Something New Saturday - Two New Songs and Two New File Folders!!

Monkeys on the Bed and Pet Houses File Folders - in Progress.
This has been a creative week for me. I had two new songs develop during the last 10 minutes before a session, and I just finished two new file folders using some templates and some original art. It's time to cut out and adhere Velcro to all the pieces, and then they'll be ready for use in my clinic.

I am in the process of making my first file for Teachers Pay Teachers (TPT) - it is an original song with a letter sound focus and with original art. I had fun drawing pigs for the file, and it has been a learning experience to make the file and get everything ready for uploading to TPT. I am learning how to use other people's clip art (with full attribution, of course) when I am making my files, but I am also making sure that I am using my own art as much as possible. I enjoy drawing and coloring, especially when I get to share that art with my clients. Not many of them realize that I am the artist when they are involved in the actual use of the visual aids, but some do. They are always surprised when they hear that I am an artist - they are also surprised when they hear that the art therapist is a musician - those facts take us out of our convenient roles and make us a bit more three-dimensional, I guess.

So, what does this have to do with music therapy?

I have always felt that a visual aid should only enhance what happens in a music therapy session rather than be the reason for something happening in a music therapy session. Is that confusing? It makes sense in my head, but I have never really figured out how to explain what I mean. I'll try to do that now...

There should never be a time when I cannot run a therapeutic music experience (TME) because I do not have my visual aid. The music should be enough. My visual aid may make a TME more goal-appropriate for a specific client, but I should still be able to reach that goal without it, if necessary.

I should also be able to do six different things with each visual aid (my arbitrary rule). So, when I'm looking at my mini file folders for "Five Little Monkeys Jumpin' on a Bed," I can't justify keeping them in my limited storage space if I can only use those folders when we sing that particular song. So, I am working on new TMEs for using bed pictures and the numbers 1-5. If I cannot find five more ideas and TMEs, I'll give those file folders away to someone else and make new ones when I do have those ideas. One of the best things about living in this day and age is that I can have unlimited digital files that I can replicate later on when I have a use for them.

I currently have a file folder activity that does not have a TME to go with it. The Pet Homes file folder that you can see (the yellow folder as it is primarily an academic/cognitive domain TME) in the picture above is a file that I found available for free at totschooling.net. I really liked the file, so I made it into file folders for myself. Now I have five copies of this folder, and nothing to do with it.

I am challenging myself to find some TMEs for this file folder. I have a vague idea right now about "Helping me find my way home" for this month's theme of "Helping Others," but nothing is solidifying in my brain at the moment. I hope something takes hold soon because I enjoy these pictures and feel that I can use these visuals. If I cannot, I'll send them to my sister who will be teaching first grade this next year - her students will enjoy them as a center.

I enjoy it when I can find visuals to enhance things we already work on and do in music therapy. One of the songs that popped into my head last week used a visual aid to vary the choices that my clients offer. I have a great resource called Educate Autism. This site has lots of generic PECS and visuals available for downloading (and most of it is FREE!). I use their "Emotions and Expressions" 2X2 PECS all the time for my clients who use picture exchange communication systems (That's what PECS stands for, by the way.) There are 28 different emotions represented in a variety of skin tones (which is why I found it to begin with - I wanted something other than the obvious Caucasian skin tones in the PECS I had available). I've used these PECS for 18 months now, and I've found that the entire set is very valuable for us when communicating emotions.

Anyway, the song involved acknowledging emotions and acting out those emotions. My students seem to get much enjoyment out of watching me have a tantrum when we sing about feeling "Furious." The clients took turns choosing a picture, expressing the emotion by either showing me the card or naming the emotion as they interpreted it, and then joined me in acting out the emotion. Another TME that can use the emotion PECS, but we didn't need those PECS to do the TME.

One of the things that I find when I am using visual aids is that the visual aids sometimes limit what my clients will do. If offered a board that has three emotion PECS, clients will often only acknowledge those three emotions. If offered 28 PECS, clients will also only use the ideas presented. If asked to come up with their own ideas, some clients will revert to the most well-known answers - "happy," "sad," "mad," "tired," - but others will become very creative - "fabulous," "disgruntled," "supercalifragilisticexpialidocious." We will use the emotion PECS for this TME occasionally just to see what we all can come up with without options defined for us. The TME does not need the visuals - the visuals enhance the options for some of my clients.

I will continue to work on my Teachers Pay Teachers file today. The best thing about doing TPT files is that I do not have to have a TME to go along with it (but, I always do because that's what I do!). Teachers will select files whether there is a song to go along with it or not. I will include the song in my file, but I will not present the TME with that file. I do not want any first grade teacher thinking that singing the song with the file folder means that they are doing music therapy. So, be on the lookout for a TME Tuesday post called "Pig in a Mud Puddle" pretty soon to link to the TPT file and give you a TME for letter recognition. I already have five out of the six desired ways to use this visual aid already written down - I may include all of those ideas in the TME Tuesday post, I may not. Who knows?

For now, though, I am going to go make something new!

Happy Saturday, all! 

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