I Know Why They Call It Spring

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I know why they call it Spring. As in ice melting and water running. Stored energy bursting forth. Ok, what I really want to say is that my kids are bouncing out of their chairs. Spring as in boiiiing! Talk about a renewable energy source.

This is prime-time action season. The more the kids can be and become the music…become the story- the better. There’s so much to bodily act out and dramatize… and then build on. Here are some ways to capitalize on all that energy through total body involvement in making music!

Springing a song: sing it, talk about it, make up your own additional verses, assign characters and act it out- adapting it so every one has a part, make finger/hand motions, use puppets and drawings, kids can illustrate a song or verse within and then sequence the pictures in the correct order. Make a book!

Springing instrumentally: make your own instruments, play instrument songs either on a CD or live, play along loud or soft (vary the volume) stop and go (press play and resume,) pass instruments around the circle, put them in a box then close your eyes and choose one, name the instrument without looking at it. Use instruments to play rhythms and then use your body as an instument (clap, stamp, tap etc.) Make patterns with body percussion alone. Have a “blind walk” and have the children follow the sound while blindfolded.

Spring and Dance: dance with large groups, small groups, take turns, Dance quietly or loudly. Dance with small or large movements, dance if you meet a certain condition (if you’re a boy, girl, or if you’re wearing red…) Assign a leader and the other kids follow, pass the leader role down the line so everyone has a turn. Make a sequence and have a group do the first part, then another group do the next and so on. Have a group of two work together one being the right side of the body and the other being the left. Dance and freeze like whatever character or animal you may be studying about.

Here are a few good Spring rhymes/songs to act out, though I confess I do not know the sources. This particular bunch is for tots.

1. Tune: Each phrase is a note in the scale. Words: Peck, peck, peck on the warm brown egg. —-Out comes a neck. —Out comes a leg. Then comes a wing—- with a flap, flap, flap.—- Happy Easter/Spring —-everybody—-what do you think of that? (Peep, Peep, Peep, Peep, Peep, Peep, Peep, Peep. Shh!)

2. Funny little bunnys go hippity hop. They wiggle their nose. And twitch their wiskers. And their ears go flippity flop. or….

3. Tune of Bunny Hop: First you wiggle your nose. Then you move your ears. Then you shake your tail and you go hop, hop, hop. (repeat 3x) (Use an instrumental version of the Bunny Hop. During the musical interlude (between the verses), hold hands and circle right then circle left. (Do what fits.)

4. I love you. I love you. I love you so well. (sign the words) If I had a turtle, I’d put you in the shell.

5. Tune: Miss Lucy. Words: I had a little frog. His name was tiny Tim. I put him in the bathtub to see if he could swim. He drank up all the water. He ate up all the soap. And he burped last night from a bubble in his throat.

Margie La Bella is a music therapist and special educator with over 24 years experience working with pre-school and school-aged children.
Check out her excellent albums for ages 2-10:
Move! – Action songs about understanding directions and following through with them. (Receptive language) 
Sing! – Action songs with sounds, words, and simple phrases. (Expressive language.)
Mixing it Up – More interactive songs about following directions, vocalizing, singing, moving and playing simple instruments. This album contains Margie’s spring song, Tweet Little Birdy

Please see more of our Action and Seasons Song Lyrics.

Listen to a short sample of The Caterpillar in the audio player, below. 

Top 10 Ways to Stimulate Vocal Play and Use of Simple Words

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I’ve spent the last twenty-five years working as a music therapist with young kids who contend with language and communication disabilities. I want to share about increasing vocal and verbal behaviors in young kids. I do have to premise this by saying that these are very generalized, non-specific ideas to consider. I’m not a speech therapist, but these activities can be thought of as a starting point.

    1. Surround the child with anything and everything that makes noise. Everything makes a sound these days. You may want to order instruments, make them, or buy them at a party store. Pots and pans are good here also, but you may want to invest in cotton balls. Wooden spoons make good sticks. The lesson here is that things make sounds, and so can you.

2. Blow into anything that creates a sound. Check out the party store again for ideas. West music is a great source of sound makers. The lesson here is that your mouth, lungs, and breath work together to make sounds. See how this is a prerequisite to language sounds?

3. Imitate any sneezing, coughing, laughing, hiccuping, burping. These really do get the attention of kids. Even imitate anger and crying sounds- but do so in a respectful manner that tells the child you hear, support and respect their vocal message.

4. Vocalize into anything that you can hold up to your mouth like a paper towel roll. Play with vocal pitch, volume, emotionality, length. Take turns. This is teaching that the child can make his own sounds and those sounds get results. Vocalize into a box- it sure gets loud in there. Party stores sell toy microphones that reverb/echo what you sound into them.

5. Make sound effects of everything you see, hear, play with, ride in. Playing with toy cars – make the sound. Playing farm? All the animals make sounds. Most things do. Lesson here is that sounds can be imitated. More importantly, the sounds people make can be imitated. A huge language precursor.

6. Talk about everything you can. Life is a big lesson after all. Folding laundry? It’s a great time to build vocabulary on clothing items. Going to the grocery store? Food is everywhere. Driving anywhere? What do you see. Point here is to expose the child to spoken language.

7. You can insert any sound into a song that already exists. If you want to elicit the sound “bah,” then you can sing the whole melody to Mary Had a Little Lamb on the word “bah.” Ok, lambs say “bah” but that was just a coincidence.

8. Of course sing the old standard nursery rhymes and time-tested kids songs like “Itsy Bitsy Spider, “ and “Twinkle, twinkle little star.” These have been around for so long because they have a real effect on language. The predictable and patterned melodies heighten attention.  Pairing a motion with a song strengthens the connections even more.

