Thursday, September 22, 2011

Fall, really?

Oh my gosh! Where did the summer go? It seems we were just singing about warm weather, swimming and all the fun activities that summer brings. The kids are back in school and the leaves are starting to turn! I was looking for some new ideas for Fall activities and ran across the DLTK website, which is chock full of activities, games, recipes, poems and even a few songs. I'll be posting some new musical activity ideas for Fall in the next month, but in the mean time you should check out this web page:

Thursday, July 21, 2011

Where is Fred? Song for Communication Skills by Meghan Callaghan

Today's wonderful post and video entitled "Where is Fred?" was provided by Music for Special Kids guest blogger Meghan Callaghan. Meghan is a Board Certified Music Therapist and the Director of Music Therapy Services at Flagstaff Music Therapy in Flagstaff, Arizona. Get more information on Flagstaff Music Therapy through her website:
or her Facebook page:

“Where is Fred?” Song for Communication Skills

For those of you who work on speech and communication goals with young children, here is a great resource to add to your bag of tricks! I wrote this simple song to help support skills such as learning prepositions, turn taking, articulation, and using descriptive language. This activity a hit with little ones, it’s very fun and playful and keeps their attention time after time.

I use a wooden frog rasp as a prop. Between each verse, the therapist or teacher hides the frog. The child searches for the frog as the first two lines are sung. After singing, “Where is Fred?” the child has the opportunity to respond, and the therapist can help cue or re-direct the child if needed. The verse finishes with everyone singing together “Fred is under the drum” (for example).

“Where is Fred?”

Funny Fred the funny frog
Funny Fred is hiding
Where is Fred?
(spoken response)
Fred is ___________________________ .

©Meghan Callaghan

Adapt it!
Use pictures or small stuffed animals instead of a wooden frog rasp.

You can change the animals name if working on particular articulation goals (for example: “Silly Sara the silly snake” or “Jumping Jim the jumping cat.”)
Take turns hiding the prop with the child.

Wednesday, July 20, 2011

Music For Special Kids Review

A review of my book "Music for Special Kids" from the Autism Society of Michigan.

It has often been discovered that when you say something to a child with autism, he won't respond, but if you sing to him, he will, and it could be that he's using a different brain pathway than for language. Music is one of the best ways to reach children with autism and other disabilities and Pamela Ott's book Music for Special Kids: Musical Activities, Songs, Instruments and Resources is a delightful treasure trove of ideas for ways to use music in the classroom and at home with children with learning challenges, such as ADHD and children on the autism spectrum. The author starts out with a short chapter on how to use the book, since this is not a book about music therapy and this is geared towards teachers and parents, not professionals. Then, after the Introduction, she starts out with singing, including different kinds of songs, such as Hello Songs and Call and Response Songs. For each song, she shows the words for each song and suggests ways that it can be changed, for variety and to increase the child's learning experience. She also shows examples of song cards that have pictures to go with some songs, such as the Wheels on the Bus, to stimulate interaction to help students with making choices. This is a neat way to add visual input to songs, especially for kids with ASD, who are often visually oriented. There is a section about various instruments, including handbells, keyboards, Gathering drums and glockenspiels, along with activities that often include the use of color for matching keyboard keys to different colors and notes and for matching colored handbells to their corresponding colors and playing the handbell with that color. Each exercise describes the set of skills that activity purports to teach, along with instructions and illustrations of that activity. The illustrations are black and white, even thought the author heavily promotes the use of color, but black and white illustrations may be clearer and easier to see. The instructions are easy to understand, which is a real boon to teachers who don't have the time to look up obscure terms. I like how the sections are divided by instrument, so a teacher can find activities for drums or for the xylophone (included with the glockenspiel in that section). There is also a section for activities using rhythm, which is not only a part of music, but of everyday life as well! Nothing about the benefits and wonders of music is left unsaid here and there is even a chapter on using music to help kids identify feelings in themselves and others, that includes having kids adapt the song "If You're Happy and You Know It" to other emotions such as being angry or sad and they have to move accordingly. There is also a chapter on teaching concepts of music, such as rhythm and making the staff with the various notes. I applaud the author for writing this book - schools need to include music! Not only do I value what the author is doing for kids with special needs though the use of music, I love, love, love the gorgeous cover design with the colorful twisting musical note!

