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.

[Tweet “The magic rushes in when I take out a prop and see the excitement and expectation on the faces of those young and old in my choir! “]

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.

The Wheels on the Bus with Stretchy Band by “Miss Carole” Stephens of Macaroni Soup!

“Wheels on the Bus” with the Stretchy Band

 

 

This blog post is brought to you by “Wheels on the Bus” with Stretchy Band by “Miss Carole” Stephens of Macaroni Soup.

WHY: create community, cooperative play, follow instructions, and workout!

BOOK BUDDY:  The Wheels on the Bus by Paul Zelinsky 

Miss Carole Presents Wheels on the Bus with Bear Paw Creek's Stretchy Band

My Instructional Advice

My guidelines for using the fabulous Bear Paw Creek Stretchy Band in a preschool/K classroom:
 
      16 or fewer children – I use the Medium band
 
      16-25 children – I use the Large band
 
Remember, if you have fewer kids and want to shorten your band, bunch up a loop in your own lap.  
 
HAVE FUN!  Learning should be FUN!

Start with children seated in a circle.  

Place Stretchy Band on the floor in the middle of the circle.  I instruct the children not to touch the band until I tell them to so that everyone reaches for it at the same time.  

“Take one hand and reach for the band in front of you, pulling it back to yourself.”  

Now place both hands on the band.

Children should be sitting with legs crossed or straight out in front of them.  (NO SITTING ON KNEES – it’s dangerous. Children can pitch forward and hit their heads on the floor!  I’ve seen it happen!)

If working with adults and younger children, children should sit beside their adult if possible.  If they need to be in the parent’s lap, the parent should hug one arm around the child’s middle to prevent them from going forward when the band does.

Wheels on Bus Stretchy Band 3

Start singing the traditional song, “The Wheels on the Bus”, while moving the band in circles away from your body.  Children will follow along quickly.  Below are motions for some of the additional verses.  Feel free to add your own!  This is definitely a favorite activity in my classes!

  1. wheels – move band in circles away from body.
  1. doors – legs straight out in front, lay backslowly, sit up  (yup, it’s sit-ups!)

                   Use the band to help you get back to sitting.  Instruct children not go flop backward as they might hurt their heads.  This verse takes practice.  Children don’t have well-developed abdominal muscles, and they struggle to get upright again.  GOOD WORKOUT!  Only lay back on “open”, return to sitting on “shut.”  Check out my video presentation on the bottom page of this link.

  1. windows – move band up’n’down- up on the word “up”, down on the word “down.”
  1. wipers – move hands/band from side to side
  1. people get bumped around – shake it, baby!
  1. babies cry – knock fists together, then apart quicklyon “waa waa waa!”
  1. repeat wheels verse to end the song

Wheels on Bus Stretchy Band 2

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[Tweet “Miss Carole presents music and movement with “Wheels on the Bus” and a BPC stretchy band.”]

Welcome CD and a Giveaway

Try one of Miss Carole’s other songs for Stretchy Band on her “WELCOME!” cd.  Hear clips of the songs on CDBABY.COM

Up and Down!                                 

Around and Around

JAWS

Row Row Row Your Boat

    Also – on “Polka Dots!”:

Giddy-Up!

ENTER to win Miss Carole’s favorite size stretchy band (medium) and her newest cd!

Welcome CD and Stretchy Band Giveaway June 2017

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Dubbed “the Pied Piper of children’s music”, “Miss Carole” Stephens is a nationally renowned music specialist. Her cross-curricular music and guidance techniques instantly invite all audiences from the youngest child to the oldest adult to join in singing, dancing and rhythmic movement. Miss Carole teaches: HOW – classroom management techniques that really work! WHY – brain research that supports the active music imperative WHAT – developmentally appropriate movement and movement activities children love! Miss Carole has been teaching music for children 1 – 6 years old since 1989. Through her company, Macaroni Soup!, she travels across the US presenting concerts for children and families, and workshops for teachers, librarians and parents. Her seven award-winning CD’s are treasured for their usefulness, appropriateness and simplicity. Carole Stephens lives in Chicago with her husband Jim, and has 2 children: Camden and Greg.

