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BY Marlowe

A spoonful of “music” helps the schedule go round

I saw Mary Poppins at the Detroit Music Theater over the holiday, and was struck by the “Spoonful of Sugar” song.  It is amazing how music (though not necessarily sugar for those of us with children on restricted diets) can help ease the transitions of getting through daily life.   Now that a new year has begun, it is time to get back to our schedules for ourselves and our children.  Why not ease up your daily routines by using music and brighten up the mood of the day?

Delia on the left, Me in middle and Lila on the right

Changing words to familiar melodies, or making up new chants and songs is a great way to help children with special needs manage schedules and transitions.  It also helps everyone in the family from siblings to parents by creating a sense of shared enjoyment.  Non-verbal children may not respond to the words alone, but they catch the cues and mood of the music.  Repetition creates familiarity and helps calm the emotions of leaving a preferred or safe activity.

In our family, my neuro-typical daughter now has started to create her own musical rhythms for us to chart our day; and my daughter with autism will “fill in the blanks” with vocal approximations or do the requested movement or gesture.   When I am performing or doing music in a classroom setting, I use musical transitions to prompt the group to move along.

Below are some of the familiar melodies I have changed the words to, and some that I have written and recorded with my family music band, the Swingset Mamas.  I hope this may inspire some of you to add a “spoonful of music” into your new year!

“Dressed” by the Swingest Mamas (Adapted from “Charge” the baseball anthem)
Make getting dressed a real accomplishment!
Pants, Pants, Pants, Pants 2x   (doo, doo, doo doo doo doo)  PANTS
Listen on iTunes

To the tune of “The Farmer in the Dell”
We’re ready for the Hall 2x, We’re standing very quietly, We’re ready for the Hall
– Use for any transition activity  (The bus, recess, to have lunch, centertime, etc.)

To the tune of “We Will Rock You” Queen
“Time to eat some dinner”  (substitute with “come to circle”, etc)
Movement: stamp, stamp, clap

“5 More Minutes” by the Swingset Mamas
Give a choice in “how” you leave, and enjoy the process
Listen on iTunes

See Ya Later Alligator by the Swingset Mamas

A calming transition song with months of the year and rhyming goodbyes
Watch the music video


Written on January 6, 2011 by:

Marlowe Bechmann is a enthusastic Friendship Circle mom, and she is also a musician in an award-winning family music band called the Swingset Mamas. She teaches music to self-contained autism classes at elementary and middle schools, and spreads the message of inclusion through Ability Awareness assemblies at schools across the country. Learn more at or

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