Activity Inspiration: Holiday Sing-Along

7 Dec

Screen Shot 2015-08-19 at 10.49.05 AMFor the rest of the year, I’m keeping my blogging short and sweet…because I’m getting MARRIED on December 19th!

I wanted to share my most-used visual this month: FREE Holiday Song Icons. Print, laminate, velcro and use again and again. I try to go for songs that don’t overtly mention Christmas (“Sleigh Ride” and “Let It Snow” are two faves), but can’t resist other classics like “We Wish You A Merry Christmas” (great for playing on bells) and “Rudolph” (use a red shaker for your nose!). Wishing everyone a great holiday season–I’ll catch you in 2016…with a brand new last name. 🙂

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Activity Inspiration: We’re Cooking Thanksgiving Dinner

23 Nov

November is a great time to talk about FOOD…which just so happens to be one of my favorite things. I created this little activity to open conversation about Thanksgiving dinner foods and family traditions with my kiddos, so you can keep it as traditional or creative as you want. If you’re going the traditional route, you might want to make some food item picture cards like mine to help structure the activity. But if you’d like your clients to come up with their own favorite foods, give them a blank square and have them draw the item and share it with the group!

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Pass out some instruments, start a simple drumbeat, then sing or chant the words:

“We’re cooking Thanksgiving dinner, and we’re gonna make something yummy!”

Choose a client to drum/play their food word a few times, then get everyone in the group playing it. Each time you add a new food item, see how many words you can sequence together! It can get really silly if you’ve got a big group, especially if you’ve got creative food choices (ie CANDY, CANDY, CANDY). Sometimes, we even pretend the gathering drum is a table and practice asking for different food items (“Can you pass the turkey?” “Yes, I can!”) and pass the cards to a steady beat.

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#AMTA2015: Kansas City, Here I Come!

9 Nov

11230964_10153344446274541_8716665946176669922_nI’m really excited to be traveling to Kansas City for the 2015 AMTA National Music Therapy Conference! I’ll be presenting with one of my music therapy bests, Michelle Erfurt, on Friday at 9AM. Our concurrent session, Present the Best Version of You: A Mission-Building Writing Workshop, will be totally interactive, and you’ll work in small groups to create a mission statement that you can put into use immediately. You’ll also find me facilitating a table at the Networking Luncheon on Friday at 12pm.

If you’d like to connect at conference, let me know. I’m always happy to meet and make new music therapy friends over coffee (or, let’s be honest—happy hour!).

Can’t wait to see you there!

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Activity Inspiration: Boogie Monster (+ MORE Monster Ideas)

26 Oct

9781935414100_p0_v2_s600At the end of October, I love doing monster-themed songs and activities. This can be great for kids who don’t celebrate Halloween, or friends who may be scared of other Halloween themes (ghosts, witches, etc).

One of my new finds this fall has been Josie Bissett’s Boogie Monster book. It’s like it was written for music therapists—the text is interactive, asks questions and each page has a different dance move that goes with specific body parts. Can it possibly get better, you ask? Yes, I say…because you can buy it as a complete set with the book, a CD of dance tunes and FURRY MONSTER LEGGINGS that kids can wear while you read/dance to the story. Let me repeat: you can buy FURRY MONSTER LEGGINGS that match the monster in the story. I know, I know–it’s amazing.

Example A: I mean, LOOK at those leggings. Come on. It's brilliant.

Example A: I mean, LOOK at those leggings.

After we read, we like to have a dance party to Recess Monkey’s “Boogie Monster”, which was written to go along with the book.

For added fun, we might even watch the boogie monster breaking it down all over NYC.

Feeling like your boogie fever isn’t satisfied yet? Keep your dance party going!

Blame It on the Boogie (Jackson 5)

Boogie Wonderland (Earth, Wind and Fire)

WAIT. You still need one more monster activity to round out your session?

Try the FREE Monster Music App and have fun creating your own monster dance tune. This one is guaranteed to crack you up, and has fab opportunities for vocalizing/speech goals.

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Activity Inspiration: Fall Drum Chant

12 Oct

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Drumming simple chants or word rhythms can be a great way to orient clients to a new season/topic while also working on other important goals (reading, comprehension, speech, etc). I like to use this chant as a warm-up or cool-down activity, and often leave room for conversation about favorite fall activities. To start, encourage clients to join in playing a steady beat on a gathering drum (or separate drums), then begin chanting:

Fall is here and leaves fall down

Colors changing all around

Apples, pumpkins, scarecrows too

I love fall—how about you?

You’ll also want to download these FREE fall chant cards that I made to go along. Drop them into a tambourine or drum, take turns selecting one, then chant the text or drum the word rhythms. Each card also has a CV, CVC or sound effect word at the end, so this can be a great way to address speech goals. I often lead clients in a simple gesture on each word, like pretending to bite an apple on “CHOMP” or rubbing the drum for “WOOSH.”

