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?

Valentine’s Day {Music Bingo} for TEENS!

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I just started a spring semester run working at a transition program with 18-21 year olds with varying diagnoses and abilities. Finding age appropriate music therapy interventions can be hard for this population, especially for higher functioning young adults. The group loved playing music bingo with a name that tune twist so I wanted to share the board here!

Pass out the bingo sheets and explain that you’ll be playing and/or singing the melody (without words) until one person guesses the answer. Then, ask everyone to mark the box and go through one verse/chorus or whatever you have time to sing. Goals for this intervention include social skills so I encourage talking among the group to figure out the answer or to share a particular fact or memory about the song. I’ve uploaded the sheet as a doc in case you want to switch out songs or make different versions for several teams.

Happy Valentine’s Week!

Friday Favorites: {In the Winter…}

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Maybe you have heard of this whole Polar Vortex phenomenon? Well, in MN we are enjoying what some are calling, Polar Vortex 2.0. Basically, this means a lot of days that never make it above 0 degrees! All of us Minnesnowtans are keeping warm with hot food and hot drink so here’s a fun song writing activity about hot yummy things to eat in the cold, cold winter.

Just like our song about what we like to eat, “In the Summer”, this song writing intervention uses the melody of “The Lion Sleeps Tonight”. I looked through cooking magazines, cut out photos of warm food and drink (hot chocolate, pasta, soup, etc.), and laminated them for visuals. I find that good quality visuals always go a long way in getting clients engaged and it’s worth a little bit of time spent in preparation. Clients young and old will get to make choices, recognize names, practice joint attention, interact with peers, and work on sequencing during this song.

Start singing/playing the chorus of the song…

In the winter, the cold, cold winter

We like to stay very warm

In the winter, the cold, cold winter

We like to eat lots of warm food

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

In the winter, the cold, cold winter

__(name)__ likes to eat lots of __(food__

In the winter, the cold, cold winter

__(name)__ likes to eat lots of  __(food)__

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

This intervention would also be a great opportunity to bring in more senses such as touch, smell, and taste of the different foods and discussing hot/cold as well. We hope you’re staying warm and can use this song with your clients!

We Are…Empowerers: {Titanium: I’m Bulletproof}

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The new year has begun and so far 2014 has been a great year…all 6 days of it! I chose to kick off my year of therapy by co-facilitating an adult connect group through the Epilepsy Foundation of Minnesota last week. I was inspired to share some of the analysis of the lyrics from participants that was received. Below is the experience of epilepsy, as interpreted through the song Titanium by David Guetta.

You shout it out,
But I can’t hear a word you say
I’m talking loud not saying much

Living with epilepsy can be very isolating. The experience of having a seizure and the consequences that follow require the help of the people around us, which often comes at the expense of our own independence. There are strict guidelines for what you can and can’t do, and oftentimes, our opinion is at the bottom of the charts of diagnosis, paperwork, medicine levels, and MRI appointments.

I’m criticized but all your bullets ricochet
You shoot me down, but I get up

For many of us, the source of our seizures will never be found. Epilepsy is never predictable, and that means taking a myriad of medications to control the seizures. Side-effects can cause mood swings, depression, mental health problems, and weight gain. We are often judged based on these side-effects, despite the fact that taking those medications is not a choice that we have.

I’m bulletproof, nothing to lose
Fire away, fire away  

You shoot me down, but I get up                                                                                                    I am titanium                                                                                                                                                               

Losing things like our drivers license,  jobs, and independence can be tough to handle, but it also forces you to find our what you love, and how to find ways to do those things that you love. The idea of Titanium is appropriate because it is famous for it’s incredible strength. You are as strong as you think you are.

Cut me down
But it’s you who’ll have further to fall
Ghost town and haunted love

Our lifestyle choices are highly criticized, but we are the ones that decide how to spend our time, where we go, and what we do. Half of the battle is getting your family to let go and let us fend for ourselves. Waking up after having a seizure can be very confusing and often memories are just gone. Your brain feels like an old abandoned town. Sometimes it feels like you just ran a marathon the day before, and other times the only indicators are that you wet the bed, you have no idea what the date or time is, and the memories of the last week are blurry.

Raise your voice, sticks and stones may break my bones
I’m talking loud not saying much

Our titanium is the thing we have that makes us happy. The thing that makes it worth it. Titanium is traveling, or collecting old records, or painting, or playing soccer, or watching Netflix. Seizures aren’t planned, but finding healthy ways to cope is the first step, and they come from within us.

With that. I want to answer the statement “We Are…” about what music therapists are for social media advocacy month as

We Are EMPOWERERS!!

Check out all of the posts for Social Media Music Therapy Advocacy Month.

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!

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!

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!