Teach Children the Alphabet with Pumpkins

Teach Children the Alphabet with Pumpkins

Even though Halloween has ended and the jack-o-lanterns have been “retired”, pumpkins are still everywhere! Fall is a time to investigate these fabulous fruits. There are so many different varieties and sizes to teach children about, but with a little bit of imagination and creativity, pumpkins can be used to teach all sorts of academic concepts! 

I wanted to share with you one of my favorite ways to teach children the Alphabet. Right now I am focusing on use “Pumpkin Jack”, but this activity can be used throughout the year, regardless of the holiday. During the Christmas season, Pumpkin Jack and be changed to “Charlie Christmas Tree” or in February – “Henry the Heart”. You get the idea! Now, let’s get started with this simple, play-based activity.

Pumpkin Jack

Pumpkin Jack Activity Directions (video below)

Materials Needed:

* One empty envelope
* 24 4x6 cards (or pieces of papers cut up into 24 four by six sized paper)
* One Marker (any color)
* One piece of tape
* One large pumpkin.


(Watch video below for demonstration)

Step 1: Write the uppercase and lowercase letters on 4x6 cards (see video below for example)

Step 2: With your child, draw a pumpkin face on one side of the pumpkin using a marker.

Step 3: Tape one envelope to the back of the pumpkin (the opposite side that the face is on).

Step 4: Ask your child to sit in front of the pumpkin, facing the pumpkin face.

Step 5: Come up with a name for the pumpkin together.

Step 6: The adult should pick one of the alphabet cards and place either the uppercase side or the lowercase side in the envelope (see video below for example).

Step 7: Repeat the following poem with your child:

Pumpkin Poem:

Child: “Pumpkin (name of pumpkin), Pumpkin (name of pumpkin) what letter did you have for a snack?”

Adult: “My name is Pumpkin (name of pumpkin) and I had”

Child: “letter ___ for a snack!”

Step 8: Repeat steps 6 and 7 for all of the alphabet (both uppercase and lowercase).


Don’t have a pumpkin? Use this Pumpkin Balloon Ball Jack O’ Lantern Instead!

For More Fall Activities, view our All About Fall Unit on sale now for $2.99.

About the Author:

Jeana Kinne Author PhotoJeana Kinne, MA is an Early Childhood Developmental Specialist. She has worked as a parent educator, Preschool Director and Early Intervention Specialist with children with special needs. Her blog consists of Homeschool Preschool Activities that support educational and social-emotional development. She loves working with families, providing them with solutions to common parenting concerns, resulting in stress-free parenting! Follow Jeana’s blog to view more activities and to learn parenting tips and strategies that support parents navigating through some of the most difficult and puzzling aspects of parenting at www.jdeducational.com

Magical Moments- with Music Props in Church Choir Rehearsal Part 3

Part 3- Wave Your Scarves and Streamers to Improve Phrasing, Intonation (and Fun!)

Welcome back from the sometimes lazy days of summer, to an always exciting fall, filled with opportunities to try new activities with your props from Bear Paw Creek! In this installment of “Magical Moments” we will explore the wonders that ribbon streamers and movement scarves can work in your church choir.

 In this third blog on making magical moments with music props in church choir rehearsal, I will share activities using scarves and streamers that are tailor-made for your sacred choral ensembles. In addition, I will give you tips on how to acquire a set of scarves or ribbon streamers for your group, no matter your budget, including DIY ideas.

 Magical moments are within reach the instant that you take out the scarves and streamers, because they are enjoyable! When the brightly-colored chiffon and satin start making their rounds through the room, the Holy Spirit starts moving singers to smile. This affords you the opportunity to “break the ice”, by having your singers get moving to their anthem, or any song that will get their hearts pumping and their energy for the rehearsal in full gear!

Everyone has fun when the scarves and streamers come out!


Scarves and Ribbon Streamers 

Use scarves and ribbon rings for self-expression, easing kids and adults into dance and movement. If an anthem has a dance time signature like 3/4 or dance-like rhythm, scarves and ribbon rings can help them to internalize the dance-like feel.


