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: {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!

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: {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 ‚ÄúMilkshake‚ÄĚ 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.

{Autism Awareness Day!}

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April is one of my favorite months of the year. The sun shines once again for a solid 12 hours, April Fools Day is observed, AND most importantly, it‚Äôs Autism Awareness month! Over the last five years, I have had the privilege of getting to know some of the most unique, fun, challenging, and loving individuals I have ever worked with.¬†Yes, they all have things that ‚Äúlink‚ÄĚ them together and give them a common diagnosis, but each client has a different personality, favorite activities, and lessons to teach all of us. Music is a way to express individuality in a setting that is positive and successful. My clients can participate in a meaningful experience that is engaging and work on goal areas such as gross, fine, cognitive, and regulatory skills.

‚ÄúMusic has the advantage of demanding attention that a visual stimulus cannot, because it intrudes immediately through ears that cannot be closed voluntarily.‚Ä̬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬† -Hanser

Hanser’s observation explains why music therapists can effectively help clients achieve goals in a variety of areas. For example, if one of my clients is having a hard time slowing down his body, we will choose a song together, and he will jump on a trampoline while hitting a paddle drum that I move around. The client may not respond to a visual for “calm body” but with music, I can meet the client where he is and using the iso-principle, bring him to the calm body that will be necessary for him to be ready for kindergarten.

The actual goal we were working toward may read ‚ÄúL will participate in filling in the blanks of a song sung by the therapist for 90% of opportunities with minimal assistance‚ÄĚ. In the meantime, the secondary gains that are built in to the therapeutic music intervention include ¬†gross motor goals by crossing midline and bilateral movement, visual tracking, breath control, and self-regulation. The client is able to build self-esteem by participating in a meaningful activity, creating rapport with an adult figure, and responding to bids for interaction (socialization!) with the therapist.

Musical experiences are positive so people participate because they are enjoyable and successful. They learn to seek out and trust the therapist because that is needed for the experience to be successful for the client. Individuals that engage in positive creative efforts gain self-control and create a healthy emotional outlet.

Happy Autism Awareness Day!

Monday Music and Movement: {Star Wars meets MT}

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One of my projects every week is to find new music to use for adaptive lesson students. For this task, I like to dig outside of the traditional classics. Some of the favorite pieces¬†I’ve done¬†for clients are the harp theme from Zelda, Angry Birds theme song, ¬†and Mario Bros theme song. Today, I am transcribing the theme from Star Wars to be played on the piano!

Adaptive music lessons are like traditional music lessons, but in addition to increasing musical knowledge, you are tracking non-musical goals. The instruments and music are adapted to set the client up for success, such as large hand grips on mallets for a client with Cerebral Palsy, or replacing regular musical notation with color dots that correspond to notes on an instrument. Instead of being required to learn how to visually read music, physically play an instrument, and do them simultaneously, the process is simplified.

For example, the song I am transcribing today for the piano, is regularly played over a three octave span, and uses both the right and left hands. For an eight year old with Aspergers that dreams of being Luke Skywalker, three octaves won’t work. Instead, I am adjusting the theme so it is played in one octave, and each note is colored to match the keys on the piano. The theme is a single melody line and can be played with either hand and any combination of fingers. It is a fun, easy way to track musical knowledge, fine and gross motor skills, cognitive skills, and confidence building.

Here is a picture of what the adapted piano looks like:Piano

Here is a picture of a song written for adapted piano:photo-1

Visit our Toneworks page for more information about adaptive lessons!

Monday Music & Movement: {Shake, Shake, Baby}

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Today’s song is a piggyback of the catchy chorus of Nelly’s “Country Grammar”, which has a chorus based on the children’s rhyme “Down Down Baby”. Here’s a link to a clean version of if you’ve never heard it…please try not to judge my 15 year old self that loved the catchy melody!

Whenever I have an earworm, I figure it’s a decent melody to piggyback new lyrics. That’s how today’s Monday Music & Movement came about. This song addresses goals of body identification, self-regulation, following directions, and gross motor goals (bilateral movement of harms, meeting, and crossing at midline). During the song, children will stop/go, watch and listen to you to move shakers in different ways, and receptively identify body parts.

Here are the lyrics:

[Sung to melody]
Shake, Shake, Baby
Shake down the rollercoaster (swoop arms as if on a rollercoaster)
Up high baby, shake them way up high (reach!!)

Roll and roll and roll and stop (pause)
Roll them way up high (above heads)
Roll and roll and roll and stop
Roll them way down low (by the floor)

[chant]
Let’s get the rhythm on the head, head (2x)
Let’s get the rhythm on the …. etc.

Continue the chant with whatever body parts you are working on identifying. Repeat song 2-3x with repeated body parts for younger children to really learn them or with different parts if you have been working on body identification before.

This is a seemingly simple therapeutic music intervention, but as a music therapists you can address so many goals with this fun instrument song. We hope you can adapt and use it with your clients or children!

Friday Favorites: {The Animal Boogie!}

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Dear music therapists, music educators, music therapy students, & caregivers of children,

Have you met my friend, “The Animal Boogie”? If you haven’t had the opportunity to use this singable book and movement song during your sessions and everyday life yet, take a moment to listen to it here. There are many variations of this song (e.g. Jungle Boogie, etc.) but this is the one that we like best at Toneworks MT.

I first found “The Animal Boogie” on iTunes while searching for movement songs. It’s sold in the audio books section so when you buy the audio book, the song comes with it. The CD with a sung version also comes with a hardback copy.

Here are a few ways I like to use “The Animal Boogie”

1) Singable book – Have kids pat along to the beat with you. I find that it’s best to keep hands busy so they can’t get distracted. In addition, kids that are kinesthetic learners or those that need more sensory input to keep focused benefit from the movement during this singable book. Each page, have the children mimic the movement in the song.

Shake your body like a bear, swing your arms like a monkey, stomp your feet like an elephant, flap your arms like a bird, leap like a leopard, put hands together and slither like a snake, sway together everybody!

I like to have children roll their hands during “boogie woogie oogie” but you could throw in some hand jive, a disco move, whatever you think will be a challenging move for the kids.

2) Movement without props – Similar ideas to the book, but while standing up. Encourage big movements and model ASL signs for the animals. You can work on gross motor goals by having children move bilaterally, balance, jump as high as they can, and swing their “trunk” as an elephant across their midline.

3) Movement with props – Try using a parachute or stretchy band during the song. Children will have to cooperate to move the prop together in the same type of fashion for this intervention to be successful. During the little instrumental interlude between each verse, it’s fun to have the children move the parachute high up, then down to the ground before going back to standing position.

Most of the time, I believe in using live music, but the recording of “The Animal Boogie” has great musical cues and driving beats so I end up using the recording a lot. If you’re lucky enough to have a co-therapist, intern, or practicum student, a live version of the song would be viable with one person playing and the other modeling actions.

We hope you’ll find the song as useful and fun as we do. Happy Animal Boogie-ing!