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.”


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: {Let’s Go Fishing!}


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: {Circus Tightrope Walk}


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One of the first things I did when I got to my internship was read, play, and sing through every music book that my internship site, The Family Partnership, had in the bookshelves. One gem that my senior intern (hey Shana!) shared with me was the book “101 Rhythm Instrument Activities for Young Children“. The book is geared towards music educators working with young children, but music therapists can make plenty of transfers for music therapy sessions. I would recommend this book to any new music therapy student, intern, or professional!


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The therapeutic music intervention that I want to share today comes out of the “101 Rhythm Instrument Activities for Young Children”. The goals that may be addressed in this intervention are turn taking/waiting, cooperation, positive peer statements, and making a choice.

Materials needed: Tape for the “tightrope”, one jingle bell wristband, and song of your choice.

Depending on your setting, the song of choice may be a calming one or a rousing song. I always like to use “The Entertainer” because it can be looped endlessly and doesn’t get the children too amped up while they wait for their turn.

Start the intervention by showing the children how to walk across the “tightrope”. The goal for them is to keep the bell on their head and walk across the rope without the bell falling off. If the bell does fall off, make sure to encourage the child to pick it up and finish. I like to start a round of applause and encouraging words after each turn to get the children interacting positively with one another.

When one child is done, he or she can choose a peer to go next. After the first round, children can get creative by choosing how they want to walk across the “tightrope”. Will they go backwards, sideways, eyes closed, or hop on one foot?

This intervention is not all that complicated, but is novel enough to work on peer interaction and impulse control. We hope you have fun walking the “tightrope” with your little ones!

Friday Favorites: Laurie Berkner Band’s Airplane Song


Airplane (Photo credit: Biczzz)

I’ve talked about how much we love to use the Laurie Berkner Band’s songs during music therapy sessions. Today’s Friday favorite is another from the LBB titled “Airplane”. You can take a listen to the song and buy it here.

The idea for using this song as a gross motor movement intervention comes from my former internship supervisor, Sarah Woolever  MT-BC, M.M., NMT. There are a couple of ways to use this song to meet goals of working together and cooperation.

Here are the lyrics, which are repetitive enough to create a sense of anticipation but varied for using listening skills to follow the actions in the verses:

Get in your airplanes and off we go 
Going to the park is first, you know. 
Now slow it down and land on the ground 
And when you get out you’re gonna jump all around. 

…California…spin all around 
…New York City…gallop all around 
…playground…dance all around 

Get back in your airplanes, it’s time to go home 
Your family and friends are waiting you know 
Now slow it down and land on the ground 
And come sit down in your own hometown

For younger children such as toddlers, you will want to create one big circle and hold arms, swinging during the lyrics “get in the airplane off we go…”. Then follow the song lyrics by slowing the arm swinging down and “landing” on the ground by crouching. Everyone can drop hands and move like the lyrics each verse (e.g. spin) until the line “get back in the airplane”.

To adapt the intervention for older children, the music therapist can pair up pre-k or kindergarteners. Instruct the children to hold hands and hold arms out to “fly”. The children can hold hands for the duration of the song while acting out the lyrics in this adaptation.

Finally, younger elementary school age children can share a hula hoop as the “airplane”. You may want to engage in a bit of prep on how to have a safe body before passing out the hula hoops though, I speak from experience!

During this therapeutic music intervention, children will work together to move with a peer. In addition, having them in circle formation or in pairs encourages eye contact and conversation. We hope you can use this song as a resource for encouraging social skill building.
Happy weekend!.