Tag Archives: Visuals

Friday Faves: Holiday Visuals

9 Dec

This week, I’m sharing 3 recent visual finds that have been a hit during my sessions with little ones. December always goes by so fast, and I often find myself without time to create my own visuals. Thank goodness for Pinterest and all the other educators who share their creative ideas. All you’ll need for prep is a laminator, velcro and some clip rings (if you’re feeling fancy).

1. “5 Little Gingerbread Men” from Stay At Home Educator. I printed the empty tray and 5 gingerbread cuties, then added velcro for a fun counting game. Another fun way to use these visuals would be to add magnets and put on an actual cookie tray. We usually sing the song to the tune of “10 Little Indians” as we count.

2. “What’s Under the Tree?” Interactive Booklet from Sped-Ventures. Work on positional words and holiday vocabulary with this free adorable book. Print, add velcro and play! I use a few different melodies, including “Happy and You Know It.” (i.e., Put the present below the candy cane/Put the present below the candy cane/Put the present below, put the present below/Put the present below the candy cane.)

3. Holiday PlayDough Mats from Itsy Bitsy Fun. Okay, these are just really fun. Snag some festive PlayDough from the dollar store and create your own holiday scene on the mats as you sing Christmas songs. My favorite is the tree mat– we work on fine motor & following directions by making different colored ornaments to put on the tree (while singing “O Christmas Tree,” of course).

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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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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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Music Therapy Olympics: Figure Skating Movement Activity

10 Feb

No Winter Olympics would be complete without some figure skating…and my Music Therapy Olympics are no exception. My students are having a blast this week with this fun figure skating movement activity (with many adaptations!), which can be implemented in a number of ways to suit your setting and client needs.

Figure Skating Movement Activity with Scarves

Goal Areas: Body awareness, gross motor skills, following directions, visual attention, positive peer interactions

Visuals to Make:

  • Scarves with snowflakes. Scarves are great way to add a visual element to movement activities, especially for those clients with limited movement abilities. This can be as simple as swinging the snowflake back and forth to get some visual attention and tracking going. Encourage them to reach out and grab the snowflake when you place it in different locations (directly in front of them, to the side, up high, down low). Check out this DIY scarf visual from a previous post.

photo(3)

Music to Try:

  • If you’re working with younger children, I recommend using “Snowflakes” (The Learning Station) from their Seasonal Songs in Motion CD . Song lyrics include concrete directions like “slip sliding, from your left foot to your right.” This can help your clients get the hang of swaying, sliding from side to side or shuffling their feet across the floor to mimic ice skating movements.
  •  “The Snow Is Dancing” (Debussy) is a beautiful piano piece that really sounds like snowflakes falling. Have clients stand and move their bodies and scarves along with the music. Encourage them to pay attention to dynamic, textural and tempo changes while moving.

Movements to Do:

  • Swaying
  • Sliding back and forth
  • Sliding across the floor
  • Slow spin
  • Jump
  • Finishing pose
  • Bowing (while the audience cheers, of course!)

Conversations to Have:

  • Have you ever been ice skating before? What did you wear? Who did you go with? What did it feel/smell/look like?
  • What qualities do good ice skaters have? (Graceful, hard working, dedicated, etc)
  • What is your favorite winter activity to do inside or outside?

Over the next two weeks, I’ll be sharing MORE Olympics-themed ideas for use in music therapy sessions, music education classes and at home. Stay tuned for the next Songs for Success Music Therapy Olympic event idea!!

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Super Supplemental: Football Movement Cube

28 Jan

photo-45It’s almost Super Bowl Sunday, so you know what that means…time to share a festive activity idea! I have a beloved set of chalkboard paint dice that I’ve used many times for movement, instrument playing and songwriting activities (My favorite: writing emotions on one cube and instruments on another). I love being able to quickly adapt or re-purpose the dice as needed during a session, and knew that I wanted to use them for a Super Bowl-themed movement activity this week. However, my cute chalkboard dice don’t work as successfully for clients who require extra visual support to complete tasks. A few google image searches later, my handy dandy football movement cube was born.

