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  • Alyssa Wilkins, MT-BC

10 Holiday Activities to get you to the New Year!


The holidays are just around the corner, and that means fun holiday interventions for all of your sessions! It also means a lot of quality time at home with your little ones and planning activities to keep them busy. Here are just a few ideas to keep your kiddos moving and grooving through the rest of December! A lot of these can even be used in January and February throughout the winter months.

Build a Snowman


  • Frozen is still a movie that is all the rage for me and my clients. I love to use Frozen songs in session, and they can be used throughout winter.

  • You can watch my song here and have your child find the parts of the snowman and help me put him back together!

  • I created a visual to go with my song so my clients could build their own snowman. He has eyes, a carrot nose, arms, top hat and scarf.

  • I use this song to work on fine motor skills, following one-step directions and visual tracking.

Jingle Bells

  • I pass out jingle bells to each of my kiddos and instruct them to only shake their bells when I sing the words “jingle bells”.

  • If you don’t have jingle bells at home, you can have your child clap along with the song when the words “jingle bells” are sung or, if you’re feeling really crazy, break out the pots and pans! Have your child bang on the pots and pans along with the lyrics of the song.

  • If inhibition is a difficult skill for your child or client, you can practice singing Jingle Bells at different speeds and have them play along, playing fast when the song is fast and playing slow when the song is slow.

  • This is a great activity to work on selective attention, sustaining attention, following one-step directions, and auditory processing!

Holiday-Themed Movement Cards


  • I printed out a set of these cards that I found on Pinterest, and have been using them in session the past few weeks.

  • I place the cards around the room and have my kiddos walk around the room to the beat of my song. When the music stops, I choose one person to pick the card closest to them. That child flips the card over and we have to do whatever movement is on the card.

  • I have also done this game by having kiddos “pick a card, any card” from the deck, and then we have to complete the movement chosen.

  • I use this activity mainly to work on gross motor skills, turn-taking, and waiting.

Ribbon Dance

  • I pass out ribbon wands to each child in the room and teach them the 4 movements we will be doing with the song. Movement #1: Ribbons up and down, Movement #2: Ribbons side to side, Movement #3: Ribbons in a circle, Movement #4: Figure 8

  • I turn on a holiday themed song, I particularly like Sleigh Ride, and call out the numbers of the movements listed above. I see how well they can recall the 4 movements and model as necessary.

  • Depending on skill level, you could add more movements the child has to remember or decrease the number of movements the child has to remember.

  • I use this activity to work on short-term memory, sequencing, and mimicking.

Reindeer Hokey Pokey


  • It’s just like the traditional Hokey Pokey, reindeer-fied! Instead of hands, feet, etc. you will put your hooves, paws, antlers, shiny nose and fluffy tail in and out of the circle.

  • I have my kiddos make the antlers on their heads using their hands, but you could also make your own antlers from printouts, decorate them, stuff them with toilet paper and staple them closed.

  • This is a ridiculously fun activity to work on motor skills, following one-step directions, and spatial awareness.

  • I also like to use “traditional” songs like the Hokey Pokey so children are able to join in with their peers at school events and birthday parties when a song like this comes on!

Right and Left Game

  • This is such a cool game that I just discovered and it has been a hit in my sessions! I use a bean bag and have my kiddos pass it around the circle while seated on the floor. They have to listen to the lyrics of the song and pass the bean bag to the right when they hear the word “right” and pass it to the left when they hear the word “left.”

  • The tricky part of this game is that the words “right” and “left” are imbedded in an already familiar song.

  • I found a couple of holiday versions of the right and left game on Pinterest and modified them a little bit to best serve my clients. I choose to omit some of the right and lefts of the song depending on my group.

  • I use this game to work on the basic skill of learning right and left, following directions, sustaining attention, and selectively attending.

Name that Tune – Holiday Edition!

  • This was one of my favorite games to play as a kid and it got me through many a long car ride. I will be honest and say this activity has been hit or miss in my sessions as some of my kiddos get extremely frustrated when they can’t think of the answer. That is a great therapeutic moment to work on coping skills and emotional regulation!

  • There are a couple of ways to play Name that Tune. One way is to simply play a holiday song on piano (or an instrumental version on the computer if you are not musically inclined). I then have my kiddos write down what they think the name of the song is on a white board.

  • To add a challenge to the game, you could have your child first choose a number. This number represents the number of notes they get to hear in order to “Name that Tune” then play that number of notes and see if they can guess the song. This was a little too much for my clients, but if your kiddo is up for the challenge I say go for it!

  • I use Name that Tune to work on auditory processing skills, as well as emotional regulation and expression such as accepting loss and coping with stressors.

Holiday Mad Libs


  • Mad Libs are another one of those great pass the time activities that kids think are hilarious! I found these Mad Libs through some internet searching and they have gone over incredibly well in my sessions.

  • I go around the room and ask each kiddo to help me fill-in-the-blank of the song. I ask them for the part of speech required by the Mad Lib, and fill in their answer.

  • After all of the blanks are filled, I sing through their version of the song. I like to really emphasize the more silly answers and it always gets a giggle!

  • I use this activity to work on academic and communication skills such as parts of speech as well as turn-taking and waiting.

The Nutcracker

  • I LOVE using The Nutcracker in my sessions to give my kiddos some exposure to such a classic holiday tradition. There are so many ways the music and dancing can be used and it is a versatile piece of work for all ages.

  • I play the Nutcracker March and have kiddos march around the room to the beat of the song. I then play Coffee (Arabian Dance) from the nutcracker and have them glide around the carpet on paper plates to the beat of the music. If you don’t have carpet, you can have them glide on pieces of paper across tile or linoleum (this can get very slippery so proceed with caution).

  • I use this activity to work on gross motor endurance and sustaining attention.

Holiday Would you Rather?

  • I found this set of holiday-themed would you rather cards and I knew I had to incorporate them into my groups somehow.

  • I cut up the cards and placed them in a drum. I had my kiddos pass the drum around the circle with the music. When the music stops, the person holding the drum has to choose one slip and answer the “Would you rather?” question. Continue this process until everyone has a turn.

  • This is a great activity to work on inhibition, communication skills such as articulation and fluency, social communication and reading.

I know this was a long list, but I wanted to make sure you were covered for all of your holiday fun! If you have a favorite holiday intervention or activity you do with your children, please share it with me. If you use one of my interventions, I would love to know how it goes and how much your children loved it!

*Happy Holidays and I will see you here next week for my final blog post of 2016*

Lynk up with us on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram for even more autism tips and tricks!

#musictherapy #kidsmusic #childrensmusic #educationalmusic #autism #specialneeds

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