Magical Moments- with Music Props in Church Choir Rehearsal

Magical Moments- with Music Props in Church Choir Rehearsal

Now that we are in the New Year, it is time to begin afresh, and make some magical moments with those wonderful props you have from Bear Paw Creek. But, have you noticed there aren’t a lot of resources out there for church choral directors to draw upon when searching for music and movement activities?  

I did notice the lack of resources, and certainly very few mentions of activities for more mature adults as well. So I set out to create some new activities and share some resources with you Bear Paw Creek fans and church choir directors to maximize the props you have.

If you do not yet have the budget to purchase the high quality props the BPC has to offer, then I will give you some alternative ideas for until your funding comes through. In addition, if you are like Janet and I and enjoy being makers, I am providing ideas, instructions and resources for you to make away!  

Stretchy Band

Stretchy Band in Choir Rehearsal with All Ages

Where is the magic? 

Where is the magic I mentioned?  To me, the magic rushes in in the moment when I take out a prop and see the excitement and expectation on the faces of those young and old in my choir, wondering what I will suggest they do with the prop! Then, just as thrilling, seeing the concept I wanted to impart take hold so quickly because manipulating the prop engages those kinesthetic and tactile learners in my group.

 In this first of several blog posts on magical moments with music props in church choir rehearsal, I will provide you with activities using the stretchy band that will be just right for the church setting. There will be suggested church-appropriate activities for adults and children, recommendations on how to acquire a stretchy band for your rehearsal space on any budget and two ways to make your own stretchy band.

Stretchy Band Activities that are fun and engaging!

Adults and/or Children-

Breathing Technique- Everyone breathe with the following motions- step back on the inhale and forward on the exhale, but never fully collapsing their ribcage by moving all the way to the middle, this creates a visual for good breathing technique.

Musical Learning- Adults and children together or separate, work together to make the stretchy band into note shapes and dynamic markings, this helps them to team build and work together.

Musical Form- Analyze the form of a current anthem or hymn using teamwork, by making a triangle as group for the A section, circle for B, square for C and so on.

Children-                                                                                                                                                                                                 Song Movements- Use the band for movements to songs such as: Michael Row the Boat Ashore, My God is So Big, Father Abraham, Zaccheus or Deep and Wide.

Highlight Individual’s Movements- Sing songs that highlight individual’s actions, for the larger group to imitate such as Did You Ever See a Lassie or Walking, Walking.

Fisherman Song- Use the chorus of the tune Blow the Man Down to create fishermen lyrics such as: Gather the net and pull in some fish in yea hey, like Peter did

Preschoolers- Stretchy bands can work on fundamentals like: high and low, soft/loud, up/down, in/out, colors and shapes through movement and visuals.

Putting away the stretchy band: Teacher “How big is Jesus’s heart?” The children stretch the band back and say “Sooo big!  and release. Or simply have everyone pull back and have everyone let go simultaneously, either way leaving the band in a nice, easy to pick up pile, and it is fun!

Easy Stretchy Band Clean-up

TIP: Be open to participants contributing lyric, movement or song ideas, as they are often good ones. 

 

HOW TO GET A STRETCHY BAND:

  • Big budget: You can purchase a high-quality stretchy band right here on this site from Bear Paw Creek.
  • Small budget: I made a thick and hearty homemade band of my own design for less than $20 and about two hours of work several years ago and it is still holding up well! See below for directions.
  • Tiny budget: The blog Education in Our World has an entry with a very frugal way to create a thin stretchy band of flexible size.

 

Two ways to make your own stretchy band

  1. Thick and Hearty

WHAT YOU NEED:

  • Fabric- colorful cotton/polyester blend or polyester cut lengthwise into 6 inch wide strips.
  • Fabric yardage- (using typical 44-45 inch width fabric) A few examples for stretchy bands intended for  different numbers of participants: 12 people= 1 ¼ yards, 20 people= 2 yards, 24 people= 2 1/3 yards. Formula for customization purposes can be found below.
  • 1 inch width elastic
  • Extra large safety pin
  • Sewing machine
  • Thread
    STEPS:
  • Calculate size based on maximum number of children or adults times 1 foot, which will give you the amount of elastic. Then double that number, which should give you the total length of the fabric strips you will need.

o   Formula for elastic:  Number of People x 1 foot= Elastic Needed*.

o   Formula for number of fabric strips: Elastic Needed x 2= total length of fabric strips needed.

o   Formula for fabric yardage required: Total Length of Fabric Strips x 12 = total number of inches required. Inches required divided by the fabric width of 43= total put into calculator at Quilter’s Paradise: Pieces to Yardage Area Calculator.

