Movement Props and Sensory Integration

With Winter lingering on for seemingly forever, tis the season for sensory dysregulation and cabin fever. Many of my clients get extra wiggly in sessions and groups this time of year. With the cold keeping us trapped inside, it can be difficult to get the sunlight and sensory input that our bodies crave. Luckily, Janet makes some of the best tools to help keep kids active and regulated through, what I think, is the worst stretch of the winter months.

Simple Sensory Rules

ESave

Figuring out how to best provide sensory input to children can be challenging, especially if you are learning it all on your own. Here are some guidelines on how to provide the best sensory experience.

  1. If it is not helping to regulate the child, it may not be the right sensory activity for them.
  2. After a vestibular activity, like rocking or spinning, provide a proprioceptive activity, like the wheel barrow walk or body squeezes.
  3. If you spin, always make sure to unspin in the opposite direction.
  4. Start with a large body activity, like jumping, and end with a small body activity, like using putty or play dough.
  5. Keep it simple and consistent!

Tactile Input – Touching or feeling

One of my favorite tactile tools to use in session are the Bear Paw Creek textured bean bags. With many different exteriors to the bean bag, there are opportunities for every tactile seeker to find a bean bag they like. I have shared in previous posts the ways I use these bean bags in session.

Textured Bean Bags

TEXTURED BEAN BAGS

In addition to feeling textures and squishing the bean bag on the body that I mentioned in previous posts, I like to rub the bean bag on different body parts to provide a variety of tactile sensations and activate the mind-body connection. I use the song “Rub, rub, rub” to tell children where they are going to rub the textured bean bag on their body, in time with the music. I use this activity at the start of sessions to help get kids focused and engaged in the group! This song is featured on my Mini Musical Minds CD which has a variety of songs for sensorimotor skills, instrument play and more!

Save

Save

Auditory Input – Hearing

Bear Paw Creek has a variety of sensorimotor props, but Janet also sells wrist jingle bells. Jingle bells are one of my favorite auditory stimulating instruments. The sound is strong enough that it activates the auditory processing centers in the brain, but it is not too loud to cause dysregulation or distress. To work on auditory input and processing, I like to play a game called “I hear something playing”.

Jingle Bell Wrist Scrunchie on Connect-a-Band for movement activities

Jingle Bell Wrist Scrunchie on Connect-a-Stretchy Band

Children sit in a circle, each with jingle bells behind their back. I have children close their eyes and I walk around the outside of the circle and tap one child to be the instrument player. I then instruct children to open their eyes and I begin singing the words “I hear something playing” and the child I tapped to be the instrument player will shake their jingle bells softly behind their back. I continue to sing “I hear something playing” and see if the other children in the circle can identify where the sound is coming from. I ask “what can it be?” and “where can it be?”.  Depending on how sneaky the instrument player is, it can take a few times before all the children can identify the sound source. You can also play this game with a variety of instruments and the children have to guess where the sound is coming from and what instrument is playing the sound.

 

Proprioceptive and Vestibular Input – Spinning, rocking, and jumping to feel where our body is in space

I have written many posts about the stretchy band and it is still my favorite sensorimotor prop to use in session. The reason why I love it so much is because it is so versatile! In the posts I mentioned above, I share several ideas to use the stretchy band for a variety of skills. Another way you can use the band to aid in sensory integration is through the inherent resistance of the stretchy band to help sway the body front, back, side to side, up and down, and all around.

I use a simple chant to help guide the direction of my clients when using the stretchy band for sensory integration. I sit on the floor with them and wrap one end of a small stretchy band around myself and one end around my client. I then start chanting “front and back, front and back, that’s how we go” and we move in time with the chant. I gently pull the client forward when I say “front” and they have to pull me and rock backwards when I say “back”. We repeat this idea on the verses “side to side” as well as “up and down”, moving the way the words tell us to move. To add more sensory input, you can stand with the client and add a verse such as “jump and jump” where they have to jump with the stretchy band and bounce it up and down.

Stretchy Band Sleigh Ride with Jingles and Snow

I find that providing consistent sensory input is the number one way to improve overall attention in my sessions and minimize negative behaviors from my clients who have a difficult time controlling their body, especially in a group. Bear Paw Creek’s sensorimotor props make it easy and fun to make sensory integration activities for children of all ages and abilities!

 

On my blog, I’ve shared additional sensory tips and strategies you can use to keep your children, clients and students stay regulated through the last of the cold months. I hope these resources are helpful for you and the children in your life to stay active and engaged. A regulated child is a happy child, and that makes music groups so much more fun!

More Save

Save

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.

[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

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.

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.

AMTA Regional Conference 2017

AMTA Regional Conferences 2017

 

 

Since 2013 Bear Paw Creek has been advertising or sending donations/door prizes to the regional music therapy conferences.

This year we will also have our products on display at the GLR Conference! It’s already full swing and it sounds like loads of fun.

I’d love to have some social media fun and get some glimpses of what’s going on this year!

Read on!

