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?

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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 and Movement: {I Went Walking}

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In partnership with several local organizations, Andrea and I are providing Learning through Music and Musical Playground group sessions in twenty-four Early Childhood Special Education and Mental Health Collaborative Classrooms in the Minneapolis public school district. Within this partnership, we collaborate with classroom teachers, occupational, physical, and speech therapists, to create goals and objectives appropriate to student’s IEP and group goals. We use the classroom’s monthly themes and weekly objectives to improve the student’s ability to transfer skills learned in music group to classroom group time.

In my ECSE and MHC classrooms, this month’s theme was community workers. This week’s objective was to understand who firefighters are and what they do. To follow this theme, I used adapted lyrics from the book “I Went Walking”, and used the melody from “Buffalo Gals”. It’s not common, so here is a copy of the melody. It was a favorite of mine growing up when I went through a Little House on the Prairie phase. While keeping beat with the lyrics, alternate tapping each leg to simulate walking during the chorus, and model the fireman’s movement during the verse. Using only the first eight measures of the song, begin by singing the chorus, and then alternate verse and chorus.

Chorus:¬†“I went walking down the street, down the street, down the street,

I went walking down the street, what did I see?”

Verse 1: “I see a fireman driving a truck, oh driving a truck, oh driving a truck,

I ¬†see a fireman driving a truck, that’s what I see.”

Chorus

Verse 2: “I see a fireman turning the corner”

Verse 3:¬†“I see a fireman finding the fire”

Verse 4:¬†“I see a fireman climbing the ladder”

Verse 5: “I see a fireman saving a baby”

Verse 6: “I see a fireman squirting the water”

Verse 7: “I see a fireman drive to the station”

For the younger groups in ECSE that I see (3-4 yr olds), I choose 3 or 4 verses to sing, and use action visuals with velcro on the back to line up on a board for each verse. For the older students (4-5 yr olds), especially in the mental health classrooms, I give them more of a challenge. Before each verse, I model the movement that the fireman does and have them guess the action (driving, climbing, spraying, etc) for all seven verses. When I began the Learning through Music sessions this fall, I used this song, but the four verses had a different community worker in it. We used fireman, police officers, and mailmen, and dentists, which were the four weekly objective workers they learned about. In addition, In addition to adapting it for community workers, I have also adapted it for animals (I went walking through the barn or the zoo), and food (I went walking through the store).

Friday Favorite: {Little Goblins Ten}

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One thing Lyndie and I love to use during our sessions is a good singable book. We picked this up a couple of weeks ago when Halloween books started popping up at stores and have been using it during our sessions with little ones. The melody we use is the same as the book “Over in the Jungle” . Click to see a video of the song on our Toneworks Music Therapy channel.

During our sessions we do not sing through the book simply like I did in the video! Instead, you can work on the goal of counting with 1:1 correspondence by stopping to count the little monsters, goblins, and witches on the page after singing the words. Have the little ones count along on their fingers and show you the correct number. It’s also easy to copy pictures of the little creatures and meet goals of symbol or picture matching. Another goal you can work on is number identification. Have children hold laminated cards with numbers and asking them to match their number to the number of creatures on the page. With the matching goals, your group will also have a chance to work on social skills goals like turn taking (i.e. bring the pictures up to a board) and joint attention (i.e. who has the same dragon?).

So many possibilities from just one Friday Favorite! We hope you can enjoy Little Goblins Ten with your little ones during the month of October.

Happy Friday!

Friday Favorite: {Apple Songs}

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The Fall solstice has passed and it’s prime apple pickin’ time for us in Minnesota! Today we bring you a couple of our favorite simple apple songs and fingerplays. These songs are great for working on color identification, counting with 1:1 correspondence, joint attention, and making predictions [important reading comprehension skill].

5 Little Apples

Chant just like 5 Little Monkeys or 5 Little Fishies

5 little apples sitting in a tree [Hold up 5 fingers]

Teasing Mr. Caterpillar, “can’t catch me, no you can’t catch me!”¬†[wag finger]

[whisper] Along comes Mr. Caterpillar, quiet as can be and…[move hands like a caterpillar]

CRUNCHED that apple right off of the tree [pretend to hold an apple to mouth and take a big bite]

[gasp] OH NO! How many apples are left? [count 1:1]

Repeat until all the apples are gone and count fingers back to five.

Way Up High in an Apple Tree

Sing to tune of Twinkle, Twinkle

Way up high in an apple tree, five __color__ apples smiled down at me

I shook that tree as hard as I could, down came an apple, mmm it was good

Way up high in an apple tree, four __color__ apples smiled down at me

Repeat until all the apples are gone then sing:

Way up high in an apple tree, no more apples smiled down on me

I shook that tree as hard as I could, down came no apples, they’re gone now for good

Way up high in an apple tree, no more apples left now for me!

