It’s been a wild ride of a year, and I haven’t had much time to take a step back and really think about all the reasons I have to be thankful. But if ever there was a time to do so, it’s today. My husband took the kids to his parents’ house for breakfast, so I have just enough time to drink a cup of coffee and write a quick note to you on this Thanksgiving morning.
I’ll start by saying thank YOU for reading my blog — whether you’ve been here since the beginning in 2008 or just found your way here recently. I can’t express how grateful I am for every comment, email, song purchase, membership, and friendship formed over all these years.
I’d also like to thank you for your support as my business has evolved and grown, but especially in these last few months as we opened our first facility. One of my biggest blessings in life is my business partner, Katey; together we have taken Music Therapy Connections to a level that I only dreamed was possible — and we aren’t stopping there.
I’m also thankful to every single family who walks through our doors, because they are the reason we do what we do. They bring us so much joy and fullfillment every day, and help Katey, myself, and the rest of our team support our own families.
And that leads me to my ultimate blessing in life: my family. My husband Zach, our son Parker, and our daughter Mia are my world, and I’m so lucky to be living this adventure with them. But of course, our adventures wouldn’t be nearly as smooth and enjoyable without the rest of our family, most of whom live in our neighborhood :) We are eternally grateful to our parents for all that they do for us, from taking Parker to school every morning to buying endless clothes and toys to cooking for us throughout the week.
I’m looking forward to spending this holiday with all of them, and I hope you have the opportunity to spend the day with your loved ones, too. Thank you for reading, and Happy Thanksgiving!
Speaking of counting blessings, click here to download my song “Count Your Blessings” for free. I use it all holiday season long to help my students realize the blessing in their own lives.
You guys, I am so excited about Thanksgiving. I look forward to this holiday every year, but this one is special — it’s my daughter Mia’s first Thanksgiving, and my son Parker is old enough to (mostly) understand why we’re celebrating.
I always offer some type of deal or discount here at Listen & Learn Music to kick off the holiday season, and this year I’m going all out with two big ones.
- Free “Early Childhood Programs: Create, Market, Make Music!” Online Course ($75 value) when you join Listen & Learn Plus, my membership site where I provide hundreds of music therapy songs, resources, downloads, biz advice and more.
- 50% off the entire Listen & Learn Music Store when you use the code THANKS50 at checkout.
Oh, and I have a free download (mp3, instrumental track, & lyrics/chords) to share with you as a little Thanksgiving gift. I wrote “Count Your Blessings” specifically for the Thanksgiving season, but it is perfect for use throughout all the holidays!
These two specials are available now through November 30. Thank you so very much for reading, sharing your feedback, and supporting Listen & Learn Music throughout the years. Have a wonderful Thanksgiving!
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.
The following is a guest post by Marilyn Webster. After Marilyn told me about this activity she created and led, I mentioned that I would love for her to share it here on the blog. I’m so glad she took me up on it!
Hi, my name is Marilyn Webster, and my daughter has been a client of Rachel’s for years! As my daughter with autism grew, we found it harder and harder to find fun activities that we could enjoy as a family. Her interests and abilities were not the same as her peers, and she was too old to join preschool groups anymore.
And so, I started my own group with the support of my church! We call them family fun nights, and all families with special needs kids are welcome to attend. Our group serves a few functions for our families: it provides us with a sense of community, provides fun activities which our kids are able to fully participate in, and gives families who often feel isolated “something to do”.
As I plan events, one question I challenge myself with is: how can I find ways to take situations which either I personally or others in the group shared have been difficult to access for our kids, and make it accessible? Some of the most commented on events that families find difficult are holidays. Parents desperately want their kids to be able to enjoy these important cultural and family events and participate in the traditions, but our kids can find it overwhelming and confusing.
Now, you’ve probably jumped quickly to the melee of Christmas or the raucousness of Halloween, and you are right, those are struggles. But the one holiday that comes up in conversation more often than you might think is Thanksgiving, and if you give it a moment of reflection, this makes sense.
First of all, the whole idea of Thanksgiving is very abstract. Some of our kids can’t grasp the idea of gratitude yet, and this isn’t a holiday with a lot of concrete symbols like Santa, pumpkins, or eggs that our kids might be able to enjoy. In fact, the only physical symbols of Thanksgiving are foods! And food is one area where our kids tend to struggle immensely! New foods are frightening, and many of our kids have very narrow diets.
So, how to make Thanksgiving a fun and welcoming experience? I created a sensory Thanksgiving feast! This way, kids could explore the smells, textures, and appearances of traditional Thanksgiving foods in a fun, non-threatening way, and maybe build a connection to what we mean when we talk about the holiday.
Our feast included:
Pumpkin pie playdough: You can use whatever basic play dough recipe you prefer, but add pumpkin pie spices to it and color it to look like pumpkin pie filling.
Cranberry sauce playdough: The texture of this was a bit weird, and most kids didn’t really like it. I think a simple activity with whole cranberries might have been more fun. But here is the recipe.
Dry corn sensory bin: We filled a water table with that dry corn you throw out for the birds. It was a huge hit!
Dry stuffing sensory bin: two bags of dry store bought stuffing in a wide, low bin. I think this bin was responsible for making the whole room smell like Thanksgiving!
Potatoes and “gravy” stamp painting: I cut a few potatoes in half to stamp with. Then I mixed a dry turkey gravy packet into some plain yogurt to use as paint. It looked and smelled like real gravy! This was most definitely “process art” as opposed to “product art”.
While kids explored the feast, we sang a few songs having to do with turkeys and saying thank you.
Our kids had a blast playing with all the Thanksgiving goodies, and their parents had fun being able to enjoy traditional holiday foods with them, albeit in a very unusual way! I know when we sat down to our Thanksgiving feast, and my daughter had her usual plate of spaghetti while the rest of us dug into the turkey, I was thankful that she had at least enjoyed a sensory Thanksgiving meal of her own.
The holidays are here! This time of year is so much fun — I love the anticipation of Thanksgiving, Christmas, and the fresh start that the new year brings. With only a few days left before Thanksgiving, I wanted to share a quick round-up of the songs I’ve written to celebrate the first big holiday of the season.
I came up with this adaptation of the holiday classic “The 12 Days of Christmas” several years ago, and it has been my go-to Thanksgiving tune ever since. The download also includes an instrumental version and PDF visual to accompany the song.
At Thanksgiving time, it’s easy to get caught up in turkey talk…which is why I always try to include songs about the real reason we are celebrating. “Count Your Blessings” is a great way to start a conversation about the things we’re thankful for, and on top of that, there’s some counting practice thrown in ;)
Hands down, the best part about Thanksgiving is spending time with family. This song is devoted to that very topic.
Thanksgiving is as good a time as any to work on identifying those colors. I sing about several of the foods and objects we see on Thanksgiving and their colors in this song.
This song asks, “What are you thankful for?” I use it as a conversation starter with my older students, and it has spurred some wonderful dialogue about the blessings in our lives.
Okay, okay, so I have to include at least one totally turkey song. I’m not sure why, but this one is ALWAYS a hit with my younger kiddos. I included it in my current early childhood class, and we have so much fun singing and counting down the turkeys.
I only have 5 working days left to make the most of these and the rest of my Thanksgiving songs. If you have any favorites to add to this list, please feel free to share them in the comments!