Better Together Stretchy Band Song

 

The past Friday Megan Martin, MA, MT-BC of Healing Sounds Music Therapy messaged me about a new song she wrote to use with the stretchy band.  I am always excited about new music to share and the story behind this is pretty special. 

Her song “Better Together” is pretty special and is a great reminder that we all are truly better together!

 

 

Better Together song by Megan Martin for the stretchy band

Why Are We “Better Together”?

You can read the post and see the full video on their blog at Healing Sounds. 

But here is a quote by Megan, “I began to write “Better Together” a month ago, after the violence of Charlottesville, not too far from our office in Midlothian. I held my children a little tighter that day. I was saddened watching people tear each other a part. I wanted to help. The words, “better together”, resonated in a big way after that day. We are better together. I want my children to know, without a doubt, that my love will always surround them. With those sentiments, I put together a song about love for each other, as well as directional concepts, fine and gross motor movements, and tactile sensory integration. We sit together, in a circle, connected by a colorful band that cannot be broken. My love with always hold us together.” 

She also said she would be willing to share the sheet music.  You can email her here if you are interested: [email protected]

Below you will find the snippet of the video with the song.

“Better Together” also sums up what I love about building an online Tribe.   Here we create and sew up the stretchy band that inspires creative movement and song writing – which then can by used by others to reach even more.  Connected together through a prop and music around the world!

We can all learn from this song, we ARE “Better Together”! 

Janet Stephens is the founder and creator behind Bear Paw Creek’s creative movement props and bags. She is passionate about learning and sharing along the way.

Promoting Social Interactions through Sensorimotor Play

Written by: Alyssa Wilkins, MT-BC, owner and founder Dynamic Lynks Alyssa is a passionate Autism provider, Board Certified Music Therapist, music educator and adaptive yoga instructor.

I work with a lot of young children and children on the autism spectrum. Often this means that cooperative play and typical social interactions are challenging. Activities where we need to play as a group or hold hands are difficult, but sensorimotor props make learning these play skills much easier!

In this post I will share a few ways I use the stretchy band and ribbons to accomplish this goal.

Using the Stretchy Band

I have written several posts: A Stretchy Band for Every Skill and 5 Ways to Use the Stretchy Band about how I like to use the stretchy band, but one way it has been coming into my sessions recently is for classic childhood games!  Something like Red Rover or Ring around the Rosie now becomes a piece of cake for children who struggle with spatial awareness or peer relations.

  • Ring around the Rosie
    • I assign each child to a color and sing the classic rhyme.
    • When it comes to “we all fall down”, I have the children drop the stretchy band to the ground since it can be difficult to get some of my kiddos back to standing.
    • I sing the song several times and always change the ending so instead of “we all fall down” it becomes “we all jump up” or “we all stomp”.

 

  • Red Rover
    • I start with 1 child holding the stretchy band on each end, keeping it taught.
    • We chant the Red Rover song and call one child’s name to run over into the stretchy band.
    • They run as fast they can into the band and get flung backwards by the pressure.
    • That child then helps hold the band and we call another friend over.
    • We repeat this until everyone has had a turn running into the band.

Row Your Boat Stretchy Band

 

  •  Storytelling
    • For fall, I particularly like “Way Up High in the Apple Tree”. I do the story chant-style, but the Learning Station also has a version for those who are unfamiliar with the song.
    • I chant the song while we are all holding the stretchy band in a circle. The kids have to follow my movements with the stretchy band throughout the whole story.
    • There is fun shaking, stretching, climbing in the story so you can get creative with how you all move the band together.
    • Once the children know the chant well, I assign different leaders to chant the song and create their own versions of the movements that we all have to follow.

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Using Ribbons

Ribbons are so versatile, and Janet makes many versions perfect for children of all ages and abilities. The thing I like most about ribbons is that they are visually engaging and give an easy way to track another peer’s movements so you can have extended interactions without many distractions.

