[THEMES] Winter: Music, Literacy, and More!

Shivering Snowman!

Get moving with these winter-themed activities!

Even if you don’t receive an inch of snow or temperatures below freezing, you can always dream up what winter feels like. Today in the Bear Paw Creek blog, we are focusing on winter-themed music, movement, and literacy activities for you to use in your music classes or music therapy sessions (or where ever you use music and movement!). We have also included a handy YouTube playlist to inspire you in your planning.

Winter Song Playlist

Included on this playlist are some standards — Winter Wonderland, Jingle Bells, Sleigh Ride — but I also included some lesser-known songs that you can use at this time of year.

 

  • Winter Wonderland – Michael Buble
  • Jingle Bells – Laurie Berkner
  • Sleigh Ride – Leroy Anderson
  • A Marshmellow World – Dean Martin
  • Winter Song – Sara Bareilles and Ingrid Michaelson
  • River – James Taylor (Sarah McLachlan has a really great version, too!)
  • The Skater’s Waltz
  • Let It Snow, Let It Snow, Let It Snow! – Dean Martin
  • Winter Wind – The Piano Guys
  • Frosty the Snowman – Jimmy Durante
  • Let It Go/Winter from The Four Seasons – The Piano Guys/Vivaldi

 

The Skater’s Waltz

I mentioned The Skater’s Waltz last month in the Christmas-themed blog post (you can read it here). I love this piece of versatile music so much that I wanted to include it here, too. 

The Skater’s Waltz can be used in so many different ways. You can pull out your Stretchy Band or parachute and have your students or clients lift and lower right to the waltz beat of the music (for a total of 6 counts up, 6 counts down). Make sure you are keeping track of student/client fatigue with the movements and give them appropriate break times from the movement.

You can also take your Stretchy Band (my daughters’ music teacher calls it “Super Stretchy”), and have your clients or students mirror your movements. While stationary, you can move with a circling motion, a bicycling motion, as well as pulling, pushing, zig zagging, and stretching motions. Again, make sure you are watching for student/client fatigue. 

You can also use The Skater’s Waltz with your creative movement with scarves and streamers. You can even check out these neat winter-themed jingle streamersAnd don’t forget that there is a special winter balloon ball, too! So many music and movement possibilities!

Snowball Fight

Last year, when the indoor snowball prop set was created, many of you shared your fun ideas. Janet and her family even had an indoor snowball fight in Missouri, where snow is rare! They included Jimmy Fallon’s Snowfight book in their activities. You can read Janet’s blog post here (it also includes a great activity idea from Carole of Macaroni Soup). 

Additional Resources

Rachel Rambach does it again! She created an awesome Winter Song Pack, especially for those working with younger children.

Amy from Wholesome Harmonies, LLC featured a Frosty Mad Lib on her blog — perfect for your elementary level kiddos.

This is one of my favorite go-to winter songs — My Snowmen (to the tune of This Old Man). It is super cute, engaging especially for younger kiddos. 

What winter-themed songs and activities are in your “go-to” stash? Have a fun time moving to the music suggested here, and STAY WARM! 

Written by: Julie A. Palmieri, MM, MT-BC is the owner of Serenade Designs, which specializes in helping music therapists create, enhance, and ROCK their online presence. She is a board-certified music therapist, wife, and Momma to 2 beautiful girls. She loves Christmas, chocolate, and Detroit Red Wings hockey. Visit her website and follow her on social media: Serenade-Designs.com

[THEMES] Christmas: Music, literacy, and more!

Christmas music to get you moving and grooving!

 

It’s December, and most likely your focus has been on incorporating holiday music into your lessons and sessions. It’s a festive time of year, and in my opinion, adding holiday music to your music lineup brings a lot of JOY to you and your students and clients.

Here at Bear Paw Creek, since we focus on music and movement, we wanted to highlight how you can incorporate movement in your music classes and sessions. We’ve also included a handy YouTube playlist to inspire you in planning your sessions, lessons, or classes this holiday season.

