Six Things - Brainstorming

I have a rule for myself - basically, it is a way to keep myself from taking anything and everything that I could ever possibly use into my home and clinic space. The rule is that I must think of six separate things to do with every single material before I will find a place for that thing in my limited storage spaces. Six separate therapeutic music experiences (TMEs) for every instrument, prop, visual aid, and other type of material in my music therapy clinic.

So, here's where this particular rule for myself comes in handy.

Aren't these cute??
I went to the Dollar Tree a couple of days ago. I always wander around the store in a set pattern - up and down the peripheral aisles first and finishing with the center aisles. My first purchase was two sets of animal Easter eggs. They are SO cute, but I knew my rule and so I started thinking. Before I left the store, I had three TME ideas, so I justified spending the four dollars for the 40 animal eggs.

After I got home and unpacked the school supplies and the Easter eggs, I sat down with my notebook and started the official brainstorming process. Now, I don't always have lots of time to sit and let my mind wander, but this is the beginning of break, so I have lots of time to think.

My notebook is my current way of organizing my thoughts about the centers and themes that I am using with my clients. I have sections for general ideas about centers and themes, every month, and for my three center foci - Explore, Listen, and Learn. I decided that the animal eggs would be part of the Explore center, so I opened my notebook to that section and started writing.

First step? Describing what I had actually purchased - 40 animal Easter eggs - cats, elephants, koalas, gorillas, tigers, giraffes, monkeys, lionesses (I think that's what they are...). Then, I started to think through my ideas.

I almost always use a sensory-based approach to brainstorming. I think through my senses and how I can use the materials to enhance sensory stimulation and integration. I don't often use the senses of smell and taste (for pretty obvious reasons), but the others are pretty interesting. I came up with my six TMEs pretty easily.

With Easter eggs, there is the obvious TME of matching them to put them together. There is the other obvious TME of making shakers and/or putting things inside of them. There is another TME of an Easter egg hunt. Those are the three that occurred to me in the store. I wasn't finished, though.

The thing that drew my attention to these particular eggs was that they were animals. Nothing is better for me than finding something that can be used across centers and across themes! Not only are these eggs that I can use around Easter time, I can use them anytime I want to bring animals into my music therapy strategies! There is absolutely NOTHING in the music therapy rule book that states that I can only use Easter eggs at Easter time, so I have many other ideas and uses as well. We can use these when we talk about going to the Zoo as part of our life-long leisure and entertainment themed centers next month. We can match the beginning sounds of each of the animals when we are working on articulation. We can match the shapes and colors when we are addressing preacademic skills. We can use these to rewrite verses for "Old MacDonald Had a Farm." We can put notes inside the animals and then go on a hunt to work on chance compositions.

The ideas will continue, I am sure. For now, though, I am going to make some cards and put these animal eggs in my materials. I will also write the TMEs down in my TME file. I think there may be some new songs that come out of my four dollar purchase of animal Easter eggs. What a great investment in both myself and in TMEs!

This is why I have my six thing rule. 

I have to think about using things in a purposeful manner, along with how I can encourage others to engage with materials through and within music. 

Six things.


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