  • Shake Your Ribbons
    • This is one of my original songs that I use often in my early childhood sessions. The song instructs children to move their ribbons in different ways.
    • In the song, the children go “fishing” with their ribbons and have to share what they caught with the group.
    • You can use the same chords of the song and ask different children to choose a movement, and all the other children have to follow and copy that movement for the duration of a verse.

 

  • Ribbon Walk
    • Some of my children really struggle with staying in a line or keeping appropriate personal space. I like to use a Ribbon Walk to work on this skill.
    • The children stand in a line and are each given a ribbon. The person 2nd in line has to hold the end of person number 1’s ribbon and keep it straight and tight the whole time they are walking. They have to stand a “ribbons-length” away from their friend in front of them.
    • I put on, or play, one of the group’s favorite songs and they have to follow-the-leader and walk around the room, keeping a ribbons-length of space between them and each friend.

 

  • Mirror my Ribbon
    • For children who are working on engaging in prolonged social interactions, this is one of my favorites!
    • I pair 2 children up and the goal is for them to be perfect mirror images of each other, copying each other’s movements. Often this is done with the children touching hands, but that can be difficult for my little ones.
    • The children instead have to hold each end of a ribbon and use that as a guide to complete the movement of the leader.
    • The leader switches about every minute, so they always have to be ready to lead and follow!
    • I play slow, simple music patterns in the background to guide slow, clear movements.

Ribbon Wrist Streamers

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I hope you can use some of these ideas in your next class or session! I find that sensorimotor props are the most effective way to engage an entire group and get them working on social skills that are usually very challenging. For more songs to use in session, you can check out my latest CD, Mini Musical Minds. I also have an entire curriculum dedicated to social and emotional developmental for children of all ages and abilities!

Dynamic Lynks Logo

 

 

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Yoga Dots for Music and Movement

Yoga Dots and Yoga Pretzels

 

 

Last spring Rosemary from Creative Kids Yoga  ordered some streamers for one of her workshops.  We had a lovely conversation via email and she ended up sending me some Yoga Dots.

After I signed up to be a Barefoot Books Ambassador and received my starter kit (completely worth signing up to be an Ambassador) I found the box of Yoga Pretzels tucked inside my box.

Both these products are part of giveaway for this month!

Keep reading to learn how these two products are adding movement and fun to our lives.

 

 

 

 

Yoga Dots -Who Knew?

After our Yoga Dots arrived the first thing the little ones did was to arrange them in different spots and play follow the leader.

Yoga Dots for Circle Time Yoga Dots for Follow the Leader

I also started using them for our circle/story time.  The kids enjoy picking out their color and helps them keep to themselves and the proverbial – I can’t see – as they move around.

Rosemary shares how they help with Self and Personal Space in the video below.

After I received my starter kit as an Ambassador with Barefoot Books (I highly recommend this – contact me if you want to learn more), the Yoga Pretzel added a new way to use them.  I have personally never done yoga, so I am sure our attempts our laughable, but we are enjoying the process.

From their site:

Yoga Pretzels

50 Fun Yoga Activities for Kids & Grownups

Calm the mind and body, improve patience and boost confidence with yoga! These cards include forward bends, back bends, partner poses and balance poses.
 

Barefoot Books Yoga Pretzels

We are giving a set away in our giveaway for this month or order your own set directly from Barefoot Books.

 

 

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Something Exciting is in the Works

After Rosemary agreed to send the Yoga Dots for our giveaway she let me know she was creating her own Yoga cards with pictures of children doing the poses.

I can’t wait to see them and her other new product she just announced!  Be sure to look for them soon.

I also am very excited about 2 new products, which I have just created and are “hot off the press”. You will be the first to use them! Creative Kids Yoga Cards® and the Creative Kids Yoga Body Spinner Game®. The Yoga Cards have 4 postures, in each of the 6 categories, to use when you have a desired outcome you wish to achieve with kids. The categories are: Strengthening, Stretching, Focusing, Calming, Energizing, Stabilizing.

Janet Stephens is the founder and creator behind Bear Paw Creek’s creative movement props and bags. She is passionate about learning and sharing along the way.