9. Leave the last word off a phrase (musical sentence) and wait for the child to fill it in. An example would be “E I E I_______.” Praise all attempts and if need be, model the correct response. This needs to stay fun and not become a lesson- – at least in the child’s mind! You may know otherwise!

10. Sing. Sing. Sing. Singing activates more areas of the brain than speaking alone. It heightens, focuses, and motivates attention. And it’s its own reward. It’s good for them. Turn everything into a song. Giving a bath? “If your happy and you know it wash your toes!” Going to Grandmas? Sing “this is the way we sit in the car, sit in the car, sit in the car…”

Margie’s “Sing!” CD is full of original songs specifically written to foster sounds, words, and simple phrases. Oral-motor skills, articulation drills, sound play, and short sentences are all addressed through her music. Good for early intervention, pre-school, and early elementary students.

Margie is a music therapist and special educator with over 24 years experience working with pre-school and school aged children. Check out her excellent albums: 

Move! – Action songs about understanding directions and following through with them. (Receptive language)

Sing! – Action songs with sounds, words, and simple phrases. (Expressive language.)

Mixing it Up – More interactive songs about following directions, vocalizing, singing, moving and playing simple instruments.

Educational Ways to Use Freeze Games

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This activity is great for rainy days and kids love it. The best part is that they’re learning and they don’t even realize it because of all the fun they’re having!

Top 10 variations of Move and Freeze game and some benefits on the side.


  1. Move to the music and sit when it stops.

  2. Dance and freeze in place when the music stops.

  3. Dance minimally when the music is soft and grandly when loud. And stop.

  4. Dance and put a specific body part on a chair when the music stops.

  5. Freeze like an animal or character you are studying or reading about.

  6. Freeze and connect to a partner. Same part to same part. (Elbow to elbow…..)

  7. Freeze like an object in the room like a chair, or pencil, or flag for instance.

  8. Freeze like the something that rhymes with a word, like something that starts with a specific letter, or near to a particular color….

  9. Freeze by the function of an object. What? Yes, freeze by the thing you sharpen pencils with. Freeze by the thing come in and go out from….. or the thing we can look out through…

  10. Freeze like a preposition. Under something, over something, on the side of your chair, putting your right hand on your right foot.

  11. Bonus: Freeze like the leader.

Freeze games have stood the test of time and there is a reason. They are nutrition for our brains. Brains always seek more sophisticated stimulation. Here are some of the frozen benefits.  Freeze games require the recognition of sound verses silence, give and take, interest in the “other,” listening, auditory processing, concentration and attention, bodily control and coordination, imagination, and expectancy. The game is also good for waiting and impulse control, building all types of language, conceptual and pre-academic skills, social skills and more. These skills are all used for higher emotional and academic intelligence. Oh, and they’re fun to play.

 Hey, Mister Monkey is featured on Sing! See more of Margie La Bella’s albums.

How to Write (or Adapt) a Song for Kids

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My first premise is that anyone can do this!
People can get nervous about writing or adapting songs, but you don’t need to get nervous. You CAN do this. There are very few people who really “can’t” sing or who are really “tone-deaf.”

There are the kids who even as toddlers tell their parents “NO SING.!!!” Ok, I’ve known two ex-voice majors whose babies said “Don’t SING.” Sing anyway. If you’re still resistant, then I bet you had a bad chorus teacher or choir director who told you to just whisper the words…. They should have just helped you learn to focus your ears rather than turn you off to the joy of singing. Naughty teachers!

When I talk about writing a song, I’m going to talk about reworking an existing song for kids to help get done whatever it is that needs doing/learning/teaching.

This is what you do: You take an easy, familiar, traditional little kid song and you stick words into it.

That’s it! 
You do not need to be clever.
You do not even need to rhyme. 

Just stick in the words. 


Take the song Wheels on the Bus for example.
To help kids clean up, you can sing “Play time is over and it’s time to clean, time to clean, time to clean. Play time is over it’s time to clean. Clean up the toys.”

If you’re teaching body parts to toddlers, sing “Put the bean bag on your head, on your head, on your head. Put the bean bag on your head. Put it on your head.”

It really is that simple and mundane. As Nike says “Just do it.” To help peers learn names and to help foster awareness of syllables sing “Let’s sing ‘Hi’ to Monica (while clapping the syllables Mo-ni-ca) Monica Monica. Let’s sing ‘Hi’ to Monica. Hmmm who’s next?”

You can use songs for social skills, daily routines, new experiences, pre-academics /academics, language concepts, math, pre-reading, colors, vocabulary and more.

Why is this so natural and why does it work to well? A partial answer is that singing phrases involves both hemispheres of the brain. Music is whole brain- more parts of the brain are stimulated when a direction or concept is sung rather than spoken. It makes the job more interesting and less of a put-upon demand.

And think of how musical speech is. There is a proper tempo or rate of speech, a proper dynamic (volume) level, expected inflections (pitches), give and take, proper phrase length, expected phrase maintenance, sound vs silence, to name a few. All of this grabs our attention and makes us want to listen. This opens us up to foster new understandings of the world around us, of concepts, of ourselves, and of other people.

Margie is a music therapist with over 24 years experience working with pre-school and school aged children. Check out her excellent albums:


Move! – Action songs about understanding directions and following through with them. (Receptive language)


Sing! – Action songs with sounds, words, and simple phrases. (Expressive language.)


Mixing it Up – More interactive songs about following directions, vocalizing, singing, moving and playing simple instruments.