Wednesday, June 30, 2010

Rhythm Bag Instrument #3

Rhythm Sticks!

These simple wooden sticks with ribs provide both an auditory and tactile sensory experience. They can be played by rubbing them together or gently hitting them together. Monitor children around other instruments and people, as it can hurt to get hit by rhythm sticks! Here are a few suggestions for using rhythm sticks:

1. Encourage children to play the sticks to the beat of a song. Try a fast paced song - then a slower one.

2. Ask the child if they can play LOUD - then soft.

3. Ask the child to play high - then low.

4. To encourage interaction, hold your sticks in front of the child and ask them to play their sticks on yours. Move your sticks higher or lower and encourage them to follow.

5. Play your sticks fast - then ask the child to play the opposite! Repeat for loud - soft and high - low.

Monday, June 28, 2010

Funky Monkey Swing

Could you use a song that encourages recognition of the directional concepts right and left? Well - today you can download the song Funky Monkey Swing from my album Tunes for Moving FREE!

Just click on this link and look for song #4: Funky Monkey Swing.

When teaching this song to kiddos that are just learning right and left, I usually speak the refrain and demonstrate the movements. For those that still have difficulty identifying the direction to move, I will have them pick a sticker and put it on their right hand. I can then give a verbal cue to help them identify the direction.
So - swing on over and download your free copy today!

Sunday, June 20, 2010

Rhythm Bag Instrument #2

The second instrument I would recommend for a rhythm bag is an ocean drum.
There are several different styles of ocean drums, but I like this Remo model because the the children I work with like the size and multitude of colors. If you gently rock the instrument from side to side, the beads provide a mesmerizing and pleasing sound somewhat like ocean waves. It also can be tapped with a finger or hand or tapped on a knee. This instrument provides a pleasant auditory and tactile experience.

Some of the children I work with are overly mesmerized by the colors, motion and sounds and have difficulty attending to activities encouraging the use of the ocean drum, so with them I tend to use the ocean drum as a reinforcement or reward for completion of a separate task.

Thursday, June 10, 2010

Free Download of "Multiply and March By Two" from Songs for Teaching

For a limited time, Songs for Teaching is offering a free download of Maryann Harman's "Multiply and March By Two" song as well as the results of a trial combining multiplication drills with music and movement. It's a very catchy song - I may need to buy the rest of the CD! Be sure to follow the downloading instructions at the bottom of the page.

Tuesday, June 8, 2010

My Rhythm Bag

Whenever I work with children, whether in home or in my office, I bring along my "rhythm" bag. This is actually my "rhythm instrument" bag, but over the years it's been shortened to "rhythm bag". Apparently it's just a little easier for my clients (and me!) to say. Plus - the name fits! As I walk down the hall holding my "rhythm bag" it jingles and jangles, dings and tweets from such a combobulation of instruments knocking up against each other. The zipper doesn't work anymore and the bag hangs open when I set it on the floor, revealing some very used and loved instruments and enticing my little ones to work hard so they can pick something to play out of Ms. Pamela's "rhythm bag". 
I've been asked by parents, teachers and therapists what instruments they should get to put together their own "rhythm bag". I thought it would be fun to add a new instrument recommendation for your bag with the next few posts.

The first instrument in my bag is a set of 4 colorful EGG SHAKERS.
Egg Shakers can be constructed of wood or plastic. I selected the Basic Beat Egg Shakers because I loved the colors, they are easy and comfortable to hold and they sound really nice! The sound is easily tolerated by most of my children with sound sensitivities and they provide a nice tactile sensation, yet are light and easy to hold. Egg Shakers can be held in the palm of your hand or between fingertips and thumbs.

I have 4 in my rhythm bag so I can give the child I am working with 2 of them and I can play two. Egg Shakers are relatively inexpensive and small. They work well in group activities, so if you work with a group you could easily keep 8 or more in your bag!

**As with anything that can be put in a child's mouth, monitor children carefully around Egg Shakers and other instruments.

Thursday, June 3, 2010

Paddle Drums to Stimulate Coordination and Motor Skills

Paddle drums come in a variety of sizes. The larger the head, the deeper the sound (and the heavier the instrument). I love the deep sound of the 14" drum, but find it can sometimes be too heavy for my children to hold for very long, so I usually use my 2 - 8" drums and 2 - 10" drums. The best thing about paddle drums is that they have a handle and can be used in ways that standard drums cannot.
One of the activities I like to do to stimulate coordination and motor skills is to march while playing the paddle drum. I encourage the child I am working with to hold the paddle drum with their non-dominant hand and the mallet with their dominant hand. Then, as I play a good recorded marching song (Yankee Doodle on my keyboard works quite well - good tempo and it's a familiar tune) and encourage the child the hit the drum with the mallet while marching in a circle around the room. If the child can accomplish this task on his own, I will play my own paddle drum and march along. Otherwise I will hold the drum while the child plays, or stand behind the child holding the drum and holding their wrist while assisting in playing the drum and moving along.

The music assists in the motor planning of marching and playing the drum.

The Remo paddle drums come in a variety of packages, include mallets and even include a ball that can be bounced on the head of the drum! Another favorite of my clients has been the Lollipop Paddle Drum. I use the Lollipop as a reward for participation in other activities as it can be visually distracting to some kiddos - as you can probably see!