Songs at My Speed by Margie La Bella

Margie La Bella from Music Therapy Tunes explains where the vision for her newest cd, “Songs At My Speed,” came from. It is available as a physical cd and also digital cd.

She is also adding a cd to our back to school giveaway.  With over $400 MSRP in prizes, it is the biggest giveaway Bear Paw Creek has ever done to date!

Keep reading to learn more about it.

Margie La Bella with CD

Ask Margie

What is the idea behind your CD?   “SONGS AT MY SPEED” has been purposefully crafted to allow kids the opportunity to sing along to their most desired, time-tested songs through the slowing of the lyrics but NOT the drive and movement of the Beat. 

Margie La Bella Songs at My Speed

How did your project start?     A speech pathologist friend of mine suggested I make a CD of slowed lyrics because the kids on her case load weren’t able to sing along with their peers during class circle time. 

Why not?  The kids in my school all have speech/language delays and other related issues.  Speech is insanely complicated and requires precise manipulation of breath, lips, tongue, jaw, and hard and soft palates.  Not only that but the movement has to be in the correct intensity and sound sequential order.  So, my music and the slow lyrics allow these kids to plan, sequence and coordinate their whole oral structure.  In other words, it allows them extra time to get their words out and be heard!  The rehearsal of this all fosters acquisition of new skills. 

I hear that music and language are related….    That couldn’t be more true! Think of it.  Music and language both require auditory perception,  give and take, listening and responding, coordinated attention , auditory discrimination, correct volume,  pitch (intonation),  proper speed, auditory processing and assigning of meaning, syllabic emphasis (think meter/pulse.) The list could go on and on.

So is music really on the right hemisphere and language on the left?  

Music and Brain

Music is all over the brain.  So many things are happening at once. Singing is linguistic, motoric, muscular, respiratory, cognitive and more.  Part of what makes music so powerful is that it is a whole brain experience. (Science used to believe that language was on the left side, but this has changed.)  That’s why it is such an immense,  vital tool for teaching.  Songs teach.  This website has it right! If a part of a system is affected, an different part can help make up for it.  The brain has so much plasticity,  and music is such an intrinsic motivator and reward that if an issue occurs, then  a new alternative neuropathway can be established and strengthened.  This is what I take advantage of as a music therapist!  

Here are some video snippets of what you can expect from her cd.  Enjoy!

Any last words?   My intent with this CD is to create a situation where kids and their adults explore and play with sounds and language,  and where learning happens as a happy (but deliberate on my part) byproduct.    Listen to the sample songs and you’ll “see” what I mean! 

Janet Stephens is the founder and creator behind Bear Paw Creek’s creative movement props and bags. She is passionate about learning and sharing along the way.

Back to School Sale and Giveaway 2017

Discount Codes and the BIGGEST Giveaway to Date

 

 

It’s time for our annual back to school sale for the entire month of August!

August 1 -7 20% off –  Code: 2042017

August 8-15 15% off – Code: 1542017

August 16-31 10% off – Code: 1042017

Make sure to enter our over $400 worth of movement props, music, and books!

 

Bear Paw Creek's Annual Back to School Sale

Announcing Our Biggest Prize Pack To Date

I was inspired by the last giveaway we did of a set of Boomwhackers® and a Boom Tote to get others involved in our annual back to school giveaway.

This is the biggest giveaway to date and I’m super excited to share it with you.  This will run all month long with the winner announced on September 1.

Over $400 worth of goodies!  $427.90 MSRP to be exact. Click the image to be entered. More sharing = more entries!

Back to School Giveaway 2017

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Start Shopping and don’t forget to use the code to unlock your discount!!!

2017 codes

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Janet Stephens is the founder and creator behind Bear Paw Creek’s creative movement props and bags. She is passionate about learning and sharing along the way.

Boomwhacker® and Boom Tote Giveaway

 

Do you use Boomwhackers®? 

 

In this post I will share a little bit of history and my current favorite video of them in use.

 

Creator of the Boom Tote, Michelle Erfurt, is partnering with us for this giveaway!

