Tag Archives: Activity Ideas

5+ Faves: Pumpkin Ideas for Fall

20 Oct

What people might say: “Yay, it’s finally fall.”

What I actually hear: “Pumpkin coffee! Pumpkin muffins! Pumpkin picking! PUMPKIN EVERYTHING AHHHHHHHH.”

My profound love of all things pumpkin doesn’t just stop at food. My sessions this month have been filled to the brim with all things autumn, harvest and…pumpkins! This week, I’m sharing 5 of my favorite pumpkin-themed activities that will have your kiddos jamming, moving, grooving in no time.

1. “Pumpkin Pie” Play Along (California Honeydrops): This is a great warm-up activity. Pass out shakers, guiros, sticks—anything that makes a nice scrapey sound. If you have a washboard, clients can take turns being a soloist (and if you don’t have a washboard, GET ONE!!!! It’s always a hit); otherwise, do some guitar strumming instead.

2. “Gonna Pick a Pumpkin” Chant: Okay…so I totally made this chant up in the moment while I was drumming with a kiddo. But it was really simple and fun, and was a great way to encourage my client to vocalize and work on playing a steady beat.

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If your clients are older, work together to come up with a fancy beat to play while you chant (or split into two groups and perform your beat for each other). You could even leave out the “big and round” part and have clients fill in the blank.

3. Pumpkin Vine: Click the link for a free download of the visual and to see how I use it! This little song is so catchy, and I guarantee you’ll be singing it all day. I love using this activity for fine motor skills, impulse control and decision making .

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4. Pumpkin Bowling: If you really want to get the party started…do this one. Seriously! It takes all of 5 minutes to make and is fabulous for working on motor skills, turn taking and just overall group engagement.

 5. 5 Little Pumpkins book: This is a classic song, but I am in love with having it in board book format. Singable books are a perfect cool down activity for little ones, and I like using this one for counting/basic math goals, visual attention and vocalizing (my favorite page has a big “OOOOOO!” that kids just eat up with a spoon). I also use shakers as pumpkins sometimes and take one away each time we turn the page.

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6. BONUS IDEA! PumpkinFace HD App (free!) is easy to navigate and comes complete with spooky Halloween music. I use it to work on emotions, and have my kiddos select eyes, mouths and hats–then we sing and talk about how our pumpkin might be feeling.

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Super Supplemental: Piano Practice Chart

30 Sep

Let’s face it—it can be frustrating when our students don’t practice. We want our students to be successful in learning and growing their musical skills, but that can be hard to do if the only time they’re working on those skills is one time a week during their lessons. Doh! For students with additional challenges, practicing can be even more difficult to conquer. I always make a big point of working with each my students to teach them not only what to practice, but how to practice. I’ve started making practice charts for each of my students, and it has made a world of a difference!

Each chart has two standard parts: a place to list assignments/songs to work on, then the log portion (aka THE FUN PART!). Each time a student practices during the week, they color in one picture. It’s up to your discretion as a teacher to figure out how many times you want your students to practice during the week and for how long. I often start small and then gradually increase the amount of practice each month to phase in the concept of practicing regularly.

Processed with VSCOcam with c1 presetThe great thing about creating your own practice chart is that you can personalize it for each student in a jiffy. I guarantee that your piano students are going to be WAY more likely to practice if something they love is on their chart—legos, cars, animals, Disney characters…anything works, as long as it’s motivating. One of my kiddos loves Frozen, so BAM! Each week, she gets to color in pictures of her favorite Frozen characters. If she practices 5 times during the week and colors all of her cute little pictures in, she gets a big version to color as a reward. 🙂

Enjoy this {FREE} download of my piano practice chart (which works great for older kids), or simply use it as inspiration to make your own! What are your must-have tools for your piano students when it comes to practicing?

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3 Resources I’m Loving: For Piano Lessons

5 Sep

In my summer blog series, 3 Resources I’m Loving, I’m sharing my favorite 3 resources at the moment for different purposes! Check out my last post about Summer Visuals.

September means back to school, which also means that it’s finally PIANO LESSON TIME! I’ve been having a blast creating new visuals, songs and activities to support my adaptive piano lessons and have really found myself excited to teach piano–something I never thought I’d say. I spent most of my days as a student avoiding the piano like the plague (no, seriously–you wouldn’t believe the excuses I’ve given to avoid playing it in public!), but have really fallen in love with it over the past year. I use the piano daily in my music therapy sessions and have been feeling totally inspired for all the lessons I’ve been teaching. I thought I’d share 3 of my favorite things to use right now in my piano lessons.

photo (6)1. Hand/Desk Bell Set. GUYS. If you don’t have a handbell set or xylophone, go get one right now!!!!! These bells have been a huge source of motivation for my kiddos. Beginning students can use them to play their songs, learn solfege and practice note identification. It’s super easy to color-code visuals to match (I have little fish I like to use…this is also great for working on color matching, visual tracking, etc).