  • Moderate Budget- Bear Paw Creek also has Make Your Own Hoop Streamers available. These are 4” polycarbonate hoops, to which you would add your own ribbons: Make-your-own Hoop Streamers
  • Small Budget- go to the thrift store for scarves or buy plastic bracelets and loop ribbons onto them
  • No Budget- have members and families donate their unused scarves or lengths of ribbon (which can be used successfully on their own without rings)

Make Your Own Ribbon Rings

You need-

Make Your Own Hoop  from BPC at $1.25 each or  Plastic O-ring Shower curtain rings cost about $10 or less

Ribbons $5-10 craft store or plastic flagging tape about $3 from hardware store


  • Cut plastic tape or ribbon to double desired length
  • Fold ribbon in half
  • Place ring a couple of inches below the top of the loop you have made. Take the loop in your hand and tails in the other and reach through the loop to grasp the tails and pull them through. Pull the knot firmly to make it tight.
  • Repeat on the same ring until you have your preferred number of ribbons/streamers



– For a good deal, look at the craft store for ribbon remnants, I find grosgrain ribbon to be tougher than satin.

-For ribbons the float in the air well use strips of flagging (not sticky) tape from the hardware store. It can be found next to the caution tape

-You can also use rigid bangle bracelets or I have even used my daughters’ cast-off baby stacking rings. If you use shower curtain rings be sure that they are in an O-ring closed circle so the ribbons can’t slide off

– For increased durability use glue at the ends of ribbons that may unravel

– You can even just loop the ribbon halfway over the bangle and sew into position.

Magical moments are within reach the instant that you take out the scarves and streamers, because they... afford you the opportunity to “break the ice”, by having your singers get moving, their hearts pumping and their energy for the rehearsal in full gear!




Difficult Section or Pitch- Use the streamers to follow the melodic contour of the difficult section in order to give singers a visual and kinesthetic learning opportunity and minimize the time spent in rehearsal fixing the section.


Move Expressively- to a recorded Praise and Worship song like:

     Jesus is My Superhero– by Hillsong Kids, Gagnam Style- Christian Remix, or God Made Me by Casey Darnell and John Delich

Holy Spirit- Have the children show how they think Holy Spirit moves: up and down, through, side to side, or any way at all.

Pitch Exploration- Have one student stand before the group and however they move the scarf up and down the choristers reflect that in singing

Pitch Matching Hello- Sing hello followed by a chorister’s name on Sol Mi, then roll up and toss the scarf to that chorister and repeat.

Turn, Turn, Turn- Use scarves to create motions to match the text of Ecclesiastes Chapter 3, or to the Byrds rendition of that same biblical text altered and set to music in “Turn! Turn! Turn!”.

12 Apostles- Sing “The Twelve Apostles” song to the tune of “Jesus Loves Me”. Have 12 children stand before the rest of the group represent each apostle. Each child representing an apostle creates a motion to go with their apostle’s name. As the whole group sings along they can do the motion for each apostle.

TIPS: -Scarves and streamers can create a bonding and teambuilding experience for adults in choir because they may be doing something new and unusual for them.

-Keep an eye on the edges of handmade ribbons and scarves because with boisterous use they will need some minor maintenance to prevent fraying.

I hope these ideas  of how to get your choir moving with scarves and ribbon streamers have gotten you in the mood to try some new things with your church choir this season. When you give these props a try with your choir members of any age, you will find your singers energized, and able to pick up tough passages even faster when the element of movement is added to the rehearsal mix. Happy rehearsing!

BPC has a great variety of streamers and scarves for you to choose from, right here on bearpawcreek,com.

Leah Murthy is a music educator, performer and military spouse. She has a Master’s in Music Education from The Boston Conservatory at Berkelee, 14 years experience teaching music and recent contributions to professional journals such as The American Organist and The Chorister. When she is not teaching music in Maryland, or playing with her two little girls, she is in Washington D.C. conducting for The National Children’s Chorus.

