Music to spark a better life for older adults and preschoolers

Posts tagged ‘preschool recreation’

Apologies to those with preschoolers

may-june-2011-119

Image by nesson-marshall via Flickr

I was looking back at my posts of the last month and realized there were very few easy use ideas for those with preschoolers. Yes, there are some song lists, but not a “grab and go” type entry. So this week will be mostly for you. It is my hope that my shares will also work in some intergenerational settings, too. In the mean time, here are some links to past posts that may provide you something to do with your child on a hot summer’s day other than a trip to the pool.

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She’ll be Comin’ Round the Mountain

This week my focus is on transportation in song. This post is inspired by a horse-drawn carriage that passed by my house a week ago. It is not uncommon for people in northwest Kansas to ride  horses. So, horse can be an appropriate means of transportation to include during Transportation Week. It so happens “She’ll be Comin’ Round the Mountain” is a frequently requested song in my intergenerational and older adult groups. I also use in my preschool groups. In an effort to create more variety in the song and to use various skill sets, here’s one adaptation I use:

In addition, we may have conversations about the items:

  • Why would she bring a toothbrush with her?
  • What juice is orange?
  • Is anyone wearing blue socks?

I would love to read your ideas on this adaptation. Please share them in the comments below!

Flower Shop Song

Een Bloemetje

Image via Wikipedia

Yesterday, I saw a little girl gathering dandelions. She told me they were for her mom. Memories of myself gathering for my mom and of my daughter gathering dandelions for me! Flowers can be the center of lots of activities with children.

Many years ago, I stumbled upon the “Flower Shop” song and have used it in with a lot of success with four and five-year olds. It works on a variety of concepts: learning to exchanging/trade, turn taking, identifying colors, and counting – just to name a few. I used artificial flowers , but paper flowers or photos would also work. The song can be easily modified for different goals and abilities. Enjoy!

Where are you going, my child?

Child on a Winter Road.

On Saturday, my baby girl turns 15. That and singing time songs with assisted living residents has the song “Turn Around” running through my head. I had a difficult time settling on a version to share settling on the commercial version many will remember:

It is amazing all the things motherhood has allowed me to experience – most pleasant, a few not so pleasant.  It seems that many of my Twitter and Facebook friends that are new moms have shared insights into their experiences so I thought I’d join the fray.

Through the years, the question of “where are you going?” has had many answer.  When my daughter was a baby(and it was posed in hopes of catching her attention as she moved away from us) rarely did it elicit more than a giggle out of her.  As a preschooler the answer was often “That way!”  As a teen I rarely get to ask it as she runs out the door saying “Going to ____.  See ya later.”

Watching my daughter grow has informed my work with preschoolers in the following ways:

Exploration:  So long as it is safe for her, safe for those around her, and safe for the environment, explore away.  Whether it is as simple as trying a different way to play a hand drum (a mallet vs. o hand vs an elbow) or as involved as rewriting the rules for “Chutes & Ladders”, so along as there is no harm, why not?  Offering up this opportunity supports understanding, learning, and self worth.

Boundaries: We all need boundaries.  We all test those boundaries from time to time.  Having those is important.  For example, I generally tell children to strike drum heads no harder than they would hit their head.  Knock on wood, I’ve only had to remind a few of them a hand full of times about this rule.  As my daughter as grown, she has questioned some boundaries. Sometimes that has lead to an expanding of them.  Be open, listen, and observe.

Exposure: No, I don’t try to expose people to germs.  I talking about exposing them to novelty, to other cultures, tastes, textures, smells, ways of looking at the world.  Shortly after my daughter was born, we started reading to her.   She has heard a range of musical styles and genres since before birth. Visiting art galleries, going kayaking, hiking, tasting new foods are but a few of the other activities we have shared with her.  Not only does she get exposure, but we do, too.  And, we all have developed interests along the way.

Allow for choices: This one is often difficult.  As she has aged, the definition of a sweater has gone from “something you wear when your mother is cold” to “something you take when your mother is cold.” Safe, natural consequences can be such good teachers .  It is often difficult to allow.  We may review the pros and cons of choices with our daughter but allow her to make safe choices holding her to the commitment. (For example: being in the musical means having to miss the concert you wanted to attend because the times conflict.)  In preschool groups I try to offer children options – “would you rather help me play goodbye or let mom”.

Seeing the blessings: It is easy in all the shuttling, laundry, meal prep to forget to just be present.   No matter what a child’s strengths or abilities, they still are individuals who deserve our love and attention.  In groups this is part of my greeting and sending them with song, in using their names whenever I can.  As a parent, it is the alone time.  While I was the oldest of many, it is those moments alone as a teen with my parents that stand out.

