Friday Fave: Three Blue Pigeons

Okay, so you’ve seen the title of this post and are probably wondering: what is so wonderful about the song “Three Blue Pigeons” that it merits a spot in Friday Faves? The answer is nothing, really, except that this simple fingerplay triggered a breakthrough moment for a little boy named Carter.

Three-year-old Carter is diagnosed with autism, and I’ve been providing music therapy for him over the past eight months. Carter didn’t say much in those first few months, but his words are coming fast and furious these days. From day one, he has demonstrated a love for music, especially the guitar, and his attention span has increased tremendously. Although he has been making eye contact with me and other visible progress during our sessions for a while now, nothing came close to what happened on Wednesday afternoon.

I was a little hesitant to sing the aforementioned “Three Blue Pigeons” with Carter that day, because he had not shown interest in that particular song in the past. But I went ahead and did it anyway, since imitating movements is one of his goals. As I started singing and doing the hand motions, Carter watched me closely. Then, he held up three fingers. He made the sign for “sit”. He waved his arms like a bird, just as I did. And then he continued to perform the movements for the remainder of the song. Halfway through, I snuck a glance at his aunt, who was holding him and watching in disbelief. By the end of the song, she was in tears and I was close behind…it was one of those moments that music therapists live for.

This was a lesson in persistance. As a therapist, it’s easy to dismiss an activity, song, or intervention as useless, just like I almost did with “Three Blue Pigeons”. In this case, the 10th time was a charm. Never completely rule something out…I know I won’t make that mistake again.

What Do You Do?

Teaching social skills is high priority in the land of special education, especially when it comes to children with autism. Though many of the students with whom I work can be very social at times, it is a goal to teach the appropriate actions and responses in various situations. I was brainstorming this topic one day a few weeks ago and came up with this song, which I called “What Do You Do?”.

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What do you do when you see a friend?
You wave, you wave.
What do you do when you see a friend?
You wave, you wave.

Waving’s what you do when you see a friend,
You wave using your hand,
So what do you do when you see a friend,
You wave, you wave.

What do you do when you’re feeling blue?
You cry, you cry.
What do you do when you’re feeling blue?
You cry, you cry.

Crying’s what you do when you’re feeling blue,
You cry, using your eyes.
So what do you do when you’re feeling blue,
You cry, you cry.

What do you do when you’re feeling glad?
You smile, you smile.
What do you do when you’re feeling glad?
You smile, you smile.

Smiling’s what you do when you’re feeling glad,
You smile using your mouth.
So what do you do when you’re feeling glad,
You smile, you smile.

What do you do when you hear a joke?
You laugh, you laugh.
What do you do when you hear a joke?
You laugh, you laugh.

Laughing’s what you do when you hear a joke,
You laugh using your voice.
So what do you do when you hear a joke?
You laugh, you laugh.

What do you do say right before you leave?
Goodbye, Goodbye.
What do you say right before you leave?
Goodbye, goodbye.

Goodbye is what you say right before you leave,
Goodbye only ‘til next time.
So what do you say right before you leave?
Goodbye, goodbye.

The staff and I encourage the students to act out each action (waving, “crying”, smiling, laughing, and waving/saying goodbye) as the song is sung, and they have such a fun time with this. There are many other situations you could sing about, so use your creativity. Those I included are pretty broad, but feel free to be more specific as you tailor the song to your own students. And don’t forget to share your ideas with me!

44 Presidents: A Rap

I came across this earlier today, and thought you might enjoy it. I know some of my older students will!

Memorizing presidents is gonna take some effort
We’ll start with George Washington, Adams, and Thomas Jefferson
Then James Madison and James Monroe
Then John Quincy Adams like his father before

Next up we’ve got some interesting folks
Named Jackson, Van Buren, Harrison, Tyler, and Polk
The next four presidents that we’ll examine
Are Taylor, Fillmore, Pierce, and Buchanan

44 Presidents, White House residents
From the Revolution to the age of the Internet

Abraham Lincoln freed the slaves
Then we got Johnson, Grant, and Rutherford Hayes
James Garfield, Chester Arthur
Cleveland and Harrison; let’s keep going farther

Next up, we got Cleveland again
Then McKinley, Roosevelt, Taft, and Wilson
The next four, yeah you know who they are, it’s
Harding, Coolidge, Hoover, and FDR


No presidents are from Wisconsin
Not Truman, Eisenhower, Kennedy, or Johnson
We’re getting near the end, but it’s not getting harder
It’s Nixon, Ford, then Jimmy Carter

Last few, we’re almost done
We’ve just got Regan, Bush, Clinton, and Bush the Son
Obama’s in the White House now
So hail to the chief and stand up proud!

See it for yourself here, along with plenty of other educational raps!

A New Day in America

If you’re like me, you’ve been waiting for this day for a long time now. Later this morning, Barack Obama will be sworn into office and can officially be called the President of the United States. Your classroom may be one of millions tuning in around the country, and if so, there’s no doubt that you will be witnessing history. This morning as I got ready for work, I watched coverage of the masses flooding onto the National Mall – they are expecting 2 to 3 million people. Unbelievable! My father-in-law is there as a chaperone with his school’s student government association, and I’m sure he’ll have stories to tell when he gets home.

If you didn’t get a change to watch HBO’s free “We are One” concert on Sunday night, here is a link where you can watch it online. The lineup is pretty amazing, with performances by U2, Garth Brooks, James Taylor, Beyonce, and many more. It’s definitely a star-studded and moving program.

It will be interesting to watch the country slowly change under President Obama, hopefully for the (much, much) better. I’ll leave you with a YouTube video you’ve probably already seen or at least heard about: “Yes We Can”.

Friday Fave: Pandora Radio

I actually have my husband to thank for this little discovery, and since I love it so much I thought I’d make it today’s Friday Fave. It’s called Pandora Radio, and basically it is your own personal radio station on the internet, for free. After you register, you are asked to create a station based on the artist of your choice. Then the site generates songs from artists similar to the one you chose, and all that’s left to do is sit back and listen. You can create as many stations as you’d like, and it even allows you to skip a certain number of songs per hour. As each song plays, it displays a little blurb about the artist and song, and suggests other similar music.

Right now my favorite stations are Jason Mraz, Ingrid Michaelson, and Kelly Clarkson. Listening to Pandora is a great way to discover not-so-mainstream music, and I’m keeping a running list of new songs I love. And guess what I realized this morning? Pandora plays children’s music as well, including the beloved Laurie Berkner, Justin Roberts, and more. What a great way to find new tunes for the classroom or music therapy.

That’s it for today’s “Freezing” Friday Faves. It is -8 degrees here today, and like yesterday, all schools in the area are closed. However, at the Hope School there is no such thing as a “snow day”, since most of our students are residential. So for those of you reading from the comfort of your warm homes, enjoy your day off! And for everyone else, have a great Friday and an even better weekend. See you soon!

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