Tuesday, September 27, 2011

Music at home-So much music for mi!

Today we continued to explore the black keys on the piano, and began learning some Solfege. Solfege, probably best known in the musical "The Sounds of Music" as part of the song "Do-re-mi"

is simply a way of singing intervals-the distance between notes, as opposed to the actual pitches on the staff. As such, it's a wonderful musical learning tool for young, old, and in between. Hand signs are used to help reinforce where the pitches are, and are a nice addition.

Assignments this week:
Create four note rhythm patterns with quarter notes and quarter rests
Find groups of three black keys on the piano (mi-re-do) and find melodies using these notes.
Find lines and spaces on the staff, counting from the bottom.
Listen to home CD


Music at home-Musical routines

I encourage you to play and sing our songs from class at home, in the car or where ever your family may be.  By incorporating Kindermusik activities into your daily lives, you will reinforce the learning that takes place in class. Also, your children will become more and more familiar with our activities and that familiarity will help promote a new comfort level in the classroom.

"Repetition continues to be important in the development of language and movement, as it is repeated experiences that reinforce the pathways of the brain.  By two years of age, a toddler's cerebral cortex contains well over a hundred trillion synapses, which is actually some fifty percent more synapses than she will keep as an adult.  while new synapses form rapidly during this timeframe, a 'pruning' process is also taking place.  This process strengthens frequently used pathways, while deleting those that are not used.  As pruning continues, it will allow your child to process thoughts and actions more quickly and efficiently" (www.zerotothree.org)

Which of your child’s daily routines can you infuse with music? Perhaps you can find a favorite song with which to wake your child up each day, make up songs for breakfast, lunch, and dinner, sing a song at bath time, or sing a goodnight song. Even diaper-changing time might be made easier and more pleasant with a favorite song! Don't be afraid to change lyrics to fit the situation (as you've heard me do in class for clean up time, piano time and the like), and don't be afraid to be silly.  Not only are you helping make routines easier, but you're also modeling language skills and that language can be used to communicate a variety of ideas in different ways.

This week, listen to your home CD, play outside, explore high, low, and in the middle, and HAVE FUN!

Music at Home-Wiggles and Giggles

Today we began a few new activities in class. At home this week, build familiarity for your child by listening to the new songs on your Home CDs! Also continue to play some of the “tried and true” games at home such as “Little Fish & Big Fish,” “If You’re Happy and You Know It,” and “I Can Wiggle.” Don't be afraid to change the words, adapt, and alter to fit what you and your child is doing. For example, Little and Big dinosaurs were very popular around here when my daughter was a toddler.

Your Home Activity Book is full of fun ideas. Have a look at pages 7-9. There you will find several ways to extend the hide-and-seek play of “I See You.”

A wonderful version of Lukey's Boat to share! Have fun!

Wednesday, September 21, 2011

Lukey's boat

Thanks to some KM colleagues in Newfoundland, CA, for recommending this wonderful-and much more authentic version of "Lukey's Boat"


Monday, September 19, 2011

Music at Home-Bathtime fun

I'm sure you've enjoyed Pete, PJ, and Wishy Washy WEE this semester so far! Here are some more wonderful Bathtime fun suggestions-sing, play and enjoy, from the folks at Family Fun Magazine!

Have a great week!


Music at home-The highs and lows of it

 This week our lesson focus was all about levels in movement.  So much of life is experienced without exploring the extremes of high and low.  Stretching outside of the normal range of movement can enhance awareness of our bodies in space, coordination, balance, and creative expression through movement.  Moving high and low translates fairly easily to children of all ages.  Hands and arms can be moved high and low; babies can be lifted into the air; and movements can incorporate crouching and stretching, crawling and walking high on tip-toes. On the piano, high notes are to the far right, and low notes are to the far left. If you have a piano or other instrument at home, try playing High and low notes, and encourage your child to move in response to the music. Scarves, streamers, or pieces of ribbon (with supervision, of course) can add another dimension to this activity. And if you have one, a Slinky is great to stretch and snap back to demonstrate levels in sound AND levels in movement!

If you haven't done so yet, visit play.kindermusik.com and use the card from your home materials to download the CDs from class. While this is the same music you have on your class CDs, you will also be able to download the lyrics from all the songs and extra activities to sing, play, move and groove. As mentioned in class, these are wonderful for those cold, wet or otherwise out of sorts days when parents and kids both need a break, for babysitters who might appreciate a little extra help in finding some way to play with a child, or for visiting grandparents.

Have a wonderful week!

Music at home- Play the black keys!

