The Sewist Behind the Stretchy Band

I’m currently on maternity leave, and some of my colleagues have been kind enough to share their expertise through guest posts throughout the summer. The following comes to you from Bear Paw Creek owner Janet Stephens, who creates many of the wonderful movement props I use and love.

As a child, my dream was always to be a wife and mom. I got married while living in Alaska in 1997 with a baby soon to follow in 1998. My husband and I wanted to raise our family in the “Lower 48,” so the fall of 1999 found us moving to Missouri.

Part of my dream was to be able to stay home with my children. Shortly after our move, I was trying to figure out a way to bring in some income. Enter my big sister with an idea. She was a self-employed music therapist and discovered a need for movement props and endless quantities of fabric bags to stay organized–my sewing business was born.

I started creating and sewing stretchy bands, bean bags, Q Chord cases, tone chime cases, puppets, and tote bags. I started on the sewing machine I purchased in high school but soon found the need for my first of several industrial sewing machines. Those were the days before YouTube had tutorials on how to use industrial machines. It has been a continual learning experience.

In the spring of 2012, I took Kat Fulton’s fantastic Online Zenn Course and started working on building my web presence. My favorite outcomes of the class are the connections I made and “meeting” some of the people that actually use what I sew. It’s a pretty humbling and awesome experience to see and hear first hand how they are used.

While my sister was visiting last year, we were able to do a video shoot showcasing the stretchy band. Rachel Rambach wrote a fantastic song especially for the event. Here is one of the long awaited videos.

We also have a new and exciting Stretchy Band “cousin” going to be released soon. Can you imagine a stretchy band that can be used in a straight line and then connected together, combining different sizes for your needs? Watch for the Connect-a-Band™ coming out soon! Come get connected with us on Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, and Google+. You’ll be the first to know about our new products and sale events.

As always, our products are proudly made in America. So are all seven of my children–my dreams being fulfilled!

Movin’ In the Circle

Movin' In the Circle - Stretchy Band Song

For a while now, I’ve heard about and seen stretchy bands in action, but had never actually tried them. Boy, have I been missing out!

I was thrilled when Janet Stephens (owner of Bear Paw Creek, the makers of the stretchy band) and her sister Kathy Schumacher (music therapist and owner of Tuneful Teaching) reached out to be about creating a stretchy band-specific song. Of course I immediately said yes, and got to work.

Movin’ In the Circle is designed to be used in a group setting, using the stretchy band while seated on the floor. There are all kinds of movements that can be done in this manner, and the song lists just a few:

I’m already excited about the possibility of writing an entire series of stretchy band songs, because they can be used in SO many different ways. If you haven’t already, please make sure to check them out for yourself. I’ve only been using mine for a couple of weeks now, but they are already a huge hit with my students!

Photo Credit: Courtesy of Kathy Schumacher

Put the Scarf on Your…

Put the Scarf On Your...Album Cover
One of the go-to items in my “bag of tricks” is the scarf.  I have a whole rainbow of them (which you can find here) in the bottom drawer of my studio’s supply chest, and my students usually raid it before our music therapy session is through.  I love incorporating scarf activities into my session plans because they are so versatile and fun.  Just a few of the goal areas I can target include colors, gross and fine motor skills, imitation, following directions, and, in the case of today’s subject, body parts.

Many times, I will get out the scarves and let my students move freely to preferred music as positive reinforcement.  In fact, I used this technique last night with a little girl who needs extra incentive to follow the given schedule, and it worked quite nicely!  We finished all of the items on the schedule, and then had a lovely time dancing with scarves to “You Are the Music in Me” from High School Musical 2.

But I also like to use the scarves in structured activities, which is the reason I came up with the song below.  It  combines movement and body part identification, and you could easily replace the scarf with an instrument, like a shaker or tambourine.

Put the scarf on your head, like this.
Put the scarf on your head, like that.
Put the scarf on your head,
Whether it’s purple, blue or red.
Oh, put the scarf on your head.

Put the scarf on your shoulder, like this.
Put the scarf on your shoulder, like that.
Put the scarf on your shoulder,
Well, at least it’s not a boulder.
Oh, put the scarf on your shoulder.

Put the scarf on your arm, like this.
Put the scarf on your arm, like that.
Put the scarf on your arm,
‘Cause what’s the harm?
Oh, put the scarf on your arm.

Put the scarf on your lap, like this.
Put the scarf on your lap, like that.
Put the scarf on your lap,
It’s such a snap.
Oh, put the scarf on your lap.

Put the scarf on your knee, like this.
Put the scarf on your knee, like that.
Put the scarf on your knee,
That’s where it ought to be.
Oh, put the scarf on your knee.

Put the scarf on your toes, like this.
Put the scarf on your toes, like that.
Put the scarf on your toes,
Yes, this is where it goes.
Oh, put the scarf on your toes.

This song works its way from head to toe, though you could mix up the order of verses any way you want, or even better, write your own verses to add extra body parts. You could also turn this into an object identification activity by instructing the student to put the scarf on different items in the room. How else might you modify this song?

P.S. Did you know that you can gain instant access to a vast collection of over 200 songs (mp3, lead sheet, and instrumental track), videos, tutorials, and visual aides, plus ALL new releases from Listen & Learn Music?

Learn more about Listen & Learn Plus

Musical Scarf Activity

I’m back again today to share a song that I wrote to use with my youngest children in music therapy. I like to stick with a general theme each month, so October focuses mainly on fall and Halloween-related topics. This particular song accompanies a scarf activity, in which the child is asked to listen for the color of his/her scarf and then wave it in the air. The scarves I use are from West Music and can be found here.

There are twelve different colors, and the kids absolutely adore them and are always coming up with new ways to use them. So I wasn’t completely surprised when a couple of kids draped their scarves over their heads and began floating around even before I started playing this song:

Not all ghosts are scary,
And not all ghosts are white.
Listen for the color I choose
And let your ghost take flight!

If your friendly ghost is red,
Wave him in the air.
Wave him right and wave him left,
Wave him everywhere!

Not all ghosts are scary,
And not all ghosts are white.
Listen for the color I choose
And let your ghost take flight!

I change the color of the ghost each time I sing the verse so that every child has a turn. Not only is this a super-fun activity, but my kids are working on color discrimination, listening skills, and turn-taking at the same time. It’s a beautiful thing!

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