Friday, May 30, 2008

The Cow Book

So, it is well-known amongst the Kindermusik crowd that children love books about cows. The kids routinely ask for "The Cow Book" (Look Who's Talking on the Farm, by Danny Tepper, below, not to be confused with Cock-a-Doodle-MOO!, above, which is also about farm animals).

Other favorites include "The Pink Book" (Shiny Dinah), "The Train Book" (also Shiny Dinah), "The French Book" (Le ventre de la bĂȘte), and "The Boat Book" (confusing because we have a lot of boat books, and I never know which one the kids are asking for). The children never ask for "The Cricket Book," but since they always seem to find it riveting, I assume that they are simply hoping that I will be smart enough to interpret their silence as a request for The Very Quiet Cricket...or maybe "cricket" is just harder to say than "cow," "pink," "train," or "boat".

Why read in a music class? Well, I don't want to give away any Kindermusik trade secrets, but most people probably innately realize that music and literature have a lot in common. Both art forms involve expression, phrasing, cadences, and structure. From a young age, children sing the alphabet to the tune of "Twinkle, Twinkle," and reading music requires one to be familiar with the fundamentals of reading language. I guess that's why story time is so often our favorite part of class. Visit this site to learn more about reading to your child at home -- the most important learning environment of all!

Wednesday, May 14, 2008

We're a Musical Family!

Can you guess how many of the children in this Family Time photo are related?

A former mentor once said, "Never reject a child," and I take this mandate very seriously. Hence, my lap is more or less open to however many children can manage to pile on. Luckily, I have a lot of room.

Tuesday, May 13, 2008

Sweetest Little Baby

Mama, Mama told me-o
I'm the sweetest little baby in the country-o
I looked in the mirror and found it so,
Just as Mama told me-o!

Jordan's baby cheeks and playful smile light up her Kindermusik class every week, and mom loves to sing and sign "Sweetest Little Baby" to her daughter. The sheer joy expressed in this picture is typical of Jordan's approach to life. Wouldn't it be great if we all felt that way about our place in the world?

Sunday, May 11, 2008

Happy Mother's Day!!!

To give due credit, I must admit that this post came from a longer version on Merri's blog. Read Merri's blog to learn about the origins of these wonderful snippets on motherhood.

Some final thoughts from me: Whether you have five children or one, and whether you are currently coasting through motherhood or wrestling with its many challenges, know that you are doing the hardest yet most important job in the world, and that you are valued, appreciated, and loved.

Tuesday, May 6, 2008

Move over, Mozart!

Young Child 4 students learning to play "Call & Response"
and "Question & Answer" patterns on their drums

Since I spent the last post raving about my Imagine That students, I must give equal due to my Kindermusik for the Young Child students. These students, ages 5-7, are all automatically invited to become Kindermusik educators and teach with my program as soon as they turn 18. They are amazing. Almost every single child has literally tried to take over teaching the class at some point and could probably do as well or better than I do in leading the class.

They know every activity we've ever done and make frequent requests. They know how to sing on key and play accurate rhythms. They know how to move to music, and they understand concepts like staccato, legato, microbeat, macrobeat, crescendo, decrescendo, and so much more. They know all about "Sebastian" and Beethoven, and the Year Two students even know about Mozart, Tchaikovsky, and David Holt. Most of all, they know how to make everything they do fun!

Fortunately, they are usually patient with me and allow me the illusion of thinking that I am their teacher, when of course, the opposite is true. They're very magnanimous that way.

Friday, May 2, 2008

Just One More Blog...

Behold, proof that I really do work 14-hour days, as evidenced by the fact that I am still on the computer writing a blog. However, look at this little boy. Can you blame me? He comes to every class prepared with a huge grin, a great attitude, and at least three adoring family members at any given time. Favorite activities include clapping, patting, smiling, giggling, socializing, giving kisses, playing with scarves, and putting instruments away.

I don't want my families to think that I have posted this child's picture because he is my favorite, because as everyone knows, all the children are my favorites! However, I can only share pictures of kids whose parents have expressly given permission to publish. Therefore, if you have pictures of your Kindermusical child that you would like to share, please send them my way!

Imagine That!

Okay, so now that I sort of know how to blog, I have to share what an amazing time we had in our Imagine That: Toys I Make, Trips I Take class today. I'll admit, I was nervous, and not without reason. We had explored the Toy Shop in Weeks 1-4, and in Weeks 5-8, we were successfully able to transition into a musical discussion of boats, including songs about boats, stories about boats, building boats, and sitting in a variety of pretend boats. However, today, we started focusing on trains! Excuse me? How dare we spend only four weeks discussing boats when there was certainly more boat fun to be had!

It consistently amazes me how we adults so easily assume that children are getting bored with something just because we find it repetitive. We tend to forget that children thrive on repetition. Nonetheless, these children's parents paid for a class that included toys, boats, and trains, and my job is to give everyone their money's worth.

Eventually, the kids realized that trains were just as much fun as boats, and they came up with some great impromptu ideas that reminded me why this program is called Imagine That! We took our trains to Disneyland, to the fair, to the forest, and finally -- you guessed it -- to a boat. We created human trains while sitting on the floor, chugging in a line, and dancing across the room. We sang a train echo song, which taught me that these kids really are making tremendous strides in their singing ability. During Sharing Time, we even learned how to square dance!

The children's social skills seemed to be blossoming as fruitfully as their musical skills. Formerly shy singers led the group in song. Children who had been reluctant to interact volunteered ideas for new activity adaptations. All of the kids seemed to be learning how to balance their needs for instant gratification with the desire to work cooperatively with the group. After class, several of the children stayed to finish reading our library book about Johann Sebastian Bach. Even their attention spans are growing!

Could 3 1/2 - 5-year-olds receive all of these benefits from any other program? I doubt it. What's so exciting about Imagine That, like all of Kindermusik's core curricula, is its ability to effectively utilize the zone of proximal development to nurture the whole child-- in other words, to meet the children where they are and gently move them forward in all of the areas in which they need to grow.

I love my job.

Blogging Buddies

I must express my appreciation to Kindermusik Educator Helen Peterson and Kindermusik mommy Paige for helping me learn how to blog. You would think someone who spends an average of eight hours a day on the computer would naturally know how to do this, but alas, osmosis seems not to be a viable pedagogical tool after all -- at least, not outside of the music and movement classroom. Young children can naturally pick up rhythms, melodies, and even social skills just by being in the room while their friends and loved ones are engaging in enriching, research-based musical activities, perhaps in part because they are still in that critical neural period during which their little brains soak up everything around them. Alas, such is not the case for adults attempting to learn to use new technology. Attempting to rhythmically entrain with the buzzing of the computer may result in a zen trance and contribute to sleeplessness and loss of visual acuity, but it does not a blogging expert make. So, thanks very much to the true experts who have helped me figure out how to do this:


Uh-oh. There was supposed to be a picture there. Apparently I still have some learning to do.