Tag Archives: iPad

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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#MusicTherapyBlogger Challenge: Waiting

18 May

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

Challenge #3: Share a quote that makes you think.

Screen Shot 2015-05-18 at 9.45.13 AMWaiting for a message. This is something I find myself doing every day. I wait for my kiddos to make connections during sessions. I wait for e-mails and phone calls. I wait at traffic lights. I wait for my coffee at Starbucks. I wait for the exact response I want to a musical cue. I wait to share reports at meetings.

Then, I think about the waiting that my clients endure.

Waiting for their bodies to listen.

Waiting for their brains and mouths to respond (knowing that the words that might come out might not be what they actually mean).

Waiting for the right form of communication.

Waiting for someone to see them as a real, thinking person.

I am inspired by autistic self-advocates like Emma Zurcher-Long of Emma’s Hope Book, who typed the beautiful words I chose to share today. So I wait for her voice, and the voices of her peers, to be accepted. I read her poetry, I think, and I share; then I encourage my clients and colleagues to do the same.

At the core of my values is a belief that we should presume competence in all people on the autism spectrum. So I wait for our society to embrace ALL forms of communication–verbal and nonverbal. I wait for people to understand that spoken words may be unreliable. I wait for doctors, therapists and teachers to accept new challenges and new approaches. I wait for the rest of the healthcare community to see autism as a movement difference, rather than a social one.

I wait for a client to learn to play a steady beat, to play the drums, to cross midline. 

I wait for a client to type one word, even if it takes 30 minutes.

I wait for a client to find the right iPad app, device or communication board, even it it takes months of trying.

I wait for a client to find and share their voice, even it it takes years.

I’m waiting for messages every day. And I’ll wait as long as it takes.

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{MORE} Dr. Seuss Inspiration: Silly Sound Song

1 Mar

Monday kicks off Read Across America week, and boy oh boy do I love me some Dr. Seuss. I wanted to share a little song I wrote that works great for speech, impulse control, engagement and self-expression goals (and if you use an iPad, finger isolation/fine motor skills).

You can find the visuals & sounds I used for my choiceboard (plus more activity ideas to Seussify your sessions) in this previous post. Download the images and either: print and put on big macs or load them into an app like Sounding Board or Choiceboard Creator and add sounds. When the music stops during the song, have your kiddo press their desired button to sing along. If clients are able, I have them come up with their own sounds and use their voice or instruments to make them. This can get really silly, especially if you have a group of kids making sounds at the same time OR waiting and taking turns.


For even more Dr. Seuss inspiration, check out my springtime Pinterest board and the Read Across America website (full of worksheets and coloring pages!).

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Activity Inspiration: Silly Seuss Sounds

4 Mar

Oh, the places you’ll go…when you let Dr. Seuss inspire your music therapy activity planning! In honor of his birthday (March 2) and Read Across America day, my music therapy groups are having a jolly good time this week creating silly Seuss sounds to work on goals like positive peer interaction, decision making, following directions and self expression/creativity.

Seuss-sational Activity Ideas:

Download the Dr. Seuss Band App for $.99. If your clients are able to play, the game is a great way to practice color matching and fine motor skills! But something I love about this app is that you don’t HAVE to play the game as intended…simply select a song (each one is so delightfully goofy sounding) and have clients press the buttons to play the instrument.

For the suggestions below, I usually open the app, select a song and have clients layer silly sounds over the music.

photo-1 Use instruments to create silly sounds! Throw some unique instruments in a bin (or drum, etc) and have students choose one to play. Some ideas:

  • Vibraslap
  • Frog Rasp
  • Clatterpillar
  • Thunder Tube
  • Rainstick (bonus points if you have a colorful one!)
  • Wind Tube
  • Canary Whistles
  • Boomwhackers

photoRecord silly sound effects on communication devices.  Find some sound effects that strike your fancy (thank you, youtube!) and record them on a choice board on your iPad or on communication devices like big macs. I had access to a Cheap Talk 8 at school, but individual buttons would also work great.

Fun Sounds to Try:



 Tuba (hehehe)

Slap (Don’t have a vibraslap, so I improvised!)

Don’t miss this FREE DOWNLOAD(!!!!!!): a visual I made for use with those sound effects. Just cut out and attach to communication devices or use as a choice board.

Build your own silly Seuss instrument. Divide students into teams or work together as a group to make a unique instrument that can be played in many ways. Provide students with a box of items (instruments, tin cans, boxes…the possibilities are endless) and encourage them to assemble a never-before-seen instrument. Have students describe their instrument to the group and demonstrate how to play it. Don’t forget to name it when you’re finished!

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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