 

Boomwhackers® Boom Tote

History of Boomwhackers®

Have you ever played with Boomwhackers®?  They are a wonderful addition to the music world: they are affordable, great for group participation, spark creativity, and can open up music to many that wouldn’t have a chance to play an instrument.

My current favorite Boomwhacker®  video out there is by Louie’s Cage Percussion.  It is a song medley – enjoy!

Because of my curious nature, I wanted to find out about the history of the Boomwhackers®.  The about us page from boomwhacker.com had some great information, but I enjoyed the article at Wikipedia even more.

I also love that they are manufactured in the USA, which means more jobs are created and revenue is put back into our economy.

American Craig Ramsell reportedly came up for the idea for his boomwhackers in 1994 while at home recovering from radiation therapy for cancer. While cutting cardboard tubes into shorter lengths for recycling he happened to notice the different pitches resulting from the different lengths and decided to investigate their creative potential. He experimented with various plastics before settling on plastic mailing tubes.[1] He and his partner, wife Monnie Ramsell, formed DrumSpirit as a sole proprietorship to market the tubes. The original plastic boomwhackers were first produced in 1995. The current version, which is far more durable than the earlier prototype, was released in 1997.

Ramsell started Whacky Music, Inc. in 1998, marketing a wider variety of boomwhacker sets and materials. Boomwhackers are now available to span 3½ chromatic octaves. (The addition of the Octavator Tube Caps in 1999 allowed for the third lower octave.)

In July, 2009 the Sedona, Arizona-based Whacky Music, Inc., sold its interests to Rhythm Band Instruments LLC of Fort Worth, Texas, through an asset purchase agreement. Boomwhackers are made in the USA and distributed internationally by Rhythm Band Instruments.

They Just Keep Rolling

Creator of the Boom Tote, Michelle Erfurt shares the following:

Boomwhackers®: loved by students and teachers… except when they need organized. How could a bunch of little tubes be so hard to keep together? It’s like they have a mind of their own… they just keep… rolling.

There is a solution: The Boom Tote, a Boomwhacker® storage bag with a closeable drawstring top to make them all stay in one place and a mesh top so you can see if you remembered all of them. There’s even a zippered pocket for your extras.

 

Want one? You can only get them at Bear Paw Creek and right now, we’re giving away a Boom Tote + a set of Boomwhackers®.

Boomwhacker and storage bag Boom Tote giveaway

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Janet Stephens is the founder and creator behind Bear Paw Creek’s creative movement props and bags. She is passionate about learning and sharing along the way.

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Summer Activities for Kids

A few ideas for when life slows down a bit.

 

 

A few great things to do away and at home with your kids… for when they ask to get on the computer, iPads, WII, Xbox… Well, you know…

Nothing wrong with extra time to enjoy their electronics during the summer, but here’s a list of alternatives to “gaming” their summer away.

The ebb and flow of summertime.

This morning, I enjoyed coffee with my dad as we chatted with my six-year-old.

We listened to her account of a nightmare about spiders, followed by ther dream of giant pink bugs. We speculated on the relative scariness of bugs that are huge, even if they are a shade of pink… It was good to just sit and talk and laugh a little with the morning cheer shining through the window.

Just two and a half weeks into June and we’ve already enjoyed: 1) A family reunion, 2. Two summer camps, 3. Family visiting in our home, and 4. A wedding weekend out of town. For the next few days, we’ve got the pleasure of having my dad here. Then we’ll finish out with another summer camp (for my younger kids this time). What a fun whirlwind – talk about a full month with many precious memories made!

The remainder of my calendar for this summer looks pretty empty, with enough time to be a bit more leisurely. There’s plenty of space to enjoy more coffee and conversation in the morning. I’ll have room in my days for contemplation. We won’t have places to rush off to and  I’ll have no piles of post-camp-laundry to catch up on. Our pace will slow down.

As my kids adjust to having greater ammounts of free time, I want to make sure those days aren’t all filled up with screen time . I’ve been strategizing about mostly “unplugged” activities we can enjoy. When my kids are asking to be on the computer all day, I’ll be ready with these ideas.

A list of activities to enjoy with kids this summer:

Berry picking and peach harvesting.

