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?

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 ‚Äúa-wim-o-weh‚ÄĚ 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!

Timeless Tunesday: {Washing My Fingers}

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Hey Everyone, it’s time for another Timeless Tunesday! Last week I was trying to think of a song about washing fruit to fit into a food theme for one of the schools that Toneworks works with. One look at Ms. Lyndie’s musical washboard and I was set. This song uses the tune of “Ring Around the Rosie”. You can work on goals of color identification, joint attention, turn taking, decision making, and peer interaction.

After passing out fruit (great opportunity to ask what colors the fruit visuals are), music therapist sings:

Washing my (fruit name), washing my (fruit name) (model scraping the laminated fruit)

Washing, washing, now¬†it’s clean¬†clean! (model taking both hands off the washboard and wiggling them to show “clean”)

Say something like, “we’re all going to take turns washing our fruit” and you can lead the group in using friend’s names

(NAME) is washing (fruit name), (NAME) is washing (fruit)

Washing, washing, now¬†it’s clean!

I like to incorporate choice making by asking the child which friend they choose to wash¬†their fruit¬†next.¬†Another twist you can use is to wash fingers instead of fruit. Just insert “fingers” instead of the fruit name and you’re set! You can talk about when you need to wash fingers, germs, etc. Of course, this intervention is so much fun that you get kids saying, “my fingers are still dirty!” so be ready for that ūüôā

Have a blast washing fruit, fingers, animals, and whatever else your clients desire!

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).

Monday Music and Movement: {I Ain’t Gonna Paint No More}

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There is nothing I enjoy more than a book that includes messy painting while working on identifying body parts and colors! “I Ain’t Gonna Paint No More” is a great way to keep the kiddos engaged because of the silly antics of the characters. The melody for the book is adapted from the chorus of the old country/blues song It Ain’t Gonna Rain No More. Here is a ¬†link for a simple kid’s version of the song.

Instead of singing:

“It ain’t gonna rain no more no more, it ain’t gonna rain no more. How the heck can I wash my neck if it ain’t gonna rain no more.”

sing:

“I ain’t gonna paint no more no more, I ain’t gonna paint no more. That’s what I say cause there ain’t no way, that I ain’t gonna paint no more.”

While singing this part, have the kids pat their knees as you sing. On the pages that identify body parts, sing “So I take some red, and I paint my head”, pause and have the kids “paint” that body part. For more of a challenge, have them identify the color before you sing it. At the end of the book, have each child give their favorite color that was listed. If possible, try to encourage them to remember what body part went along with the color.

Happy painting!

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!