Magical Moments- with Music Props in Church Choir Rehearsal Part 2

Magical Moments- with Music Props in Church Choir Rehearsal                                                                                                                    Part 2 The Power of the Parachute

In this second installment of Magical Moments I wanted to build upon the activities and resources I shared with you in the first blog post on stretchy bands. As I mentioned earlier, I noticed there are few places where church choral directors can find music and movement activities, so I decided to develop and collect a set of activities to enhance my choir rehearsals.  I also have some fun ideas that can work well with either the stretchy band or the parachute in addition to some ways for you to make your own parachute. These activities will surely either turn you into a great parachute aficionado or get you excited to take out your favorite parachute!

Magical moments with parachutes are revealed when adult and children’s choirs team build together. Last year, I began having both of my choirs perform together. Overcoming their age differences was a concern until I had the inspiration to take out the parachute, then suddenly everyone was smiling, and helping each other. Afterward, the anthems the choirs sang together resounded as one choir rather than two!

Choir members of all ages can enjoy the benefits of using the parachute!

The Power of the Parachute                                                                       

ACTIVITIES for Adults and/or Children

Popcorn– Add balls and get  the balls off of the parachute without rolling them, balls that roll get tossed back onto the ‘chute.

Round the Universe– The choir members move one medium sized ball around the edge. Once the group gets comfortable going clockwise, change to counter clockwise, you will be surprised by the extra challenge for the ight handed people to go counter clockwise.

Mushroom– (for active adults) Everyone lifts the parachute high overhead and moves the edge behind their back and sit down simultaneously.

The adults enjoy this prop too, especially with the children. The children like the parachute even more with grown-ups because the adults lift it higher! For the adult choir the primary benefit of the parachute comes from working as a team. When considering making a parachute, keep in mind that creating a strong parachute is important for the adults, since they are stronger and will put more wear and tear on the prop.

Magical moments with parachutes are revealed when adult and children’s choirs teambuild together… Afterward, the anthems the choirs sing together will resound as one choir rather than two!

Activities- Children

He’s Got the Whole World– Have students run under the parachute by the calling out color they are holding, and the other students try to catch them by bringing the parachute down on the runner on the phrase “in His hands”.                                                                        

Genesis 3 Snakes– Put one individual-sized jump rope on the parachute and have choristers flutter the ‘chute while trying not to get bitten by the “serpent”! If they do get “bitten” (touched), they have to go underneath the parachute. While shaking the parachute the students can sing this call and  response song to the tune of Old John the Rabbit: O sneaky serpent, oh yes, Has a mighty habit, oh yes, of coming to Eden garden, oh yes, and tempting down the apples, Oh yes, and causing lots of troubles, Oh yes and if I live, to see next fall, there ain’t gonna be no garden at all.                                                                                                                                            

God Made the Stars– Ball up 10 pieces of paper and have the choristers flutter the parachute while trying to keep the stars in the parachute. Here is a rhyme they can chant:  God made the stars and God made me, whether I am here or there, He is close to me.    I’ve Got Peace like a River– Students can shake the parachute on each repetition of “River” in the song.                                         

Current Repertoire Run– Have students take turns dancing in place in the middle of the parachute while the group shakes the parachute up and down trying to knock them down.  The duration of the child’s turn in the parachute can be judged by the choristers singing the chorus of a recent anthem. Change the song for each turn or use the game to assist learning or memorizing a particular section by repeating the same section.


Activities for Stretchy Band or Parachute

Hymn Singing– Lift and lower the band or parachute as a group, showing a visual of the hymn’s melody line ascending and descending.

Solfege– Lift and lower the band or parachute up and down according to the pitch of the solfege syllables being sung.                             

Steady Beat– Bounce the band or parachute to the steady beat of a song, recording or rhyme.                                                                  

Pitch Matching– The choir director sings and moves stretchy band or parachute and choir members echo and mimic.  

