Singable Stories for Snowy Days

frosty-snowman-bookFrosty is a popular guy around this time of year, having his own holiday-related song and all.  But did you know that there are several children’s books based on the familiar tune?  I own this one, and it is a staple throughout December.  In fact, I’ve discovered quite a few singable stories that are perfect for the winter months; here are some of my favorites.

snowmen-at-christmas-bookSnowmen at Christmas tells the story of how snowmen spend Christmas (while the people who built them are sleeping, of course).  It’s actually a spin-off of this wintery favorite…

snowmen-at-night-bookSnowmen at Night was introduced to me a few years back by my friend Lisa Casciola (who has pointed me to countless wonderful resources!) and I have included it in my rotation ever since.

cold-lady-swallowed-snow-bookThere was a Cold Lady Who Swallowed Some Snow falls into the most-requested series of my personal collection (my other favorite “old lady” stories can be found here and here).

If there is one thing I can’t resist buying, it’s a great new children’s book to add to my collection.  My husband can always tell when I’ve gone on an Amazon shopping spree…the big brown box and guilty look on my face are tell-tale signs.  But I always stand by my purchases, because I know how much my students will enjoy them!

Now it’s time for you to chime in: what are your (and your little ones’) favorite singable stories for this time of year?

Singable Story: Miss Mary Mack

Miss Mary Mack - Children's Book

Hand clapping games were all the rage on the playground when I was growing up.  “Miss Mary Mack” was one of the first I ever learned, so when I came across this book on Amazon, I couldn’t pass it up.  I’m glad I didn’t, because Miss Mary Mack ranks right up there with Down by the Station, Going on a Bear Hunt, and Goodnight Sweet Butterflies as one of my favorite singable stories.

There are a few ingredients that make for a good children’s book in an educational setting.  Repetition, alliteration, and rhyme are key, and Miss Mary Mack is chock full of all three.  I found a fun little groove in Garageband to serve as accompaniment for the melody:

I know this isn’t the traditional “Miss Mary Mack” tune, but I found it to be a little more melodic (especially important since it’s sung over and over again) than the hand clapping version. No matter how you sing it, this is a great story for kids whether you’re targeting specific learning objectives or just reading it for fun.

A Sweet Singable Story

Goodnight Sweet Butterflies Children's Book

Last month’s inaugural Singable Story garnered quite a few comments and requests for more singable story ideas, so I’m excited to be back with another one today.  Good Night, Sweet Butterflies, written by Dawn Bentley, combines sensory input through touch (the butterflies on each page are 3-D and glittery, no less), sight (bright colors spill off of every page) and sound (well, assuming it is read or sung out loud).

I recorded this singable story for one of my music therapy groups yesterday, and rather than pre-compose the melody, I improvised the entire thing.  I love that the music is calm and soothing, just like the story itself.

I purchased quite a few new children’s books earlier this summer, all of which lend themselves nicely to being sung. Slowly but surely, I’ll be sharing more of those (plus some oldies but goodies). For now, enjoy this sweet, lullaby-like story and have fun making it your own!

1 Cool Bass Line = 2 Singable Stories

Down by the Station Children's Book

One of my favorite ways to engage my music therapy students is through children’s books. I have a sizable collection of what I call “singable stories” – books with words that translate nicely into sung lyrics.  Singable stories, along with the pictures that illustrate them, provide a wonderful opportunity to address goals such as identifying colors, objects, numbers, sight words, and answering “wh” questions.

A book that I find myself pulling off the shelf again and again is Down by the Station by Will Hillenbrand. The pictures are colorfully captivating, and the song is familiar to most children.

I’ve found that if I set the story to a cool beat, my students are even more apt to listen and participate.  This acoustic bass line (available in Garageband) does the trick nicely.

Another book I enjoy, and find effective in addressing the previously stated goals, is Going on a Bear Hunt by Michael Rosen.  Again, the story is familiar, and like the first book, there is quite a bit of onomatopoeia (words that imitate the sounds they represent).

We're Going on a Bear Hunt Children's Book

This book is new to my collection, and as I sat down to record it the other day, I realized that I could use the very same bass line as accompaniment!

When I want to jazz up my singable stories a little bit during a music therapy session, I actually play the accompanying bass line on my ipod as my student(s) and I explore the book. I make the track much longer than the length of the book, allowing for questions and conversation as we go through it. You are more than welcome to download it (for free) and use it in your own music therapy, classroom or home setting.

For those of you who have Garageband, this is “Cool Upright Bass 18” in the Loops section. You can adjust the tempo, key, and length to suit your needs. And of course, there are many more loops and beats to explore…I could (and sometimes do) spend hours playing around with them!

There Was an Old Lady Who Swallowed a Fly

I really enjoy blogging about the resources I use most often, especially books, and apparently, people enjoy reading about them! My two top posts in terms of hits (usually as a result of Google searches) are I Know an Old Lady Who Swallowed a Pie and Is Your Mama a Llama?, which just happen to be two of my favorite books.

I have another book to add to the vault…one you’ve probably read or heard time and again. This particular version of There Was an Old Lady Who Swallowed a Fly is colorfully illustrated by Pam Adams and is from the Books with Holes series, published by Child’s Play International. You can find a link to the book on Amazon here. I love that this book has thick (but not overly so) pages and is rather large – it gets the attention of my student and keeps it for the duration of the story.

Each phrase in the book ends with “perhaps she’ll die”. I don’t feel that this is appropriate for young children (though it is the traditional verse), so I always substitute “cry” for “die”.

This book is a wonderful tool for animal and color identification, memorization skills, attention to task, reading sight words, and more. It is effective because the illustrations are visually stimulating, and the story is just plain fun :)

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