We’re Going On a Bear Hunt

We're Going on a Bear Hunt

This book and I go wayyyyy back. Like, back to my internship days. So it’s pretty funny that my toddler son is currently singing “the bear hunt song” on repeat these days. He heard it for the first time when it was the featured singable story in my early childhood music class, and now it’s a staple in our daily rotation.


Bear Says Thanks

Bear Says Thanks Children's Book

One of my favorite books to read to Parker is Bear Snores On, because I love the way the words flow and the phrase “…and the bear snores on” repeats. So when I was browsing online and found that there were other books in this series, I got really excited.

I was in search of a Thanksgiving-related book to use in our early childhood music classes, and Bear Says Thanks was the perfect choice. It’s a little bit longer than our usual singable stories, but the repetition makes it easy for everyone to join in. The illustrations are lovely and the hard copy version is nice and big.

The tune I came up with is a mash-up of “Do Your Ears Hang Low?” and “Turkey in the Straw” — kind of random, I know, but that’s what came out when I first tried setting the words to music :) I like using familiar melodies for singable stories, because they are easier to remember.

There are a few other books I love to pull out at Thanksgiving time (There Was an Old Lady Who Swallowed a Pie and Ten Fat Turkeys are favorites) but this one is currently at the top of my list.

Five Little Ducklings

Five Little Ducklings

Earlier this week as I organized all of my singable stories on the bookshelves of our brand new studio, I took note of my favorites and those that have been most effective in classes and music therapy sessions. Five Little Ducklings ranks in the top 10, although if you ask my son Parker, he will tell you it’s #1.

I’ve shared other Melanie Gerth books here on the blog before, but this one takes the cake for a few reasons. First of all, the ducks: they are big, colorful, and fuzzy. They’ve stood the test of time (I’ve had this book for 7+ years!) and still look good as new. Second, there’s counting involved as in all of her books; I like that there are only five ducks to count and therefore it’s a bit shorter than the others. This fits my younger kiddos’ attention spans — or lack thereof — quite well.

And third, the familiar melody is easy for little ones to learn and remember. I think Parker had the entire song memorized after one or two listens, and he’s 2. (Of course, at this point he could sing it in his sleep, as we listen to it on every single car ride.)

I have used this singable story in my early childhood classes, both with the book and as a standalone song. If you don’t have the actual book, you could make picture cards to go with it or even have your students “act out” the story. Another way to get creative with it is to change the ducklings to other animals and replace “quack, quack, quack” with the appropriate sounds.

I’m on the hunt for some fresh new singable stories to add to my collection, so please share your favorites with me! You can find a whole heap of singable stories I’ve shared right here.

I’ll See You in the Morning

I'll See You in the Morning

Turning books into singable stories has been a little hobby of mine since my first music therapy practicum in grad school (almost 10 years ago!). I’ve used dozens and dozens of them in my work as a therapist, and now they are serving double duty in my newest career as a mom.

Parker was gifted an entire bookcase worth of books when he was born, and we have been steadily adding to the collection throughout his first year of life. Just this afternoon I was going through them and realized a baby-centered singable story series might be a great addition to the blog…especially since so many of my music therapist colleagues have recently become moms!

One of my very favorite books in Parker’s collection is one that he received for Christmas from my mom. It’s called I’ll See You in the Morning, and it made me cry the first time I flipped through it. The story is sweet, the illustrations are lovely, and best of all, it makes for the perfect singable story.

Singing this book has become a part of our bedtime routine, and I’ve started sharing it with other moms too. We have quite a few “going to bed” books on the shelf, but this one is definitely our favorite. What’s yours?

Rewriting Rodgers & Hammerstein

My Favorite Things Songwriting Activity

My local community theater held auditions for The Sound of Music this month, and I had several students try out. That meant lots and lots of “Do-Re-Mi” and “My Favorite Things” — though I didn’t mind at all, since it’s one of my favorite musicals. (A bit of trivia: I played Louisa von Trapp at that same community theater 15 years ago).

Needless to say, I’ve had these songs on the brain, and they spilled over from my lessons into music therapy session planning. I incorporated the children’s book version of “My Favorite Things” into one of my student’s sessions, which then led into a songwriting activity.

I asked my student to name her “favorites” in several different categories, which was a great way to target skills like answering questions, expressive language, and conversational skills. Then I took her responses and wrote a special version of the song just for her. I can’t wait to share it with my student at her session tomorrow!

Today at Listen & Learn Plus, I’m sharing a simple template for recording your students’ favorite things, as well as the finished version of the song I wrote (including the easy chords I use to play it) along with the mp3 and instrumental track.