Sing Me a Book – April

When my daughter was in Kindergarten, she decided that she was going to be a Paleontologist. Her kindergarten teacher was amazed that she knew the word, let alone what it meant. Although my daughter changed her mind about her life’s vocation and is now a concert violinist, she still has a love for dinosaurs. And I think, on some level, most kids have that same interest in those big prehistoric beings.

Saturday Night at the Dinosaur Stomp by Carol Diggery Shields

dinosaurThis book takes learning about dinos to a whole new level and facts about them are interwoven into a funny story about how they all get together on Saturday Night at the Dinosaur Stomp. I don’t actually sing this book but I do a rhythmic chant and have the kids help by keeping the beat, either patting knees or stomping feet. Toward the end of the book, the dinos all arrive at the party and the band starts up – the song is “doo-bop-a-loo-bop” and the beat is “booma-lacka-booma-lacka-whack-whack-whack”. I usually stop at this part and we repeat each of those phrases 4 times. Then at the end of the book I divide the group in half and turn this part into a rhythm weave for extra fun with older kids.

I had a teacher tell me that she tried to do this story for her class on a day that I was absent. She said “I heard you do it so many times, I thought it would be easy!” So take the hint and make sure you practice this one!

Leave a comment below and tell our community about your favorite dinosaur activity.


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Sing Me A Book – February

Ah February, the month where we recognize love. There are so many children’s books about Valentine’s Day and even more about love. But even though I have tried many of them, I keep coming back to one of my all-time favorite children’s books. EVER! I first heard this when my daughter was in pre-school and I quickly bought it and started singing it to my girls when they were little. Being the sappy, sentimental type I still write the song verse as a PS when I write letters and send care packages to my girls now that they are grown, and I look forward to one-day singing this book with my grandchildren and maybe even learn to needlepoint so I can make them each a tapestry.

love you foreverLove You Forever by Robert Munsch, illustrated by Shiela McGraw

This book follows the relationship between a mother and her child through all of the stages of life. There is a repetitive part of the story where the mother opens the door to the room (pantomime opening the door) and crawls across the floor (I use my fingers to “walk” across my hand) and then she picks up her son – have the kids pick up an imaginary baby and gently rock him back and forth, then I use a simple melody for the song. This book is such an excellent example of a mother’s love for her child.  WARNING: I have had teachers and staff cry when I do this book, but I do it anyway.

I don’t always do this book for my older kids. I keep the theme of mother’s loving kids and bring back our Halloween (and year-round) favorite “My Monster Mama Loves Me So” read that post from last October to learn the sign language and details for this book.

How do you address the topic of Love in your music therapy groups? Please let us know in the comments below and come back in March for a spring time favorite.





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Sing Me a Book – January

Hello, Happy New Year and welcome back to the Sing Me a Book Blog series.

Transitions can often be difficult for children in special education. Many kids want to pick up where we left off in Dec. and sing holiday songs. Now while “Jingle Bells” and “Frosty the Snowman” are winter songs, I try to avoid singing them in January if at all possible.

There are two books that I use in January that are good for transition, because although the holidays are over, winter is still here. I sometimes use these in December if kids are in “holiday overload” but mostly I save them until Jan.

cold lady snowThere Was a Cold Lady Who Swallowed Some Snow by Lucille Colandro

This is another “Old Lady” book and since I did my favorite “Old Lady” book in Nov. the kids are familiar with the sequencing and felt board concepts. I tell the kids, “That little old lady gets around, AND she eats EVERYTHING!” Which is the case in this book as well. There is a tag line at the end of each verse that says “I don’t know why she swallowed the snow, perhaps you know?” So I ask the kids “Do you know?” and they are prompted to say “I don’t know!”

The fun part about this book is that the lady eats all of the elements to make a snow man then hiccups out the fully formed snowman. Once again I used my flatbed scanner and laminate and Velcro to make pieces for kids to put on the felt board and I usually surprise them with the snowman at the end.


The Twelve Days of Winter by Deborah Lee Rose12 days of winter

This book goes to the tune of the “Twelve Days of Christmas” but the teacher is giving the winter gifts to the students and each one is something you might find in any classroom during the winter months such as crafts and treats. I again made use of that flatbed scanner and printer and scanned the object on each page then I added the number and the item name so that it includes number recognition and literacy skills. Then they are laminated and velcroed and ready for use.

For most of the groups, I give each child a card to put on the felt board in the correct order as we sing that verse. But I have a couple of groups that need modification, either the kids can’t hold the cards without eating or tearing them, they can’t sequence all of the numbers or they can’t wait until the number is called. Instead of handing the cards out I put one or two on a smaller board for example I may put the 6 and the 10 and ask a child to find the one with the number 6 and then put it on the bigger felt board. This takes a little longer but still meets goals and is fun for the kids.

