Tuesday, April 27, 2010

Using Rhythm and Melody to Teach Sequencing Skills

As mentioned in a previous post (Music and Memory 4/1/10), music can certainly be used to aid in the retention of materials presented, but can it be used to help a child learn to sequence? One of the children I worked with had great difficulty in sequencing and both his parents and teacher thought that math and eading skills may be a struggle until he understood sequencing. In the following activity, I used melody and rhythm to help him anticipate the missing item. Once he grasped the idea of "what comes next", we were able to phase the music out and complete the activity using only visual skills.
During the activity, I would present a sequencing "strip" such as the one above. I have included the melody on this strip, however the "strips" I used with this child only had the pictures to prevent any additional visual distraction. In addition to the sequencing strip, I laid out additional pictures. (I started out using only 2 pics and worked up to 6 choices as he progressed)
I would sing the song for him while pointing to each picture in order. When I got to the blank box, I asked him to pick a picture and place it on the box. If it was difficult to choose the correct item, I asked him to sing along with me and many times he would automatically insert the name of the correct item! The melody and/or rhythm would assist him in determining the missing item.

I've given the example above using fruit. You can actually make strips using different groups such as colors, numbers, vegetables, animals, etc. I enjoy using pictures of musical instruments!

The sequences can be as easy or difficult as needed. By changing the number, order and placement of pictures, you can make a sequence that meets your childs needs!

If you would like musical sequences and picture cards, click on the Activity Download tab at the top of the page and them look for Sequencing Activity Download. The download includes pdf's of 5 sequences and pictures of instruments. I like to laminate each sequence and even the individual instrument cards to make them last longer!

Wednesday, April 21, 2010

Love U So

Mother's Day is right around the corner and I wanted to share a song I wrote many years ago called "Love U So". Kelly from Aurora, CO wrote to tell me she used this song with her preschool class last year in a presentation to mom's on Mothers Day. I would have loved to hear her sweet 3 and 4 year olds sing it! The song is available for download here (the little girl singing is my daughter when she was 7 years old!) and the download includes the lyrics. This is also a great song to use when talking about emotions and feelings.

I should have the sheet music available to download in the next few days under the "Activity Download" section.
I'd like to wish all the mom's out there an early Happy Mother's Day!!

<a href="http://pamelaott.bandcamp.com/track/love-u-so-2">Love U So by Pamela Ott</a>

Monday, April 12, 2010

Free Quiet Time Song Download

If you haven't been to Music for Special Kids in the last few days, you may have noticed a few changes! I've been working fervently to integrate my blog and website and thanks to some advise from Rachel Rambach (http://www.listenlearnmusic.com/) and the help of my wonderful techie daughter - I'm getting closer!

The biggest change is a page (well, a link for now) to listen to and download music from my Tunes for Activity, Tunes for Singing, Tunes for Movement and Tunes for Relaxation series. If you visit the site before April 18th (see link below), you can download a free quiet time song entitled "Cinnamon Bay" for yourself! Face it - we teachers, parents and therapists can always use a little more quiet time! Thanks for visiting!

Thursday, April 8, 2010

My Purple Dot

I love my purple dot. I have had it for many years and used it with many of my clients. I got it while working with an adorable six year old boy with autism. You see, Andy could not sit still. He would fidget so much with his hands that it made it difficult to work on some activities. His fidgeting would start with his hands and eventually cause him to jump up and move or spin. He obviously had a sensory disorder and I wanted to help him.

I came across my purple dot in a sensory integration catalog. It was called a Disc-O-Sit and came in two sizes. I quickly ordered the larger size (15 inches) and waited to receive it in the mail. It came a couple of days before my weekly session with Andy and I could hardly wait to introduce it to him.
On Thursday, Andy came in for his session. We sang a hello song and then I  brought out the puple dot. Andy took his index finger and touched one of the bumps. He then picked it up and threw it across the room! Not the reaction I had hoped for! We went on to another activity and I brought the purple dot closer again. After touching one of the bumps, he kicked it away - but not as far! By the end of the session, Andy allowed the dot to sit next to him and he would occasionally reach over and touch it.

To make a long story short, Andy grew to like the purple dot and would look for it as soon as he came to his session. He would sit on it during activities requiring the use of his hands and it really appeared to help him. The dot has some air in it and while sitting on it he was able to move and rock from his waist which then helped him focus on using his hands.

If your child has difficulty sitting still while working on activities, you might try getting a dot of your own!

Thursday, April 1, 2010

Music and Memory

If you work with children, then you are already aware of the power of music to enhance the recall of materials presented. Just look at the ABC song. How many of you learned your ABC's by singing them? How many of you still sing through the ABC song in your head when you are alphabetizing something?

As a child, I learned not only my ABC's with song, but also the months of the year, how many days are in each month, books of the Bible, days of the week, etc. When I begin to sing these songs in my head, I'm amazed at the amount of recall I have after many, many years!! 

I frequently use music to enhance memory during my sessions and even compose little ditties when working on new objectives. One of the ditties that I've used for many years is the one I wrote to teach my own children when they were quite small, how to spell their first names. Both of my children have seven letters in their first name, so it fit with both. The ditty can be changed to accommodate longer or shorter names - as seen in the second song.

I've added guitar chords, in case you want to play along as you sing it!

Of course, the key to making these melodies and the associated content stick is to repeat it frequently. Fortunately, children love to sing familiar melodies over and over!