The piano has a really, really nice feature. While most of us remember accidentals and black keys from piano lessons with fear and trembling, if you play JUST the black keys, you've found a pentatonic scale. And many, many common melodies are solely pentatonic. The example above is from the website http://www.pentatonika.net/-which is a website focused JUST on pentatonic melodies and contains a wealth of songs. Chances are high that one of your child's favorites is playable on the black keys-so sing, play, and try to figure it out! You'll be developing your child's musical ear, their attention and concentration skills, and developing a feeling of accomplishment at the same time.

Other activities from this week:
Practice locating lines and spaces on the staff, and counting from the bottom-first line, 2nd line, first space, and so on. This is a helpful skill in later music reading.

Practice making and reading 4 count rhythms using the quarter note (ta) and the quarter rest (shh) symbols. The song "I like to play the sticks" is designed for this task.

Have fun!

Friday, September 16, 2011

The secret to success?


I found this article very interesting, because as a Kindermusik/Orff Schelwerk trained teacher I'm all about incremental development and the chance to experiment without risk of failure or mistakes. And this seems, at first glance to contradict this idea. But as I read further, I started to feel really good about what I do as a teacher, as a music parent. Because, see, music is one area where, while I can set it up so there's no complete failure, there's also no complete success. This is why those early songs keep recurring-the child might rock to a song as an infant, play rhythm instruments to it or move to it as a toddler, sing it as a preschooler, and play it on an instrument as an early school aged child. What's more, once they've learned the song on an instrument, they'll first work on just finding those notes in the appropriate order, and then on making sure rhythms are correct, moving on to articulations and expressive development. In each step, each successive success, each successive step builds-but at the same time, it's NEVER perfect. It never can be. So each success comes with it a corresponding "failure". Not a big one, not a total failure (although anyone who is involved in music long-term will eventually have one, or many), and maybe not even one recognized by casual listeners-but you know.

That's very different from academics-where success is reaching a pre-identified number, and it's not possible to do better than perfect, at which time you go on to the next step. Once you've got 100% on a spelling list of 10 words, there's not much else you're going to learn from those words. Once you've mastered adding 1 digit numbers, you're not going to get much out of practicing them except for maybe a little more speed. But in music, you can ALWAYS get more out of a piece. You can always extend, You can always grow. You can always do it a different way.

The same is true with other fine arts. I have yet to know an artist who is happy with a completed work for very long-they always see the next step. Dancers and actors are their own worst critics-and best teachers.  I'm not saying fine and performing arts is the only way to get this experience of success and failure simultaneously, or that it's the only way to build character-but it definitely helps, and I'm very, very honored and glad to be able to be part of it for my students.

Monday, September 12, 2011

Scholastic Teacher Express $1 Sale-through 9/20

Scholastic occasionally does e-book sales where you can do digital downloads for $1 each. These are great for homeschooling, or just for extra fun activities to do.  For my fellow Kindermusik teachers, especially those who teach ABC, these can be great extras to send home, too.

Turn to learn-make interactive books and activities to reinforce many key learning skills.

Pocket charts are a great way to play with literacy-especially if you got the $1 ones from Target last month!

More Creatures in my Backyard, anyone?

Tunes that Teach American history-more for older kids than little ones, but these are a lot of fun. I actually bought this book at $14.95 for my 6 yr old.

Tunes that teach Spelling-again, not necessarily for the littlest ones, but a great price for the early school-age child

Great for sending notes to students, or for "I've got a Letter this morning".

Wonderful resource-for home or for school

Songs for throughout the year!

Sing and learn-Following directions
We can always use help there, right?


Rhymers are readers!

Caring, sharing and getting along-poems for social skills

ABC-123 Coloring pages

Art Activities for early learners

Move and Learn early concepts

Fun and easy brain based activities for early learners


50 Learning songs sung to your favorite tunes

Music this week-Jumping Beans

We had a wonderful week moving and jumping and playing and singing together! Welcome to our Lipman families and to Kenneth and Kiersten at PAC!

Keyboard skills-This week we explored the black and white keys of the piano by finding groups of 2 and 3 black keys and exploring these. As Kenneth showed us, you can play many songs using just the black keys, including the start of Amazing Grace. This is because the black keys fall in the pentatonic scale, which is commonly used in children's music and folk music, and is a great place to begin piano exploration. If you have a piano or keyboard at home, consider trying it this week!