I also use some active listening skills for some of my classes by telling them to look for a particular picture in the book, such as penguins, teddy bears or for older kids, find the kid in the book who is picking his nose (yes, he is there, on EVERY page!)

So please write in the comments below and tell me what books you use in January, or how these suggestions are working in your classes.

Come back in February for another one of my ALL TIME favorite children’s books.

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Sing Me a Book – The Thanksgiving Song

There are a lot of books published about the Thanksgiving holiday and many of the ones that tell the Thanksgiving story are very wordy and complicated or very silly. I am a big proponent of silliness and if you have been following this blog series you know that I use a lot of silly books. Click here for my post from last year about the “Old Lady Who Swallowed a Pie” which is about as silly as a book can be.

Thanksgiving is a very special holiday for me and for our country. The concept of thankfulness is difficult to teach to young children. They may say “Please” and “Thank You” but do they really understand thankfulness? One night at the dinner table, I was discussing the subject of thankfulness and thanksgiving with my daughters, who have always been wise beyond their years. I was expressing my frustration at finding a book that told the basic facts about Thanksgiving without too many details. We decided to write and illustrate our own book.

“The Thanksgiving Song” – by Debi Kret-Melton, MT-BC – illustrated by Debi and Daley Melton

Tells the basic story – the Pilgrims came to America, the Indians* were here already and helped them to survive and after they had grown and hunted food and built houses they were so happy that they had a big feast with their friends. I use active listening techniques to ask questions after we have finished singing the book. I also explain that the Pilgrims thought they had landed in India which is why they called their new friends “Indians”

This is sung to the tune of “Mr. Froggy Went A’Courtin’”.


What are your favorite songs, books or activities for Thanksgiving? We would love to hear from you in the comments below.

Thanks for subscribing to the Mind-Full Music Therapy Services Blog. Have a wonderful Thanksgiving!

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Sing Me a Book – Halloween

By this time in the month of October, the kids are getting excited about Halloween and that’s really all they want to talk about. Of course there are lots of options to address goals and objectives within this great theme!

There are a LOT of Halloween books that are written to go to a specific song or can be easily adapted to use in music therapy sessions. Here are THREE of my favorites

rattlebone rockRattlebone Rock – written by Sylvia Andrews – illustrated by Jennifer Plecas.

This is a silly book about a town having a party in the graveyard on Halloween. It is very rhythmic and there are spooky sounds on every page. I start by having the kids keep the beat by patting their knees and then have them echo the spooky sounds. This book is great for older kids as well and we have used instruments to make the spooky sounds.


Shake Dem Halloween Bones – written by W. Nicola-Lisa – illustrated by Mike Reed   halloween bones

This book is so much fun that the kids request this book long after Halloween is over. This Halloween party is attended by some of the most famous fairy tale folks they “Shake dem bones at the hip hop Halloween ball” it is very rhythmic and has a repetitive chorus. I use a 50’s hip hop style, and the melody is a permutation of “Rock Around the Clock” but it could easily be modified to whatever feels comfortable to you.  Click here to order my original audio soundtrack (only $.99) for use with this book.

monster mamaMy Monster Mama Loves Me So – by Laura Leuck – illustrated by Mark Buehner

Believe me when I tell you that of ALL of the books in my repertoire, this is the ALL TIME FAVORITE of the kids, and most of the teachers too! This book can be sung to the tune of “A Sailor Went to Sea, Sea, Sea” and I have added a repetitive chorus after almost every page turn. We use sign language during the chorus. Click on these links for the ASL signs “Monster“, “Mama“, “Loves Me So“, “Let me Tell You“, “How I Know

then click here to order my original audio soundtrack for only $.99

I truly enjoy sharing my ideas with you and want to hear from you. Do you like singing books in your sessions? Is this technique sparking creativity? Please let me know in the comments below.

Come back in November for an extra-special Thanksgiving Song and book.



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Sing Me a Book – Fall Farm Animals

I have worked in Special education pre-schools for 20 years now and most of the teachers I have worked with have a farm animal theme in the fall. There are a LOT of books that go with this theme so here are two of my tried and true favorites.

Cows in the Kitchen

cows in the kitchenCows in the Kitchen by June Crebbin and illustrated by Katharine McEwen is a silly rhyming book that is sung to the tune of “Skip to My Lou”. The farm animals get into the farmhouse, while Tom Farmer is napping in the haystack. When the dog wakes him up he shoos all of the animals out and then goes back to sleep. This is a great way to practice animal sounds and “sh” sounds. Shooing motions can also be added.  I use this a lot for my individual sessions and it is a favorite of the kids.