Click Here to order your copy of Music for Special Kids: Musical Activities, Songs, Instruments and Resources

Wednesday, May 11, 2011

Song Games

Chapter 2 of "Music for Special Kids" highlights fun song games that can be played with one child or a group of children. Song games are defined as games that make use of a predetermined musical component, such as melody or rhythm or a known song.

One song game that I use quite frequently is based on the song Head, Shoulders, Knees and Toes. It's a terrific song to use to increase attending skills, participation and the ability to make a change in routine. You can find the directions for this song game here:

Other song games highlighted in the book are:

What's That Song?
Song Puzzles
Singing and Sequencing and
The Sing and Whistle Game

To find out more about the Music for Special Kids book go to the Jessica Kingsley Publishers website:

Tuesday, April 19, 2011

Music for Special Kids - Now Available!

I am SO excited to announce that after 9 months of writing, editing and waiting, my book Music for Special Kids has been released and is now available for purchase through Jessica Kingsley Publishers! I'm very happy with how it turned out and hope that it will be a terrific resource for many parents, teachers, caregivers and music therapists!

The 192 page book contains tons of songs, musical activities, instrument activities and resources to augment your use of music with children in the classroom, in therapy or at home.

Over the next few days, I'll highlight some of the chapters of the book and what you'll find inside.

The first chapter is entitled "Singing" and includes Hello Songs, Omitting Words or Sounds in a Song, Replacing Words With Syllables in Familiar Songs, Nonsense Songs, Call and Response Songs, Songs to Teach Academic Concepts, Adapting Familiar songs, Sing and Read Books and Song Cards.

To find out more, or to order your copy, please go to the Jessica Kingsley Website found here:

Wednesday, April 6, 2011

Easter Egg Song and Game with Egg Shakers

I usually don't break out this song until the week before Easter, because it tends to be a real favorite of my kids and they want to play it over and over and over!  

I find it's a good song to use to encourage participation and interaction and depending on the presentation, it's a good one to use to encourage taking turns!

I use a set of egg shakers as the eggs - the more colorful they are, the better! I choose someone to be the "hider" and one to be the "finder". The finder closes his eyes and sings the Easter Egg Song (the leader can assist with the singing) while the hider hides the eggs. I encourage children to finish hiding the eggs by the end of the song, giving the hider a framework of time for completion and let's the finder know when to open his eyes. Once the song is over, the finder then begins to search the room for the eggs. Once found, the children can change roles.

This can be played with a small group or with just a leader and student.

Easter Egg Song
(to the tune of Twinkle, Twinkle Little Star)

Easter eggs, Easter eggs
Where are you?
Yellow, red and green and blue
Hiding here and hiding there,
On the table and under the chair.
Easter eggs, Easter eggs
Where are you?
Yellow, red and green and blue.

Wednesday, March 23, 2011

Spring Makes Me Sing!

The calendar says Spring - even if it may not look like it outside quite yet. At least we're going in the right direction! I love Spring! I love to hear the birds singing and see all the plants and trees wake up from the long winter. Spring truly does make me want to sing - so, I wrote a very simple song entitled just that - Spring Makes Me Sing! This is an excellent song to sing with the very little ones and to encourage singing, communication skills and interaction with special needs children.

Try substituting other sounds for the la, including ma, ee, ahh, ba, oo, etc.

Happy Spring!!

Sunday, March 13, 2011

St Patrick's Day Children's Songs Part 2

Here's a few more songs about Leprechaun's and St. Patrick's Day that you might find useful this week!

Click here to go to a great page with the following songs from the Holiday Zone:

Five Little Leprechauns
Leprechaun, Leprechaun
Can't Catch Me
Have You Seen a Leprechaun
How Many Leprechauns?
I'm a Little Shamrock
Leprechauns Dancing
Leprechauns Are Marching
St. Patrick's Day
Nine Little Shamrocks

All songs are action rhyme's or to familiar tunes.

