Friday Favorites: {5 Little Leaves}


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I’m writing this with a predicted high of 92 degrees and a good deal of humidity today, but before we know it, fall will be here shortly in MN. “5 Little Leaves” is one of my favorite songs to use during the fall. There are several versions around of this song, but my personal favorite is one by Lynn Kleiner. Click here to listen.

Sometimes I use the recorded version. For example, if I’m alone leading a group of toddlers that love to run around. Most times I use a live version using guitar, orff, or piano depending on the goals and needs of the group. Here are the lyrics:

5 little leaves all bright and gay

Dancing about on a tree one day

The wind came blowing through the town

And one little leaf came tumbling down 

{doot, doot, doot, doot, doot, doot, doot}

Continue with 4 leaves, 3 leaves, and so on.

There are several ways to use this song during music therapy groups or individual music therapy. You can work on goals of counting with 1:1 correspondance, color identification, working together to make the leaves “dance” on a parachute, gross motor goals with scarves, and self-regulation with stop/go with the wind coming through to name a few.

#1) Scarves

Pass out scarves to the little ones and encourage them to move their scarves about like dancing leaves. When the wind comes blowing through the town, everyone can spin. Throw the scarves up as the one little leaf tumbles down and start all over again!

#2) Parachute

You can use felt, fake, or real leaves in the middle of the parachute. Everyone can help move the parachute so the leaves “dance”. When the wind blows, make sure so move the parachute quickly! Finally count 1-2-3 and go way up high to make the leaves tumble down. You can take away one leaf each verse and count the leaves that are left.

#3) Felt Board and Fingerplay

Have everyone count their “leaves” [fingers] and go through the song taking down one leaf from your felt board with each verse. You can also hit color identification goals during this intervention by using different colors for each leaf. Here is a template I have used for both felt and laminated paper leaves.

Happy Friday!


Friday Favorites: {Free Singable Little Books}


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As I was teaching a violin lesson yesterday, I said to my student, “learning to read music is just like learning to read words…”. This statement reminded me of the little books that are today’s Friday Favorite. I love to use singable little books with children, siblings, and families. Little books can be part of your sessions even for children as young as 1.5-2 yrs of age. I would not suggest using little books for a group of 10 toddlers, but in sibling or family sessions, little books work just fine.

What the child will get out of using a little book in a music therapy session will be different by age group, of course. It is important to make your goal appropriate for your client’s development. Here are some of the goals that you can address with Little Books:

Big vs. Little Letters – learning the rule that at the beginning of every page, there is a big letter. Later, you can work on Big letters at the beginning of sentences and as proper nouns.

Expressive Letter Identification – Ask children “What letter is this?” as a sung prompt

Receptive Letter Identification – Sing “Where is the letter __?”

Follow the Reader – Show children where you are singing by moving your pointer finger along and encourage them to do the same in their little book. Between this and turning pages, you are teaching pre-reading skills of moving front to back, left to right, and top to bottom in the books.

Cooperation – Siblings or small groups can work on turn taking and working together by allowing friends to identify letters in turns or share what they like about each page

Recall & Sequencing – After you read the book, talk or draw what you saw in the book and the order that these pictures or events occurred. This can be in the form of picture cue cards you plan ahead of time and a velcro board or student drawings on paper or a white board.

I didn’t come up with these ideas on my own, but had the privilege of helping lead piano groups last year during my internship where little books were part of the curriculum (Supervisor: Sarah Woolever, MA, NMT, MT-BC; The Family Partnership).

Here is a link to the Nellie Edge site that offers free printable singable books.

A brief snapshot of research from the American Music Therapy Association that supports the link between literacy and music therapy. There are many more studies out there in the speech/language and education fields that aren’t in the scope of this blog post as well. If you’re a student and your university has access to online journals, just search for “Literacy + Music” and you’ll see for yourself!

Happy singing and reading!

Friday Favorites: DIY Felt Fish

felt fish

I made these felt fish using a free template from the blog at Purlbee (Fish Templates Here). Initially, I made the felt fish for my son to play with as part of his quiet book. However, he was not very interested in playing with the fish so I ended up stashing them in my visuals folder at work.

The felt fish only take a couple of hours to make (with some tv watching thrown in) and could be made in less time if you just hot glue the pieces on instead of sewing them on with embroidery thread.

I use these fish for many different therapeutic music interventions so the list below is just a snapshot of how you can use these cute, colorful fish.

Gross Motor: Use the fish on top of a big blue scarf while standing to make the fish swim up and down or side to side while singing songs such as “Row, Row, Row”, “Itty Bitty Pool”, or other songs about the ocean.

Fine Motor: Encourage pincer grasp by showing children how to pinch the fish, one in each hand. Use a song that directs children to move the fish up high, down low, side to side, and have the fish even kiss each other. This type of therapeutic music intervention encourages bilateral motion, meeting at midline, and crossing midline.

Counting with 1:1 Correspondence: Glue the fish onto popsicle sticks and use during counting songs.

Color Identification: Use songs that give an opportunity for children to identify the color(s) of their fish expressively or receptively (e.g. if you have a blue fish sing “me”).

Directional Concepts/Prepositions: Have children hold the fish in one hand and create a rock with the other hand. The fish can now swim over, under, around, on, and through the rock.

I hope you can use the template to make some fish of your own to use with clients or at home. I would love it if you would share your favorite songs to use with children about fish or the ocean in the comments below. I’ll be sharing an original song that I use with the fish to teach directional concepts in the Monday Music & Movement post next week. Happy weekend!