 

Jingle Bells

Who doesn’t love the sound of jingle bells at this time of year? Besides the familiar Jingle Bells and Jingle Bell Rock, you can use your jingle bells with lots of different Christmas songs, as well. Two favorites of mine are Silver Bells and Santa Claus is Comin’ to Town. These jingle bell scrunchies can be perfect to use when addressing fine motor skills, such as grasping. 

If you are looking to stretch your repertoire beyond Jingle Bells, however, SKS Music Therapy has it covered here in this blog post entitled appropriately “Past Jingle Bells: Three Ideas for Palate-Cleansing Christmas Music.” 

Music therapist Ryan Judd also covers a couple of easy to learn holiday songs for kids with special needs on his vlog — including using jingle bells. Watch his video here.

Stretchy Band & Connect-a-Stretchy-Band

When incorporating Christmas music with movement, you can’t go wrong with upbeat classics like Rockin’ Around the Christmas Tree and Leroy Anderson’s Sleigh Ride. The Stretchy Band or Connect-a-Stretchy-Band are excellent props that you can use to support your student’s or client’s movements.

If you are looking to slow the tempo a bit and really focus on slow and controlled motor movements, you can always incorporate the slow jazz version of O Christmas Tree by the Vince Guaraldi Trio or White Christmas for your older adults.

If you work with older adults, Rachelle Norman, MT-BC blogged about some “fresh” music ideas. She shares her post here.

 

Bear Paw Creek Christmas Playlist 2017

Scarves & Streamers

Scarves and streamers are a perfect addition to your Christmas music sessions and classes.

Skater’s Waltz & Skating by The Vince Guaraldi Trio

These two selections are perfect for pairing with scarves (I like using shades of pink, blue, purple and white at this time of year). If you work with younger children, you can add paper plate skates! Take a simple white paper plate, have your kiddos step on them, “lace them up,” and skate away. This works best on carpet. 

Dance of the Sugar Plum Fairy – Pentatonix

I really love this version of the Sugar Plum Fairy because of its’ strong beat. You can keep a steady beat with your streamers while having your clients or students mirror your movements. Read our post about why a steady beat is important. 

An activity extension is to take turns having different leaders and see the creative ideas come forth from your clients and students!

Songs in ¾ time

¾ time in music lends itself well to smooth, sweeping motions. Just think of your favorite waltz dance. Do you automatically start to sway to the beat? 

Grab your favorite scarves or streamers and sway, bounce, tap, toss and catch, roll, balance, and turn to these great selections that are in in ¾ time.

  • It’s the Most Wonderful Time of the Year – Andy Williams
  • Coventry Carol – Pentatonix
  • Away in the Manger
  • What Child is This?
  • My Favorite Things – from The Sound of Music

Special Downloads & Printables

Movement Action Cards

You can pair these great movement cards with a freeze song of your choice. These great, colorful, and fun movement cards from the Oopsey Daisy Blog are a favorite of mine for the early childhood crowd.

Download them here.

Activity Ideas Download 

Coast Music Therapy offers this great download of activity ideas that teach social, language, and motor skills. 

Download here.

 

Christmas + Literacy = A great combo!

There are so many great singable books that you can use at this time of year. I pull these books out every year with my own children, and we enjoy being snuggled together while singing these wonderful and beautiful books.

Click on each book image to purchase on Amazon. 

Little Drummer Boy – Ezra Jack Keats

How the Grinch Stole Christmas – Dr. Seuss

Snowmen at Christmas – Caralyn Buehner

Jingle Bells – Iza Trapani

Take a look at some of our previous Christmas-related blog posts:

What are your favorite Christmas songs that you use in your music therapy sessions or music classes? 

And in closing, we hope you have a musical and wonderful holiday!

Written by: Julie Palmieri, MM, MT-BC is the Creative Director of Serenade Designs, which specializes in helping music therapists create, enhance, and ROCK their online presence. She is a board-certified music therapist, wife, and Momma to 2 beautiful girls. She loves Christmas, chocolate, and Detroit Red Wings hockey. Visit her website here: Serenade-Designs.com

New Products Include Make Your Own Streamers and Guitar Case

New Products Include Make Your Own Streamers and Guitar Case

I have been busy with trying to knock some to do items off my list, but it keeps growing!  I am sure you can relate to that.

