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!

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: {This old Man}

This is truly a timeless tune, with the original lyrics! Goal areas can include palmar grasping, rhyming, sequencing, object identification, gross motor movement, and imitation. I am going to share about this activity with the goal areas of rhyming, gross motor movement, and palmar grasping for a client with cerebral palsy. To set my client up for success,  I made a magnetic “dauber” (literally a paint dauber that I hot glued a strong magnet to) with a foam handle, and under each visual was a magnetic strip. Easy to move and easy to hold! Here is what mine ended up looking like…

Thisoldman

…and here is a link to the printables and numbers!

I sing the tune  a cappella so I can assist with demonstrating the actions and moving the visuals if needed. Here is a link to the song if you are unfamiliar with the melody!

1) This old man he played one (hold up thumb and wiggle it)

2) He played knick knack on my thumb (find the picture of the thumb,grab it with the magnet dauber, and put it next to the #1)

3) With a knick knack paddywhack, give a dog a bone (pretend to knock on a door)

4) This old man came rolling home (move arms in a rolling motion)

For each verse, the number in line 1) will increase by one, so hold up that number of fingers. During line 2), find the new picture that matches the number in line 1). Lines 3) and 4) stay the same during every verse, so the actions are also the same.

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 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 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!