Tag Archives: Halloween

Friday Faves: Halloween Visuals

21 Oct

If you were to peek inside my instrument bag this week, you’d find some spooky sounding instruments, a few amazing manipulatives from the Target dollar area (seriously, go there RIGHT NOW and buy everything…cardboard pumpkins & slimy creatures galore!) and my 3 favorite free Halloween visuals below.

  1. Sing Me a Monster Cards from O For Tuna Orff. These are great for basic addition and subtraction, counting and using descriptive language. I like to use the melody suggested (Sol-Mi-Mi-Sol-Mi) and sing or chant, “Sing me a monster, tell me what you see. Sing me a monster, describe him/her to me!” I then prompt each kiddo to sing “I see…” and name one feature on their monster. It can be fun to pull them out of a paper bag with some of the aforementioned slimy Target creatures for extra monster ooky-ness.
  2. Halloween Composition Starters from Pianimation. This is a really helpful visual for songwriting experiences, drum chants or writing sound poems. Use this as a jumping off point for one song or create a verse from each starter line.
  3. {Free} SFS Candy Flashcards. Grab this free download I created for musical trick-or-treating and/or word rhythm drumming in sessions & adapted music lessons. We love hiding these around the clinic or writing out the corresponding rhythms as we say the name of each candy.


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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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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 .


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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Activity Inspiration: Pumpkin Bowling

28 Oct

Just a few more days until Halloween arrives! I love bringing out my spooky songs and activities at the end of October, but found myself faced with a new challenge this year. Though many of my music therapy groups are getting excited for dressing up and trick-or-treating on Thursday, I learned that some of my clients and their families do not celebrate Halloween.  I believe that no matter what the setting, clients are often more motivated and subsequently, more successful, when the environment presented to them is inviting and inclusive. I headed straight back to the drawing board and had a blast developing some new activities that are accessible and enjoyable for all of my clients.

I always make an effort to utilize a range of seasonal themes in the fall such as the harvest, apples, leaves, acorns, corn and pumpkins, many of which also serve as an appropriate thematic substitute for Halloween songs and activities. This week, I’d like to share a simple and highly engaging fall activity that my clients keep requesting again and again: pumpkin bowling! This activity gets everyone up and moving, as well as promotes goal areas such as turn-taking, group engagement, teamwork, and gross motor skills.


  • 6-8 empty tissue boxes
  • 6-8 pumpkin images (cut out)
  • Tape
  • Scissors
  • 1 ball (bonus points if it’s orange!)
  • 1 place-marker
  • Thematic recording: “Bowling is My Kind of Game” (Asleep at the Wheel)

Tape one pumpkin image on each tissue box…AND THAT’S IT! How easy is the prep work for this activity? Stack your pumpkins in a pyramid, demonstrate rolling the ball on the ground for your clients and invite them up to take two turns to knock all the “pumpkin pins” down. If your clients need a visual to help them know where to stand when rolling the ball, draw a line with tape or put a place marker down.


I use a fun bowling-themed song to add some musical support to this intervention because I usually need my hands free to help clients stand, sit and roll the ball. I can guarantee that “The Bowling Song” by Asleep at the Wheel will be a hit with your groups. Take pumpkin bowling one step further by adding your own original song or playing this song live!

Additional adaptations of this activity may include:

  • Expanded goal areas:
    • Social Skills: After each turn, client must answer a social question
    • Fine/Gross Motor: Have each client re-stack the pumpkin pins after their turn
    • Creative Self-Expression: Have each client decorate a pumpkin and tape it on a tissue box. Now your group has made their own pumpkin bowling pins!

I have a feeling that many therapists, teachers and community groups also face this scenario each year for a number of holidays, so I would love to hear about some of your non-holiday specific seasonal activities!

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