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Singable Book: The Leaves Are Falling One by One

28 Sep

Leaves are fallingSung to the tune of “The Ants Go Marching One by One,” this book by Steve Metzger is one of my fall favorites. It’s a familiar melody that has lots of fun rhymes, action movements and opportunities for color identification and counting.

I like to pair it with some foam leaves that I labeled with both the number and number words (which, btw, are also fun to use with a parachute—throw them in and make them fall/twirl/dance, etc!). While we’re singing along, I have my kiddos sort through the leaves to find the corresponding number or word, then add it to our leaf pile each time we sing “fly, fly, fly.” At the end of the book, we JUMP, JUMP, JUMP in our leaf pile and throw them everywhere…well, because it’s fall.

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Activity Inspiration: We’re Going to be Friends

14 Sep

The idea to first use this song came from one of my MT BFFs, Kayla Lyles, MT-BC, who you can now find blogging for Noteable Progressions Music Therapy Services. She shared one way to use this song back when we were completing our equivalency program at Shenandoah University, and I’ve since adapted for use with my kiddos! I always pull this intervention out at the beginning of the school year, because it can be a great warm-up/getting to know you song for new groups or clients.

Intervention Ideas:

  • Lyric Analysis: Conversation topics may include friends at school, favorite school subjects, new teachers/classes.
  • Listening/Impulse Control: Give clients an instrument to hold and have them wait to play until they hear a specific word-“friends” is a good place to start! I like using bells or shakers.
  • Basic Signing: For little ones, I use an excerpt of the song (with alternate lyrics) and some sign language visual cards I made using resources from Baby Sign Language.

Here in music, we have fun

Getting to know everyone

Making friends is really nice

So smile wide and be polite

I can tell that we are gonna be friends

I can tell that we are gonna be friends

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Activity Inspiration: Backpack, Backpack

31 Aug

I like to use the simple “Backpack” theme song from Dora the Explorer during the first few weeks of school, which many kids already know and LOVE to sing along with. It has some great /b, p, k/ sounds, plus early pronouns in the lyrics like /me, my, I, you/ for kiddos practicing speech and communication goals. This activity is also helpful for students working on labeling or requisite learning skills such as independently packing and unpacking their backpacks. If possible, we use our actual backpacks and label the items inside as we take them out or put them away.

For music therapists on the go, here’s a simple backpack visual you can download for free…so all you need to do is laminate and add Velcro. We sing the backpack chorus, then make a drumroll on our legs (or a drum) while saying, “Let’s see what’s inside!” When the drumroll stops, encourage your student to pull out and item and label it. Bonus points if they can tell you one way they use the item during their school day!

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Welcome Back: 5 Songs for the 1st Week of School

17 Aug

Songs for Success is baaaaack! After taking the summer off from blogging (and completing the #Musictherapyblogger challenge from Serenade Designs), I’m excited to get back into the swing of posting regularly and sharing activity ideas galore. Be sure to also check out my Instagram, where I’ll be posting pictures of my favorite back-to-school activities and visuals.

To get your school spirit flowing, check out 5 songs I’ll be jamming to with my students to celebrate the start of a new year.

  1. Welcome Back (John Sebastian)
  1. School Days (Chuck Berry)
  1. ABC (Jackson 5)
  1. Be True to Your School (Beach Boys)
  1. We’re All in This Together (High School Musical)

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#MusicTherapyBlogger Challenge: 10 {Clean} Summer Dance Songs

3 Jun

This post is part of a 5 week #MusicTherapyBlogger challenge. Learn more and join the movement by visiting Serenade Designs!

Screen Shot 2015-06-03 at 9.44.46 AM‘Tis the season for end-of-the-year parties, and no party is complete without a great playlist! Below you’ll find a list of current dance tunes straight off the radio–but the best part? They’re all totally cleanYup, you heard me! No bad words or questionable topics, so these songs are ready to go for use in music therapy sessions, school parties or even with young kiddos. If you’re looking for even more dance party jams, don’t miss my other favorite playlists: 1, 2, 3.

1. Uptown Funk (Mark Ronson feat. Bruno Mars) Bonus: more ideas from Toneworks MT.

2. Shut Up and Dance (Walk the Moon)

3. I Really Like You (Carly Rae Jepson)

4. I Need Your Love (Shaggy feat. Mohombi, Faydee & Costi)

5. I Want You to Know (Zedd feat. Selena Gomez)

6. Don’t Look Down (Martin Garrix feat. Usher)

7. Cheerleader (Omi)

8. Fire N Gold (Bea Miller)

9. Feel the Light (Jennifer Lopez)

10. Where Are U Now? (Skrillex & Diplo feat. Justin Bieber)

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