Small food items or other small tokens are perfect partners for playful practice and can be used in a number of ways. Suggested foods are: chocolate chips (nearly always a favorite-I keep a jar of them ready and waiting), marshmallows, tiny jellybeans, raisins or other dried fruit, and gummy worms. Possible small non-food items are puzzle pieces, Legos®, pennies, toothpicks and marshmallows, used together. I don't always use hard and fast rules with these, but spontaneously as the notion strikes.
Using these codes you can quickly scan through the following games to find a suggested game for your particular need.
♦ = general games
♥ = listening games
T = especially for Pre-Twinks and Twinklers
∞ = review games
X = repetition games
Some ways to use food items:
♦T∞X Repetitions: Each bit of food is reward for X number of accurate repetitions. Have the child decide whether the repetition was accurate. You may overrule of course. Line the food items up on the music stand and then eat all at once, or pop them in their mouths as they earn them...well, this is not a good idea for flutes or recorders!
♦X∞ Place a food item on top of cards that are placed in a pathway around the practice room. Eat them as child moves along path, or save them for later. The cards contain chunks to practice, or whole songs.
♦T When working with violins and violas, the left hand fingers if placed properly are set up like tables. Put food on these "tables." Some students love to have assign a food to the chocolate chip, one that they would eat at a meal. The first finger is the breakfast food; second, lunch; third, dinner and fourth finger is a snack. Once all of the "tables" are loaded, the student eats the "meals" one at a time. One little four year old always chooses salad for several meals.
♦T Pop a raisin, chocolate chip, etc in the child's mouth if they did something extra well.
♦♥TX I use gummy worms for laughter and to good effect. The worm resides in the peg box of the violin. As something is done extra well, the worm moves down the finger board to investigate, until, Oh, NO! It approaches the child's mouth and it is suddenly missing a part. The worm scurries back to the peg box to recuperate but once again moves close to investigage (and too close to the mouth) when something is played well. Pretty soon the worm is gone. This game could be used to have the child listen to something in particular…ie: if a particular note was correct and in tune.