In earlier posts I give instructions for scanning pictures for sequencing goals. This book works well for that, have the children put the pictures on the felt board at the correct time and then take them off as they are shooed out of the farmhouse, and added on again when they go back inside.

barn danceBarn Dance

Barn Dance by Bill Martin Jr., and illustration by John Archambault is more of a chant than a song and the kids are instructed to keep the beat with the soundtrack.

It is a fun story about a “skinny kid” who stays up all night on the full moon and goes down to the barn and dances with the animals. I usually substitute the words “skinny kid” for a name of a kid in my group, usually one who has had a hard time paying attention or one who has had an excellent day so far. Then at the end of the story I ask “wh” questions while referring to the correct pages of the book.

“What is the name of the kid in the book?”

“What should he be doing?”

“Where did he go?”

“Who is this (scarecrow)?”

“What instrument is he playing?” and many more.

I learned about this book during my undergrad from a Music Education grad student who mentored me for a semester. She made the original soundtrack back in 1990, but due to technology issues, I had to remake the soundtrack. Click this link for your FREE download  accompaniment for this book. Make sure you practice with the music before you do it in a group and leave space for the fiddle tuning segment.. How do you like the “Sing Me a Book” series? Are these posts helping you with your music therapy practice? Please let me know in the comments below and stay tuned for some Halloween fun in my next post.

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Sing Me a Book – “Old Black Fly”

Welcome back to “Sing Me a Book”

The book I am featuring today has been my favorite alphabet book since I first learned it during my undergraduate work almost 25 years ago. This is my “go-to” book when teachers are doing a thematic unit on bugs, but it’s so fun that I don’t wait to introduce it and the kids request it often.

old black flyOld Black Fly was written by Jim Aylesworth to be sung to the tune of “Joshua Fought the Battle of Jericho”. It is a very funny story about a fly buzzin’ around and landing on everything in the whole house, including the “stack of clean underwear”. Illustrations by Stephen Gammel add another dimension to the humor.

The first instruction that I give to the kids is to work on the bi-lateral movement waving side-to-side as we sing the chorus “shoo fly, shoo fly, shoo”.  Each verse has a word or words that repeat three times such as “Birthday cake, Birthday cake, Birthday cake” and kids are encouraged to sing along.

In order to promote active listening skills, I take time at the end of the book to ask the kids “what happened to the fly?” Can you figure out the secret? Post in the comments below.

In my last post (read that here) I talked about using a scanner to print pictures for sequencing and fine motor goal areas. That technique can be used for this book as well, although I prefer to use it with a simple soundtrack and focus on the motor and language goals.  I sing it acapella with my individual clients so that I can slow down the pace to focus on specific goal areas.

Don’t know this melody? Think this book is too hard? Click HERE to download the soundtrack that I use with my groups and find out how simple it is to add an extra element of fun.

Come back and visit next time and I will tell you about the fantastic farm animal books that I am using.


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Sing Me a Book

Welcome to “Sing Me a Book”

I love to read and write almost as much as I love making music. So incorporating books into my music therapy sessions was a natural occurrence and has become one of the favorite interventions in all of my children’s groups and individual sessions.  In this blog series, I will be sharing my favorite children’s books and how and why I use them in my music therapy practice.

The idea of singing books is not new or original. There are many books that illustrate folk songs, while other books are written to be sung. When used as part of a multi-sensory approach, multiple goal areas are addressed in the group and individual setting.

brown bear The first book I use with my 2 and 3 year olds is the well-known Brown Bear, Brown Bear, What Do You See? by Eric Carle and Bill Martin, Jr. A simple three note melody is used. Color identification goals and sign language can be addressed as an extra added bonus. The children are usually already familiar with the book so appropriate responses are obtained and rapport is built during the first sessions.

polar bear

The second book in this series is Polar Bear, Polar Bear, What Do You Hear?  Is perfect for vocalizing animal sounds for children  just learning to use their voices.

panda bear The third book in the series which is Panda Bear, Panda Bear, What Do You See? Promotes gross motor coordination “bald eagle soaring” and “water buffalo charging”.  The final book in this series Baby Bear, Baby Bear, What Do You See?  Includes different animals for vocabulary expansion.

Address sequencing and matching goals – use your flatbed color scanner (I love these things!) to copy ababy bearnd print the animal pictures, laminate, and add Velcro. Then you can use a felt board or add Velcro in the book itself and have the kids match the pictures as they read the story.

Thanks for reading!  Come back next time and I will introduce you to my favorite alphabet book.