One of my lists is new product ideas. I’m always thinking up more and getting suggestions from customers, so I have finally added a few to the site and updated some other products.

I will also sharing a 20% off code for Black Friday/Cyber Monday.  AND – a special Gratitude = Giving event that will be happening in the Bear Paw Creek Insiders group on Facebook.

Read on to learn more!

2017 new products cyber sale

Make Your Own Streamers, Bags, and Balloon Balls

Make Your Own Streamers

A little story, for 15 years I made our hoops for our streamers out of food grade tubing. Safe right?  Well – a few years ago they failed the test for compliance on phthalates.  WHAT!  I was truly surprised since this is food grade tubing, meaning we are consuming drinks out of it.  So – I went on the hunt for compliant hoops.  I landed on poly-carbonate and had a bunch made up.

Make Your Own Hoop Streamers - 4" Poly-carbonate Hoops

I thought it would be fun to offer these for sale so you can make your own streamers!  At $1.25 each, this can help the budget and for those creatives out there, you’ll love being able to make your own styles up. You could even re-use them, tying on themed streamers, and taking them off for another event.   Get your kids or clients involved making them!

Here some ideas of how you can do it:

  • cut plastic table cloths into strips and tie them on
  • ribbons
  • fabric strips  (thrift stores are great places to find fabric, sheets, or even clothing) 
  • yarn
  • crepe paper streamers

Martin Backpacker Guitar Case

At a customer’s request, I’ve made up a case for the Martin Backpacker guitar. This was a fun project.  I am still testing this product out on a few more people before I completely launch it, but if you are interested in it, shoot me an email and I’ll put you on the list.  This product will be custom made to order, and will have limited availability each year.

The customer will be able to pick from my fabric stash, or send me their own choosing.  Here is the fabric and case for the original customer.

Fabric with birds on Custom Martin Backpacker Guitar Soft Gig Carrying Bag

Bag on Custom Martin Backpacker Guitar Instrument Case

 

 

 

I used the left over fabric to make up drawstring bags for her!

 

Extra Drawstring Bags from Custom Martin Backpacker Guitar Soft Gig Carrying Bag

Zipper Pouches

I just added more small zipper pouches to the site with a few new colors!  These little pouches were originally made for small first aid kids to our 4-H group.  The kids love to clip them on their bag, or belt loop to carry items in.

Balloon Ball Additions

 

We are always coming up with new balloon balls!  The apple one was suggested by Miss Carole of Macaroni Soup and the acorn by our daughter.  We also attempted a banana, but so far that has been a fail! Another one on the list is a Christmas ornament.

 

Apple Balloon Ball

 

 

Stand Up Bag

 

These bags were inspired by my sister who wanted a bag that she could store egg shakers in and it would stand up so the kids could throw them in.  These stand up bags are 12″ tall by 6″ wide.  Great for storing small instruments or other items in.

 

Limited Stock on these. 

 

Bear Paw Creek New Stand Up bag for small instruments or items

 

Black Friday/Cyber Monday Sale and a  Month of Gratitude

Get 20% off everything (with free shipping) from Friday November 24, 2017 through Tuesday November 28, 2017.

Use this code at check-out: cyber

AND….a month of gratitude will begin on November 27 in our Bear Paw Creek Insiders group on Facebook.  If you haven’t – come join us! 

GRATITUDE = Four Weeks of GIVING

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.

Bean Bags and Music with Mar

Guest post by Maryann Harman of Music with Mar

Bean bags are one of the many things in early childhood that are thought of as ‘toys’ and yet they are so much more than that.  

It’s almost as if ‘toy’ is a bad word, like there is no time for toys in early childhood.  We must get ready for school!  Toys are the tools of childhood.  It is with toys that many skills are developed because it is through play we learn how to navigate the world.  Bean bags are fun toys.  

