I always have fun planning activities around a St. Patrick’s Day theme! There’s a large variety of music that can be used….instrumental jigs and reels, vocal standards, music that is fast or slow, etc. In addition, there are rainbows, shamrocks, pots of gold and anything the color green!
Here is a fun intervention I used this past week that can be adapted to work with a variety of populations and different goals. First, everyone sat in a circle. Then I brought out my green pot of gold….which was actually filled with different types of instruments. I used the elements of mystery and anticipation as I pulled out instruments, one by one from the pot, to introduce and demonstrate them to my students. Afterwards, I put the instruments back into the pot and off to the side. We then played a game of hot potato to Irish music. A really fun song to use is called, MacNamara’s Band! The version below is by The Hit Crew and available on i-Tunes.
As the music played, we passed a foam shamrock or green hat around the circle. When the music stopped on a student, we sang, “Who has the shamrock?”. Depending on goals, you can ask this question to the person who is holding the shamrock, one of their peers or the entire group. Whoever was holding the shamrock, got to choose an instrument from the pot of instruments and then went to an adjacent area to play it while we repeated the hot potato game with the remaining students. After everyone had chosen an instrument and had an opportunity to play along, we had a parade. While, I played a version of MacNamara’s Band on my guitar, students followed me around the room, marching and playing their instruments. They listened for musical cues indicating when to start and stop. They had so much fun that they didn’t even realize they were working on important goals.
I adapted this activity a few ways for students with different strengths and/or needs:
1. For groups where students had limited mobility and/or needed more support, we did an instrument passing type of activity. Students still had an opportunity to choose instruments from the pot and play them during an Irish song I played on guitar. When musically cued, students would stop and then pass their instrument to the person next to them. The process was then repeated until everyone had a chance to experience each instrument. If necessary, I also had an iPad available. Instrument sounds could be recorded into it and easily played by students using the PlayButton app or instrument apps were used.
2. My high school students are very motivated to sing karaoke, which improves self confidence and self esteem. Instead of choosing an instrument if the shamrock landed on them, they chose a pop song to sing into my karaoke mic. Other students moved along to the song with wrist rainbow streamers. Most of the students who were non-verbal, but could articulate sounds also chose to use the mic. Students with higher needs were given additional choices of using an instrument or iPad to play/sing along with the song. They also chose a peer to sing along with them.
Goals that can be addressed by this activity include: improving social skills and awareness, “wh” questions, expressive language, attention, impulse control, motor skills, sustaining play, following directions, walking and staying in a line, self esteem, self confidence and improve mood.