What is your favorite children’s book and why? Please share with our on-line community in the comments below.


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I Know an Old Lady Who Swallowed a Pie – a fun and favorite Thanksgiving book

I sing a book near the end of almost every session that I do with kids. With Thanksgiving upon us, I would like to take a few moments to share my favorite Thanksgiving book.
“I Know An Old Lady Who Swallowed A Pie” by Alison Jackson is also my favorite of the very many “Old Lady” variations available. The illustrations are quite funny as the old lady comes to visit and then proceeds to eat the ENTIRE Thanksgiving feast.

old ladyI have pictures that I scanned from the book, laminated and velcroed. As I pass each picture out to the kids, I tell them what the picture is so they can put it on the felt board at the appropriate time. Thus addressing goals for sequencing and fine motor skills.

There are so many things to discuss about this book as the lady eats the food, she gets bigger and bigger, starts to look a little sickly (pallid), and she really doesn’t use good manners at all!

I don’t want to give away the surprise ending of this book, but I will tell you that I took the liberty of changing the tagline from “Perhaps she’ll die” to “Perhaps she’ll fly” which matches the ending and that way can include the gross motor motion of flapping our arms at each verse. Being silly as I sing the book is an additional way to keep the kids fully engaged and participating.

What are your favorite holiday books for kids? Please leave your comments below and have a Thanksgiving that is filled with tasty food, music and many blessings.

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PASSION – My passion to serve – part 5 of 5

In the first 3 posts for this series I talked about the importance of passion, for music, for music therapy and for the profession. In the last post, I talked about my love for singing and stated that my father wanted me to do something “more substantial” with my life.

After my dad’s untimely death, during my first year at community college, I quit school and got a job as a waitress and sang in a rock band. I loved singing in the band, but we were never very good or very successful and after a while we just gave up and got “real” jobs. My mother continued to encourage me, sometimes very loudly, to get a college degree and make a path for myself, so I took business classes part time while still working full time until my older daughter was born. Then after many complications of pregnancy followed by post-partum depression I started seeing a very wise counselor. He helped me to examine the things that I was doing in my life and how they were affecting my future. I went back to school full time as a business major but I was still miserable because life without music looked pretty empty.

Debi-1There was a music history class for non-music majors and I took it for fun one semester, and after class one day, I was talking to the professor and she asked me why I wasn’t a music major. I told her that I didn’t think I was good enough, that I really wasn’t an opera singer and had a lot of excuses. She encouraged me to check out the music education program and I promised that I would think about it. So that afternoon I went to the main office of the music building at ASU and asked for the checklist of requirements for the music education degree program. The clerk was very helpful, but gave me the wrong list, the one she gave me was for music therapy, and she apologized, gave me the music education one and wanted to take the music therapy checklist back, but I kept it. Years before, I had seen a music therapy session in a group home for developmentally delayed adults but never really gave it a second thought until that moment.

During my early teen years I had done a lot of volunteer events for people with special needs and I had worked as a Candy Striper in a nursing home. So when I compared the two programs, I decided that music therapy just might be what I was looking for. My passing the audition was another miracle and within two weeks of changing my major I knew I had found the right path for me.

I feel very fortunate that Arizona State University has an excellent music therapy program and I found it quite by accident, which is why I believe that passion is so important, because I was a “rock star wannabe” with very little formal musical education and had to learn most of my musicianship in a very short amount of time, and while raising my young children. Without passion, I wouldn’t have stuck with it and become the music therapist that I am.

In the 17 years since earning my MT-BC, my passion for serving others through this extremely powerful medium of music therapy has continued to grow. I have had the pleasure and privilege of serving a wide variety of people and I have witnessed children singing for the first time and elders with dementia that can’t remember their own name but can remember entire songs.

The biggest blessing of being a music therapist was after my mother had a series of severe strokes. She was in the hospital for 4 months and the doctors told me she would never walk or talk again. After her hospital stay, I brought her to live with me for 6 weeks. I knew her musical preferences and her love of dance and used this to help in therapy each and every day. She was able to walk and talk again although never to her previous level. But I was blessed to have five more years with her. After she passed away, I used music therapy to help me with the loss by returning to ASU for my Master’s degree in music therapy.

In my first post of this series, I posed the question “What makes some music therapists successful while others are struggling to get enough income to live on?” In order to be a successful music therapist, you must have passion for music, and passion for music therapy. You have to be so determined to stay on the path and that you don’t give up, regardless of the road blocks put in your way. I came upon this profession quite by accident, but I am thankful for each and every opportunity I have to help enrich other’s lives through the powerful medium of music therapy.

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