Monday, December 8, 2014

Making sense of numbers

In any given day, I work with a variety of students who are working on making sense of numbers.
Counting, rote counting, sequencing, identifying numbers, identifying quantities, sets and the list of goals and objectives goes on and on.  
Today I want to share a song that I wrote for students working on identifying and counting the numbers one to five.
"Clickety Clack" is all about trains and counting.  I purposely chose the train theme because many of the younger students love trains (especially the boys!), and they already have numbers on them (the Thomas trains do).  
When singing this song, there are several different visual aids you can incorporate to make this song even more fun.  You can use real Thomas trains, train stickers or clip art images which can easily be found online.  Felt board train cutouts would work too.  When learning how to count and identify numbers, visual aids are a must.  They provide the student with visual and/or tactile input and help them learn these concepts more easily.
The song and lyrics are below.

Clickety clack, coming down the track
Find the number of the train on the track (Repeat)

Number one-having fun.
Number one-here it comes!

Number two-chugging right to you.
Number two-chugging right to you.

Number three-coming right past me.
Number three-coming right past me.

Number four-pulling more and more.
Number four-pulling more and more.

Number five-coming down the line.
Number five-coming down the line.

Clickety clack, coming down the track.
Find the number of the train on the track. (Repeat)

Friday, December 5, 2014

Christmas Lights

The winter holidays are quickly approaching and I've been busy rounding up all of my favorite songs for the holidays as well as writing some new songs too.  

Today I'm sharing a song that I've already been singing with students this week.  
"Christmas Lights" features the following colors:  red, green, yellow and blue.  
It is sung to the tune of "London bridge is falling down", and I added a violin part to make it extra special. :)  Every December, this song is a serious favorite to many of the students I see each week!

The repetitive lyrics and tune make this song one that students will quickly learn and sing.  Students can work on color identification, spelling of color words, and sequencing skills (which color was first, second,etc. in the song?), all in one simple song!  This year I've also incorporated a little bit of sign language for the words bright and night.  The students are doing so well incorporating the signs and singing along!

The song and lyrics are below.

Christmas lights are shining bright,
shining bright, shining bright.
Christmas lights are shining bright all through the night.

Red lights are shining bright...
Green lights are shining bright...
Yellow lights are shining bright...
Blue lights are shining bright...

Christmas lights are shining bright,
shining bright, shining bright.
Christmas lights are shining bright all through the night.

Have a great weekend and check back soon for more holiday songs!

Friday, November 21, 2014

The Turkey Trot

With Thanksgiving quickly approaching, my music therapy sessions have been full of songs about being thankful, Pilgrims, Indians, lots of foods we like to eat on Thanksgiving, and of course turkeys.

Today I'm sharing a song about a turkey.  It's called, "The Turkey Trot".
This song is one of my favorites for November sessions.  It has been especially helpful with students who need to get up and move and get their wiggles out.  :)

Some of the goals I had in mind when putting this song together were looking at the teacher/therapist, following a one step direction, and imitation with movements. 
The song lyrics are fairly simple and they repeat as the song progresses and the tempo increases.  Before the end of the song, the tempo slows and allows students to calm back down (this is important if you want them to focus on anything else when you are finished with this song! :))

The lyrics and suggested actions are below:

Put your turkey feathers up. (Arms stretch up high)
Put your turkey feathers down.  (Arms down by sides or reach down to touch toes)
Now do the turkey trot, round and round.  (Stomp feet and turn around)
The turkey, he says, "Gobble, Gobble".  (Say "Gobble, Gobble" and/or do the sign for turkey)

The students I work with have really enjoyed moving and grooving to this song.  After I teach the motions and we sing the song a few times, I also enjoy picking a student leader to lead the movements in front of the group.  Sometimes students who don't always look at the teacher for directions will more eagerly watch one of their peers.

What are your favorite turkey songs?

Thanks for stopping by and I hope all of you have a Happy Thanksgiving!

Tuesday, November 11, 2014

Happy Veterans Day!

Happy Veterans Day!
Today's song post is dedicated to all the veterans who served in the military to protect our country.  

