Tuesday, March 30, 2010

Therapy tools Tuesday

It's Tuesday again, and here's another post about some tools I use in therapy quite often!

The therapy tools I want to share with you today fall in the rhythm instrument category. They are called Chikitas and they are maraca-style shakers. They make a more mellow sound compared to some other shakers I've sampled in the past. They are sold in pairs (for $4.25 here), and come in a variety of bright colors.

I love these chikitas mostly because of their handles and for the fact that they are PERFECT for smaller hands. I work with many students who are working on opening and closing their hands and holding/grasping things with their hands. These chikitas are perfect for that. I've also had great experiences using these chikitas with infants ages 9mos. and up. They are easy to hold and kids love to shake up a storm!

Last week we used these shakers in group sessions (and other rhythm instruments) and had a blast singing, "We're gonna move to the music", which I posted last week. I adapted each verse to sing about individual rhythm instruments the students chose to play (i.e., "We're gonna shake to the music" and "We're gonna listen to the shakers",etc.). The kids had great fun!

I hope your week has started out wonderful. Stay tuned for a song post later this week!

Wednesday, March 24, 2010

Move to the Beat!

Here's a fun song to get a group moving!

I love to use this song, or Sometimes I like to Clap My Hands after singing a Hello song at the beginning of each session. The students get used to this order and really seem to like the predictability. I adopted this order a couple of years ago and I feel like it really starts the group off with positive and fun energy.

Some of the students I work with are working on performing the basic motions mentioned in this song. Many of them require hand over hand assistance to clap, pat, etc. So to help address the time needed for this, I opted to write this song with repetitive instructions. This gives the student time to see the modeling of each action and perhaps try the movement himself/herself. If more time is needed (in sessions), I do repeat some actions more than others.

This song is also great with higher functioning students also. Many times, after students have had several experiences with this song, I will ask students to show me ways they can move to the beat. Sometimes I ask, "What can we do next?" or "Show me how you move to the beat." The students come up with some pretty neat ideas!

The next step would be to pair this song with instruments and allow students to creatively create a rhythm to go with this song, or the music therapist could go one step further and assign certain instrument groups (drums, shakers, rhythm sticks,etc.) easy rhythms to play.

The lyrics can be tweaked to fit different students and/or instrument turns (i.e. "We're gonna play the drums, you and me. We're gonna play the drums and move to the beat.", or "We're gonna listen to Sarah, you and me. We're gonna listen to Sarah move to the beat.").

<a href="http://morewithmusic.bandcamp.com/track/move-to-the-beat">Move to the Beat by More with Music</a>

I hope you are having a good week! If you have any comments or questions, I'd love to hear from you! morewithmusic@gmail.com

Thursday, March 18, 2010

Community Helpers

Here's a song about Community Helpers.

I put this one together using a variety of poems and other simple songs that I found on various websites. This one will only be used for educational purposes and feel free to download it for FREE also!

My first goal when working on this song was to come up with a repetitive chorus/tag line that nonverbal students could "sing" with a Big Mac switch. So, after much web surfing, I came up with the chorus, "All around our community, people are helping you and me." This is the repetitive line which students will sing after each community helper is introduced in the song.

This song could easily be used for higher functioning groups and regular ed primary classrooms. I have found that students more readily participate in singing when there is a repetitive tag line or chorus that they can quickly learn.

In this song, the following community helpers are introduced: Firefighter, Policeman, Teacher, Mailman, and Doctor.

I have plans to add more community helpers verses in this song, but for now, here it is!

<a href="http://morewithmusic.bandcamp.com/track/community-helpers">Community Helpers by More with Music</a>

Tuesday, March 16, 2010

Happy St. Patrick's Day!

Here's a song to help you celebrate the day of green!

It's a simple song, but honestly, I haven't found a whole lot of St. Patrick's Day songs out there that aren't too wordy or too long for use in a school setting. So I wrote this one and it will do until something better comes along :).

If you know of any other St. Patrick's Day songs that are cool I'd love to hear about them!

What songs do you like to sing to help celebrate St. Patrick's Day?

