Tuesday, October 28, 2014

Making choices

Students of all ages make numerous choices throughout each day.
At school, they choose colors they want to color with, shapes they want to draw, foods they want to eat for lunch and the list goes on and on.
When working with students with disabilities, we have to remember that choice making is important for them too.  Some of them may not be able to verbally speak their choices, but there are other ways they can make a choice.
One way students can make choices is via picture cards.  Some students who are nonverbal and/or have speech delays use a PECS (Picture Exchange Communication System) throughout every day.  These students either touch or pull off a picture of an item in order to make a choice.  Many other students use eye gaze and voice output devices to make choices.
I like to incorporate choice making within my music therapy sessions whenever possible.
One song that is particularly easy to do this with is "The Wheels on the Bus".
This is a very familiar song to many students.  I like to sing the song from the beginning to get the group started.  Then, I have picture cards representing each verse from the song that the students can select.  We sing about the wheels on the bus first and then then I ask, "What happens next?"  A student then selects a picture and we sing that verse next.  While I sing each verse and play guitar, the teachers and assistants reinforce each verse with the hand signals for each verse.  The students love being the "boss" and telling us what to sing about next!
Here are two pictures of a song board I made for this song:


I use this page when I sing the beginning of the song and to attach each picture to the velcro at the bottom (I start with the picture of the black tire you see in the picture below).  You can also put two pictures on the velcro at the bottom as a choice board and ask, "What comes next?"

I put velcro on the back of the song board and store all the pictures here on the back.  Some students I work with can make a choice from a field of eight pictures and some of the students need fewer choices.  I use the front of the board when they need a smaller field of choices.







Overall this simple song board helps students who are visual learners tremendously.  For the pictures, I selected random google images I found online.  For copyright purposes, I never sell or distribute these images.  I only use them for educational purposes.

How do you incorporate choice making within your sessions?
Thanks for stopping by and stay tuned for additional blog posts soon!

Tuesday, October 21, 2014

Happy Fall and a song post!

Happy Fall!
School is back in full swing and I'm knee deep into my school schedule with many classrooms across the county.  
The weather has just recently started to feel like fall around here.  The leaves are starting to change colors and it seems like pumpkins are everywhere you look.  This month I've been singing about fall, leaves, apples, pumpkins, weather and Halloween.  Stay tuned for additional song posts about those topics!
Today I want to share a song I very recently wrote for the Pledge of Allegiance.  I created the music for this song after talking with a teacher who inquired if there was a song for the pledge.  When the teacher asked me, I did not recall ever hearing a song for the pledge.  I did some searching online and found a few possibilities, but wanted to create my own in order to provide a slower pace and include some sort of percussive beat in the background (I have observed this to motivate many of the students to focus on the song, the words,etc..  It really draws them in!)  The students have eagerly requested the pledge song since I recorded it and they are well on their way to reciting the pledge as well! :)

The song is below.  The lyrics are the exact words of the Pledge of Allegiance.

Thanks for stopping by (in the midst of my long and overdue blog post), and stay tuned for another song post next week!

Monday, August 11, 2014

The countdown is on!

Welcome back to More with Music!
The time is closing in quickly!  Soon it will be time to go back to school!
Today I'm posting an album of songs called The Back to School Batch.

This album is a collection of 8 songs, designed primarily for elementary teachers and their students.
The album includes songs about bus safety, the parts of a book, patterns, safety signs, shapes, community helpers and the seven days of the week.  All of the songs included have been student (and teacher), tested.   I have personally used these songs to help students learn over the past five years.
The album is below.  Lyric sheets are available via email request for free. (morewithmusic@gmail.com)



As always, thanks for stopping by!  Stay tuned to read about two new projects I've been working on!

Friday, August 8, 2014

Squish Me, Squeeze Me

TGIF!  
Summer break is slowly but surely coming to an end.  I have one week before the full time schedule resumes.  As I've been busy planning for the upcoming school year, I've been organizing existing songs, jotting down ideas for new songs and taking the time to listen to a lot of songs written by other folks as well.  
I listened to one song in particular the other day that I just had to share with all of you.  
It's a song by Brady Rymer called, "Squish Me, Squeeze Me".  You can listen to the song here.

I really love this song because I have several students in mind who have Sensory Processing Disorder, who often need a "squeeze".  

Sensory Processing Disorder (SPD), is a neurological disorder that causes a person's body to have difficulties interpreting information from their senses that they receive from their environment.  A person's senses may be over or under reactive to the sensory information and they may not be able to respond "appropriately" to ordinary sensory experiences.  
We have all learned about our five senses:  vision, hearing, touch, smell and taste.  We also have two additional senses:  vestibular and proprioceptive.  All of our senses work together to help us understand and move within our environments.

This song would be most beneficial to use with someone who needs proprioceptive input (sensations from joints, muscles and connective tissues that lead to body awareness).  It's important to note that different types of sensory stimulation effect each person differently.  Sensory interventions should only be done under the approval and guidance of a licensed occupational therapist or other approved professional.

Overall, it's a super fun sounding song!  What songs do you use to help students who have SPD?  
Have a super weekend and check back soon for additional song posts!

Monday, August 4, 2014

Expressions we use

Welcome back!
Today I'm sharing a song that took a little longer to create than others.  It took longer to create because for me, it was a tricky concept to explain.
In the public school setting that I work within, the middle and high school grades do their best to introduce topics and teach concepts within our adapted curriculum.  One of the topics introduced in language arts is idioms.
Idioms themselves are not complicated when you understand what they are and their true meaning(s).  However, teaching idioms to students who are very literal, visual learners is not an easy challenge.  Many of these students are challenged when it comes to abstract thinking also.
So, I approached this tricky concept with caution and thought about a few different approaches for several days.
When writing this song, I decided that I would define the concept of idioms in the song,  and that I would also have to include some of the more simple idioms as examples.

By definition, idioms are word combinations.  Left alone, these word combinations don't make sense.  They are expressions we use to talk about people, things, situations and events.

To select the examples, I first searched the web for pictures to represent idioms.  This was a devotion of time as well, but I knew it would be very helpful for the visual learners.  I finally narrowed down my selections for idiom examples.

My selections included:
"It's a piece of cake"
"Hold your horses"
"It's raining cats and dogs"
"Don't let the cat out of the bag"

Below is the final product.


Overall, the students loved the song and enjoyed learning about idioms and discussing different expressions they could use for different situations.

You can also check out the video I created with this song here.
For each of the four idioms, I included a representation of what the idiom would literally look like, and also a representation of what the idiom (as an expression), really means.  The visuals helped so many of the students catch on quick!

Have a great day and stay tuned for additional song posts!