Magical Moments- with Music Props in Church Choir Rehearsal Part 3

Part 3- Wave Your Scarves and Streamers to Improve Phrasing, Intonation (and Fun!)

Welcome back from the sometimes lazy days of summer, to an always exciting fall, filled with opportunities to try new activities with your props from Bear Paw Creek! In this installment of “Magical Moments” we will explore the wonders that ribbon streamers and movement scarves can work in your church choir.

 In this third blog on making magical moments with music props in church choir rehearsal, I will share activities using scarves and streamers that are tailor-made for your sacred choral ensembles. In addition, I will give you tips on how to acquire a set of scarves or ribbon streamers for your group, no matter your budget, including DIY ideas.

 Magical moments are within reach the instant that you take out the scarves and streamers, because they are enjoyable! When the brightly-colored chiffon and satin start making their rounds through the room, the Holy Spirit starts moving singers to smile. This affords you the opportunity to “break the ice”, by having your singers get moving to their anthem, or any song that will get their hearts pumping and their energy for the rehearsal in full gear!

Everyone has fun when the scarves and streamers come out!

 

Scarves and Ribbon Streamers 

Use scarves and ribbon rings for self-expression, easing kids and adults into dance and movement. If an anthem has a dance time signature like 3/4 or dance-like rhythm, scarves and ribbon rings can help them to internalize the dance-like feel.

 

  • Moderate Budget- Bear Paw Creek also has Make Your Own Hoop Streamers available. These are 4” polycarbonate hoops, to which you would add your own ribbons: Make-your-own Hoop Streamers
  • Small Budget- go to the thrift store for scarves or buy plastic bracelets and loop ribbons onto them
  • No Budget- have members and families donate their unused scarves or lengths of ribbon (which can be used successfully on their own without rings)

Make Your Own Ribbon Rings

You need-

Make Your Own Hoop  from BPC at $1.25 each or  Plastic O-ring Shower curtain rings cost about $10 or less

Ribbons $5-10 craft store or plastic flagging tape about $3 from hardware store

STEPS-

  • Cut plastic tape or ribbon to double desired length
  • Fold ribbon in half
  • Place ring a couple of inches below the top of the loop you have made. Take the loop in your hand and tails in the other and reach through the loop to grasp the tails and pull them through. Pull the knot firmly to make it tight.
  • Repeat on the same ring until you have your preferred number of ribbons/streamers

 

TIPS:

– For a good deal, look at the craft store for ribbon remnants, I find grosgrain ribbon to be tougher than satin.

-For ribbons the float in the air well use strips of flagging (not sticky) tape from the hardware store. It can be found next to the caution tape

-You can also use rigid bangle bracelets or I have even used my daughters’ cast-off baby stacking rings. If you use shower curtain rings be sure that they are in an O-ring closed circle so the ribbons can’t slide off

– For increased durability use glue at the ends of ribbons that may unravel

– You can even just loop the ribbon halfway over the bangle and sew into position.

Magical moments are within reach the instant that you take out the scarves and streamers, because they... afford you the opportunity to “break the ice”, by having your singers get moving, their hearts pumping and their energy for the rehearsal in full gear!

 

 

Activities-

Difficult Section or Pitch- Use the streamers to follow the melodic contour of the difficult section in order to give singers a visual and kinesthetic learning opportunity and minimize the time spent in rehearsal fixing the section.

Kids-

Move Expressively- to a recorded Praise and Worship song like:

     Jesus is My Superhero– by Hillsong Kids, Gagnam Style- Christian Remix, or God Made Me by Casey Darnell and John Delich

Holy Spirit- Have the children show how they think Holy Spirit moves: up and down, through, side to side, or any way at all.

Pitch Exploration- Have one student stand before the group and however they move the scarf up and down the choristers reflect that in singing

Pitch Matching Hello- Sing hello followed by a chorister’s name on Sol Mi, then roll up and toss the scarf to that chorister and repeat.

Turn, Turn, Turn- Use scarves to create motions to match the text of Ecclesiastes Chapter 3, or to the Byrds rendition of that same biblical text altered and set to music in “Turn! Turn! Turn!”.

12 Apostles- Sing “The Twelve Apostles” song to the tune of “Jesus Loves Me”. Have 12 children stand before the rest of the group represent each apostle. Each child representing an apostle creates a motion to go with their apostle’s name. As the whole group sings along they can do the motion for each apostle.

TIPS: -Scarves and streamers can create a bonding and teambuilding experience for adults in choir because they may be doing something new and unusual for them.

-Keep an eye on the edges of handmade ribbons and scarves because with boisterous use they will need some minor maintenance to prevent fraying.

I hope these ideas  of how to get your choir moving with scarves and ribbon streamers have gotten you in the mood to try some new things with your church choir this season. When you give these props a try with your choir members of any age, you will find your singers energized, and able to pick up tough passages even faster when the element of movement is added to the rehearsal mix. Happy rehearsing!

