Tag Archives: Fall

Friday Faves: Fall Edition

7 Oct

Lately, my sessions have been filled with songs about apples, pumpkins, and all things fall…and I CAN’T GET ENOUGH! Can you feel the sweater weather, fluffy scarf, pumpkin spice love? Today, I’m sharing 3 resources that have been making their way into most of my early childhood and school based sessions.

  • Pumpkin Counting Cards from The Kindergarten Connection. Laminate these babies, put them on a clip ring, and you’re ready to roll! Add clothespins for some extra fine motor fun. I like using these cards with improvised songs & familiar tunes like 5 Little Pumpkins. Bonus: the version below is great for counting AND emotion identification.

  • Singing “Button Up Your Overcoat.” I love singing this song acapella with my kiddos on the first chilly day of the year. We have fun making up our own finger play movements, like putting on a coat, signing “apple” and pretending to sleep. This song is especially great for parent-child duos, because it’s fun to give each other a big hug and sing “you belong to me!”

BE THE FIRST to hear about new posts, free downloads and session plan ideas from Songs for Success by entering your e-mail in the sign-up box on the right and following my instagram or pinterest.

Friday Faves: 4+ Apple Ideas

30 Sep

It’s time to rev your laminators: after a long hiatus, Songs for Success is back in business with music therapy session ideas, songs and visuals! I’ve been busy with grad school, intern supervision and a whole lot of clinical work, but couldn’t be more excited to start spreading the intervention love again. In honor of October (and finally, cooler weather), I’m sharing my favorite apple songs and ideas.

This week, my kiddos and I will be…

Counting Apples!

  • Pretend your red, green and yellow shakers are apples and sing “Way Up High in the Apple Tree.”
  • Download cute and {free} visuals like these apple seeds or apple baskets and sing while you count.
  • Slap some apple icons on your beanbags, hide them, and go apple picking.
  • Sing an old school SFS song like “Apples in a Tree”  or a classic like “Don’t Sit Under the Apple Tree” for intergenerational groups. I like to change the words to /I don’t sit under the apple tree or apples will fall on me, no, no, no! Let’s count how many fell off the tree, how many do you see? Oh, count these apples with me/.

Dancing to songs about apples!

This song…need I say more?

Relaxing with “Apple Tree” by Justin Roberts!

This is a sweet, calm way to end a session. I like to sing it live or listen to the recording and sway with red, green and yellow scarves along with the music. We love growing like seeds, waving our branches, and stretching to the sun. Bonus points if you incorporate signs (wait, apple and tree are a great place to start) and practice spelling apple at the end.

BE THE FIRST to hear about new posts, free downloads and session plan ideas from Songs for Success by entering your e-mail in the sign-up box on the right and following my twitter, instagram or pinterest.


Activity Inspiration: Fall Drum Chant

12 Oct

Screen Shot 2015-08-18 at 5.18.52 PM

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.”

BE THE FIRST to hear about new posts, free downloads and session plan ideas from Songs for Success by entering your e-mail in the sign-up box on the right and following my twitter, instagram or pinterest.

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.

Leaves are falling 2

BE THE FIRST to hear about new posts, free downloads and session plan ideas from Songs for Success by entering your e-mail in the sign-up box on the right and following my twitter, instagram or pinterest.

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.

Screen Shot 2014-10-16 at 4.44.02 PM

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 .


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.

unnamed (9)

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.

photo (7)

BE THE FIRST to hear about new posts, free downloads and session plan ideas from Songs for Success by entering your e-mail in the sign-up box on the right and following my twitter, instagram or pinterest.

Activity Inspiration: Starvin’ Marvin the Turkey

18 Nov

Just a few more days until I’m off to Jacksonville, FL to experience my first American Music Therapy Association National Conference! I’m so excited to meet and learn from music therapists from around the country (and to escape the cold Maryland weather for some Florida sun—woo hoo!). Before I go, I want to share a silly little Thanksgiving song that my internship supervisor and I wrote together called “Starvin’ Marvin.”

