Thank you for joining me again for our sign language series! This week we are learning our season signs. These four signs are a great tool to have in your back pocket. I am continually working to build awareness of environment and time in the therapeutic environment. One major way we can do that is by working to help all students to be able to correctly identify the seasons, weather, date, and so on.
When a student can understand the varying seasons that brings us one step closer to a greater understanding of how to care for oneself at the most independent level.
I hope you enjoy this week’s video and enjoy our bonus sign for Halloween!
Last Thursday as we were wrapping up our last class of the early fall Listen & Learn session, one of the parents made a comment that stuck with me. With a twinkle in her eye and a smile on her face she said, “That went so much better than the first week”. She was referring to the fact that within four weeks, all of the two year olds in our class had started passing and sharing items during class without any prompting from parents and often while using the sign language for please and thank you. She was referring to the “magic” that had happened over the past few weeks in music class.
Day one of class had it’s share of tears, meltdowns, and resistance to sharing anything. As the weeks progressed, sharing and playing together became easier. By week four there were such vast improvements that most of the caregivers took a back seat role in the class and let their little ones show off their new skills. It all worked.
When these transitions happen, it can seem magical. A huge shift and a lot of learning has happened in such a short amount of time that it’s hard to fathom. However, this growth is by design. All of our class crates that we use in our sessions are designed to foster growth and development in areas where we know it is typically needed. The songs are sequenced in a way that makes sense for our families so that there is balance between movement, instrument playing, reading, and quiet sitting. The books are chosen to work on academic concepts and the instruments are selected to keep things fresh each session while encouraging specific skill development.
The development of social skills and the increased interaction that happens over the four weeks are all part of the plan. And when that plan works, it feels like magic. The joy, the smiles, and the pride that come from both the little ones and their caregivers is contagious and fills me with such happiness. Even though I know all of the whys and hows, it still feels magical to me, too.
You may be wondering, what on earth is a Guitten? As the name suggests it is a small mitten (without the fingers of course) for the head of your guitar! It securely covers the tuning keys. Everybody sing it with me… hallelujah!
And yes, it really is as wonderful as it sounds!
I know we have all been there. You are strumming along and having a wonderful session when you strum your guitar and it happens. Your beautifully tuned 6-string is now 4 keys way to low with a string dangling from the fretboard and you realize your guitar has been compromised. More than likely one of your clients decided to curiously turn and twist those tempting tuning keys on your guitar. At this point retuning your guitar may be untimely, and your only option may be to put it away.
Let me be honest here, I heard about the Guitten from their table at a music therapy conference. I liked the idea when I saw them and nabbed one for myself. But in all honesty I would consider this a must have for all MT’s. It is a wonderful tool and they come in all kinds of colors and designs.
Have we mentioned that we LOVE movement props? You may have noticed that if you’ve seen our photos, browsed our songs, or attended our groups and sessions. We’ve written countless songs specifically for our FAVORITE movement props from none other than Bear Paw Creek, and we were recently inspired to compile 12 of those songs into a songbook.
The songbook is made up of 4 sections, one for each of the different movement props — bean bags, stretchy bands, balloon balls, and scarves — for which the songs were written. We made a video earlier this week to share details about those props, which you can watch right here.
Not only do you receive the lyrics and chords for each song, but we are also including the recordings and a leader’s guide with tips and instructions for implementing the songs right away.
But here’s the most exciting part of this new release: now through Tuesday, July 5, not only will you receive Songs for Movement Props, but you’ll also get our multimedia songbook Counting Through the Seasons ($17 value) AND be automatically entered to win our giveaway of ALL the movement props listed above from Bear Paw Creek. We’ll be announcing the winner and delivering both digital songbooks to those who have ordered on Tuesday.
We want to send a HUGE thank you to Janet Stephens, the owner of Bear Paw Creek, for not only being such an enthusiastic supporter of our work but also for so generously offering this giveaway. So many music therapists and educators use and benefit from her products, and we are proud to be among them!
Okay, so let’s recap: when you preorder Songs for Movement Props now through Tuesday for just $14, you’ll get a bonus songbook and have the chance to win an amazing set of Bear Paw Creek movement props. If you’re on the fence, make sure to watch our video where we talk in depth about the songbook, props and awesome giveaway.
I love exploring music with my clients, but being musical doesn’t always have to mean holding an instrument or tapping a drum. By bringing in different manipulatives, even non-musical ones, we can utilize three dimensional visuals, attend to sensory needs, and even save a few dollars. Which, let’s face it, is always a plus!
Stuffed animals are fantastic for working on counting, animal identification, and motor skills. Whether it be “Ten Little Monkeys Jumping On The Drum”, or “Down on Grandpa’s Farm” stuffed animals can be used to facilitate academic topics while utilizing fine and gross motor skills.
What I love most about stuffed animals as manipulatives is that they cater to sensory needs. They incline a client to squeeze them, push and pull them, and self-monitor their sensory needs. When I know that a client has additional sensory needs I like to give them ideal options and ways to fulfill those needs, and self-monitor those needs all while addressing the goal area and specific objectives. I like to bring multiple textures, densities, and overall options as possible. Its all about choice, and seeing when the sensory options are a comfort versus a distraction.
Stuffed animals are just one of the many ways that we can think outside the box to provide a broad encompassing care for our clients and students. They are easily accessible and available in a variety of textures, colors, and characters. I would consider stuffed animals one of my must haves in my music therapy materials kit! What about you? How do you think out of the box for your students and clients?
Last fall, we began increasing the number of early childhood classes we offer. We split the classes into age groups but also offer groups with mixed ages. Though we use the same curriculum across all of the classes in one session, you will find that every group is just a little different. Each class has it’s own unique mix of participants that make it a little different from any other group even if other groups have the same ages, genders, etc.
This means ADAPTING and often on the fly. I, personally, teach both our Wednesday and Thursday night classes. Though I use the same materials for both classes, the presentation looks a little different each night. My Wednesday night class tends to be a little more active so I change the order of songs slightly, create additional verses for our movement songs, and ask more questions of group members. My Thursday night class is often more reserved and will sit for a long stretch of time. I use this to my advantage and take a longer time reading our book or singing our counting songs.
I LOVE all of the material we create and like to use them with my individual students and clients as well, adapting them even more as we go. Our newest book, “Counting Through the Seasons” was initially developed for our early childhood classes though all of our therapists have now adapted the songs to work on a variety of goals. In our newest “extra” going out to our VIP members and being added to the “Counting Through the Seasons” download, I describe 9 ways our seasonal counting songs can be adapted to work on goals aside from counting to five and how they can be changed to fit multiple seasons.
The price of the book (“Counting Through the Seasons”) will increase on Friday, June 10th.