I wrote the song below so students could say, "Thank You" to veterans for their service.  In some of the classrooms, we incorporate sign language for the word, "Thank you" and the students sign every time we sing/hear that phrase.  You can see the lyrics below.

Veterans, Veterans,
We Thank You!
Veterans, Veterans,
We Thank You!

You served in the military.
You fought for our freedom and our country.
You served in the military.
You fought for our freedom and our country.

Veterans, Veterans
We Thank You!
Veterans, Veterans,
We Thank You!

The Army, the Air Force, the Navy and Marines.
The Coast Guard and the Reserves,
Watching over our country.

Veterans, Veterans,
We Thank You!
We Thank You!

You served in the military.
You fought for our freedom and our country.
You served in the military.
You fought for our freedom and our country.

Veterans, Veterans,
We Thank You!
Veterans, Veterans,
We Thank You!

What songs do you sing on Veterans Day?

Stay tuned for additional song posts and have a great week!

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. (

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

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!

Friday, July 25, 2014

If I were a fish

This week I've been busy organizing my song files.  It always seems like a major endeavor, but it needs to be done in order to stay organized during the school year.

One song I found swimming around in my song files was a song I wrote this year about fish.
A couple of teachers I work with asked for me to come up with a song to help teach simple things about fish to their students.

My challenge was to include the following information about fish:
they swim underwater, they breathe through gills, they have scales and fins and they lay eggs.

We used various visuals to show the different parts of the fish while we sang the simple verses in this song.  In one class, we also incorporated the sign for fish as we showed a picture of a fish with this song.

What are your favorite songs to sing about fish?

Thanks for stopping by and check back here soon for more song posts!

Monday, July 14, 2014

Feelings: Ideas & Interventions

Welcome back to More with Music!
Today's post is a brainstorming of ideas for anyone working on or introducing the topic of feelings in a 1:1 or group music therapy session.
Thursday, I posted a song I wrote that I use with students to learn and talk about feelings.  You can listen to the song here.

When I use this song with students, I almost always incorporate pictures of each emotion.  I recommend using real pictures of a variety of children and adults.
After singing the song with younger children, you could have an assortment of pictures of each emotion and pass them out to each student in the group.  As you sing the song again, students are asked to hold up the picture of the emotion you sing about (there is some time in the song after each emotion is sung).  If you are working 1:1 with a student, then there is time for them to find each feeling card and hold it up as it is sung.

Another idea would be to sing the song again, and have students sit in a circle and pass the pictures while the song is sung.  Whenever you stop, each child is asked to make the face of the emotion on their card.  This intervention would help students understand some nonverbal cues (facial emotions), and further develop their abilities to recognize emotional facial expressions.
Another idea would be for you to hand out only one emotion card that is passed around as music is played.  When the music stops, whoever has the card has to copy that emotion and the group "guesses" how that student is feeling.  This would be great for students who need more practice on copying modeled behavior and/or copying an action.
Later, you could sit the group in the circle and pass around a single instrument and when the music stops, the student who has the instrument has to play an emotion and the group guesses how that student feels.

After labeling each feeling and seeing a visual of that feeling, then you can move on to sessions where you ask, "When do you feel sad?" or "What makes you feel mad?".
For students that have a difficult time answering questions like this, you can make simple notecards with situations that will likely occur and then have students pair a feeling picture with that situation.  For example, notecards might read, "It's my birthday!", "I spilled my drink.", "I lost my iPod.", or "I got a new puppy!",etc.  
As you work with that particular student, this is a helpful intervention because you can apply situations going on in their everyday school life and/or family life, and write down situations on cards and help them process the feelings they feel when those things happen.  There are so many additional questions you can ask once students can label their feelings.  (To clarify, this would probably be with students elementary to high school age.  I'm thinking this approach would be specifically helpful with students who have been diagnosed with autism and/or asperger's syndrome due to the fact that they are usually very visual learners.)

All of these ideas can be tweaked for different age groups and populations.  I hope these ideas are helpful or at least get your creative juices flowing for ideas of your own.
I'd love to hear some of your ideas as well!  Feel free to comment below!