BPC has a great variety of streamers and scarves for you to choose from, right here on bearpawcreek,com.

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.

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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Down Syndrome Awareness Month: Big Giveaway, 15% Sales Donation

October is National Down Syndrome Awareness Month

 

 

 

In honor and remembrance of my nephew, Brandon Nelson, I have been inspired to support Down Syndrome Awareness Month.

For the month of October, Bear Paw Creek will be running a big giveaway and also donating 15% of sales to a local group, Down Syndrome Group of the Ozarks.

There will also be a two part blog post about Down Syndrome and celebrating worth.

Down Sydrome Awareness Month Big Giveaway, donation of sales to local group

The Year My Parents Added Three More Grandchildren

The year 2002 was a year of booming growth in our family. This is the year that my brother and his wife, my sister and her husband, and my husband and I were expecting new additions.  Since there are only three of us siblings, my parents were being blessed with adding three grandchildren to their growing family tree!

This was our second child, and my brother and sister’s first! Our daughter, Madison, was born first in April, with our nephew Brandon being born in August, and our niece Sammie arriving in October.

I can still remember the day my brother called to tell me that they had found out their little one would have Down Syndrome.  We soon found out that he would also have issues with his heart.  Heart defects and disease is more common in children with Down Syndrome; here this article states that their risk is between 40-60.

So my nephew was scheduled to have a life saving heart operation shortly after birth, and more down the road.  After Brandon was born and before our niece Sammie was born, I was able to head to Wisconsin to visit family with our two oldest children.  My oldest was 4 at the time, and baby was 5 months old.  I am so glad I was able to meet Brandon in person and hold him.  Back then we didn’t have digital cameras, or phones with cameras in them, so I do wish we had more pictures from that trip.  In the bottom left corner, our oldest son is holding Brandon with me assisting.

Nephew Brandon

When I left Wisconsin, my sister was end of pregnancy huge!  I was hoping baby would come early so I could be there, but our niece had her own idea on when she’d arrive. Sammie was born a few weeks after I arrived back home in Missouri.

I sure wish we could have had pictures of the three cousins born in 2002 together, because 2003 brought sad times.  Shortly after marking his five month birthday, Brandon’s little heart couldn’t keep up and he went to be in Heaven.

When I saw a few months ago that October is National Down Syndrome Awareness Month, I thought of Brandon, I thought of our neighbors with George, and another family that has two children with Down Syndrome.  What started out as wanting to give back to the community with another sale donation has grown.

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Big Giveaway, Featured Posts, 15% Sales Donation

For the month of October we will be running a month long giveaway. It’s a big one!  It will include: two connect-a-stretchy bands, balloon ball, bean bags, drawstring bags, and streamers of your choice.  MSRP:  $145.00

Oct 2016 Giveaway, connect-a-stretchy bands, balloong ball, bean bags, drawstring bag, streamers

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We will also be giving 15% of our sales for the month of October to a local group, called Down Syndrome Group of the Ozarks.

Founded in 2006, the DSGO is an organization made up of a committed group of parents, professionals and other interested parties dedicated to creating an extensive network of support for individuals with Down syndrome and those who love and serve them in Southwest Missouri.

It is our goal to become the leading resource of Down syndrome information for new and expectant parents, students, healthcare professionals, educators and all Southwest Missouri citizens.

Our mission is to help individuals with Down syndrome become successful by providing support and education to loving families. We also are striving to bring awareness to early intervention services, promote inclusive education, highlight appropriate medical services, encourage quality employment opportunities and advocate for community awareness and acceptance.

We invite you to explore all that we offer and to join us in advancing the quality of life for individuals with Down syndrome.

 

Down Syndrome Group of the Ozarks

Go sign up for the giveaway, share often, and spread the love!

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.

Recreational Activities for Dementia & Alzheimer Patients

The Importance of Recreational Activities for Dementia & Alzheimer Patients in Nursing Homes and In-home Care.

 

 

Can caregivers of people suffering from Alzheimer’s Disease interact with those under their care to help slow the progress of the symptoms?

This week I read an excellent article which addresses the frustration of experiencing Alzheimer’s. It outlines positive effects of daily mental stimulation from failure-proof activities.

Read more to find out what constitutes failure-proof activities and why they are so important for those suffering from Alzheimer’s Disease and other forms of Dementia.

Fail-proof activities for patients of Alzheimer's Disease

Therapy: moving beyond boredom, frustration, and isolation.

Autism, Lyme, Dementia, (including Alzheimer’s Disease)… the list goes on…

These are among the diseases which blindside families every day around the world. Each of these diseases strikes at the mind, body and emotions of the patient, and some have causes which are not completely understood.

We must continue to research causes and cures for these diseases, but how are patients and family members to cope with the impact of them now, in their daily lives?