Processed with VSCOcam with g3 preset2. VISUALS! LOTS AND LOTS OF VISUALS! I can’t stress this enough–a good visual can totally make or break teaching a new concept. I have basic piano keys/staffs with velcro to work on note learning and identification, rhythm value cheat sheets, solfege visuals and more. For some quick downloads, see the post about my much-requested lesson game, Miss Kerry’s Musical Melee, and click on the links for the rhythm and note cards.

photo (6)3. FUN APPS! For new piano students, I highly recommend Tune Train. Your students will looooove composing their own song by extending the train track and hearing it played back to them paired with different musical styles (hip hip, pop, classical, etc). It’s a great way to introduce concepts like harmony and pitch while also working on fine motor skills (isolating one finger to draw the line) and decision-making. Other fan favorites are Flash Note Derby and NotateMe Now.

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10 Clean Dance Songs: For Back to School Fun!

18 Aug

Screen Shot 2014-08-18 at 2.50.36 PMAs I gear up to see my public school kiddos next week and all my teacher friends prepare to have their classrooms full again, I thought it might be time for another list of TOTALLY CLEAN but also {totally hip} dance songs for use in school settings and beyond. For some street cred and mad cool points, play one of these babies in your classroom or music therapy sessions–but don’t blame me if it turns into a full-fledged dance party. You’ve been warned!

For more ideas, don’t miss my original dance song playlists, found here and here.

1. I Will Never Let You Down (Rita Ora)

 

2. Believer (American Authors) **Bonus points: Use for lyric analysis.**

 

3. Ten Feet Tall (Afrojack)

 

4. Rather Be (Clean Bandit)

 

5. Hideaway (Kiesza)

 

6. Shower (Becky G)

 

7. Am I Wrong (Nico & Vinz)

 

8. A Sky Full of Stars (Coldplay)

 

9. We Are Done (The Madden Brothers)

 

10.  I Want You Back (Jackson 5) .Okay, fine. This isn’t a new song. But I’m obsessed with the Guardians of the Galaxy Soundtrack…can you blame me? Plus, this video confirms that I need giant fringe scarves for my shirt sleeves.

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3 Resources I’m Loving: Summer Visuals

6 Aug

I think we all know by now that I love me some easy to make but effective visuals. A good visual doesn’t have to take you 2 hours to craft (though, if your laminator is moody like mine…you never know) and shouldn’t cost an arm and a leg (COUPONS! COUPONS! COUPONS!). Sometimes, the simplest items can make or break a session by getting everyone engaged and having fun. Below are three visuals that have been an absolute hit with my clients this summer!

photo (4)1. Suns. If you’re thinking, “All she did is print out a picture of a sun and put it on the ground,” you are CORRECT! But you better believe that these suns have been going everywhere with me this summer and have been used in a bunch of ways. Our fan favorite has been putting the suns down on the ground in different shapes or paths, slapping some sunglasses on and stepping on the suns to the beat of the music. It’s a great way to work on gross motor skills, problem solving (If one sun is too far away to step to, how can we get there? Do we need to jump, move it closer, etc?), working on shapes (placing the suns in circles, triangles, squares) or just for a summer dance party. Try it with “Walking on Sunshine,” “Good Day, Sunshine” or “Let the Sun Shine In.” 

photo (3)2. Surfboard. This one REALLY got the party started in some of my group sessions. I just cut out the shape of a surfboard from brown paper, drew a line on it and BAM! Instant summer fun. My clients of all ages had a blast showing off their surfing skills and cheering for their friends. To be extra cool, throw some sea animal beanie babies/stuffed animals in there and have clients choose one to go surfing with them. Works great with “Surfing USA” and “Hawaiian Roller Coaster Ride”.

photo (2)3. Fish & Fishing Pole. My buddies at Toneworks Music Therapy inspired me to use their Let’s Go Fishing song in my sessions. Place the fish on a scarf and take turns “going fishing”. You could adapt this in a number of ways; my kiddos were working on colors, but you could also write social questions, movements, instruments, etc on the fish that can shape the activity as you do it. Once I tried this out, I’ve had requests almost every week for “the fishies”!