How to Create a Parachute

Here are some guidelines for the size of parachute you will require: 12 adults/children will need at least a 12 foot parachute, for a group of 24 students a minimum of a 24 foot parachute or for 24 adults a 30 foot parachute would be best. 

For Makers on a Smaller Budget- On her blog “And Next Comes L”, Dyan Robson has a tutorial on how to make a small parachute using dollar store shower curtains that could cost as little as $5 and two hours of time.

For Maker with No Budget- Have someone donate a king sized sheet and sewing skills to alter it to a round shape.


I hope you have found some terrific ways to create magical, musically meaningful moments in your church choirs with parachutes and stretchy bands in this post! For my next blog post, I am looking forward to offering you some activities that will utilize scarves and ribbons to increase your groups’ understanding of their anthems.

Leah Murthy is a music educator, performer and military spouse. She has a Master’s in Music Education from The Boston Conservatory at Berkelee, 14 years experience teaching music and recent contributions to professional journals such as The American Organist and The Chorister. When she is not teaching music in Maryland, or playing with her two little girls, she is in Washington D.C. conducting for The National Children’s Chorus.

#AMTA16 Giveaways

Where to Find Bear Paw Creek #AMTA16



Another year is quickly flying by.  This week brings the annual music therapy conference. I’m excited to share where you’ll be able to find Bear Paw Creek’s movement props and instrument storage bags.


#amta16 giveaways from Bear Paw Creek

Music Therapy Ed Happenings

Kat from Music Therapy Ed reached out to us a few months ago to see if we wanted to give some giveaways again this year. Of course we did! 

They have a whole lot of fun going on and from videos show casing their booth in years past, it’s always a PARTY at their booth!  They are doing a scavenger hunt again and have lots of great giveaways lined up. Including t-shirts for the first 20 VIPs to stop by.  Read all about it in their post:   #AMTA16 Scavenger Hunt & Prize Details


You like our T-shirt design? We're giving away free T-shirts to the first 20 VIP subscribers who stop by our booth at #amta16. Will we see you there?




[Tweet “Music therapists make a difference! Are you heading to #AMTA16?”]

Music Therapy Connections Excitement

It’s through Kat from Music Therapy Ed that I ever got connected with Rachel Rambach of Music Therapy Connections.  It’s been exciting support each other.  She provides great music to use with our props, and we supply the props!

This fall she released “Songs for Movement Props.”    This inspired me to put together a set of movement props that will be added to the site soon.  All of you attending the American Music Therapy Conference will get the first sneak peak at them!

The set will include 1 connect-a-stretchy band, Balloon Ball, set of 13 Chiffon Scarves, and a set of 4″ square bean bags.  The total MSRP is $80 but they will be 10% off at conference selling for $72. She will have limited supply of them available, so make sure to stop by.  They all work great with the songs as listed here:

  • “Stretch in the Morning”
  • “In a Circle”
  • “‘Round the Rainbow”
  • “Grow Flower Grow”
  • “Movin’ in the Circle”
  • “I Have a Beanbag”
  • “Beanbag in My Hand”
  • “Bop Bop the Balloon Ball”
  • “I Have a Balloon Ball”
  • “See the Scarf”
  • “Colors of the Rainbow”
  • “We’re Gonna Wave”

Movement Prop Set for Listen and Learn Music from Bear Paw Creek

So stop by at the Music Therapy Connections booth and sign up to win a set packaged in our “Music Therapy Makes a Difference” tote bag!







West Music

You will also be able to find more of our movement props at West Music’s booth.  They have been selling our products since 2001! 

They carry the stretchy band, bean bags, hoop and ribbon streamers, balloon ball, Qchord Gig Bag, and the Tone Chime Case.

Make sure to stop by and check them out and tell them you appreciate them supporting American Made products.  When you buy our products you are supporting USA based manufacturing and local small businesses.

Bear Paw Creek is thankful for our partnership with West Music for fifteen years.

