Thursday, August 20, 2009

Books to Read and Sing!

Books to Read and Sing are a terrific way to stimulate communication skills with all children and especially special needs children! Some of my favorite books to read and sing with my children during sessions are:

I ordered my books from Amazon, but I've seen them in several bookstores as well.

You might also want to check out Going On a Train by me!

If you'd like a copy, you can order it here!

Thursday, June 18, 2009

Instrument of the Week - Gathering Drum

Another instrument that I consistently use during my therapy sessions is the Gathering Drum.

I bought a Remo gathering drum from West Music (online) for about $75.00. It came with two felt covered mallets. Gathering drums are also available on Amazon and American Musical Supply. This particular gathering drum has an excellent sound, whether it's being played loud or soft. The sound and vibrations from the drum are full and deep and appealing to many children.

Goals: 1. Increase ability to follow instructions 2. Increase interaction
One activity I like to use during my sessions is the "Play - Stop" game. I'll play the drum and encourage the child to play with me, listening to my cues. "Play - play, play, play, play - STOP!!"Encourage the child to stop as soon as he hears the word. Many children eventually want to be the leader and give the verbal cues!


Thank you Jennifer and Karen! It seems we may have located the "What's That Sound" game. It looks as if the name and packaging have been changed. It is now called "Soundtracks" and is on the School Specialty Publishing website. Here is the link:

I also found it on the Target and Amazon website, but it appeared to be much cheaper in School Specialty.

Monday, June 15, 2009

What's That Sound?

One of my parents asked me this week for information on ordering a game called "What's That Sound?" that I frequently use in my sessions. It's excellent for cognitive stimulation and was very effective at times in helping children deal with auditory sensitivities. I had ordered it several years ago from a catalog, but unfortunatley, can't find it anywhere now! If any of you know where it can be ordered, please email me and I'll post it. It came with four cards, each containing 9 pictures, a DVD with corresponding sounds, and little round plastic dots to place on the picture of the sound as it is heard.

In the meantime, I found this website that contains pictures and sounds to download and create a similar version of your own game.

Monday, June 8, 2009

Cabasa Exploration

Goals: 1. To decrease tactile and/or auditory sensitivity. 2. To increase interaction

The cabasa is a percussion instrument that makes a metallic, rattling type of sound when shaken or twisted. It provides a cool, slightly bumpy sensation that can usually be well tolerated by children with tactile sensitivities.

When exploring the cabasa with your child, allow them to first hold it and control the amount of sound that it makes. Once they feel comfortable with that, encourage them to cup their hands around the metal balls while you turn the handle. If they are comfortable, see if you can gently run the cabasa up the inside of their arm to their elbow. Then, ask if they would like to run the cabasa up your arm!

Where do you get a cabasa? I would first check your local music stores. Look for a sturdy one that is large enough for children to cup their hands around. They run around $25-35. I ordered mine from West Music . My choice was the Latin Percussion LP234A Standard Cabasa for $33.

For more cabasa activities, please keep checking for an upcoming book entitled "More Moosic Please. Musical Activities for Special Needs Children".

Saturday, June 6, 2009

Instrument of the week - Cabasa!

After attending a Music Therapy workshop today, I thought I'd talk briefly about a Music Therapists qualifications. To become a Music Therapist, one must receive a Music Therapy degree from an accredited university (I believe their are currently about 70 offering bachelor's, master's and/or doctoral degrees in Music Therapy). Upon completion of the coursework, the individual must complete a 6 month internship working with the population he/she has chosen. After completing the internship, a Music Therapist can then sit for the Board Certification exam to become certified throught the Certification Board for Music Therapists. To retain this certification, a Music Therapist must participate in continuing education to stay abreast of research and new techniques.
If you would like to find out more about Music Therapy or to find a Music Therapist in your area, please contact the American Music Therapy Association. Their website is . The phone number is (301) 589-3300. More on this later...
But now, the instrument of the week!
Tomorrow: Cabasa activities

Friday, June 5, 2009

Omitting Words in Favorite Songs

Goal(s): 1. To stimulate communication skills 2. To increase interaction

Many children with developmental disabilities have difficulties in the areas of communication and interaction. This is one of the easiest ways to encourage communication and interaction through music. Use a song that is very familiar to the child, such as "Old MacDonald" or "Twinkle, Twinkle Little Star". Sing it through for the child using all of the words. Then, sing it again, leaving out a word at the end of a phrase, ie: Old MacDonald had a _____, E - I - E - I ______. Each time, give the child ample time to fill in the blank with the word, a sound, or even a glance your way - indicating recognization of the omission.
This can be used with any level of song as long as it is familiar to the child. Once they have begun to respond to omissions at the end of the phrase, try leaving a word out in the middle!
For more music products for special kids, check out !

Thursday, June 4, 2009

Pamelela!!! An adorable little angel with unruly blond curls covering her eyes, comes running into the room, ready for her Music Therapy session. For two years she would great me with such enthusiasm. She loved music and was a delight to work with. She was autistic and had difficulty saying Miss Pamela, and instead called me Pamelela, and I loved it!

Unfortunately, our time together came to an end, as her units from DDD ran out. She could still benefit from the music we would make together weekly as could many, many other children. In an effort to keep the music going, I would like to start providing musical ideas, activities, instruments and music reviews for parents, therapists and educators. I hope you will find these ideas helpful and are able to use them with your special kiddos!