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3 Resources I’m Loving: iPad Apps

25 Jul

In my summer blog series, 3 Resources I’m Loving, I’m sharing my favorite 3 resources at the moment for different purposes! Check out my last post about Music & Relaxation.

One of the most important tools I carry around with me as a traveling music therapist is my iPad. I use it for a variety of purposes: documentation, scheduling, recording, pulling up youtube videos, fun apps for clients to earn…you name it, and I probably use my iPad for it! Below are three apps I’ve been using a lot this summer to work on goals ranging from communication and choice making to social skills and following directions.

photo (1) 1. Bla Bla Bla. Price: FREE!

This app is TOTALLY AWESOME for communication goals! Bla Bla Bla is a sound reactive app that uses the microphone on your iPad to control images on screen. Users can select a fun face from the menu, which will begin move as they vocalize. If it’s a soft sound, the face will move a little bit, but it really goes bonkers as you get louder. It’s fun demonstrating for clients and watching as they realize that the only way to move the face on screen is to vocalize. I’ve seen kiddos shake it, touch it, etc…but it’s really exciting when they start to make the connection and begin to use their voice.

photo (4)2. Beamz. Price: FREE!

This app is for all your cool kids and teens who dream about becoming a DJ. *Insert Dubstep Music Here*. The Beamz library contains tons of songs in different genres (anything from HipHop to Bluegrass) with corresponding sound effects that can be played simply by swiping purple lines on the screen. No matter what sound you hit, it’s guaranteed to sound great and go with the music. You can even record your song and listen back to it! I’ve used this app for social skills (turn taking, following directions, imitation), communication and emotional expression.

photo (3)3. Real Guitar. Price: $0.99 (WORTH IT)

I loooove using this app in sessions because it’s appropriate for all ages, has a high-quality sound and is really easy to use. Real Guitar allows you to select desired chords, put them in whatever order you want and pick a strumming or fingerpicking pattern. Clients can play along with you (or you can follow their lead) or you could even play along with preferred recorded music. This is awesome for clients working on fine motor skills—I have them point their index finger and practice strumming on both the iPad and my actual guitar.

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3 Resources I’m Loving: Music & Relaxation

8 Jul

In my new summer blog series, 3 Resources I’m Loving, I’m going to be sharing my favorite 3 resources at the moment for different purposes! This week, let’s talk about some helpful resources for music & relaxation and self-regulation activities. I always end my sessions with a calming activity to help regulate and center my clients before they leave the therapy space. Below are three tools I’ve been using heavily this summer that I just can’t live without!

ryanjudd21. Ryan Judd’s Sleep Soundly CD

When Ryan told me about Sleep Soundly, his latest project, I couldn’t wait to get my hands on the tracks! After my first listen, I was totally blown away by its beauty and adaptability. Each song is rhythmic, well-paced and contains really nice ambient sounds that lend beautifully to music and relaxation exercises appropriate for any age or population. I’ve been using them with ambient instruments like ocean drums, rain sticks and wind chimes, and have even encouraged some of my families to purchase the CD for use at home.

 2. Cabasa

All my clients know that the cabasa is my absolute favorite instrument and expect to see it offered as a choice at the end of our sessions. It’s fantastic for providing tactile stimulation, is easy to hold and manipulate and makes a high quality musical sound with even the lightest touch. Demonstrate rolling the cabasa slowly on your hands, arms, legs, etc and encourage your clients to do the same. Provide physical support if needed (and use recorded music—try one of Ryan’s tracks from above!) or fade back and provide relaxing guitar or piano accompaniment. I’ve been loving Kat Fulton’s Easy-to-Learn Relaxing Guitar Loop lately.

 

My go-to is this mini cabasa, which fits in my bag without weighing it down.

photo (1)3. Kite Visual with Scarf

I created this simple kite visual for one client in particular and have found myself using it with almost everyone! Try using it for music and movement with the song “Let’s Go Fly A Kite” from Mary Poppins or for deep breathing/stretching. I will often encourage clients to stretch up to touch the kite wherever I am holding it, take a deep breath and blow out to try to move the scarf.

What’s your favorite resource for music & relaxation right now? Leave a comment below–I’d love to add more resources to my list!