We hope you have fun sharing these songs with your little ones. Happy Friday!

Monday Music & Movement: {Had an Apple}

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Image via Sweet Cup ‘N Cakes

After a week of heat indexes in the 100+ range, I breathed a huge sigh of relief and threw windows open yesterday when the temperatures in MN dropped into the 70’s! Along with the cooler weather, I took down summer decorations to fall and got to baking chocolate zucchini cake and simmering chicken wild rice soup. Autumn is my favorite season and it’s definitely on my mind right now! Today’s Monday Music & Movement kicks off our fall songs posts. We hope you enjoy it.

This song is a piggyback of “Old Dog Blue” and is used to work on goals of matching color. For a foundational skill of matching, you will want to start by making 2 apples of each color for an exact match. Here is one example of clipart that you can color in. After the child or group meets that objective, you can work on matching a picture of an apple and a worm that are the same color, which is a more difficult task. You can also work on goals of turn taking, joint attention, and expressive language during this intervention.

Start by passing out an apple to each child. Hold up or place on the first color apple on the board and sing:

Had an apple and it was __color__ (3x)

Who has the same as me?

Wait for the child to answer {I do, or Me!} or for peers to help the child identify their matching apple or worm. Have the child bring it up to the board or to you and sing:

__Name__ had a __color__ apple/worm (3x)

Two same  _color_, __color__ {point to the two objects}

This music therapy intervention is short and sweet, the repetitive and predictable nature of the verses are perfect for young children and groups of children with special needs that need structure in learning. The possibilities of tailoring this simple melody to objects that will capture the attention of young children are endless. Matching characters from “My Little Pony” or “Lego Star Wars” anyone?

Happy first week of school to most children that we have the privilege of working with every week!

Monday Music and Movement: {Alphabet Soup}

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We have been on a food kick lately with the blog posts, so I’ve decided to add one of my favorite interventions to the list! Today’s Monday Music and Movement activity focuses on improving academic skills like pre-reading and letter identification. To begin, collect the appropriate letters for your group. For mine, I printed out this alphabet, laminated the sheet, and cut out each letter. If you want to get really fancy, you can add a small magnetic strip to the back of each letter and make a laminated cut out of a spoon After attaching a magnet to the underside of the spoon, you can “catch” each letter that is requested.

The lyrics are sung to the tune of “Mary Had a Little Lamb”:

I have a bowl of alphabet soup,

A letter for me and a letter for you.

Sip sip sip on the alphabet soup,

What letter should we eat? 

There are many ways to adapt this game depending on the number of children and level of development. For more of a challenge, request the first or last letter of a word, or show visuals of animals or objects and have them choose what letter it starts with. If you have a large group of children, give each of them a lowercase letter, and on their turn, have them choose the capital letter that matches theirs. To make the game easier, print out a second set of letters. During the individuals turn, hand them a letter, and tell them to find the match.

While kids are playing, they are also making secondary gains like improving receptive language, turn taking, self-regulation, and sensorimotor skills. It just so happens that all of these goals are prerequisite skills for full inclusion kindergarten classrooms!

Friday Favorites: {In the Summer}

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Today’s Friday Favorite is a piggyback version (same melody, different lyrics) of the song “In the Jungle”. I got this song writing idea from my fabulous internship supervisor at The Family Partnership, Sarah Woolever. You can use this song to meet goals of choice making, turn taking, sight words (names and foods), food identification, and if the kids are older you can even talk about healthy vs. less healthy food choices as well.

You will want to find or print off a variety of foods, include the names of the foods on the cards so you can work on sight letters/words. You may want to print out a few more than the clients you have in the group in case they all hate green beans ūüôā¬†If clients are old enough to read, you can write out the ¬†lyrics on a large notepad or have it on a powerpoint. If not, just have a felt board for them to place food pictures on to with their names on it.

Start singing/playing the chorus of the song…

In the summer, the hot, hot, summer

We like to have fun in the sun

In the summer, the hot, hot summer

We like to eat lots of yummy food

Now the children get to make a choice during the verse and put their food next to their name on the board

In the summer, the hot, hot summer

__(name)__ likes to eat yummy __(food__

In the summer, the hot, hot summer

__(name)__ likes to eat yummy __(food)__

Then everyone can join back in for the “a-wim-o-weh” part

Here’s a link to a lead sheet for The Lion Sleeps Tonight so you can see the melody and chords from Wikifonia! We hope you enjoy song writing all about food with your kiddos!