<a href="http://morewithmusic.bandcamp.com/track/st-patricks-day">St. Patrick's Day by More with Music</a>

Shamrocks and 4 leaf clovers too.
Leprechauns with gold and rainbows too.
These are all things that we'll see today,
On St. Patrick's Day!

I will wear something green today.
Today we celebrate St. Patrick's Day.
Green's the only color that can guarantee-
No one will pinch me!

Shamrocks and 4 leaf clovers too.
Leprechauns with gold and rainbows too.
These are all things that we'll see today,
On St. Patrick's Day!

Monday, March 15, 2010

Therapy tools Tuesday

Today's therapy tool will not be an instrument but an accessory that I use daily in sessions!

I work with many students who are nonverbal and use PECS to communicate. PECS stands for Picture Exchange Communication System.

PECS is an augmentative communication system developed to help individuals quickly acquire a functional means of communication (Bondy and Frost, 1994). PECS is appropriate for individuals who do not use speech or who may speak with limited effectiveness: those who have articulation or motor planning difficulties, limited communicative partners, lack of initiative in communication, etc.

I use several PECS pictures in sessions, such as: More/Finished, I want, key vocabulary words in songs, Yes/No, instruments, body parts,etc..

The therapy tool I wanted to share is called an acrylic frame (see picture below).

I purchased it at an office supply store for under $5. After purchasing this frame, I cut and inserted a piece of blank white paper to fill the inside with a solid color (any color would be fine). Then, I placed a strip of velcro across the front of the frame. Now my acrylic, self standing frame, was ready to go!

The acrylic frame helps me in sessions by holding (via velcro) PECS symbols at a good visual angle that is readily available for students to access. This frame could also be used as a sentence strip, where the student would complete a sentence with symbols from PECS, (such as: "I want bells." or "I want more."), or to sequence steps in order. With some students, I have also used this frame as a means to visually show them the choices they have made.

If you have any questions, please feel free to ask! I find these acrylic frames very helpful when using PECS and other symbol systems to communicate with nonverbal learners. What other tools have you found to be helpful in sessions?

Thanks for stopping by!

Sunday, March 14, 2010


I wrote this song to help students learn about the book: Sadako and the Thousand Paper Cranes.

Sadako and the Thousand Paper Cranes is a non-fiction children's book written by Eleanor Coerr and published in 1977.

The story is of a girl, Sadako Sasaki, who lived in Hiroshima at the time of the atomic bombing. She developed leukemia from the radiation and spent her time in a nursing home folding paper cranes in hope of making a thousand, which supposedly would have allowed her to make one wish, which was to live.

While the song does not include historical dates and other important facts, my goal was to capture the essence of the story and the main theme of the book.

I'd love to hear what you think!

<a href="http://morewithmusic.bandcamp.com/track/sadako">Sadako by More with Music</a>

© 2010 Amanda Ellis

Tuesday, March 9, 2010

Therapy tools Tuesday

It's Tuesday and time for another Therapy Tools post!
Last week I posted about Wrist Egg Shakers.

This week I want to share about another instrument I use
with students every week. This instrument is called a clatterpillar
and you can find them here.

As advertised, clatterpillars produce a sound like cascading dominoes, and are non-toxic for use by all age levels. They come in assorted colors. I personally LOVE clatterpillars and the plastic version is more acoustic and not unusually loud for a classroom setting.

Clatterpillars are held with both hands, one hand holding each end, and the student then alternates each hand going up and down to make the instrument sound. Many students are very mesmerized by the sound of the clatterpillar. It is a good instrument to address the directions of "up" and "down".

This instrument is also great to use with younger children who play most rhythm instruments at their midline. This is an instrument that can be held at the midline and then manipulated with either hand going up/down.

If I had to describe clatterpillars in one word, it would be intriguing. I can't count the number of times I have used a clatterpillar to help a student regain focus in a session or to increase motivation to participate within a session!

Monday, March 8, 2010

Wash Your Hands

Sometimes we take certain practices for granted. Washing hands is one of those practices we do several times each day. Washing hands is a very important thing for students to learn. The practice of washing hands not only helps keep students' hands clean, but also prevents germs from spreading to additional students, teachers and therapists too!