Let’s break down the things that are learned when playing with bean bags.

 

Music with Mar using bean bags teaches skills

Playing with Bean Bags and Learning

The first aspect is tactile.  Children are feeling them.  Squishing them.  Poking them. This helps to develop the FINE MOTOR SKILLS of the fingers.  When they push down on the beans in the middlle and they move, that’s SCIENCE!  They are learning displacement. When they toss a bean bag up in the air and it comes down, that’s gravity.  None of these concepts need to be named.  They can just happen while children’s brains get wired for understanding the concept when the time comes.

There are many songs using bean bags.  I, myself, have composed a few.  The combination of music with the bean bag activities intensifies the learning experience.  Music helps the children utilize the bean bags in a constructive way while making it easier to understand.  Because of music, they will retain what they’ve learned a bit longer as well.

The song “I’ve Got a Bean Bag” encourages children to try different motor skills. It’s simple and children can be successful.

I’ve got a bean bag. Yes. I’ve got a bean bag

I throw it up. And, catch it when it comes down

I’ve got a bean bag. Yes. I’ve got a bean bag

I throw it to my friend and catch it when she throws it back

I’ve got a bean bag. Yes. I’ve got a bean bag

Put it on my foot and kick it up. Catch it when it comes down

I’ve got a bean bag. Yes. I’ve got a bean bag

I throw it up and catch it when it comes down.

 

 

Another fun thing to do with bean bags is walk and balance with one on your head or shoulder. This is important for VESTIBULAR strengthening.  By taking the bean bag and placing it on different parts of the body, children are learning body parts – LANGUAGE

Music with Mar Bean Bags vocabulary balance directions

When using bean bags with children, I encourage them to ‘try what I’m doing’ and ‘show me what you’re doing’.  This allows for you to show them ideas and acknowledges they, too, can think of things to do.  CREATIVE THINKING as well as CONFIDENCE.  I also ask them to share with a friend and trade bean bags.  SOCIAL INTERACTION

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I am teaming up with Bear Paw Creek and we are doing a giveaway for  a set of bean bags and my cd, “Froggy Fitness”.

Win Bean Bags and Music

If you haven’t used bean bags in a while, it is time to revisit them.  If you are using bean bags, YEAH!   Get out those bean bags and have fun.  Bear Paw Creek sells 4″ square and textured bean bags – check them out!

Musicwithmar.com

Find Mar. on Facebook : Maryann Harman Musicwithmar

Follow brain facts on Facebook : Music with Mar., Inc.

Twitter Maryann Harman @musicwithmar

YouTube – Music with Mar

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Maryann “Mar.” Harman is a music educator with a Bachelor’s Degree in Music and a Master’s in Education, with an emphasis in Early Childhood and is certified in Level I Orff. These degrees contribute to her ability to write songs that are musically and educationally sound for children as well as fun and easy to use for teachers and parents. She is the founder of the internationally-enjoyed Music with Mar. Brain Research Based program, Music with Mar. International (Beijing, China) and hosted BAM! Radio Music and Learning Channel. “My passion is tying together the effectiveness of music in overall development with the current research and creating music / music activities to help parents / teachers put it in action.”

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Ellen Allard Music Meets the Stretchy Band

A few weeks ago I shared a blog post entitled “Better Together” which features a song written by Megan from Healing Sounds.

I keep thinking about this song and it just may become Bear Paw Creek’s theme song.  Do businesses have theme songs?

As I say often, I love these connections I keep making around music and movement and our props.

This time the connection is, Ellen Allard.  Hold on to your hats – you are in for a treat!

 

Connect a stretchy band and Ellen Allard Giveaway

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Introducing Ellen Allard

Who is Ellen?  A bit about her follows below and click here to head to her about page if you want to learn more.

She has been privileged since 1976 to perform children’s concerts and present teacher workshops/keynotes, seamlessly moving between both the Secular and the Jewish world of Early Childhood. She loves singing with kids. And she loves singing with kids and their grown-ups. Small groups, large groups, schools, synagogues, churches, festivals, libraries, community centers. From the moment Ellen begins her concerts, everyone is singing, dancing, moving and grooving.

