5 Fall Music and Movement Activities
It feels like forever since my last blog post! I took a break this summer to transition into full-time private practice and I couldn’t be happier with the decision! Now that I’m getting all my ducks back in their rows, I will be sharing posts much more consistently. Check back every other Tuesday for new posts from me on all things music, autism, and more! Now, for today’s blog post…
Fall is in full swing here in Chicago, and I thought it was high time I shared some music and movement activities to use at home, in the classroom or in therapy sessions. I have shared posts like this in the past for both Winter and Spring time. If you would like more posts like this, let me know in the comments below!
Activity #1: Pass the Pumpkin*
I created this song for both my older and younger groups to work on auditory processing as well as following one-step directions and memory recall. This song is tricky because the kids have to listen for a specific sound to pass the pumpkin a certain way around the group. Then they have to remember what directions go with each sound and actively listen for when that sound pops up.
Sit in a circle and take out a pumpkin (can be real, fake, or even an orange ball)
Explain to children that you are going to pass the pumpkin around the circle
In the song, you have to listen for how to pass the pumpkin or how to hold it when the music says
You might have to reverse the direction, hold the pumpkin up high, or put the pumpkin on the ground
Play the song and help the children during the first half of the song, then see what they remember in the second half of the song
Download this song to try it out with your kids!
*This intervention was created prior to the COVID-19 Pandemic. An adaptation we've been using for Telehealth and in-person sessions is to have the client use their shaker or bean bag and bass it between their own hands. They then have to move the object up or down when they hear a specific sound. Instead of "go the other way" you can have them toss it back and forth faster in their hands!
Activity #2: 5 Little Pumpkins
This is a popular song to use in October, especially around Halloween time. If you don’t already know the song, give it a listen here. I like to use this song to work on counting as well as turn-taking and impulse control, in tandem with a visual.
Make a visual using a large piece of black construction paper and 5 orange paper pumpkins you can stick to the black paper labeled with the numbers 1-5 (I laminate mine and stick the pumpkins on with Velcro)
Sing the song 5 Little Pumpkins one time through without the visual
Sing the song a second time, this time having each child in the group pull off a pumpkin as their number comes up in the song (pull #1 when the song says “The 1st one said ‘oh my it’s getting late’ #2 when the songs says ‘the 2nd one said there are witches in the air’ etc.”)
You can pause the song and count how many pumpkins are left after each pull off, or you can count as you put the pumpkins back on the black paper once the song is complete
Activity #3: Spooky Soundscape
I have talked about how much I love the app MadPad on here before, but if you haven’t checked it out already – you must! MadPad allows you to make soundscapes and songs from everyday items or short vocalizations. I use the app year-round to create different soundscapes for each season or holiday.
Start up MadPad on your iPad
Have each child in your group think of a spooky sound, then record it in the MadPad app
You can use vocalizations or instruments you have on hand
Each child may have the opportunity to make more than one spooky sound, depending on the size of your group
After the sounds have been recorded, use the features in the app to create loops of sounds or record an entire song/soundscape
Listen to your song/soundscape and have the children discuss what they liked about it or what they would change
Record another song/soundscape and see if they liked this one better and why?
Activity #4: Superman Dance or Monster Mash
Depending on the level of your kids, you can choose which movement activity suits them best. I found the Superman dance several years ago, and it has been a go-to around Halloween to work on auditory processing skills for my older kids.
Turn on the song and have your kids listen for the different movements they are supposed to do
You can model the movements for them, or make them use their active listening ears
The best part about this song is that it gets faster and faster, testing their auditory processing skills more and more throughout the song.
The Monster Mash is also a classic Halloween dance. The Monster Mash doesn’t have moves that specifically go along with each part of the song, so I like to create our own moves.
Have each kid in the group pick a dance move they want to do
Write each child’s dance move in order on the board
For non-readers, I use pictures of the dance moves we are going to do and place them on the board
Turn on the song and follow the dance moves in the order they are on the board
You can spend a long time on each movement or a short time, depending on your group’s attention span
If you want to kick this activity up a notch, I have my kids make monster masks and we do the monster mash dressed up in our masks. They have so much fun!
Activity #5: Leaves Falling
I always like to include a relaxing activity to aid in sensory regulation and help calm down my children’s music groups after lots of fun jamming and dancing. You can use this song in a couple of different ways.
Option 1: Hand leaves
Have children sit criss-cross in a circle with their hands up over their heads
Gently have the kids trickle their hands down to mimic leaves falling
Every time the kids hear the words “leaves falling”, they have to trickle their hands down
Turn on the song and model the movement for the children then have them do it on their own when cued by the song
Option 2: Scarf Canopy
Buy fake leaves and sprinkle them all over your scarf canopy
Have children lay or sit criss-cross on the ground
Turn the song on and, with another adult, gently move the scarf canopy up and down over the children’s heads in time with the song - making the leaves bounce and fall over their heads
Option 3: Ocean Drum
Have children sit in a circle and hold on to the ocean drum
Turn on the song and gently move the ocean drum all together, making it sound like leaves falling to the ground
Download the song here to use with your kids!
If you liked the songs you heard here, check out even more in our shop! I can’t wait to see how you use each activity. Let me know which ones were your kids’ favorites, and stay tuned for even more fall fun!