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.

Three Benefits of Using Stretchy Bands for Praise and Worship

Music, Memory and Movement

Do you plan activities for the elderly in nursing homes? Are you a Children’s Director at church?  Do you want a fun way to teach preschoolers some worship songs while satisfying their need for movement?

We’ll show you some ways to bring a sense of fun, focus, and community to your worship and praise time.

What Worship Songs are Stored in Your Memory?

Occasionally I hear my girls sing songs that take me back to my childhood. Some of them are silly, some are beautiful. Best of all, are the times that I hear a hymn or praise song that speaks to my struggles and encourages me. 

That happened with the song, Standing on the Promises of God. I was struggling with the faithfulness of God. That song helped me to ask myself, “What are God’s promises exactly?” And while some circumstances in my life seemed unbearable, I realized that none of them signified a broken promise on God’s part. 

Actually, His promises stood firm; I needed to remember that 

Where do we learn these songs and how do they stay with us? Many of the songs we know from childhood were learned at home or at church. These songs are etched in our brain because music is such a powerful aid to memory.

Do you realize that movement is also an aid to memory? Imagine then, how effective music and motion are for imprinting memories… I think some might even call this dancing…

Have you considered using a Stretchy Band to encourage movement:

  • For circle praise time with your kids at home?
  • In Children’s Church, during worship?
  • As part of your ministry of elder care in nursing homes?
[Tweet “Imagine then, how effective music and motion are for imprinting memories. Jenette Clay”]

Here are Three Benefits to Using Stretchy Bands with Praise and Worship

Satisfy the need to squirm and move. Little kids (and I believe adults) have a hard time sitting still for a long time. 

Imagine all of the sitting kids do between school, church services, and riding in a car. Using a stretchy band can organize the chaos a bit so that the non-wiggly kids don’t feel overwhelmed by the kids with the urge to spin around the room (while you sing Father Abraham for the 100th time.) Use the stretchy band as a big circle with the kids holding on all around; you can encourage them to sing and make waves and shapes while continuing to hold on to the stretchy band. This definitely helps manage the chaos while letting them move.

Awaken the brain and heighten learning. When we move, we wake up a bit. 

Ever sat in a service and found you were tired and sleepy, even during worship? Just being asked to stand up helps the blood flow. Getting the blood flowing is a good thing because it’s supplying more oxygen to the brain as well. Body movement increases our ability to take in and remember information. It’s the perfect partner to music in teaching because what we sing we remember; what we sing while we move, we remember better.

Want to have your children remember The Deep, Deep Love of Jesus? Have them sing while they make deep waves with the stretchy band. I bet they will remember how deep the love of Jesus is.

The power of music to wake up the brain was illustrated by Yvonne Russell, recreation therapist, in this video. When you go into a nursing home and provide a worship service full of favorite hymns and songs, eyes light up and smiles appear. Consider whether adding a stretchy band for appropriate songs might further awaken the spirit of those you are ministering to. 

Break down barriers of self-consciousness. This applies to children, and more so to adults.

Let’s be honest, sometimes we wish we had had an excuse to break out of our calm, self-composed selves. We just seem to need someone to give us an excuse to do so.

Take a look at the smiles on these faces at Eldergarden Adult Day Program. Using a stretchy band is a great way to get every single person involved as it visible connects them.

Rachelle Norman, of Soundscape Music Therapy, says, ” Rather than just hoping for people to “get into the music” and move spontaneously, as you might do in an entertainment-oriented program, I view movement as an important form of musical communication and consciously facilitate movement to music.”

[Tweet “I view movement as an important form of musical communication… Rachelle Norman”]

Ten Worship Songs to Sing with Your Stretchy Bands!

I would tell you that the first few are great for kids and the last part of the list are great for elder care, but I think bringing little ones into a Nursing Home and letting them mix it up a bit (with cautions to be gentle) seems like a lovely idea. In fact, I’m planning on doing that.