Music theory-We also worked with the quarter note and quarter rest symbols, Ta and Shh, making and reading rhythms, exploring an imaginary rainforest,  and practicing moving and freezing. Your child took home four rhythm cards which can be cut apart to make quarter notes, quarter rests, and two eighth notes (we haven't introduced this last symbol in class, but we'll get there). Try having your child make a pattern of four note and rest cards and read them by tapping, clapping, or using Ta and Shh.

Theme exploration-Our theme for this first unit is the music of Latin America, and we explored several songs from various Latin American countries, including working on some Spanish vocabulary. The children were thrilled to share their prior knowledge with the group.

To continue this, here is a printable book in Spanish

and in English


Some of you who registered early received home materials today. If you registered later, your home materials have been ordered, but have not yet arrived. We will get you these as soon as possible. If you did get home materials today, I suggest copying or backing up the CD to your computer or Mp3 player. The more you listen to the CD (in the car is often a wonderful place for this) the more your child will be able to participate in and enjoy class, and it always seems that the CD that is most liked and used is the one that vanishes or is damaged beyond repair. Your home materials also include a home activity guide with a story to share, activities to do, and a panpipes instrument to explore.

Have a great week and enjoy making music together!

Music this week-Wiggles and Giggles

We’ve wiggled and we’ve giggled. We’ve rocked. We’ve bounced. And we even crawled while singing “Lukey’s Boat!”

Did you know that the physical act of crawling activates brain development? Carla Hannaford, neurophysiologist and internationally recognized educational consultant, asserts that cross-lateral movements such as crawling activate both hemispheres of the brain in a balanced way. These types of activities “work both sides of the body evenly and involve coordinated movements of both eyes, both ears, both hands, and both feet as well as balanced core muscles.” Activating both hemispheres can heighten cognitive functions and increase learning.* (Carla Hanneford-Smart moves)

Chasing a ball while crawling, making a tunnel out of a cardboard box or a sheet over a coffee table (or a commercial play tunnel-Target is doing their end of summer clearance on outdoor play items now), or pretending to be animals can all be wonderful ways of getting your toddler to crawl, and also works for any older children who happen to be around. If you have children in your family who span a range of ages, this is a great way to involve the older ones in play with the baby, while helping EVERYONE'S brain to function better.

So, crawl to it! Have fun, make music, and we'll see you next week!

Music this week-Movin' and Groovin'

We sure "moved & grooved" in class this week!  Thank you all for your creative ideas and enthusiasm in class.  Have you noticed all the moving words in our songs?  "Hop Up My Baby", "Jing Jang" and "My Pony Joe" to name just a few. 

Words are simply sounds until they are associated with an object, action, experience or feeling.  Combining sounds, movement, and language, such as fast and slow, high and low, and smooth and bumpy, gives children an opportunity to make connections between the action and sounds.  When similar events and sounds are repeated together, words begin to have meaning ("The Meaning of Words." presented by Bruce Perry at the National Early Childhood Advisory Board Meeting on May 19, 2000).  

For more Family Time fun at home, enjoy fast and slow “family jams” (play-alongs) to your favorite songs using container drums.  Find ways of playing your drums fast and slow, high and low and moving to the 1-2 beat and the 1-2-3 beat. Putting beans, rice, or even cheerios inside gives a range of sound opportunities as you shake and tap.  There are a wealth of possibilities that will reveal themselves as you explore together.  

Enjoy your new home materials. I strongly suggest that you copy the CDs to your computer or make a back-up copy, as I have not yet been able to get the download from the Kindermusik cafe to work. It can be very frustrating to have a favorite CD go missing or be unplayable when your child wants it! Enjoy the books and the balls, too. The more you use the home materials, especially by listening to the recordings at home, the more your child will be able to participate in and enjoy class, and it's helpful to parents, too! 
The home activity book and game are great "rainy day activities". Don't feel that you have to do the activities in order, or do them each day or even each week as "homework". But when you need something extra to do, something fun, or when everyone is a bit out of sorts, pulling that book out and finding a good activity to share can be a life saver, especially with a cranky toddler! I've also found that the activities in home materials can be great idea starters for babysitters, visiting relatives, or when you have an extra child or two over for one reason or another.

Have a fun time taping, shaking and playing together. I look forward to seeing you next week!

Ms. Donna

Friday, September 9, 2011

Top tips for reading with kids

Use these with the literature books/magazines that come in your KM home kits-or any other books you have at home or get from the library


Story stones-song stones?

 I saw this idea for making "story stones" to use in telling stories with preschoolers, and it seemed like a great one. I'm thinking they'd make good "song stones" too!