How are they to move beyond coping, to enjoying life?

When children struggle with the sensory overload that often accompanies autism, more and more, parents are receiving support and seeing improvement through music and movement therapy for their kids. Occupational therapy is also helpful in building the child’s skills and confidence. This is good for the emotional wellbeing and health of the whole family.

There is also a growing body of professionals, who are addressing the need of various therapies for the elderly.

Therapists recognize the damage which feelings of boredom, frustration, and isolation inflict on the elderly who suffer from various types of dementia. They support family members who may feel equally isolated as they struggle to provide faithful care for their loved one.

  • Occupational therapists help patients figure ways to maintain daily routines which create a sense of dignity and control.
  • Music and movement therapists provide activities to stimulate the mind, promote stronger bodies and sustain healthier emotions.  

However, as these therapists know, not all activities are created equal. Some activities become overwhelming and lead to frustration which can increase the feelings of depression and isolation.

The objective is to offer simple activities, which help reinforce the patient’s self-esteem while relieving boredom and frustration. This, for the caregiver, involves being alert to the preserved abilities of the patient and helping develop and use the skills he or she still has. The more involved Alzheimer’s patients remain with the world around them, the more resourceful they will become at finding ways to keep their world from slipping away. AIGS.com

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Failure-proof recreational activities: Therapy that’s fun!

Eldergarden Adult Day Program

 

The most important aspect of a failure-proof activity is that it doesn’t frustrate.

Be open minded about any activities you present, if something doesn’t work, change it up or ditch it. It isn’t worth getting your feelings hurt over it. These ideas can be used (sometimes with modifications) nursing homes, or with in-home care. Keep note of what was a hit and what wasn’t.

Of course, that may change too, so be flexible and think of this as a worthy challenge and adventure. 

 

Here we go:

  1. Compile a track of oldies that are favorites to play, you are sure to get some toes tapping. 
  2. While they’re listening to some great music, why don’t you pull out a stretchy band! Use one long stretchy band for the group (you might want to have them sit), or a single band per person. Stretching in time to the beat is a great way to build up muscle and get the circulation going. 
  3. Hand out colorful scarves next, or beautiful ribbons streamers. I know, I know, we think these are for kids, but I’ll tell you, the times I sneak away with one of these to dance with, it makes me smile. That swirling color is mesmerizing.
  4. Speaking of oldies, some people love to play Corn Hole. Corn Hole uses bean bags which are tactile, soft and shouldn’t do too much damage if someone gets a little wild with their toys. You can build a corn hole using instructions, or use buckets or bowls or cardboard boxes for the holes.
  5. Watch old movies together. When you enjoy old movies together, you’re-not-doing-nothing. You are communicating the value that your loved one has to you.
  6. Walks are an excellent way to reduce stress for the elderly who able. However, if this is not a failure-proof activity for him or her, don’t agonize over it, move on to another option.
  7. Listen to stories. When you take the time to listen time and time again, you are allowing your loved one to feel connected.
  8. Have a reading time (this is good for a group or individual, as long as you have a way to make yourself adequately heard). Read old local newspapers, if you can get your hands on them, read magazines and classic books and poetry and the Bible.
  9. Have a sing time and take requests! Churches often are willing to come into Nursing Homes and sing hymns, find out if there is one near you that will send volunteers.
  10. Buy or print free from the web some beautiful coloring pages. It’s amazing what’s out there now! Provide plenty fresh crayons.
  11. Paint together and create a place on the wall to hang them using a long string anchored to the wall at two points. Hang the pictures using paper clips or clothes pins.
  12. Provide a piano, or a keyboard with headphones, whichever works best. Many people can still play instruments when other skills seem spotty. Need a guitar or other instrument? Ask around to see if someone wants to sell theirs, or will donate.
  13. Bring in someone who specializes in pets for therapy. Some people find pets very relaxing.
  14. Ask a school or homeschool co-op if they can send a choir, ensemble or instrumental group to come and play one afternoon. 
  15. Go for a drive on a beautiful day (I love doing this in Autumn).
  16. Play a board game or puzzle. If one is not the right fit, move on to another. Find inexpensive classics at garage sales second-hand stores.
  17. Cook familiar foods together and let your loved one do the parts she or he is comfortable with. 
  18. Create a calendar of local events that your loved one might enjoy. If outings are stressful, then don’t sweat this, do something fun at home.
  19. Have an ice-cream social with all of the toppings. 

Here is a link to the article which discusses the role of Failure-Proof Alzheimer’s Activities (I highly recommend it.) Failure-proof activities are beneficial:

  • For stimulating the brain.
  • Slowing progress of the disease.
  • Lessoning frustration.
  • Giving purpose, enjoyment and hope.
  • Preventing the spiral into isolation.

 

These are additional links which I found helpful.