We have so many orchards and berry farms around us. I missed the strawberry picking season (busy!), but this week is the perfect time for picking blueberries around here. For information about farms and orchards near you, go to this website: pickyourown.org.

To extend the fun, you can also read the classic, Blueberries for Sal, by Robert McCloskey while you eat your fresh berries over ice cream.

Journaling to inspire the love of writing and build confidence.

My husband and I sell used books on Amazon and occasionally I snag one from the “sell” pile if I fall in love with it.

The book, In the Company of Children, by Joanne Hindley, falls into that category. This is a warm, friendly book which helps you and your reluctant writer get past the paralysis of the blank page. It is not only a “how-to” book on journaling but also a “why” for motivation. She’s encouraging and injects a sense of community into the writing process.

I’m looking forward to bringing this into our family and seeing what it does for our family. I can see the influence of this book reaching into the adult years of my children, enhancing their grasp of good communication and their enjoyment of it as well.

Planning for when it’s too hot or rainy outside:

Watching this series on YouTube

Last year I studied Geography with my kids and about three months ago we stumbled across this channel Geography Now, created by Paul Barbato, pretty much from the first video we were hooked. He uses humor, and great visuals to make all the countries you’re a bit unclear about memorable. I want my kids to have a working knowledge of the world and it’s people. That’s a pretty tall order but this channel is a great starting point for both. For an overview, take a look at this:

Create a cooking lesson for your kids.

Whether you create your own (using favorite recipes) or use a monthly kit like Radishkids.com, summertime has the best opportunities to find pockets of time for cooking with your kids.

I know it’s kind of scary for some of us, but it really is worth the time and the mess to do this with your kids. The key is: Don’t do try cooking lessons with your kids when you’re in a hurry. Seriously, a four-hour block of time will make you much more relaxed about the process and cleanup! Maybe you only do this a couple of times this summer, but that’s okay!

Resources from Bear Paw Creek

Bean Bags.

I’ve got a set of bean bags from Bear Paw Creek, which my kids love. They are great for tossing inside (or outside) into bowls, knocking over empty bottles, for practicing juggling (Yeah, still working on that one.) and with an oversized checkerboard (squares painted or drawn on a sheet or fabric).

We use them at church as a way to get busy bodies moving before or after the lesson. Every Sunday (I’m not exaggerating. EVERY Sunday!) the kids ask to get the bean bags out. These are a great tool for every parent to have in their Summertime Boredom Toolbox.

Stretchy Bands in Circle Time.

Another great tool to pull out when you prefer to be inside is the Connect-a-Stretchy Band. These stretchy bands can be used for Circle Time each morning.

What is Circle Time you ask? Here’s an example from a mom at home: Creating a Circle Time in Your Home, by Jamie Martin on Simple Homeschool gives an overview and links to her vlog so you can see them in action.

Below is an example of a singing and movement Circle Time using a stretchy band from Bear Paw Creek (with plenty of giggles included):

If you want more tips and ideas on doing Circle Time take a look at this recent post by Carol Stephens of Macaroni Soup. She gives very practical tips and has great songs to use on her website.

If you want to know the “why” of using the stretchy band during Circle time, take a look at this post, by Allysa Wilkins of Dynamic Lynks, to understand the benefits the stretchy with your kids.

Summer Snowball Fight!

Have you heard of the Instant Snowball Fight? 

It’s great for winter fun when you live somewhere that doesn’t get snow and it’s great for the summer! This is an activity you can do inside, outside, in the pool, at a lake, really, anywhere. 

Snowball Movement Prop Set+ Kids = Indoor Snowball Fight

Don’t even get me started on the scarves and ribbons!

 

Have you seen what kids do when you get dancing scarves and ribbons in their hands? Whether dancing on the lawn, or in your front room, your kids will have a blast! Take a look at the resources I have listed in Ribbons Dancing and Scarves, Oh My!

I hope your summer is filled with fun. That it has a good ebb and flow of activities and rest.