P1020598Goal Areas: Increasing flexibility in unpredictable situations, motor skills, following directions, socialization

Materials:

  • 1 Empty Tissue Box
  • 6 Movement Directions/Styles
  • 6 Printed Photos
  • Glue
  • Tape (for durability, if desired)

Making this was simple and only took about 10 minutes. Hooray for time management! You’ll first need to decide on six football-themed movements to put on the cube, such as:

  1. Cheer
  2. Touchdown Signal (Both arms up in the air)
  3. Touchdown Dance
  4. Victory Pose
  5. High Five Teammate
  6. Jump

Find some pictures that correspond with each movement you select, print them out and glue them to the cube. I prefer to use real pictures whenever possible, and found some snazzy shots of NFL players to make my cube extra cool. I also put clear mailing tape over each picture.

P1020599I pair this activity with some stadium jams like “Get Ready for This” (2Unlimited), “Let’s Get It Started” (Black Eyed Peas) and “The Power” (Snap!).

Each student has a turn to come up to the front of the class, roll the cube and perform the movement they roll. I also like to distribute pom-poms and signs to students sitting in their seats so that they can cheer on their peers. The superstar student rolling the movement cube gets to hold a football (if you have one).

TRY THIS AT HOME: Keep the kids engaged during your Super Bowl party this weekend. Each time a team scores, roll the dice and take turns getting some energy out! You can even work together to decide what movements will go on your cube before the big game.

What’s your favorite football activity to use this time of year?

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Super Supplemental: Mystery Box

15 Dec

This week, I’d like to share one of my favorite supplemental aids to use in sessions: my mystery box! It cost less than $4 to make and is something I have been able to re-purpose for many different populations and uses.

 Materials:

  • Scrapbook or Memory Box: $2 at AC Moore (Or a shoebox…which is also free!)
  • Stickers: $1.50 (I like using raised or foam stickers because they can provide an additional sensory experience for clients.)

Slap some stickers on your box and then you’re ready to go. Bonus points for making it look mysterious!

4 ways I’ve used my mystery box:

1. “Pass the Box” game.

Many of my clients benefit from practicing important skills like waiting, taking turns and following directions before Christmas arrives! This is a good way to prepare clients for what they might experience on Christmas morning (waiting while siblings open gifts, following directions from Mom and Dad, opening up a box with something unknown inside, etc). I have a simple “Pass the Box” song that I sing while I have clients pass it around the circle. They are only allowed to open the box and take something out when the music stops and they are the one holding it! I usually put different instruments (if they’re small enough) or instrument icons inside. Once everyone has an instrument, we have a jam session together!

Here’s a FREE DOWNLOAD (!!) of some of my instrument icons.

2.  Transitions.

The mystery box can be a great way to help clients transition from one activity to the next. This works especially well for clients with ASD who already use picture or object schedules for transitions throughout the school day! You can put an item in the box that represents the next activity (picture, instrument, scarf, etc) and have the client open it before the activity starts. You could also work on increasing client flexibility by putting one item for each activity in the box. Have clients reach in and select one item to determine what the next activity will be.

3.  Songwriting.

Put items such as stuffed animals, pictures, or key words/phrases inside the box. Use these items to create a short story or poem as a group, then orchestrate the story with sound effects or musical accompaniment. You could also have clients each write a word or phrase centered around a topic or question (i.e., What would you like to say to _____? How do you feel when _____?) and put their thoughts inside the mystery box anonymously.  Use these phrases to write an original song together.

4. Song title guessing game.

Find items to represent songs that you’ve done together as a group or pop songs on the radio (awesome for adolescents!). Have clients select items from the box and work together to try to guess the song title. Once the song title is guessed, sing or play it together. I especially like using this activity for older adults with dementia, because it can be a great opportunity for reminiscence. Select concrete visuals to put inside (i.e. Plastic yellow rose for “Yellow Rose of Texas”) and pair with extra clues (“There’s a state in the title!”) or write lines for each word in the song title on a large pad of paper (_____   _____   ____   _____). I’ve also found that this is a great termination activity and can spark a nice discussion about what your clients liked (or didn’t like!) about each activity.

Do you have a favorite supplemental that you find yourself using again and again? I’d love to hear about it!

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