Friday, September 2, 2011

Fun and free things this weekend and next week

Buy one, get one free cone at Baskin Robbins

$5 off Hasbro games coupons at Coupons.com
There are also store coupons for these games at Target.com which can be used with the coupons.com one, making many of the preschool games free or close to it.

Kids eat free all weekend at Bob Evans

Make a reservation and get free breakfast at Chick-fil-a next week.

Join us for a free Kindermusik preview class at the University of Memphis Community Music school. Classes available on Friday and Saturday mornings for children 0-6.  Just let me know you want to come!

Terrific Toddlers and lots of boats!

I know you're having a wonderful time in Kindermusik Our Time with Lukey's Boat.

This is one of my favorite songs to play with color and rhyming words with. Rhyming is one of the most important phonemic awareness skills and is a precursor to learning to read. And improvisation and language play are important precursors to independent writing and composition.

Unfortunately, this can be a bit tough for parents sometimes. We'd like to be creative and come up with those wonderful word games and play on the spot, but when you've only gotten a few hours of uninterrupted sleep at a time for a couple of years, sometimes that can be hard to achieve.

So, here's my cheat sheet. Obviously, you can always make up your own rhymes, but these are ones that I've used for different colors. Simply let your child pick their various stuffed animals or toys (bath toys are great), pick favorite colors for them, and sing/rhyme away!

Brown-He likes to sail it down to town
Green-The finest boat you've ever seen
Red-He likes to sail it straight ahead
Blue-He loves the things that it can do
Pink-Oh, it's the finest boat, I think
Yellow- Because he is a clever fellow
Purple and orange are both tough, so I tend to change the words a bit

Oh, Lukey's boat is purple too,
a ha, me boys
Oh, Lukey's boat is purple too,
he loves the things that it can do
A ha me riddle I day!

This works for Orange-or anything else that doesn't have an easy rhyme.

Here is a cute and easy boat craft to make that helps teach basic shapes.

Have fun singing, rocking, and playing this week!

The fair is in town!-Let's learn at home!

The Delta Fair kicks off tonight, so I thought I'd share some  activities that you can do with your children at home that relate to the fair.

If you have the Kindermusik CDs "Carnival of Music" or "Shoo Fly Pie", these are both Carnival-themed units and are wonderful for bringing the fair home to you.

The Fair is a great time to work on motor skills, such as throwing a ball at a target. Simply get out a box, hamper, or even a clean trash can, set it up in a hallway or outside, and encourage children to take turns throwing the ball into the box, getting the ball, and taking it back to the next person. We do this in class with our toddlers to work on motor skills, but also to work on turn taking and social skills as well. Plus, it's fun.

For older children, lay out multiple targets that relate to a skill they're learning. These might be letters, numbers, pictures to identify, pictures to identify and rhyme, or even sight words. Have the child throw a bean bag on a target, then complete the desired skill. This can be modified for almost any academic practice area, such as spelling words or math facts for school-aged children, too.

High Wire Walking-Balance is an important skill to develop for sports, dance, riding a bike or scooter, or just having fun. Set up a "high wire" using tape inside (I like blue painters tape) or sidewalk chalk, and walk on the wire. You can also set up the high wire in different shapes-geometric shapes, letters, numbers, and so on, and walk/hop on the shape. This is often a helpful pre or early writing step.

If you have fairly thin carpet, hook-side velcro is great for this sort of activity-it stays in place until you want to remove it, and can be re-used. Fabric and craft stores usually sell just the hook-side by the roll.

Parachute play-While you may not have a parachute at home, a small blanket, table cloth, or sheet works quite well. A light weight receiving blanket is often a good choice at home. Go up and down, shake, bounce a ball or stuffed animal on the parachute, and make a carousel by going around and around. You can practice your circle dances from Kindermusik class, too!

Ribbons and scarf dancing-A roll of paper streamers is an inexpensive, albeit possibly slightly messy, way to keep a group of children busy and happy. Simply give each child a few feet of streamer, turn on some music, and dance! High, low, around and around. It's festive and fun. If you have brightly colored scarves or pieces of ribbon left over from crafts or gift wrapping, that's even better. Hair scrunchies or bracelets can be tied to ribbons to make handles. (Note-anything long is a strangulation hazard-always supervise children during use).

Here are many other Carnival/fair themed activities for young children! Enjoy the fair!

Kindermusik classes will not meet this Saturday, September 3, due to Labor Day weekend. All studio classes will resume next week. After school classes at the Lipman school will begin September 9.We still have spaces available in many classes. Please call 901-678-4244 for more information.