Be sure to check out all of the movement props that Bear Paw Creek carries. Be prepared with these low-tech, high-fun ways for your kids to interact and play. Be prepared when your child says, “Can I play on the computer?” for the 50th time in a row. 😉

 

Jenette is a freelance writer of web content, blogs, and podcast show notes. She is also a wife and imperfect mother, whose family mean the world to her. She’s looking forward to July, when you’ll find her carving out time for all of this fun stuff and more. Jenette’s business website is at www.mywordsforhire.com.

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The Wheels on the Bus with Stretchy Band by “Miss Carole” Stephens of Macaroni Soup!

“Wheels on the Bus” with the Stretchy Band

 

 

This blog post is brought to you by “Wheels on the Bus” with Stretchy Band by “Miss Carole” Stephens of Macaroni Soup.

WHY: create community, cooperative play, follow instructions, and workout!

BOOK BUDDY:  The Wheels on the Bus by Paul Zelinsky 

Miss Carole Presents Wheels on the Bus with Bear Paw Creek's Stretchy Band

My Instructional Advice

My guidelines for using the fabulous Bear Paw Creek Stretchy Band in a preschool/K classroom:
 
      16 or fewer children – I use the Medium band
 
      16-25 children – I use the Large band
 
Remember, if you have fewer kids and want to shorten your band, bunch up a loop in your own lap.  
 
HAVE FUN!  Learning should be FUN!

Start with children seated in a circle.  

Place Stretchy Band on the floor in the middle of the circle.  I instruct the children not to touch the band until I tell them to so that everyone reaches for it at the same time.  

“Take one hand and reach for the band in front of you, pulling it back to yourself.”  

Now place both hands on the band.

Children should be sitting with legs crossed or straight out in front of them.  (NO SITTING ON KNEES – it’s dangerous. Children can pitch forward and hit their heads on the floor!  I’ve seen it happen!)

If working with adults and younger children, children should sit beside their adult if possible.  If they need to be in the parent’s lap, the parent should hug one arm around the child’s middle to prevent them from going forward when the band does.

Wheels on Bus Stretchy Band 3

Start singing the traditional song, “The Wheels on the Bus”, while moving the band in circles away from your body.  Children will follow along quickly.  Below are motions for some of the additional verses.  Feel free to add your own!  This is definitely a favorite activity in my classes!

  1. wheels – move band in circles away from body.
  1. doors – legs straight out in front, lay backslowly, sit up  (yup, it’s sit-ups!)

                   Use the band to help you get back to sitting.  Instruct children not go flop backward as they might hurt their heads.  This verse takes practice.  Children don’t have well-developed abdominal muscles, and they struggle to get upright again.  GOOD WORKOUT!  Only lay back on “open”, return to sitting on “shut.”  Check out my video presentation on the bottom page of this link.

  1. windows – move band up’n’down- up on the word “up”, down on the word “down.”
  1. wipers – move hands/band from side to side
  1. people get bumped around – shake it, baby!
  1. babies cry – knock fists together, then apart quicklyon “waa waa waa!”
  1. repeat wheels verse to end the song

Wheels on Bus Stretchy Band 2

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Welcome CD and a Giveaway

Try one of Miss Carole’s other songs for Stretchy Band on her “WELCOME!” cd.  Hear clips of the songs on CDBABY.COM

Up and Down!                                 

Around and Around

JAWS

Row Row Row Your Boat

    Also – on “Polka Dots!”:

Giddy-Up!

ENTER to win Miss Carole’s favorite size stretchy band (medium) and her newest cd!

Welcome CD and Stretchy Band Giveaway June 2017

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Dubbed “the Pied Piper of children’s music”, “Miss Carole” Stephens is a nationally renowned music specialist. Her cross-curricular music and guidance techniques instantly invite all audiences from the youngest child to the oldest adult to join in singing, dancing and rhythmic movement. Miss Carole teaches: HOW – classroom management techniques that really work! WHY – brain research that supports the active music imperative WHAT – developmentally appropriate movement and movement activities children love! Miss Carole has been teaching music for children 1 – 6 years old since 1989. Through her company, Macaroni Soup!, she travels across the US presenting concerts for children and families, and workshops for teachers, librarians and parents. Her seven award-winning CD’s are treasured for their usefulness, appropriateness and simplicity. Carole Stephens lives in Chicago with her husband Jim, and has 2 children: Camden and Greg.