For many students, learning each step involved in the whole process is a great place to start. The second step is to sequence all those steps in the correct order and then carryout each step of washing their hands. Many students follow a picture schedule to cue them to complete each step.

I hope your week is off to a great start and don't forget to wash your hands! :)

<a href="http://morewithmusic.bandcamp.com/track/wash-your-hands">Wash Your Hands by More with Music</a>

Washing our hands is something we do everyday.
When our hands are dirty, we wash the dirt away.
After we use the bathroom, and before we eat our food,
We have to wash our hands. It's something we do.

First turn on the water, and get your hands wet.
Next, put some soap on your hands and rub it all around.
Then rinse the soap off, with the water you see.
Don't forget to turn off the water. Save some for you and me.
Then get a paper towel. It's time to dry your hands.
When you're finished with your paper towel, put it in the trashcan.

Washing our hands is something we do everyday.
When our hands are dirty, we wash the dirt away.
After we use the bathroom, and before we eat our food,
We have to wash our hands. It's something we do.

© 2010 Amanda Ellis

Monday, March 1, 2010

Therapy tools Tuesday

Starting today, I have decided to post about various tools that I love to use as a music therapist. I'm going to call it "Therapy Tools Tuesday", for lack of a better, more cool title. :) These tools include instruments, CDs, totes, storage bins, and in general, anything that I feel helps me get through a day in my life as a music therapist.

My very first Therapy tool post will be about a pair of great shakers called Wrist Egg Shakers.

I recently purchased them here, and have found them to be very useful with the populations I serve (students that have difficulty grasping and holding instruments, or students who have difficulty holding objects and moving them without dropping them).

They are also handy to use with students who can use shakers well, but have a history of throwing them. You can easily place them in the palm of their hands and velcro around the back of their hands.

The wrist egg shakers are sold in pairs and are made from a durable nylon strap with velcro for securing it to the wrist. I have found them to be extremely durable and easy to clean with clorox wipes. That's an automatic plus in my opinion!

These wrist egg shakers are currently $4.75/pair so I highly recommend that you check them out!

Feel free to comment and share your therapy tools too!

We all have Favorites

We all have favorites. All children and students also have favorites.

I wrote this song to encourage students to share their favorites. It is a great song to motivate them to socialize within their groups and really get to know one another.

This song can be used and adapted for a variety of age groups and populations.
I designed visual aids to use with this song.

I designed power point slides and printed out each slide as a separate picture, (see above picture). This helps to give each student a visual cue when you ask them questions, such as, "What is your favorite color? What is your favorite sport?",etc.. Many students that cannot verbally communicate will point to, or use eye gaze to look at a picture on the visuals, and thus communicate something about themselves.

What other songs or activities do you like to use to encourage socialization within a group of students? I'd love to hear about them!

If you have any questions or comments, feel free to email me at morewithmusic@gmail.com

<a href="http://morewithmusic.bandcamp.com/track/we-all-have-favorites">We all have Favorites by More with Music</a>

Here are the lyrics:
A favorite is something I like a lot.
It can be anything.
A favorite color, a favorite food, a favorite person, place or thing.
We all favorites. This is true.
It's okay if they're not the same.

A favorite is something I like a lot.
It can be anything.
A favorite color, a favorite food, a favorite person, place or thing.

© 2010 Amanda Ellis

The Five Senses

The five senses...we use them everyday, for so many things!

A teacher requested a simple song about the five senses to help her students review the function of each sense. I decided to leave it pretty unspecific (in terms of what you could see, smell, hear, etc.). These could easily be added to the song, however, this specific classroom started with identifying each of the five senses and their functions.

So, here it is!

<a href="http://morewithmusic.bandcamp.com/track/the-five-senses">The Five Senses by More with Music</a>

I Have Five Senses
I have five senses.
I use them everyday.
I have five senses, helping me each and everyday.

I use my eyes to see.
I use my ears to hear.
I use my nose to smell.
I use my tongue to taste.
I use my hands to touch things.

I have five senses.
I use them everyday.
I have five senses, helping me each and everyday.