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Dr. Seuss, Beat Competency, Reading Skills

Finding My Dr. Seuss Books

 

March 2 was Dr. Seuss’ birthday and this week is Read Across America week. With that in mind I went to gather up all my Dr. Seuss books from our book shelves. But…..

Since our oldest son moved out and took all his children’s book, almost ALL of our Dr. Seuss books are gone!  Oh my – I will be needing to add those back in.  We are still enjoying the books I have left but sorely missing some favorites.

Here are some Dr. Seuss activity ideas to incorporate with his books, and a fun way to use the stretchy band.

Dr. Seuss, Beat Competency, Reading Skills and the stretchy band

Dr. Seuss Activity Links

What is your favorite Dr. Seuss book?  One of my favorites is “Oh The Places You’ll Go”. 

Here are my favorite links to use for this week’s celebration:

What is your favorite book? Any fun activities you do?

 

 

[Tweet “Dr. Seuss Tie In: Use the stretchy band to teach rhyming and beat competency. #readacrossamerica”]

Stretchy Band For Rhyming

Tuneful Teaching shared a great article this week called “The importance of keeping a beat: Researchers link ability to keep a beat to reading, language skills”.

The findings of a Northwestern University study of more than 100 high school students lend proof to the surprising link between music, rhythmic abilities and language skills.

Read more at: https://medicalxpress.com/news/2013-09-importance-link-ability-language-skills.html#jCp

 Tuneful Teaching shares this about beat competency:
The Stretchy Band is also a fabulous way to teach “beat competence,” the ability to move your body in a steady beat which matches the tempo of music.

It reminded me of the video they shared awhile ago where they used the stretchy band to teach literacy. You can take the same concept shown below, and use it to send rhyming words around the circle.  This is a great tie in with Dr. Seuss’ books!

 

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.

Crossing the Midline with the Stretchy Band, Balloon Ball, Bean Bags

OT Mom’s Learning Activities Link Up

 

 

About a year ago I stumbled across Tracey from OT Mom Learning Activities.  She lives in Africa and was looking for some bean bags, and I also sent her a stretchy band and balloon ball for her to try out.

She specifically shared how to use the stretchy band, bean bags, and balloon ball for teaching bilateral coordination.

She says, “Bilateral coordination is the ability to use both sides of the body together in a coordinated way. It is also called bilateral integration

I will be sharing her ideas and linking up to her blog posts and information.

OT Mom Learning Activities with stretchy band, balloon ball, bean bags

Crossing the Midline with the Stretchy Band, Balloon Ball, Bean Bags

Follow this link for fun activities for crossing the midline to implement at home and come with lots of photos to show you just what to do!

stretchy Band Round up of Activites

Stretchy Band

Bear Paw Creek’s stretchy band can be used very effectively to work on midline crossing skills with a group of kids!

Have your kids stand in a circle and hold on to the stretchy band. These 3 kids are holding 2 bands which have been joined together to make a longer one.

Start clapping a beat or singing a song and have the kids move the stretchy band hand over hand around the circle in a rhythmical way.

They should be crossing the midline as they reach from side to side.

Read more on OT Mom!

 

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[Tweet “Simple games with balls and bean bags can be adapted to make great activities for crossing the midline.”]

Bean Bag

In this post you will learn the following:

Bean bag games and activities make use of a fun and inexpensive prop to develop gross motor skills.

Younger children may find beanbags easier to handle than a ball, and because beanbags can’t roll away, they may be less frustrating for the child with poor coordination skills.

Some of the games suggested can make great kids’ party games too!

Click on this link to read the list of bean bag activities.

Rachel&GeorgeBeanBags2

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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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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.

[Tweet “Stretchy Band is a great way to introduce a new song/chant and for developing beat competency, spatial awareness, teamwork, 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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