Another song I've used for St. Patrick's Day is the traditional song Michael Finnegan. I found the sheet music for it on a site called

Click here to get the sheet music

Click here to hear the tune

Mama Lisa has several other interesting Irish songs here that are worth checking out too!

Tuesday, March 8, 2011

St Patrick's Day Children's Songs Part 1

Top O' the Mornin' to you! St. Patrick's Day is just around the corner and I have compiled a few St. Patrick's Day, Leprechaun, Shamrock and Irish Songs (or Irish sounding songs) that I have run across or used that you can also use with your little ones!

He Lived Under a Rainbow
(to the tune of B-I-N-G-O)

1. There was a little leprechaun,

He lived under a rainbow.

R- A - I - N - 'bow'

R - A - I - N - 'bow'

R - A - I - N - 'bow'

He lived under a rainbow.

2. There was a little leprechaun,

He lived under a rainbow.
clap - A - I - N - 'bow'

clap - A - I - N - 'bow'

clap - A - I - N - 'bow'

He lived under a rainbow.

3. There was a little leprechaun,

He lived under a rainbow.

clap - clap - I - N - 'bow'

clap - clap - I - N - 'bow'

clap - clap - I - N - 'bow'

He lived under a rainbow.

4. There was a little leprechaun,

He lived under a rainbow.

clap - clap - clap - N - 'bow'

clap - clap - clap - N - 'bow'

clap - clap - clap - N - 'bow'

He lived under a rainbow.

5. There was a little leprechaun,

He lived under a rainbow.

clap - clap - clap - clap - 'bow'

clap - clap - clap - clap - 'bow'

clap - clap - clap - clap - 'bow'
He lived under a rainbow.

6. There was a little leprechaun,

He lived under a rainbow.

clap - clap - clap - clap - clap

clap - clap - clap - clap - clap

clap - clap - clap - clap - clap

He lived under a rainbow.

I'm a Little Leprechaun
(to the tune of I'm a Little Teapot)

I'm a little leprechaun dressed in green,

The tiniest man that you have seen.

If you ever catch me, so it's told,

I'll give you my big pot of gold.


I'm a little leprechaun

(hands on hips)

Dressed in green,

(point to shirt)

The tiniest man

(hold thumb and index finger about an inch apart)

That you have seen.

(point to the other people)

If you ever catch me, so it's told,

(make a motion like you're grabbing at a leprechaun)

I'll give you my big pot of gold.

(make a motion like you're giving something away)

The Leprechaun Song
 (to the tune of Mary Had a Little Lamb)

I'm a little leprechaun, leprechaun, leprechaun.

I'm a little leprechaun who likes to hide my gold.

(I) dress in green from head to toe, head to toe, head to toe.

(I) dress in green from head to toe, I wear green all day long!

You'll never catch me or my gold, not my gold, not my gold.

You'll never catch me or my gold, I hide it much too well!

St. Patrick's Day Song
(to the tune of  The Bear Went Over the Mountain )

We're wearing green for the Irish, we're wearing green for the Irish, we're wearing green for the Irish, on this St. Patrick's Day.

We'll dance a jig for the Irish, we'll dance a jig for the Irish, we'll dance a jig for the Irish, on this St. Patrick's Day.

Me Mither and Fither were Irish, me Mither and Fither were Irish, me Mither and Fither were Irish, and I am Irish too.

We kept a pig in the parlor, we kept a pig in the parlor, we kept a pig in the parlor, and he is Irish too.

Have You Ever Seen a Leprechaun?
(to the tune of Do You Know the Muffin Man?)

Have you ever seen a leprechaun, a leprechaun, a leprechaun?
Have you ever seen a leprechaun from Ireland far away?

Yes, I've seen a leprechaun, a leprechaun, a leprechaun.
Yes, I've seen a leprechaun, I invited him to play!
And did he stay and play with you, play with you, play with you?
And did he stay and play with you, or did he run away?
He didn't stay and play with me, play with me, play with me,
He didn't stay and play with me, he hid and ran away!
Slán go fóill! (Goodbye for now!)