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A Stretchy Band for Every Skill

A Stretchy Band for Every Skill

Written by: Alyssa Wilkins, MT-BC, owner and founder Dynamic Lynks Alyssa is a passionate Autism provider, Board Certified Music Therapist, music educator and adaptive yoga instructor.

I have been using products developed by Bear Paw Creek for years, and I just cannot get over the versatility of the stretchy band. Whether you are working on motor/physical skills, cognitive skills, or communication development; the stretchy band can do it all! Here are 6 ways to use the stretchy band to work on skills across clinical domains.

1. Cognition – If You’re Holding __________ Stand Up!

This is probably my most requested song in session. I have each child in the group sit crisscross on the floor and hold the stretchy band with two hands. They have to listen to the colors in the song, and when they hear the color they are holding (they might even be holding 2 colors), they stand up and do a dance move!

Stretchy Band Joy

2. Motor/Physical – Bounce it Out

I recently got this idea from a Music Therapy conference from Kathy of Tuneful Teaching. Sitting on the floor, each child holds the stretchy band with two hands. I put on some fun background beats (I suggest using the newest loops on Garage Band or creating your own loops in LaunchPad –  and the children have to bounce the stretchy band to the beat. You can have them bounce high and low, side to side, in and out, make a wave – you name it!

3. Communication – Sound it Out

Beat competency is a precursor for language development. Bouncing to the beat, like we did above, helps prime the brain to take in information and aids in future skill development. Bouncing also provides a visual and tangible prompt for speech skills, which is very helpful for children struggling with the motor planning aspects of speech. You can use the same beats as above and have your children bounce specific words to the beat such as po-ta-to or ma-ca-ro-ni. Or you can make your own song and bounce out syllables, consonants, words, or even whole sentences.

La Puerta Abierta and the stretchy band

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4. Social/Emotional – Take the Band

I have found that my groups are sometimes the only opportunity a child gets to engage in cooperative play with a peer, since it is provided through an engaging and well-structured medium. I created this song for one of my families, and it has quickly become a hit in all of my sessions. Each child stands and holds the stretchy band, and completes the movements along with the lyrics of the song. I emphasize the idea of working together and completing the move with a friend – which is made much easier by holding the band together.

5. Sensory Integration – I’m Flying

In previous posts, I have mentioned how I use the stretchy band for both vestibular and proprioceptive input through the popular songs Row, Row, Row your Boat and London Bridge. One of my new favorite ways to use the stretchy band is for “flying”! In my individual sessions, I hold one end of the stretchy band and a parent holds the other end. The child steps in the middle and we gently fly them from one side of the band to the other. They are in control of how fast they go, how far they stretch, etc. I sing the song I’m Flying from Peter Pan, at a slow to moderate pace, along with their movements to provide musical structure and anticipation of when the activity will end.

*I suggest using a relaxing activity after “flying” to help regulate the body.

6.  Relaxation – Breathe In, Breathe Out

We practice coping strategies and self-regulation in both my music therapy sessions and yoga groups. Breathing techniques are one of the easiest coping strategies to access, but can be tricky to teach. I love using the stretchy band as a group to show the movement in and the movement out of the breath. Sitting in a circle, each child holds the stretchy band and we stretch the band all the way out with the “breathe in” part of the song, and shrink it all the way in with the “breathe out” part of the song. Check out the song!

I hope these ideas give you some inspiration for your own sessions, groups or classes! I can’t wait to see how you use the stretchy band to target skills in even more clinical domain

You can listen to and purchase the songs I mentioned above for $2.50 each at Dynamic Lynks.

Janet and I are also joining forces to give away a medium stretchy band these three songs!

enter to win medium stretchy band and alyssa wilkins songs 

 

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Animal Boogie Lesson Plan Share

Lesson Plan Share: Animal Boogie

Written by: Morgan May Sparks, MT-BC  Owner & Director, Rhythm Garden Music LLC

 

 

I have taught early childhood music and movement classes for several years. My favorite way to plan sessions is to base the session on a book I know my families will love. The following is one of the lesson plans for my 0-3 class that I’ve used with the book Animal Boogie.