So, where are you going, Little Bit?  Where ever it is, I know I will learn and experience from and with you.  I look forward to what you next share with me about the world, yourself, and me.  Thank you for being you! – Mom

Resources for Children

Funny Chinese Child Playing Boy

Image by epSos.de via Flickr

I am always looking for great resources for music and information.  Whether you are a parent, preschool teacher, or a music therapist, we all need fresh ideas from time to time.  There are those resources that provide information, those that inspire my imagination, and those which provide wonderful music ideas.  Today I want to share two wonderful music therapy sites which I find helpful in my work with preschool children.

Listen and Learn Music: Rachel has great songs available for download at very low prices.  Children respond well to her songs.  They are easy to learn while providing teaching opportunities. Often she provides visual aids.  From time to time she also has free downloads.  Check her out!

Developing Melodies:  This is a site I just started following.  Meryl has some pretty inspiring ideas which she shares in photos and descriptions.  While some are music based, others are not.  Creative resource is my best description of this site.  Be sure and visit her blog.

What are your favorite resources for children’s music?  I’d love to hear.

Related articles:

Pancake Day

Colorful World for Children

Toddler Music Resource Review

Pancake Day

Several stacks of silver dollar pancakes

Image via Wikipedia

Pancake Day can be a lot of fun to observe.  There is great variety in types to make and toppings to place on them.  (My favorite is lemon poppy-seed topped with blueberries in a simple syrup!)

A search of the web shows lots of great books and activities for preschoolers.  As most of the songs are partner songs or simple rhymes, I decided it was high time I create my own.  While it is was created with children in mind, it could easily be used with other ages or in intergenerational groups.

Have a great Pancake Day!

And the child grew

children at play By Michael T

Image by nist6ss via Flickr

“And the child grew and became strong; he was filled with wisdom, and the grace of God was upon him.” ~ Luke 2:40

This Bible verse has been running through my head and along with a portion of lyrics “Teach Your Children” by Crosby, Stills, and Nash.  For me, there is a joy in watching children busy with play, with learning, with exploring, at rest. Watching my daughter, now a teen, is still a source of joy.  Maybe I don’t stand & watch her breath while she sleeps like I did when I first brought her home, yet I watch.  I watch her perform, do her homework, and interact with peers.  I watch her cook experimenting with recipes.

What does all this have to do with the “Slow, children at play picture” and with my music therapy business?  A lot.

First, we tend to be a society that works on a schedule that is often packed with activities.  When we slow down and provide them (and ourselves for that matter) time to play, observe, and explore many doors can open.  And, we need to let them be our teachers, too.  Looking at the lyrics of “Teach Your Children” includes the importance of teaching happening both directions – adult teaches child; child teaches adult. For that to happen we have to slow down and allow time.

Second, research is supporting the importance of play in learning.  There is much all of us can learn through play.  Teachers have created wonderful educational tools that are games.  So, play!  Last night, I watched them make a homemade bottle rocket launcher sending bottles high into the sky on “Ask This  Old House“.  The adults were having as much fun as the kids.  Science, plumbing, measuring, turn taking – lots of neat skills were shared.

Next, I grew up with creative play.  I made up songs, put on plays with my siblings for our parents, created art work, we wrote our own rules for games like kickball so it would be fun for the whole family.  Much of that came directly from my parents.  They encouraged us to try our hands in the arts.  They encouraged family games.  I was blessed with a musical family and I am a musical being.  If I had been a dancer or a tennis player, I know they would have supported that.

This is why I chose to offer early childhood music groups. It can be a supportive place for parents to offer these opportunities to their child.  And, I find the family do walk away with a few new songs in their repertoire.  I want children to have permission to try their hand at singing, playing, and moving with music.  I promote social skills like turn taking, greeting others, and sharing.  This is why offering intergenerational groups is so important to me  – so the two groups can learn from each other.

If music groups aren’t an option, consider adding songs as part of family events,  My daughter accuses me of having a song for every topic.  That’s only partially correct, but I have always added songs to activities.  Whether its “Tip Toe Through the Tulips” while planting bulbs, “Dead Skunk in the Middle of the Road” during a odiferous trip, I find it adds a little levity.  When she was little, it often served as a cue for what we were doing or a time-keeper for quickly completing a task (like picking up toys).  Whether you sing or play a recording, this is a simple way to add a little playfulness and music to your life.

Children learn through play, observation and exploring.  We need to provide them permission, space, and safe opportunity to be children.  Children don’t need to have every moment of every day scheduled.  We need to slow down and let the children play.  And, through their play, we hope they grow and become strong teaching us along the way.

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