Monday, March 7, 2011

Pamela Ott Interview by Jessica Kingsely Publishers

For any of you interested in reading an interview of me done by Jessica Kingsley Publishers regarding the release of my book (due out this month) "Music for Special Kids - Musical Activities, Songs, Instruments and Resources", you can find it here!

Friday, February 25, 2011

Music for Special Kids Book

Just got word that my book entitled "Music for Special Kids - Musical Activities, Songs, Instruments and Resources" is going to print today at Jessica Kingsley Publishing! Packed with inspiring tips, activities and song ideas, this practical resource will have everybody singing, clapping and playing along! It explains simple and fun ways of using songs, instruments and musical games to connect with children of all levels of ability, and includes helpful rhythm worksheets and sheet music. There is a wide range of suggestions for songs and activities that encourage communication, increase self-esteem, stimulate fine and gross motor skills and motor coordination, and promote relaxation.

I'll be sure to let you know as soon as it's available!

Tuesday, February 22, 2011

What's the Weather?

In my neck of the woods, we are still smack dab in the middle of winter and are probably looking at at least a month more of it, but in eager anticipation of an eventual change of weather, I am posting an easy circle time weather song. This one has been in my grab bag of songs for a very long time and I'm not sure where I originally got it. I changed some words to fit my situation and I hopefully you will too!

What's the Weather?   to the tune of Clementine

What's the weather, what's the weather,

What's the weather everyone?

Is it snowy, is it rainy,

Is it cold or is it warm?

It is sunny, it is sunny,

It is sunny here today.

Look outside and see the sunshine,

It is sunny here today!

Other circle time posts that you might enjoy:

Days of the Week Songs:  and

Months of the Year:
Adapting Familiar Songs (Three Little Monkeys):

Nonsense songs:

Friday, February 11, 2011

Valentines Day Song

Here's an easy Valentines Day song to teach to your kiddos this coming Monday. It's called H-E-A-R-T and it's sung to the tune of BINGO. Happy Valentines Day!


There is a shape and it means love

And heart is it's name-o.

H-E-A-R-T, H-E-A-R-T, H-E-A-R-T,

And heart is it's name-o!

You can sing and play this song the same way as BINGO. Leave out one more letter on each repeat and use a clap in place of the letter. If that is difficult for your child, you might want to write the letters on a white board, crossing off one letter each verse. Practice clapping once fo each letter crossed off before singing the next verse!

Wednesday, January 26, 2011

Using Songsheets and Songcards

I love using songsheets and songcards with my clients to increase interaction and to give children who may have difficulty with communication skills an opportunity to make choices during our sessions. I started by making songsheets -  8.5 X 10 inch pages with 6 pictures of familiar songs. 

Once the child is accustomed to the sheets, I like to make individual song cards - 4 X 6 inch cards with one picture of a song on each. These cards can then be shuffled, making it just a little more challenging for the child to find the song of their choice!

Add a picture for a song or two that the child may not be familiar with to encourage them to explore a new tune!

Friday, January 14, 2011

Shoo Fly on Handbells

I had SO many requests for more handbell music following the post "Merry Christmas on the Handbells", that I thought I'd post another today. As I mentioned in that post, I've used my Kidsplay 8 Note Hand Bell Set many, many times during sessions and continues to be one of my favorite instruments in terms of the variety of objectives that can be worked on using them, such as increasing interaction, increasing attending skills, stimulation of motor skills and decreasing auditory sensitivities.

Amber, a young lady with autism that I had the pleasure of working with LOVED the song Shoo Fly. She would request it EVERY time she came to a session and I began to arrange it on instruments so that she could sing AND play. It took a while for her to coordinate the singing and playing on the handbells, but she was eventually able to do both as I accompanied on the guitar! Fun!

The chords on the music sheet can be used to accompany on piano, guitar, autoharp or Q-chord.

Tuesday, January 11, 2011

Music Therapy Advocacy

For all of my readers who are Music Therapists, Music Therapy interns or students, or anyone else interested in the future of Music Therapy as a profession, I am attaching this important article on advocacy by Judy Simpson, MT-BC, Director of Advocacy for the American Music Therapy Association. Learn how you can help music therapy gain State recognition and make it easier for those needing music therapy services to obtain them.Please feel free to comment on this blog or to contact Judy if you have questions on the content of this article.