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Miss Kerry’s Musical Melee: For Music Lessons

23 Jun

For many of my adapted piano lesson students, sitting at the piano for 30 minutes can be really challenging. I always try to keep our sessions fun and engaging by bringing in other instruments like desk bells or boomwhackers, getting up and moving around or even playing games! My latest creation, Miss Kerry’s Musical Melee, has been an absolute hit with my clients and is now something they ASK for at the end of our sessions.

 The main concepts of my game are:

  • Clapping 4 beat rhythms
  • Music note identification (naming the note as well as finding it on the piano)
  • Solfege with hand signs
  • Basic composition of melodic and rhythmic lines

The rules? Players roll a dice and select a card based on the color of the space they land on.  Cards will prompt players to clap rhythms, ID note names or complete a challenge card (i.e., play notes on the piano, sing their solfege, compose a 4 beat song). When players reach the end of the board, they have to complete one challenge card to finish the game!

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What You’ll Need:

  • File Folder
  • Laminator (because…well, you should know by this point that EVERYTHING I own is laminated!)
  • Game Board
  • Playing Cards (create your own or print the ones below)
  • Game Pieces
  • Dice or Spinner
  • Ziploc Bags

I liked this game board template at The School Supply Addict and decided to color it in myself to match the construction paper I had on hand. However, if you google “game board templates” you’ll be able to find a bunch to suit your needs, whatever they may be!

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I used these basic rhythm flashcards found at Susan Paradis: Piano Teaching Resources because they were cute, small and portable. You could also try these rhythm cards found at Layton Music.

I also used these music note ID flash cards from Making Music Fun, and plan to repurpose them for all of my music lessons.

**FREE ALERT!** I made my own challenge cards, rules sheet and cover page, which you can download for FREEEEEEE here: Miss Kerry’s Musical Melee.

If you’re a traveling music therapist like me, you’re going to want your game to be compact without a lot of pieces. Divide your cards up into Ziploc bags, clip them into your file folder (bonus points if your paper clips double as your playing pieces!) and download a Dice App like this one. Now, you’re ready to go!

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Miss Kerry’s Musical Melee is definitely a beginner level game, but it could easily be adapted for any skill level or age by increasing the difficulty of the questions and topics covered. Feel free to adapt as needed—I’d love to hear how you use it with your clients. HAVE FUN!

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10 {More} Clean Dance Songs!

27 May

Check out my current dance playlist, which is full of pop songs with CLEAN LYRICS that will get the party started no matter where you are. You can never go wrong with some free dancing, plus you’ll get bonus points for knowing some pretty cool songs.

If you haven’t seen it yet, don’t miss my previous post with 10 Feel Good Dance Songs for even more song suggestions.

1. Summer (Calvin Harris)

2. All Night (Icona Pop)

3. Classic (MKTO)

4. Problem (Ariana Grande ft. Iggy Azalea)

5. Hey Brother (Avicii)

6. What Is Love (Rio 2 Soundtrack)

7. Everything Is Awesome (The Lego Movie Soundtrack)

8. Red Lights (Tiesto)

9. Neon Lights (Demi Lovato)

10. Loud (R5)

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Activity Inspiration: Singin’ in the Rain

19 May

This time of year, I love to use weather-related songs and activities in my sessions! Springtime weather always inspires me to break out my ambient instruments (frog rasp, crow sounders, canary sticks, rain sticks, thunder tubes, etc) and use songs about sun, rain and flowers. One of my fan-favorites from this season has been a movement activity paired with “Singing in the Rain” that gets everyone moving and has lots of opportunities for some feel-good solos.

When I introduce the activity, I usually show clients pictures of Gene Kelly dancing (quite adorably) with the light-post or a brief video, if possible. I mean, how cute is he?! Clients are then invited to volunteer for a “tap dancing” solo in front of the group. I usually model some snazzy moves (turning in a circle, kicking my feet out, jazz hands) but you’ll also love seeing what your clients come up with on their own.

I made a few portable umbrellas (gotta love those multi-purpose rhythm sticks!) and dug out two very suave costume hats for clients to hold and wear.

photo-12For some groups, I attach jingle bells to self-adhering Velcro tape (my bells too small to fit around adult ankles) and invite clients to wear or hold them during their solo. Because some of my adult groups have high numbers of hearing and visual impairments, I’ve found that this is a great way to motivate clients to move and participate, even from their seats.

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For your cool kids and teens, try this Glee mash-up of “Umbrella” and “Singing in the Rain.”

 For everyone else, I love Gene Kelly’s classic rendition!

 If you have lots of staff to help and don’t need your hands free, you can even play it live and vamp during each client’s solo. Have fun!

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