Regional AMTA Conferences 2017

Tag Bear Paw Creek – To Win!

The internet and social media has opened up a whole new world for Bear Paw Creek.

With it, we are able to connect one and one and build relationships across the globe. I love it!

I thought it would be fun to play a little game during the weeks of the AMTA Regional conferences.  Our products will be showing up in giveaways and also in some exhibit halls.  If you spy some, take a picture, and tag us with @bearpawcreek or #bearpawcreek.

At the end of the conference we will giveaway a $50 gift card to use in our store!

Tag Your It @bearpawcreek #bearpawcreek

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.

What Does a Music Therapist Do Anyway?

Learning about music therapy.

 

 

When I was in high school, I remember one person saying she was interested in going into Music Therapy. I also remember thinking, that’s a thing? It seemed like something pretty neat, but I had no context for it.  

 For many years that has been the case with the majority of people, but thankfully that is changing. 

Music and emotions.

I’m going to talk to you about music from a layperson’s perspective here.

Let’s not make it complicated, we all know that music impacts us, don’t we? That’s why we put on certain kinds of music when we need motivation to work hard physically (whether it’s on the basketball court or mopping the floor). Melancholy music suits us when we have a broken heart. Joyful music is used in all kinds of celebration. Orchestral music, while it doesn’t have a literal story line often tells of a mood that we can collectively agree on. Composer John Williams is well known for writing the theme music which carried us along in our favorite films.

We know this, we know that somehow music gets into us and the effect runs deep.

Music therapists study the scientific components of what happens emotionally and neurologically to a person when music is played, then uses that knowledge to integrate music in therapy. More study is being done on the effects on the brain and development of children when music combined with music are a routine part of their lives. The possibility that music aids in healing is being explored as music is brought into hospitals for children, babies and older patients. Children and young persons with autism are benefitting from therapy involving music, often one on one with a therapist. And there is some exploration of bringing music therapy into schools.

So much has been gained in the area of research, but I hope to see it continue so that more people can benefit from music therapy.

It seems to me that music therapists, while relatively new in profession, bring to the table one of the oldest friends of mental and emotional health, making it accessible to those who need it most. You see, those who are very young, very old, physically or mentally sick often don’t have access to music the way we do. 

If a teen with a broken heart can find a little comfort in the rhythm and words of this song by going to Youtube and dancing to something like this. Dancing in itself can be soothing. But the key thing is having that access.

When I was going through a really devastating and depressing year I listened to these songs over and over. Medicine for my soul indeed!

One of the problems is that not everyone has access to music.

The residents in elder care depend on family, friends and recreation directors to bring music into their lives. Without them, the lives of many elderly in eldercare facilities wouldn’t have the music they love. And it’s important to have the music they love, not only for their emotional wellbeing, but also for mental stimulation that good memories bring.

Research in music therapy helps professionals who work with aging persons know what a difference music in their lives makes. I think it would be wonderful if each nursing home had a music therapist either on staff or hired to work with the recreational activity director.

How about in our schools? How about in conjunction with children who have anxiety? Or how about just to break the ice so all of the kids feel more connected to each other. I hope the trend for more and more research and more music therapists in each town and city continues. And it is, read this article to see it from one music therapists perspective as she sees her profession become more understood and recognized: And What Exactly is That Anyway?

 

Would you like to learn more about music therapy?

Here are some links for you to explore if you would like to know more about what music therapy is, what is does and the research that is ongoing with music therapy:

About music therapy:

http://www.musictherapy.org/about/musictherapy/

Music therapy in hospitals:

http://www.musicasmedicine.com/about/mtinhospitals.cfm

http://www.webmd.com/a-to-z-guides/features/healing-with-music-therapy#1

Music therapy in schools:

http://mtp.oxfordjournals.org/content/early/2015/04/14/mtp.miv012.extract

http://www.musictherapy.org/assets/1/7/MT_Music_Ed_2006.pdf

http://www.coastmusictherapy.com/our-services/in-school-programs/

Music therapy in eldercare:

http://www.ascseniorcare.com/music-therapy-seniors/

https://www.longtermsol.com/benefits-of-music-therapy-for-seniorsblog/

http://www.caringheartsofrochester.com/the-benefits-of-music-therapy-for-the-elderly/

Now it’s your turn, help spread the word about music therapy and its benefits!

http://sessioncafe.com/lets-flourish/

You can read this very personal post from Janet, founder of Bear Paw Creek, about the therapy her daughter received while fighting cancer:

Fighting cancer and music therapy

Comment below and tell us what songs lift you or soothe you. Do you have a favorite song or style? I bet you can still a song you learned when you were little… ahh the power of music.

Afte that, would you please share this post and others like it, so that we can start to get the word out and help people understand what music therapy is and what it’s potential is for future therapy? Thank you! 

 

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 has a high respect for business owners and entrepreneurs of all kinds. She enjoys helping them tell their story, connecting them to customers online.

You can find Jenette’s business website at www.mywordsforhire.com.

Save

Save

There are no products