Environmental Rhythm Band

I was working on a magazine article recently where I interviewed Carol Kranowitz, a former music and movement teacher at a nursery school in Washington, D.C. She has done a ton of work in the area of Sensory Processing Disorder–where kids have a difficult time receiving information from the body’s five basic senses, movement and balance, and body position. Maybe they can’t stand the sticky feeling of glue, have no tolerance for the sound of a piano, or refuse to be pushed on a swing. On the other end of the spectrum, sensory cravers can’t get enough rough play or loud noise.

One of the tools Carol uses to help kids with SPD is an Environmental Rhythm Band. I went nuts over it. So cute. This is what Carol suggests to create an Environmental Rhythm Band:

Rhythm Sticks – 12-inch branch sections

Shakers – dried seed pods, short leafy branches, tall grasses and reeds, corn husks, gourds, dried seaweed

Tone Blocks – seashells, smooth stones, walnuts

Guiros – corn-on-the-cob

“Environmental instruments are lovely to accompany songs or poems about the seasons,” Carol says. “Punctuate the end of each spoken line with two strikes or shakes of the appropriate instrument. A wall chart with pictures is helpful for non-readers.”

Here is an example of a poem accompanied by environmental instruments:

The grass rustled in the wind. (pick up grass and shake, shake)

The leaves whisper on the trees (pick up branch with clinging leaves, and shake, shake)

The corn sways on the stalks (rub corncobs together)

The nuts clatter to the ground (drop nuts)

I’m going to form a band with my one-year-old nephew and play these instruments with him. How do you incorporate nature into your child’s play?

For more information on Carol’s work, visit her website and browse her books.

About Jenny Rough

Jenny Rough is a lawyer-turned-writer. Visit her on the web at www.jennyrough.com

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