 

To you who are struggling with Dementia-related diseases in your loved ones: My heart is with you.

To those who are researching, writing, providing therapy and creating tools for all of us who are caring for our loved ones, young or old: Thank you. You help us know we are not alone. 

The Songaminuteman:

Beauty in the midst of Alzheimer’s Disease

 

Mac McDermott shows us the perfect example of what a failure-proof activity can look like and the enrichment can bring to your family and others. Be inspired what he has to say on his Facebook About Page

Dad was a singer all his life – he was a Butlin’s Redcoat and then travelled around singing in clubs around the country. He worked in a factory after he got married and still did the bit of singing on side. His nickname is The Songaminute Man – simply because of how many songs he knows.

In the last few years his memory has deteriorated a lot – often not recognising family and with many aggressive episodes.

However, now when we’ve got him singing again he’s back in the room. It’s these moments that we treasure.

The plan is to share as much of Dad’s singing as we can and hopefully help raise money to fund the work of the Alzheimer’s Society – more specifically to go towards paying for a person at the end of the phoneline to help other people like us.

You can donate here: www.justgiving.com/songaminute

Janet Stephens, co-founder of Bear Paw Creek, is an important provider of movement props for therapists and activity directors. Bear Paw Creek makes colorful, high-quality movement props for use in stimulating and fun activities. You can get some today to use with your recreational activities in nursing homes or as part of a nursing home ministry in your church. 

What ideas or insights do you have about the topic of failure-proof activities? Let us know what you think in the comments!

 

I’m a freelance writer who enjoys writing content for small businesses. I am the wife of one and mother of many. Our family has dealt with issues in the last few years which have made me take a closer look at many diseases which affect the brain. My hope is that better relief will be found soon for so many suffering from Dementia and related diseases.

Ribbons and Dancing and Scarves! Oh, My!

 

Ribbons and Dancing and Scarves! Oh, My!

Jenette Clay is a blogger, SEO content and podcast show notes writer. She loves dancing with her little kids and annoying her older ones. She admires Janet Stephens and all that she has done as a wife, a mom and owner of Bear Paw Creek.

 

Have you ever danced with ribbons or watched someone else (whether they were dance professionals or your kids in your living room)? Here’s a list of songs and activities you can use with kids and in elder care.
 
The effect of the fabric streaming out behind as you move is fascinating and adds dimension to motion – ramping up the fun quotient exponentially.

Hold an impromptu dance party in for your kids

Visual Music

Fluttering waves

Swirling rainbows
Giggles, pirouettes, motion music
Purple…chasing blue…chasing gold overlap in dancing ripples
A final bow
Collapsing into piles of laughter and smiles
 
Granted this would be a scene in my living room, not a well-organized class or a performance at the ballet, but ribbons and scarves, music and dancing are a feast for the senses. Have you ever seen a Chinese scarf dance (or the dances with dresses which have the long silky sleeve ribbons)? The dancers move gracefully as their arm movements cause the ribbons to ripple around them like water or twirl above their heads cascading back down again as they weave a tapestry of color on the stage. It is mesmerizing.
 
 Movement Scarf Set of 12, 6 colors
If you’ve ever danced with ribbons or scarves, you know how much fun and fascinating it is to see what shapes your motions can conjur up. You don’t have to be a professional to enjoy it.
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I’ve got some resources for you!

If you need ideas to for activities to get people moving in elder care, at school, for youth groups or in your living room, I have a line up of links to get you inspired. I also have a list of activities and songs you can use with scarves and streamers that you can print out and take with you. Very handy!

So, here we go:

  1. I like the fabulously fun and creative Beverly Meyer. She calls herself The Music Lady and you can watch what she does here, on Youtube, to see what a blast kids and adults can have singing and dancing together.
  2. Miss Jen, Children’s Librarian, sings All the fish are swimming in the water (illustrating a song that makes great use of the effects in the movement of the scarves.) on Youtube
  3. Here is a great Pinterest Board with plenty lots of video suggestions for songs and activities using scarves by curated by Dana and Lindsey, Children’s Librarians.
  4. I love these ideas from the Future Librarian Superhero
  5. Great for the church nursery and for moms at home. I found this, on Youtube – perfect for babies and toddlers.
  6. One of my favorite songs is from Macaroni Soup, Dancing Scarf Blues! It’s pretty jazzy and I think would be a great resource for activities directors involved in Elder Care. Brighten up the lives of people in nursing homes by getting out a batch of beautiful scarves and putting on some music to dance to.

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Take a look at those sites, get the list, and tell us what you think. How long has it been since you’ve danced with ribbons, streamers or scarves? How long has it been since you’ve danced with ribbons, streamers or scarves? Do you have some songs or activities to add to this list? I’d love to hear from you and have you add your suggestions to mine!

Activities and Songs for Scarves and Streamers

 

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