Friday Favorites: {Today is Monday} Singable Book


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I love Eric Carle’s books as a mom and a music therapist. The pictures are beautiful and eye catching and many of his books lend themselves to becoming singable books (Brown Bear anyone?). “Today is Monday” is versatile in terms of goal areas you can address. Goals include matching, gross motor imitation, recall, sequencing, sight words, choice making, and turn taking.

Here is a link to the sung version on YouTube and to buy the book on Amazon. The lead sheet to the song is in the book if you get it from a bookstore or the library!

Therapeutic Music Intervention #1)

For children who are working on pre-reading and pre-writing skills, you can utilize goals of tracking left to right, turning pages front to back, and picture matching. You will want to create copies of the food or use PECS or clipart and laminate. Pass out to children and tell them to hold up their picture or bring it up to the board when it matches the book. Sing through the books, using your finger to track left to right and have children take turns turning the pages after they have a matching picture (works on pincer grasp as well).

TMI #2)

Build on the first TMI by adding gross motor movements for each food as a memory device along with the song. Then, scramble the pictures after the book. If you’re working on recall, flip pictures face down or hold them in your hand. Ask children what foods we just sang about? If you’re working on sequencing with the group, ask children to help you put them back in order from Monday to Sunday.

TMI #3)

Finally, you can build on the previous interventions by leaving the book out. Print off the days of the week along with the pictures. Have a felt board where you place the days of the week. Children can take turns choosing the food they would like to eat on the day of the week. If children are working on sight words or letters, you can mix up the days of the week and have the children find the day before placing a picture on the board.

It’s important for us as music therapists to design interventions that create a scaffolding of academic and social skills and singable books, like “Today is Monday” make it possible for us to keep changing our intervention while using the same familiar song and book.

Thanks for reading and Happy Friday!


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: I Was Walking to the Circus…

The Circus

The Circus (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Welcome to the second song in the Circus Theme we’re sharing from Toneworks! Our first post was a song designed to meet the academic and kindergarten readiness goal of identifying basic shapes using singing. I came up with today’s song “I was walking to the Circus” to meet goals of recall and sequence. I got the idea from this song from my amazing co-intern who had a similar song “Walking in the Jungle”.

If you can’t read music, it’s easy enough to chant the lyrics of the song. I like to use rhythm sticks during this therapeutic music intervention, but I think it would work with just hands or anything that you can tap together. I also like to incorporate movement and singing together to get a kinesthetic learning experience so in the lyrics you’ll see how to incorporate that into the song.

“I Was Walking to the Circus”

I was walking to the circus and what did I see?

Many people rolling out the tent. [roll the sticks on the floor]

Roll, roll, roll. Roll, roll, roll. Roll, roll, roll. Roll, roll, roll and freeze!

I was walking to the circus and what did I see?

Many people hammering down stakes. [hammer one stick atop of the other]

Hammer, hammer, hammer….etc.

I was walking to the circus and what did I see?

Big, grey, elephants dancing on their feet. [walk the sticks vertically on the floor]

Dance, dance, dance…etc.

I was walking to the circus and what did I see? Fancy ladies brushing down some horses. [scrape sticks against each other]

Brush, brush, brush…etc.

I was walking to the circus and what did I see?

A crowd full of little children clapping with glee. [tap sticks]

Clap, clap, clap. etc.

I was walking to the circus

{sorry for the picture instead of pdf…technology problems at Toneworks today!}

I usually sing through the song 2-3 times. After that, there are several ways to ask the children to recall what they did during the song. You can simply ask them what they saw while walking to the circus. Another way is to ask how they moved the sticks during the song and then follow up with what the movement represented. After every correct answer, it’s fun for the children if you reinforce what they said by leading the group through the particular movement again (e.g. just sing the “hammer, hammer, hammer” line). For sequencing, you can have clipart pictures printed out that the children must match to numbers 1-5 or just place in order correctly.

Thanks for reading and we hope you can use this song with your little ones!