In addition, there are also 3 podcasts involved in this project with current or upcoming posts: Music Therapy Research Blog, Music Therapy Round Table, and the Music Therapy Show with Janice Harris.

You Want ME to Do Government Relations?
Judy Simpson, MT-BC

Early in my music therapy career, I was asked to serve on the association’s government relations committee. I declined, as I didn’t think I knew enough about “government relations” to be a strong representative for my region.

No one told me at the time that the skills I had developed as a music therapist were actually very similar to the skills needed for government relations work. I believe, however, that all things happen for a reason and perhaps that experience was designed to help me share these thoughts with you some 20 years later.

What is “Government Relations”?
“Government Relations” sounds so formal and a little scary, so I think it would be helpful to break it down into something more relatable. When most people hear the word government, it often brings back unpleasant memories of social studies fairs and history exams or creates negative images of politicians and systems with which they don’t agree.

Simply put:

• “government” means the direction and management of a group and its activities, while

• “relations” means the act of telling through friendly or business interactions.

So “government relations” for music therapists means telling everyone about music therapy, including those people involved with directing and managing the groups to which we belong.

Chances Are, You’re Already “Doing” Government Relations.
When you think about it, isn’t that something we do everyday? Or at least since we decided to become a music therapist? Answering the expected question, “What’s music therapy?” has prompted every student and clinician to prepare their famous “elevator speech” with variations in mind depending on the audience and the anticipated interaction time.

You know what? I had that elevator speech, LITERALLY, long before I knew that it was a form of government relations. When pushing my music therapy cart onto the elevator at the hospital where I worked, my standard line between floors was, “At St. Mary’s, we have LIVE elevator music,” as I proceeded to play a tune on the guitar. That always prompted a quick discussion about music therapy and the units which received services.

That experience relating to people about music therapy came in handy a few years later, when I found myself presented with the challenge of accessing music therapy services for my daughter diagnosed with autism.

The school offered services with someone trained in music therapy, but who did not have board certification. This situation required more than my elevator speech, but involved the same set of skills as I expanded the information shared, as well as the audience that was listening. After about four months of coordinated communication with association staff, local music therapists, and state agency officials, my daughter was receiving IEP-based music therapy services from a board certified music therapist.

Government Relations = Advocacy = YOU

Every opportunity we have to talk about music therapy, to expand awareness, and to potentially increase access to services is a form of government relations. It’s the work that we do to support our profession and the people who need our services. It’s all about standing up for what you believe to be important and promoting the “cause” of music therapy. It’s ADVOCACY.

In the long run, it’s really not hard to do…you are already doing it! As you think about how you can expand your music therapy skills in 2011, consider joining in on the excitement that is advocacy for music therapy. Jump on the bandwagon that is seeking state recognition of the profession and the MT-BC credential.

Just follow these simple steps and you’ll discover how easy it is to add “government relations” and “advocacy” experience to your resume!

1) Attend state meetings.

2) Participate in advocacy trainings during state, regional, and national conferences.

3) Read and respond to State Task Force Emails.

4) Initiate communication with your State Legislators by sending an email to them and telling them about your work as a music therapist in their district.

5) If possible, invite these legislators to visit your employment setting to see music therapy in action.

6) Tell your co-workers and administrators about the American Music Therapy Association’s (AMTA) and the Certification Board for Music Therapists’s (CBMT) national initiative to work with music therapists in your state to improve recognition of music therapy.

7) Maintain AMTA membership and CBMT board certification to insure access to
current information, technical support, and resources and to demonstrate commitment to your profession and the provision of quality services.

I look forward to working with you and your colleagues as we “Do Government Relations and Advocacy” for Music Therapy!

Judy Simpson is the Director of Government Relations for the American Music Therapy Association She can be reached at

Four Seasons

The first day of winter has already passed, but each new year makes me think of our seasons. I wrote this song about the Four Seasons many years ago utilizing a familiar melody for the chorus. You may find it useful as you teach children about the seasons and can be used everytime the season changes! The chords are included so that you can accompany on piano, guitar, autoharp or Q-chord if you wish!