How did we get connected?  I stumbled across this video of her showcasing how to use the stretchy band with the song “Bim, Bom”.

I sent her an email and then we caught up on the phone.  She has so much energy, enthusiasm, and willing to jump in and try anything. I also found our original connection was none other than…….. Carole Stephens from Macaroni Soup!

Below you will learn more about how and why she loves the stretchy and that we’ve teamed up for another great giveaway.

Stretchy Band: A Prop That Makes My Music Teaching Heart Soar

Ellen just published a post all about the stretchy band on her blog at EllenAllard.com. In it she shared some of her top reasons why she loves using the stretchy band to teach music.  Here they are.

  • Kids LOVE hands on activities. It keeps them focused. It gives them something to do that is movement-based.
  • The movement of the band, generated by the movement and direction of the kids’ hands, helps to reinforce the beat. Internalizing and being able to keep the beat is an important musical skill. As well, there is rhythm and beat in EVERYTHING from reading to math to walking. When you give kids an opportunity to experience the beat, it will definitely support rhythm in everything else they encounter.
  • Using the stretchy band in a group builds a sense of community and camaraderie. It helps children feel connected to others in the group.
  • Using the stretchy band in a group encourages cooperation. If one child doesn’t follow the directions being given for using the band, it will make it difficult if not impossible for the rest of the group to use the band accordingly. Conversely, it helps children feel connected when they cooperate with everyone in the group.

Here is another taste of her music from her YouTube Channel.  

So we’ve teamed up to bring another giveaway that will bring free music and movement into someone’s hands that other people will also benefit from. What’s not to love about that? 

You will be entered to win 4 connect-a-stretchy band (equals 1 XL stretchy band) and Ellen’s cd “Sing It! Say It! Stamp It! Sway It!” as a physical or digital copy.

Enter the giveaway by clicking and leave a comment on this post on how you would use the stretchy band and music!

Connect a stretchy band and Ellen Allard Giveaway

 

See…we really are all BETTER TOGETHER!

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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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Bear Paw Creek Stretchy Band in the Singapore News

Back in May of 2017, our Singapore distributor Our Music Classroom sent me an email showcasing the stretchy band being used in a new preschool.

Ms Thian Ai Ling, deputy general manager of MFS, said: “As we become increasingly interconnected in a changing world, it is important to continually invest in arts and culture to the benefit of more open, inclusive and imaginative societies. Through this… partnership, our teachers become more confident and skilful, and our children in turn can be nurtured to showcase their innovation and creativity.”

Get ready for some fantastic songs that will inspire your stretchy band time!

Stretchy Band in the Singapore News

Preschool Arts Program uses Stretchy Band

The newspaper article that was published on May 5, 2017, Pre-school Arts Education Programme Piloted at NTUC’s My First Skool, shares some wonderful quotes on the importance of arts in early childhood education.   It also show cases the stretchy band in use with engaging songs to teach and connect the students.  

Stretchy Band in the Singapore Newspaper

MFS said it initiated this partnership to advocate the impact and value of an arts education at pre-school level as it believes that quality arts experiences in the early years help to develop creative individuals from a young age.

 

NAC’s support is in providing the pre-school teachers with skills and knowledge in planning and delivering quality arts-based lessons, working with artists as co-teachers to facilitate and guide children in class on various art forms, and engaging parents on the impact and value of arts education in their child’s learning.

Meanwhile, children are exposed to various art genres appropriate for their age groups – such as singing, dancing, storytelling, art and music-making – while they explore various curriculum themes and academic subjects. Teachers and artists co-teach children and get them to experience the arts as part of their daily routine and classroom activities. So far, 150 children from the centre have benefited from the programme.

 

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I hope you enjoyed this as much as I did. I love the teachers enthusiasm and energy and her being in the center of the circle for the kids/parents to see as well.

Hope this sparks a new idea for you to use with the stretchy band!

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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