Saturday, March 16, 2013

STRETCHY BAND - My New Favorite Manipulative!

Parent/Child class enjoying the Stretchy Band!
Hi!  Miss Carole from Macaroni Soup back with my new-found favorite prop – the Stretchy Band!  Ok, it may have been around for a while, but I just picked one up this summer and started working with it in my classes – it’s a BIG HIT!!! 
     I buy my Stretchy Band from Bear Paw Creek - I also sell them at conferences.

    Here’s the scoop: 
I bought my Medium-sized band (10’) at the ECMMA national conference in Wisconsin.  It sat in the bag until September rolled around - 2 months.  To my dismay, it came with little in the way of suggestions for use with children from the manufacturer, being used mostly in the OT/PT community.  Actually, BPC asks for activity suggestions from users – a good idea!  You can purchase the Medium Stretchy Band from Bear Paw Creek for $52 with the MacSoup discount in the coupon code.  It’s an investment, to be sure – but worth it to me!
Waa waa waah!
 I have found I can put 18 children around my medium band – more than that is quite crowded.  But even 8-10 kids is very fun, too! If you want to put more than 20 kids around a band, get the Large ($67). 
     I have had great success with children 2 - 6 years old - you can, too!


The Wheels on the Bus with a Stretchy Band  
    Put the Stretchy Band on the floor, loosely forming a circle.  Children sit cross-legged around the band, about 12 – 18” outside the band.  On your instruction, they reach forward with one hand and grasp the band in front of them and pull it back to where they are sitting.  Grasp band with both hands.  Now you’re ready to sing and move – and the fun begins!
windows - up and down!
    Sing “The Wheels on the Bus” as you know it, but with the following movements with the Stretchy Band:

1. wheels go round and round – move band in circles away from body – a rowing motion.
2. windows go up and down – move band up’n’down  on the words “up” and “down”
3. doors go open and shut – lay back, sit up  (yup, it’s sit-ups!)
4. wipers go swish swish swish – move hands from side to side
5. people get bumped around – shake it, baby, up and down - quickly!
6. babies cry waa waa waah – knock fists together, then apart quickly, 3 times
7. parents say sh! sh! sh! – while grasping band, hold up pointer finger to lips on the sh’s!
8.  repeat first verse!

Some notes from experience: 
  •          Keep the tempo reasonable, even slower than usual.
  •          Most children don’t have well-developed abdominal muscles, so “doors” will be challenging!   Also, demonstrate how to lean back without knocking your head on the floor too hard!
  •          Stop between verses to demonstrate the next verse.
  •          Bring the controlled chaos of the “people get bumped” down by singing the “babies” verse a little sadly, then the “parents” verse in a hushed voice.

doors - open and shut - whoa!

I have found this to have similar skills and feel to parachute activities.  OT/PT folks tell me it’s great with their populations, too!  In my classroom, not a single child declined to participate – everyone has a blast.


Other activities I have tried:  Standing inside the band facing out, we take a giant step away from the center, then let the band gently push us back in while sliding our voices from high to low.  Then increase to two steps, repeat.  I am just starting to add the use of recorded music for activities.  The Stretchy Band is great for ocean waves, wind, etc.

     If you have suggestions, please comment!  One of my friends is trying to make her own band – I’ll let you know how that comes out when she figures it out! 

Yours for a Stretching Song!
Miss Carole


  1. That looks like so much fun, Carole! I pinned your post to my Educational Songs Pinterest Board at

  2. Thank, Deb! It IS fun - and good for kids on SO many levels - as exercise, as community and cooperative play! And it's inclusive. We did it in a class with a child in a wheelchair - we sat tall on our knees so that she could participate, too, and it worked! Love, love, love the stretchy band!

  3. Hi Miss Carole,
    Just came across your activity ideas and love them! I am "Bear Paw Creek" the manufacturer of the stretchy bands. I'd love to add your ideas to our idea list. Thanks for the great blog post - sharing it!
    Thanks, Janet

  4. Hi Janet!
    I would love to have you include my Stretchy Band ideas - and I have more! As you can tell, I love my SB - and the kids do, too! I've been demonstrating how to use it at Early Childhood Conferences - and now teachers are catching on. Please contact me by email or phone - let's make this work for both of us! or 847-384-1404

  5. Thanks for the post! I got the extra large this year with a grant and I've been looking for new ideas for the little ones. I teach 11 classes with 24 pre-k kids each, and I see them all every day. Having just switched from a school where I saw each of my K-5 classes once a week, I am constantly on the lookout for new ideas. My favorite thing about your activities listed here is that the song use is organic, and that we are using our imagination to transfer a known song to the activity. Much preferable, in my mind, to always singing "let's all swish the stretchy band". I do a certain amount of that because we are building up vocabulary, particularly with ELL, but the imagination is so important. Just as a side note, I went to a workshop you did in Tulsa years ago, and I continue to use many of the activities I learned there. I just discovered this blog searching for stretchy band activities and I know I'll be coming back for more ideas.

  6. You're welcome, Jan! Something must be in the air - I received contact from someone else in that group in Tulsa about 10 days ago, looking to bring me back to the Tulsa area in the Fall for another workshop at her school! Keep checking my website calendar ( for details!
    Yes, I agree that there's a lot of ideas for the Stretchie Band that are sort of mundane. BUT - if we all keep sharing, it's great. The gal who created this incarnation of the SB, Janet Stephens (no relation) of Bear Paw Creek is fabulous at making great props! I hope to have a blog in May or June about using her streamers on wristbands for Rainbow songs. Everything she does is so well-made, and I'm happy to support a small, woman-owned company like hers! On her blog there is a great video of a SB idea with the music from "The Nutcracker", including galloping and walking with the rhythm. I'll be trying that one, for sure! You can find it here:
    Keep in touch!


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