Thanks for stopping by and check back soon for more summer posts!

Friday, July 11, 2014

Feelings, Part Two

Welcome back to More with Music!

Today I'm sharing the song sheet for the song about feelings that I posted yesterday.
(If you missed the previous post, just scroll down below and you can listen to it if you like.)  

The song is fairly easy to play and requires only 4 chords:  A, D, E and E7.

If you would like a copy of the song lyric sheet, email me your request at and I will send it to you.

Stay tuned for an additional post about feelings with ideas for your individual and group music therapy sessions.

Have a great weekend!

Thursday, July 10, 2014


Welcome back to More with Music!

Summer is here and I've been working on a few projects.  I've also been staying busy doing a little traveling and tending to all the little things that aren't at the top of my priority list during the school year.  I hope all of you are having a great summer and finding times to rest and reset your batteries!

Today I wanted to share a song that I have mentioned before,(but I recently noticed I neglected to post the song itself).  The song is about feelings.  I posted a short video I made featuring this song in a previous blog post.  You can view the video here.

Feelings are an important topic with almost every student, patient or client you may see.  Many times people need help labeling (and exploring), their feelings before learning how to cope with them and/or control them.

I wrote this song to help introduce the topic of feelings.  I included specific examples of common emotional responses to four different feelings:  happy, sad, tired and mad.

Here's the song below.

Be sure to come back soon!
I will be posting the song sheet for this song, as well as an additional post about feelings with ideas for activities you can incorporate within your music therapy sessions with 1:1 clients and/or groups!

Have a great day!

Sunday, March 16, 2014

We all have Favorites

Welcome back to More with Music!
Last week I posted about Self-Awareness.  If you missed that post, just scroll down below.
As a follow-up to that post, today I'm posting about favorites.
We all have favorites.  Favorite foods, favorite colors, favorite songs, favorite times of the year, etc.  The students/clients we work with have favorites too and sometimes, learning about their favorites can help you learn a lot about the students and what motivates them as well.

I wrote the song below to help introduce the topic of favorites and to give several examples.  I use visuals with this song (power point slides with examples of each item listed in the song).
After singing the song I ask students to share some of their favorites and then include that in the song (if you want a recorded example of this just let me know via email

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.
© 2014 Amanda G. Ellis

As always, thanks for stopping by!

Friday, March 14, 2014


Welcome back to More with Music!
Today's post is about self-awareness.  I'm also excited to share a song that I've been incorporating in music therapy sessions that addresses self-awareness.

First of all, what is self-awareness?
If we refer to the dictionary (Merriam-Webster Online Dictionary), self-awareness is defined as:
an awareness of one's own personality or individuality.

In several classrooms I serve, we've been focusing on self-awareness.  This topic in and of itself can be challenging to think about teaching when working with students with disabilities.  We've been approaching the topic with a wide variety of approaches, activities and songs.  Some of these approaches include talking (and singing), about feelings as well as favorites.  We also introduced strengths and weaknesses in one classroom, as we were discussing personality/individuality and how we are all different.  The song I'm sharing today fits perfectly for this topic and I love it's message of "I"ll keep getting stronger".

I came across the song online one night as I was planning for sessions for the week.
The song is "What I Am" by  The song and its lyrics are below:

 There are so many different ways of using this song in sessions.  In most of the sessions I've used this song with rhythm instruments (specifically maracas).  We shake to the beat, raise our maracas high ("I'm a keep my head up high"), and then bring them back down ("And nothing's gonna bring me down..").  We shake faster each time we hear the drums too!  As we clean up the maracas, I ask each student to share a word that describes their personality/them.  For students that need help with this, we insert different words mentioned in the video (i.e. "Are you musical?" or "Are you helpful?",etc.)
How could you use this song?

As always, thanks for stopping by More with Music!  Check back soon for another blog post!

Tuesday, March 4, 2014

Who knew polar bears could groove?

Welcome back to More with Music!
Another batch of cold, icy weather has hit eastern North Carolina.  With schools closed, this gives me the perfect amount of time to get some blog posts ready!