For this activity, your clients can practice impulse control, counting, following directions, turn taking and motor skills as they listen to the song lyrics and toss beanbags into Starvin’ Marvin the turkey’s mouth. Don’t be afraid to be silly—I love to make Marvin dance and often make sound effects to go along with the song (stomach rumbling, gobbling and sometimes he even says, “FEEEEEEED ME!”). You can even have clients volunteer to make Marvin move and talk–but be prepared for LOTS of giggles! This activity could also be a simple craft to make at home to keep your kids occupied and having fun on a rainy November day. Pre-cut the box, have them design and draw the turkey on it and then, voila! You have a new game to add to your collection.

All you’ll need to make your turkey is a small cardboard box, scissors and my turkey face template (included below). I cut a large hole in the front of the box and glued the turkey face together on the top. I also had some left over feathers from another activity, so I glued those on the back of the box to give him a cute tail. Let your creativity run wild with this one!

P1020532During the song, encourage your clients to wait until the count of three to toss their bean bags into Marvin’s mouth.  Depending on client needs, I either hold the turkey close to the client so they can easily put their bean bag inside his mouth or set it up further away if they are able to toss the bean bag. Repeat the bean bag toss as many times as desired and be sure to encourage lots of gobbling and wing flapping from clients who are waiting for their turn! Once each client has had a chance to “feed” Marvin, have everyone speak for him and say “Thank you” by using their voices, sign language or AACs—whatever works best for each client.

Below is a recording of “Starvin’ Marvin” and a free PDF of my turkey face template. I hope you have a blast making your own turkey and implementing this activity with your clients and children!

Starvin’ Marvin PDF

Activity Inspiration: My Pumpkin Vine

13 Oct

As the air (slowly…but surely!) gets colder here in Maryland and Halloween draws closer, I decided it was time to bring out some fun pumpkin activities for my sessions this week. One of my favorite pumpkins songs to use is a folk song called “My Pumpkin Vine” that I’ve adapted in a variety of ways for a range of populations. This week, I’m sharing the version that I created for children to focus on goals such as impulse control, decision-making, following directions and fine motor skills.


  • Image of a vine (laminated with velcro)
  • Realistic images of yellow flowers, black bugs, green leaves and orange pumpkins (laminated with velcro)
  • Choice board to display on iPad, SMART board or printed out

For this activity, I give each client one pumpkin vine containing a “picture bank” of images to add during the song. P1020484

I display a choice board created for the song and ask for a volunteer to select an item to add to the vine by vocalizing or pointing to their desired choice.

P1020482If you are an iPad user, I highly recommend a free app called Sounding Board, (https://itunes.apple.com/us/app/soundingboard/id390532167?mt=8). It provides simple choice board templates, which I find work great for my nonverbal clients. The app allows you to easily input photographs and record your voice, which provides great auditory reinforcement when these clients press their desired selection.photo-1

Each time a choice is made, I will sing that verse of the song and encourage clients to move the targeted image from the “picture bank” to their pumpkin vine. I created my own chorus involving a 1-2-3 clapping pattern to increase engagement for clients who have finished placing their image on the vine. Some clients may need more direction and support than others during this activity, so each verse can be repeated as many times as needed.

P1020486 At the end of the song, I ask clients to hold their full pumpkin vines up and show them to a friend. This is a great opportunity to practice social skills like giving compliments and saying “Thank you!”

 Additional adaptations of this activity may include:

  • Expanded goal areas:
    • Expressive Language Skills: Have each client share an item that could be found on their pumpkin vine and add it into the song. Be warned: silliness may abound when you do this! I like to encourage creativity when I use this as a songwriting activity, and have heard suggestions ranging from squirrels and birds to Spiderman and video games!
    • Art and Music: Have clients draw their own pumpkin vine. Instruct clients to listen to the song lyrics and draw only the items they hear on their pumpkin vine. Share pictures with the group after singing the song.

Below is a sample choice board and recording of me singing “My Pumpkin Vine.”

Pumpkin Vine Choice Board