Singing for Autism Shares Stretchy Band Movement Guide
This post has been updated February 2, 2017
Back in 2012 I stumbled across a blog written at by Singing for Autism. This website has since been taken down, so I am extra glad I shared what she wrote. This was the first blog post I had found that someone wrote about Bear Paw Creek’s stretchy band.
I was thrilled to see the picture (which is now gone) and read her review. Hope it gives you some more ideas what you can do with your clients or kids with the stretchy band!
Here are some of the key points she shares below:
Beat Competency (micro/macro beats)
This week I want to share different instruments and props that I feel are must haves in the music classroom! The first is the stretchy band, a fun prop that will get the students and adults in the classroom participating.
You can use the stretchy band with songs, chants, or recorded music. Everyone holds on, I encourage two hands, and bounces the stretchy band to the beat. I place the paraprofessionals either near students who need help keeping the beat or evenly around the circle. The wonderful thing about the stretchy band is that students are forced to keep the steady beat, since it is very hard to go against the direction the band is going. For example, holding it down when everyone is lifting it up takes a lot of energy!
For the microbeat, we simply bounce the band on our lap. I hold my hands farther apart on the band so that my hands don’t tap my lap, only the band does.
For the macrobeat, we do a variety of movements:
Lift up over your head for one beat and down to your lap (or the floor) for the next
Reach in the circle for one beat and back to your lap for the next
Pull back like you’re rowing a boat for one beat and back to your lap for the next
Reach in the circle for one beat and back like you’re rowing for the next
I often switch between microbeats and macrobeats for each repetition of the song/chant. That gives you 8 repetitions! Then, sometimes I’ll have the students move their chairs back for more tension and we’ll do it again – easily 8 more repetitions! The stretchy band is a great way to introduce a new song or chant and is great for developing beat competency and spatial awareness. It also encourages teamwork and socialization.
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You can also use the stretchy band when practicing circle dances. Have the students hold the band as they walk around the circle. It gives a visual cue for the students as they walk around the circle. Also, you can play around with shapes for a great spacial awareness activity. Have some students walk in, others walk out, some hold it high, and some hold it low.
I have both the medium and large stretchy bands and will be purchasing some personal ones this year so that I can work individually with the students. I use it with students of all ages. It is definitely a popular activity!
Click here to learn more about Bear Paw Creek’s stretchy bands.
Stretchy bands add value to your group activities in three ways.
They strengthen gross motor skills.
Gross motor movements are driven by the larger muscles in your body. Muscles work together with your nervous system, senses, and brain. We think of this as coordination.
These bands develop strength. The resistance builds muscle and improves coordination. Your body and mind work together to compensate for the pull of the stretch band.
If you’re using the bands to help kids develop their gross motor skills, make sure you don’t tell them all this! Because to them, stretchy bands are a fun way to get moving and if you make it sound too much like work, they may lose interest. Pile a bunch of stretchy bands in the middle of the room, keep the focus on fun, and you’ll see that they won’t take any convincing to dive right in and play with the bands!
They sharpen social skills through community building.
When you have your group work with a shared stretchy band, they’ll feel and see the effect of their actions on others. Those who are stronger, learn to be gentle in their motions and prevent those beside them from being pulled and knocked down. Being physically linked helps everyone learn to be considerate as they take part in these group activities.
This benefit isn’t just for little kids either. Teens and adults can also have fun learning to work together using the stretchy bands as well. For any group, you can set up an obstacle course to move through while they hold on to the stretchy band as a team.
They encourage attentive listening.
In group activities with the stretchy band, because teamwork means everything, it encourages attentiveness. They feel satisfied when a task has been accomplished together. This reward is enough to encourage listening skills. When the kids form a star shape together with this tool, they enjoy the benefit of listening together..
A few weeks ago, The Inspired Treehouse released a fantastic blog post all about how they found the stretchy band/connect-a-band to be an new and useful tool for them. Below is an excerpt with video. Make sure to check out their blog, always new and creative ideas shared there.
Running Against Resistance – Also great for strengthening and proprioception, have your kiddo get in the Connect-a-Band while you hold the opposite side still. Have her walk away from you forward or backward or even sideways. Have her keep walking until she can’t go any further and then ask her to control the speed at which she comes back to you.
The Connect-a-Band will try to pull her fast but can she walk slowly? Try a game of red light, green light (see below)!
Marge La Bella reviews Bear Paw Creek’s hoop scarf streamers and scarves
A few years ago Margie La Bella contacted me about her cd collection. Here is a little information about her:
Margie La Bella, a music therapist and educator, began her career with the clarinet at age 9. Soon after she discovered that she could play by ear and that she liked to sing- and sing harmony! She began composing and performing in her early teens. Music has always been a “bright light” in her life: a source of joy, expression, connection and healing. She chose music therapy as a profession because she has seen the power of music and wants to share that with others’ hearts and minds.
Margie completed her music therapy internship in 1987 and promptly established the music therapy program with the children at the Leeway School where she continues to work. She has since obtained a master’s degree in special education.
Her CD series Move!Sing! Play Along and Learn! is a collection of original participation-based songs and dances designed to spark the imagination, playfulness, and language learning (expressive, receptive, and auditory/listening) of children. It is available to parents, grandparents, teachers, special education centers, therapists, music/dance/gym instructors and all those who are young at heart.
Recently I sent her some of our products to see if she had any song suggestions or activities she’d recommend. She went above and beyond and offered to make some videos including our products! Here is the link to the song featured in the video and make sure to check out her music that she offers in cd form and digitally.
Her story and journey is amazing and I love what she is doing. Here is just one testimony of many from her site that gives you a glimpse:
“Joanne Lara is a true expert in the field of autism. She has a remarkable knowledge, education and experience base from which she has developed and created Autism Movement Therapy as a new conceptual practice. This practice can assist children with autism by using movement to create both habit and brain chemistry changes. These important changes can assist children with help in reaching various milestones in their learning. I attended a workshop with her in Chicago, Illinois in March 2010 where I was able to see her fully engage young autistic students. Her rapport and professionalism with parents is also highly noteworthy. I highly recommend both Joanne Lara and Autism Movement Therapy.”
Bob Hudson, MA, M Ed
Intervention Specialist–Special Education & Gifted
K-1st Grade Autism & Multiple Exceptionalities
Cleveland Metropolitan School District (CMSD)
She recently sent me some pictures and this review:
“Bear Paw Creek products are simply a must for every classroom teacher, service provider and anyone interested in making sensory development for our kids with special needs FUN!” Joanne Lara, Founder Autism Movement Therapy, Inc www.autismmovementtherapy.org