For today's post, I want to share a song I wrote and recorded and have been experimenting with the past couple of weeks.  This song is about a big and a small polar bear.  So far, this song is a hit with students ages pre-K to third grade, and it has unlimited possibilities, depending on how you decide to use it with your students/group.

To start with, I love this song because one thing it requires is for the students to listen.  They have to work together and listen to find the big polar bear's beat, as well as the little polar bear's beat.  I usually start this activity by showing the picture above and talking about the big polar bear and how he's so heavy, he stomps around, he moves slowly,etc..  We practice stomping from our seats first (stomping once for each half note beat if you count this song in 4/4).  Then I talk about the small polar bear, how he is not heavy, he moves faster and he taps as he goes.  We pat our knees for this one (patting each quarter note on the beat in 4/4).  The last verse combines the two, so I encourage the students to pick a bear-big or small, and keep that beat.
After going through the above, with some groups, I get them up and we move around the classroom with stomping feet and tapping feet so they really "feel" the beats as I play the song (I use this recorded version so that I am free to model the beat and participate).  For groups that are not quite ready to freely moved across the room in a group (or groups that cannot handle a quick transition like that, sensory issues involved, etc.), I pass out rhythm sticks or drums for this activity.  After identifying the big and small beats, they are ready to transfer those sounds to a rhythm instrument and we do the song one more time.
Another option would be to divide your group into two groups and/or partners,  and have each assigned to one of the beats. This would be great with students assigned in pairs to share a hand drum or floor drum.  Then in the last verse, the students would each play their beat at the same time.

Near the end of the song, I encourage the students to listen and try to stop when they hear the music stop.  This helps them stay focused as the song is coming an end and sets up your group to be ready to listen to directions as the song comes to an end.

My greatest discovery was that almost all the students loved this beat and wanted to get moving with this song.  I've seen shoulders moving up and down, upper bodies bopping to the's definitely a catchy beat!
What other ways could you use this song?

As always, thanks for stopping by and have a great day!

Monday, February 3, 2014

Will it snow?

Welcome back to More with Music!

Last week we had snow here in North Carolina.  We received around 3.5 inches with ice underneath.  It wasn't anywhere near the amount of snow other areas have seen this winter, but it was enough for us!

Each winter, students eagerly await the first snow of the season.  This anticipation and wonder usually begins around Thanksgiving and continues on into the new year.  So, what better time than this to teach about precipitation and how we know when it will snow?

In my experience, many students say that precipitation means rain.  While this is true, there are four types of precipitation:  rain, snow, sleet and hail.  I wrote this song to help students remember the four types of precipitation.  I also included a short explanation of what determines the type of precipitation will we see.

This song could be used to help teach about precipitation as well as the water cycle.
What other songs do you use to teach about the weather?

Thanks for stopping by.  I hope to keep the posts coming, so don't forget to come again soon!

Thursday, January 30, 2014

What I wear in the snow

Welcome back to More with Music!

As I logged on to my blog this morning, I was reminded that I haven't posted here since November!

Things have definitely been busy around here.  While I would love to post daily, or even weekly here on More with Music, sometimes it's just not possible.  Being a mommy, wife and full time music therapist keeps me juggling many hats, but hopefully, the blog "hat" will get some extra time each week this year. :)

Today I'm posting about the winter weather, and more specifically what you wear.  When I work with students in the schools, we sing about Winter, the cold weather, snow and ice, and appropriate clothing to wear during this season.

This song, "What I wear in the snow" mentions many winter clothes and accessories.  It also adds the direction, "Show me where they go".  When I sing this song with students, we touch the body part(s) where each article of clothing goes.  (This helps them label body parts at the same time, so it's good for extra review of that also).
In one classroom, the teacher handed out actual articles of clothing for winter.  When each article of clothing was sung in the song, the students held them up.  This worked really well also!

How could you use this song?

Stay tuned for another blog post soon.  I hope you'll remember to stop by from time to time when your schedule allows.  Also, you can contact me on Facebook by clicking here.