles Shapes” is a piggyback song [new lyrics, old melody] that I came up with to address the academic goal of shape identification for pre-schoolers I worked with. You sing it to the tune of “Farmer in the Dell”. In addition to the academic skill, children will work on emotional/social skills during this song as it requires turn taking and cooperation.

The clown juggles shapes, the clown juggles shapes

My, my, how fast he goes, the clown juggles shapes

He’s looking for a __[name of shape]___,

He’s looking for a __[name of shape]___

If you have a __[name of shape]___ please put it in the air

Here are the visuals we use. You will want to laminate or contact paper the shapes for durability and place some sticky velcro on the back. We have a file folder that we laminated over and velcro squares for the shapes in an oval around the clown’s head. After children identify the shape they are holding, they can come up and place their shape on a velcro square.

When you’re first introducing the song, you might want to hold the shape that you’re naming in your hand so the children can visually match their shape with yours. After that, you can sing the name of the shape that you’re looking for and have the child identify without matching.

This therapeutic music intervention can be adapted for older children by adding different colors to the shapes and singing that the clown is looking for a “purple circle” or “green diamond”.

We hope you can try out this circus theme song with the children you work with or at home with little ones!