This is a post out of the “31 Days of Morning Circles for the Child with Special Needs”. You can find the main page for this series here.
Opening activities in the morning circle are meant to greet the morning as well as one another. Mornings provide a new start and a fresh perspective on life. No matter how difficult things were the day before, you have a fresh slate to begin with. Start by honoring it together with your child.
I make a big stink out of the morning because I happen to be a morning person. I`m guessing that my son is not. It takes him a while to get the grumpies out of his system before he produces a smile. I respect the space he needs.
By the time we get to the morning circle, however, he`s had enough time to ease into the day with some snuggles and breakfast. This is a great time to express gratitude for the sunrise and the day before us.
Since we both love music, we open the circle with songs or chants. I have collected many songs over the years as a public-school teacher, but I don`t know what the sources are at this point. Because some are copyrighted for personal use, I won`t write the lyrics of the songs I use. Instead, I’ll share with you how to go about finding welcome songs and I’ll link to some online videos for quick reference.
Adaptations for opening activities for the child with special needs:
- keep the songs/ chants short and sweet — especially when first getting started
- don’t expect your child to sit the entire time — choose songs that allow for different positions
- repetition is key
- once he knows them well enough, allow your child to choose between two songs using a choice board
- change the words to better suit your child
- use ASL signs or PECS cards to accompany the songs
See additional general adaptations here.
Ideas for morning circle songs/ chants to welcome your day:
- hello songs/ chants that include your child`s name
- nature songs/ chants that thank Mother Earth, and welcome the sun on this new day
- seasonal songs/ chants that acknowledge and welcome the season
- thematic songs/ chants that relate to the monthly theme or holiday
- make up a song using familiar nursery rhyme tunes, or even popular modern-day tunes
- use percussion instruments to accompany the songs (ex.: drums, rhythm sticks, tambourine)
- play an instrument yourself (ex: guitar, keyboard, xylophone)
Using the same opening songs or chants over an extended period of time allows your child to:
- build vocabulary as he learns the words for familiar objects, seasons and celebrations.
- work on the social skills required for greeting others through the words: “hello”, “welcome” and “good morning”
- build self-esteem as your child’s name is repeated
Links to welcome/ morning circle songs:
These links are to videos where you can not only learn new lyrics, you can also hear the catchy melodies. It’s a quick way to learn the songs.
- 2 Easy-to-Learn Hello Songs (Music therapist Ryan Judd offers 2 versions of a song to use in a group setting, but if you only have one child, change the words “my friends” to your child’s name. Offers a version for older kids to give you an idea of how to incorporate older kids in the morning circle too. Note: Everything Ryan produces and publishes is excellent!)
- Good Morning Song (good song for more than one child – uses the word “everyone”)
- Good Morning Sun (Vina Barham shares a verson of a song she composed to welcome the sun. I love the melody.)
How do you greet the morning in your circle? What are your favorite songs?