  • Cut the fabric into 6 inch wide lengths down the longest way of the fabric until you have strips adding up to the total length you calculated in the first step.
  • Turn two fabric strips so the right sides are facing each other, then sew the short ends together, repeat until all the pieces are one very long strip.
  • Fold completed long piece in half the long way, right sides together and sew about 1/2 inch from the edge creating a very long tube.
  • Turn the tube right side out, you will need to use a very large safety pin stuck through one end to aid you in this process.
  • Now comes the challenge- threading 1 inch elastic with the big safety pin in the end through the entire length.
  • Finally, sew the two ends of the elastic, overlap by an inch and stitch in a box shape and then in and x over the center of the box. *If the elastic length you require can only be achieved by purchasing two packages of elastic, then you will use the above process to attach the two ends of elastic together to make a larger size.
  • Fold under unfinished edges and sew completed stretchy band closed.

TIPS:

  • Enlist the sewing skills of an adult choir member or a child chorister parent or grandparent.
  • Go big, you can always tie a knot in the finished stretchy band to shrink the size if necessary.
  • Always double stitch everything if you want it to last.
  • If you are savvy, you can make this style for about $15 in a large to extra-large size. Look in the clearance fabric for steep discounts.
  • If your band is one color or pattern, tie scarves or ribbons every 12 inches to the stretchy band in order to be able to call out choristers by color for activities
  1. Thin and Flexi

WHAT YOU NEED:

  • 1 bag of nylon potholder loops

STEPS:

  • Can be found on the blog Education in Our World when you go to Mrs. Toben’s entry  “Games and Movement Band” where she explains how to make a thin, flexible band in five minutes for about $5 worth of spandex potholder loops.

TIPS:

  • You can easily adjust the size for each group
  • Create sections of a particular color so you can call colors being held for people to switch places etc.

I hope that these ideas are helpful to you in your upcoming rehearsals!  Let me know if you have any questions or comments below or you can email me at [email protected] Check out my next blog on Magical Moments for more activities.

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.

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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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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Shamrockin’ with Creative Movement Props for St. Patrick’s Day

Shamrockin’ with Movement Props

 

 

One of my favorite ways to incorporate music and movement into our days is by using holidays and the times of the year. 

St. Patrick’s Day is coming and I’m excited to share a song written by Rachel Rambach Listen & Learn Music!  It’s title says it all, “Shamrockin’ Song.”  It’s sure to do that and get stuck in your head!  My kiddos LOVED it (and so does their mom.)

We’ll be giving the song and balloon ball away this week!

Now I’ll share some ways we’ve been having fun with it.

Sharockin' Song and Shamrock Balloon Ball Giveaway

Shamrockin’ with the Stretchy Band

Sometimes when I hear a song, I know it will be a great one with the stretchy band and any time I hear Irish music, it gets my feet tapping, and I want to start dancing like Riverdance!  You’ll see our feet attempt to do an Irish jig in this video.  With lyrics like this: hey, hey, move left and right, up and down, it’s great to use with the stretchy band. If we had a little more I think  it would be fun to put the kids on the connect-a-stretchy band straight and have them dance in a jig line!

 

Shamrockin’ Streamer Craft

Using scarves or streamers to move along with the Shamrockin’ Song would allow more individual interpretation of the song. 

We had fun cutting out these shamrocks and adding some “gold” for tails.  Glitter of course was a must!

Then we danced along with the song following the directions in the song.

Making shamrock streamers creative movement with shamrockin' song

Buy Rachel’s song and learn more about it!

Shamrockin' Song Listen and Learn Music Rachel Rambach

 

 

 

Check out the St. Patrick’s Day Balloon Ball

St. Patrick's Day Balloon Ball

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.

Stretchy Bands

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)
  • Spacial Awareness
  • Teamwork
  • Socialization
  • Circle Dances

Stretchy Band Inspiration for movement, spacial awareness, beat competency

Stretchy Band

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.

There are 4 different sizes:

Stretchy Band SIzes Rings

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.

Circle Dances

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.

Stretchy Band and La Puerta Abierta preschool in Santiago Atitlán, Guatemala

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.

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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