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!

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Friday Favorites: {Milkshake, Shake it Up}

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Today’s Friday Favorite is the perfect tune, especially considering our recent heat wave in Minneapolis! The intervention is adapted from the song “Milkshake” by Wiggleworms. You can following this link to find the CD “Songs for Wiggleworms”.  This intervention can of course be adapted depending on your client base. I sing the song live to give enough time for each child to give their favorite milkshake flavor or ingredient. For this activity, you will need two egg maracas for each child.

Before each verse, choose a child to give you their favorite ingredient or flavor of milkshake and sing that in the third stanza of the verse. The words from the adapted version are below:

You take a little milk,  pour some milk 

And you take a little cream,  pour some cream

You stir it up with ____________ (child’s favorite ingredient or flavor)

You shake it and you sing…1,2,3,4

Chorus:

Milkshake, milkshake shake it up, shake it up

Milkshake, milkshake shake it all up!

Milkshake, milkshake shake it up, shake it up

Milkshake, milkshake shake it all up!

I usually use this intervention in small group therapy, but recently adapted it for an individual client working on identifying objects. For each verse, I presented him with two options and asked him to choose the one I requested. Instead of egg maracas, we used a large ocean drum to shake during the chorus, which addressed one of his gross motor goals as well.

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: {Let’s Go Fishing!}

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Today’s Friday favorite is an activity that I adapted from my former (awesome) internship supervisor Julia Lundquist. Almost every child that I work with adores this game, and it addresses fine motor, gross motor, academic, social, and regulation skills!

For this game, you will need enough fish for everyone to have two, plus one extra. Here are the fish that I use. I laminated mine since they happen to also be a favorite chew toy! Depending on the goal area, you can either write a number on each fish, or color them each a different color. To “magnetize” them, attach a small paperclip over the mouth of the fish, or cut small strips of magnet (from craft stores) and paste them to the back. For the fishing pole, I used a refrigerator magnet and taped it to some yarn and attached it to a rhythm stick. You can also just tie a magnet to a string and use any kind of stick from the great outdoors.

After you lay out all of the fish in a pond, choose someone to fish first and hand them the pole. Begin tapping your knees and chanting:

“Let’s go fishing, fishing in the sea,

And what kind of fish with _____ (name of child holding the pole) catch for me?”

The person to the right of the fisherman will say “Please pick the ____ fish.” After catching the correct fish and giving it to the person asking, the turn is over and the pole is passed to the next child.

The academic skills addressed in this activity are color or number identification, but you can also adapt it using sight words, math problems, etc.

Happy Friday and happy fishing!

 

 

Friday Favorites: {Rhythm Games Part 1}

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Last night I was talking with a lovely friend who is finishing up her senior year in the Music Therapy program at the University of MN. She has the wonderful opportunity to work as a music facilitator at a shelter once a week. We were talking about how it can be tricky to come up with instrument interventions for school age kids that are age appropriate for them. Then I remembered that while I haven’t worked with school age children in groups for a while, I led many such groups with my co-intern (hey Shana!) during internship. This Friday Favorite post kicks off a series of favorite rhythm games and interventions that are perfect for use with school age children or individuals that may be at K-6th age developmentally.

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Rhythm or Music Telephone

I think everyone has played “Telephone” at some point in their childhood. There are a couple of ways that you can play rhythm telephone. I got this idea from Natasha Thomas’s blog, Music Moves, which I would highly recommend as a resource if you haven’t found it yet. The basic idea is just like telephone: you must pass a rhythmic message around the circle and try to keep it intact.

The level of support you need to provide will be up to the needs of the group. I have had to give examples of rhythms that the students chose from. If you are working within a school context and teaching note values, it would be easy enough to have flash cards (here are some printable versions) with 4 beat rhythms that students randomly choose and use as the message. Children will work on goals of imitation, recall, and turn taking.

Now, since you can have students whisper sing the rhythm or tap it on their friends’ back. Where I was during internship, the goals included positive peer interaction and cooperation so I used the tapping on back method of passing the message.  You may need to have a little spiel about gentle touch and safe bodies before starting the game. Allow everyone to have a turn being the leader and watch your students and clients have a blast while working together.

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Hide & Seek the Sound

This game is very simple, yet during it, clients can work on goals of sound localization, turn taking, waiting, and working together. One person sits in the middle of the group and is blindfolded or covers their eyes if they are averse to blindfolds. 1-2 friends move quietly around the room and use items already in the environment or hidden small percussion and play the item or instrument. Friends sit back down. The person in the middle takes off their blindfold and walks around the room to find the item or instrument played while they were blindfolded. The other students can help by saying hot, cold, or warm to help.

We hope you can incorporate these rhythm games into your practice or classroom. Happy Friday!

Monday Music & Movement: {Valentine’s Day BINGO}

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Image via Hearts in Nature

The older adults I work with never get tired of a few music therapy interventions (balloon volleyball to music anyone?). One is playing name that tune or music bingo. These music interventions never fail to get my groups of older adults clients interacting, singing, clapping, and reminiscing.

Today’s intervention addresses the same goals as the Holiday music bingo post found here. Because the goals are not simply to sing along or identify a melody, it is important to allow time for the group to share memories and encourage active listening and empathy among group members. You can discuss the different kinds of love in the songs. Romantic love, young love, love for your country, etc. This intervention will allow both the music and therapy skills that we have as music therapists to shine!

Here is a link to the Valentine’s BINGO sheet as a pdf and as a word doc if you want to change out some of the songs.

We hope you are able to use the session idea with your clients and adapt as necessary for group preferences. We will be sharing more ideas for Valentine’s Day sessions in the coming weeks so please subscribe to the right or follow our blog for the most up to date posts.

ETA: wikifonia is no longer so we hope you can find the lead sheets on your own through the wonderful internet 🙂