Just one last tip: don’t be intimidated by what to do with the stretchy band while you sing. You don’t have to make it complicated; let the kids help you decide how to move with them during the song. Loosen up and have fun. The first three songs on this list link to videos of us doing that (with lots of giggles thrown in.)

Here’s the list. What songs would you add to this? Any favorite memories tied to songs? Comment below and let us hear from you!

  1. Standing on the promises of God.
  2. I am a C-H-R-I-S-T-I-A-N.
  3. Deep and Wide.
  4. The Deep, Deep Love of Jesus.
  5. Do Not be Anxious.
  6. I’ll Fly Away
  7. Cast Your Cares.
  8. Amazing Grace
  9. It is Well with My Soul.
  10. He Will Listen to You.

Bean Bag Songs and Resources by Alyssa Wilkins, MT-BC, owner and founder Dynamic Lynks

Alyssa Wilkins, MT-BC, Shares Two Songs for Bean Bags

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.

As a music therapist, it is important to constantly have tools and tricks in your arsenal to pull out for sessions. One of my favorite props to use as a “quick pull” is the textured bean bag set from Bear Paw Creek. The reason I love this particular set is two-fold.

One, they are durable. This is perfect for those clients and small groups that tend to be a little more aggressive with my instruments and such. Two, they provide individualized tactile stimulation. Because the bean bags have various textures, each client can choose the type of tactile sensation they want to receive. There are rough ones, smooth ones, furry ones, soft ones, bumpy ones.

In fact, I am feeling a song coming on…

“What’s in the Bag?”

This song was written to use when a client is becoming dysregulated and needs some sensory input to keep their body safe and calm. However, it quickly turned into a game similar to Touchy Feely where they had to identify what they were feeling in the bag. There are two ways you can play the game with the song. You can have the client identify what they are feeling in the bag, or you can give them a specific texture to find and they have to feel around for it in the bag.

Some benefits of this song/game are tactile stimulation, sensory regulation, following one-step directions, and turn-taking skills. A fantastic side-effect of the game is that you can begin to identify what type of sensory items your client most wants or needs. Once you pull the bean bag out, you can have the client rub it in their hands, on their arms, and see what textures they like most.


[Tweet “One of my favorite props to use as a “quick pull” is the bean bag set from Bear Paw Creek. Alyssa Wilkins, MT-BC”]

Strong Sensory Input Helps Body Communicate With Brain Effectively

Once you know what type of tactile stimulation you like most, you can use that specific bean bag for other sensory regulation strategies. A strategy I use often with my clients is deep pressure. I find that many of my clients need that strong sensory input so their body can communicate with their brain more effectively. Because not all of us are equipped with a squeeze machine, I created an activity where my clients could provide the pressure to themselves using their preferred textured bean bag.

“Squish the Bean Bag”


I like to think of this song as a deep pressure/ progressive muscle relaxation (PMR) hybrid because the clients are squishing the bean bag on a specific body part, for a given amount of time, then releasing. This provides temporary deep pressure in tandem with a contract and release strategy of PMR. I use this song at the end of most of my sessions and find that it helps ground and regulate my clients so they can leave the session calmly.

Textured Bean Bags


These bean bags come in handy when I need a sensory intervention or an interactive social skills game. My clients respond incredibly well to the versatility of these props and it always brings a smile to their face when they see the big bag o’ bean bags come out of the cabinet. I am constantly trying to come up with new sensory regulation strategies for my clients and I hope you are able to use some of my tricks and tips!


***From Janet:  Thanks Alyssa for a great post with songs!  This is the last week of Autism Awareness month and we’re going to give one set of textured bean bags away. Leave a comment on this post and you’ll be entered to win.  Share on social media and tag us: @bearpawcreek and/or #bearpawcreek  That will get you an extra entry for each tag and share!  Winner drawn on May 12.***

This blog post is already jammed packed  – but here’s even MORE!

Click the image to get a list of 13 activities to do with regular and textured beans – more songs too!

13 Bean Bag Activites

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