Lesson Plan for 0-3 around Animal Boogie

Welcome and Beginning

Hello Song- Welcome to Blooming Rhythms
            I wrote a hello song specific to my early childhood program, Blooming Rhythms, and that’s what I use to open every class. I greet each child by name within the song.

 

Lap Bounce- I Took a Walk to Town One Day

I took a walk to town one day,

and met a cat along the way

What do you think that cat did say?

MEOW, MEOW, MEOW

 

You can repeat this with any animal, take suggestions from the class, and even incorporate hand puppets for an added visual element. This is also a great rhyme to incorporate ASL for the animals and encourage vocal play with the animal sounds.

 

Instrument Exploration

I use either an instrument like a from guiro that looks like a specific animal, or an instrument that can be used to imitate animal sounds. Some great options for animal sounds are a gobbler for a turkey sound, castanets or wood block for a horse galloping, or a large drum for an elephant stomp. To help with sharing and transition, I give each child a visual and verbal count down (5, 4, 3, 2, 1, and pass). This has helped limit melt downs when the it’s time for the child to pass the instrument to the next child, and it ensures that each child has the same amount of time exploring the instrument.

 

Choreographed Movement Activity to Saint Saens: Carnival of the Animals (The Tortoise)

 

For this activity, I have the group stand in a circle. Each adult/child pair has the option of either allowing the child to walk next to the adult or be held. The movements are simple: 4 steps right, 4 steps left, 4 steps, 4 steps out, and I occasionally will throw in a 4-step turn. I give verbal cues to the group to let them know which movement is next. Any order of movements works with this piece, just repeat movements until the end. For the in and out, I encourage parents who are holding their children to face them into the circle so they can see and interact with the other children.

Story Time

Story time is a much loved part of my class routine. Even the youngest children know when the blanket comes out, it’s time for a story. Animal Boogie has been a big hit in my classes. It’s a sing-able story with a catchy tune that also encourages movement. My students love identifying the animals and doing the movements.

Interactive Song: 5 Little Animals Jumping on the Drum

I love Rachel Rambach’s Five Little Monkeys Jumping on the Drum, but instead of using five monkeys, I use five different animal puppets on my drum. I do this activity a few different ways depending on how many children are in the class. If I have five or fewer children, I let each child take a turn helping one of the animals “jump” off the drum. If the child is old enough, I will ask them to identify the animal and make the sound. If not, I will have the entire class help identify the animal and everyone make the sound. If I have a larger group, I will choose which animal “jumps” off and ask the class to help me figure out what the animal is and what sound it makes. Occasionally, I will just change the number of animals to match the number of children in the class.

 

Little Monkeys Jumping on the Drum from Rachel Rambach on Vimeo.

Free Movement to Saint Saens: Carnival of the Animals (The Aviary)

For this movement activity, I give the children and caregivers scarves and encourage them to “fly” around the room like birds. At the end of this activity, I instruct the children to fly gently to their caregiver for quiet time.

 

Quiet Time/Rocking

The song I use for this varies greatly depending on the mood of the class. Sometimes I will use recorded music and other times I will invite the adults to sing a lullaby with me.

 

Goodbye Song- Goodbye Friends

My goodbye song is the same tune as my hello song, only I slow it down a bit and accompany with finger picking instead of strummed chords. After I sing goodbye to each child, I give them the opportunity to strum my guitar.

 

 

What are some of your favorite themes and activities that you use in your early childhood classes? Share your thoughts in the comments.

Morgan Sparks, MT-BC, is the owner of Rhythm Garden Music LLC, where she provides music therapy services, early childhood music enrichment classes and music lessons in West Central Indiana. She is a board-certified music therapist, Barefoot Books Ambassador, wife, and momma to an energetic toddler. Visit her website and follow her on social media at MTMompreneur.com.

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