I’ve recently been beefing up my arsenal of activities for the school-age population (grades K-5).

Two years ago I started working at a school for children with special needs, and it’s been a great exercise in creativity for me!

I have lots of ideas for working with children and teens, but not many that are specifically created for the school-age population.

(There was the Noun Rap, though! Remember that?)

Now that the school is in summer camp mode, we have a different theme each week. This week’s theme is Under the Stars, and the activities are all about camping.

I’ll admit, this one made me a little nostalgic. I was a Girl Scout and I spent many summers at sleep away camp hiking, singing songs around the campfire, and making s’mores.

So, I was more than a little excited to get to work planning camping-themed music therapy activities for my PreK and K-5 students.

Here were some of the hits:

1. Camping Hello Song + Book – To get the activities started in the right direction, we sang a camping hello song. I brought in a book I found at the library called “Down the River” by Andrew Weiner. Instead of using the words in the book as song lyrics, I chose to use the beautiful pictures to show the steps we take to start camping.

To the tune of “Farmer in the Dell” we sang:
A camping we will go, a camping we will go, heigh ho we’re on the go, a camping we will go.
We’re packing up our car, we’re packing up our car, heigh ho we’re on the go, we’re packing up our car.
We’re driving in our car…
We’re pulling on our boots…
We’re fishing in the lake…
We caught a great big fish…
A camping we will go…

For the PreK and K students, we did movements for each verse of the song (for example, pretending to drive a car). For the students in grades 1-5, we did rhythmic body percussion to keep the beat: pat / clap / clap. They got really into it, and it sure was a great exercise in selective attention for them to keep that rhythm up while I sang something different.

Goals – To increase expressive language and to improve selective attention.

2. Roasting Marshmallows and Hot dogs over the Campfire – When I said this idea out loud to my husband, I kind of laughed at myself because it sounded so silly. But let me tell you, this idea was a COMPLETE HIT! I put red, orange and yellow scarves inside a drum…that was our camp fire. Each student got one rhythm stick…that was their roaster.

Then we sang the Campfire Pokey (shared by various library blogs on the web)!

To the tune of “Hokey Pokey” we sang:
You put your marshmallow in, you put your marshmallow out, you put your marshmallow in and you shake it all about. Do the campfire pokey and you turn yourself around. That’s what it’s all about. Yum, yum!
You put your hot dog in, you put your hot dog out…
You put your ___________ (students fill in blank for what they want to roast)

Goals – To improve gross and fine motor skills.

3. Counting Marshmallows – This activity was for the PreK and K students only, since they were working on counting. I laid out ten marshmallows (real ones!) and asked the students one at a time to pick up a roaster (aka rhythm stick) and point to one marshmallow at a time as we counted.

To the tune of “Ten Little Indians” we sang:
1 little, 2 little, 3 little marshmallows,
4 little, 5 little, 6 little marshmallows,
7 little, 8 little, 9 little marshmallows,
10 marshmallows in a row. Yum, yum!

Goals – To improve knowledge of academic concepts (specifically, counting to ten).

We had so much fun during these goal-based activities. I love planning around a theme that brings back so many positive memories!

Next week, we’ll continue on as I share how I use the xylophone and handbells to facilitate singing camp songs. Stay tuned!