Submitted by Monica Autry, Ft. Bragg, North Carolina

Idea posted April 19, 2004

I spent several years at a school that had a couple of self-contained special education classes. The most important thing to remember with these classes is repetition. I saw each class once a week. I learned through the years to make a monthly tape of songs and activities for these classes. Each new tape would include some of the favorite songs from previous months. My autistic children did not handle change well, so I always made sure to stop and start each class with the same song. When you do this, they really can learn. I'll mention some resources I found to be particularly helpful:

  • Music K-8 magazine and whatever your music series is - motion songs, songs with repeating phrases, songs easy to illustrate with PowerPoint or pictures.
  • Greg & Steve CDs
  • Hap Palmer
  • Sesame Street
  • Anna Moo
  • Barney
  • Nursery Rhymes

Some of the above songs and artists have been around for quite awhile, but I found that students responded very well to them. My special education children loved Barney! Many of these CDs include songs that integrate into their classroom curriculum.

Make sure that they are making music. No matter what the handicap, they can realize and respond to music in some way. They can do more that just fingerplays! Maybe they can't sing to show dynamics, but perhaps they can show it on a drum. I've seen music touch a part of a special education student that we didn't know was there. I really tried to have a musical objective/standard focus for each activity. Students responded better, and I felt like I was teaching them musicality.