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5 Winter Music & Movement Activities

December is here, which means we are officially in the heart of the holiday season! From festive themes such as baking and holiday lights to winter themes such as snow and the new year, we've got ideas to get you through this busy, festive season. In this blog post, we will explore different winter and holiday-themed music & movement resources that can be adapted and used with all ages!


Gingerbread Man

I like to use this song as an attention grabber for my early childhood and school-age groups. I use this activity to work on directional concepts and motor imitation. You might already know the tune, it's the same as “Turkey in the Straw”, so it's a quick and easy song to prep!


Materials:

  • 2 egg shakers or bells for each participant

    • I like to use wrist bells with velcro so they can be worn on wrists or ankles for diverse mobility needs.

  • Gingerbread Man Song - You can find the lead sheet for this song, here!

How to Play:

  1. Pass out your bells or instruments

  2. Introduce the 3 directional concepts in the song (up high, down low, and round and round)

  3. Sing through the B section of the song to practice these three directional movements

  4. Once the group is familiar with these movements, sing through the entirety of the song.

  5. To switch things up, you can speed up the tempo or slow it down after you've sung it a few times to see if they can follow and test their skills!

 

There Was an Old Lady Who Swallowed a Spoon

I LOVE the Little Old Lady books! These books are a fun and motivating way to work on sequencing, object identification, or matching; depending on your group’s needs. This book pairs great with the “Gingerbread Man” activity listed above if you’re looking to stick to a theme!


Pro Tip: When I’m using singable books in my session, I’ll have my clients help me keep the beat by either engaging in body percussion (e.g., patting legs, clapping), or by playing a small instrument such as egg shakers, bells, or rhythm sticks. This gives them a regulation tool and helps them know what to do while they wait for their turn or more directions!


Depending on the needs of your group, I typically structure this intervention in two different ways:

Option 1 - Matching: If you have clients who are working on object identification and matching, you can print out visuals of each of the items mentioned throughout the story. I like to use this set I found on Teachers Pay Teachers, or you can always make your own!

  • Print and cut out the various items

  • Put velcro on both the visual and the page where it’s mentioned in the book

  • Place 2-3 of the visuals (or more depending on the needs of your client/group) on a choice board

  • Have each participant match the visual to the corresponding item in the story by placing the visual on the page

Option 2 - Sequencing: As I’m singing through the book, I like to pause after each of the items is listed and have my clients recall the order. You can have them put the visuals in order as the story is sung, and draw pictures of the order they hear... have fun with it!

I like to pretend that I forget or will purposely say the wrong thing, and they always love to correct me.

 

Holiday Classics

I love bringing in familiar holiday songs to my sessions and finding different ways to structure them! Here are just a few fresh ideas on some old classics:

Deck the Halls

Materials: You can use any instruments with this song, but I like to use frame drums


How to Play:

  • Sing/play through the song once with the group without placing any demands

  • The second time around, encourage the group to only play on the “fa la la la’s”

This is a great song to use with your groups that are working on inhibition (impulse control) and self-regulation!


Jingle Bell Rock

If you have smaller groups, this is the perfect holiday intervention to use for your session!


Materials: I like to turn my group into a rock band by bringing out novel instruments such as the bass guitar, electric guitar, keyboard, and even a drum set.


How to Play:

  • Pass out or assign an instrument to each group member

  • You can open-tune the guitar and bass to whatever key you plan on playing the song in or, if you have groups who are working on sequencing and fine motor skills, you could always teach them the notes of the song.

  • Once everyone has their instruments and instructions, (jingle bell) rock out!

I love utilizing a band structure in my groups as an organic way to work on social skills, as well as executive functions such as planning, problem-solving, collaboration, and teamwork.

 

Holiday Bingo

With my older groups, music bingos are always a hit!


Materials: I love using Canva for easily customizable bingo templates and this free bingo generator. You can add visuals, song titles, or specific lyrics to each of the bingo spaces.


How to Play:

  • Pass out your bingo cards

  • Sing through a holiday classic

  • Have your group mark off the space associated with the song you are singing

    • You can also start to sing a familiar song and they have to find the lyric that finishes the phrase!

This is a great way to work on auditory processing, communication skills, decision-making, and so much more!

 

Sensory Ideas

Incorporating sensory activities for regulation and integration is a must in my sessions. It is especially critical around this time of year when there are unexpected schedule changes, new routines around holiday breaks, and increased opportunities for overload. I find myself frequently falling back on sensory interventions and want to share a few with you!


It's Cold Outside

This intervention not only addresses sensory needs but also focuses on life skills as the song narrates how to dress for the cold weather


Materials:

  • I like to use either bean bags for deep pressure or cabasas. If you want to get creative, you could even use fake snowballs!

  • Cut out this visual which includes a friend who you’ll use to dress up with various winter clothes (hat, scarf, coat, snow pants, boots, etc.)

  • After you piece together your friend, you’ll need to place velcro on both the various body parts, as well as well as the articles of clothing

  • You can find the lyrics and recording of the song here!

How to Play:

This intervention can be implemented in many different ways, depending on the needs of your group. Here is how I typically use this song:

  • Sing through each verse of the song and pause after each body part to have each participant fill in the lyric by telling you what clothing article is needed.

  • Then, see if they can ID the correct clothing article from the 6 visuals

  • While singing through the song, use bean bags to squeeze or cabasas to roll on the different body parts as mentioned in each verse to provide that deep pressure & regulate sensory input


Tea Lights

Because there are so many holidays around this time of year that celebrate lights, I love bringing out my color-changing tea lights to use as a cool down/relax at the end of my sessions! These are my favorites, but you can use any lights you like.

How it Works:

This intervention serves as a receptive listening experience and I’ll typically instruct the group to use this time however they need to help their bodies relax (e.g., just listening/focusing on the light, engaging in deep breathing, closing eyes, fidgeting, etc.)

  • I’ll either play through a calming chord progression or use pre-recorded instrumental music that supports relaxation and regulation

  • For my younger kiddos I like to use “At Last I See the Light” from the movie Tangled.

 

I hope these resources give you some ideas and inspiration for your sessions as we journey into the winter months.

Visit our free resource portal for even more holiday and winter activity ideas to make session planning a cinch!

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