"Music produces a kind of pleasure which human nature can not do without." ~Confucius

Monday, April 30, 2012

Movin' and Groovin' Bounces

Baby M is a big fan of bounces... as anyone who's held him can attest to. As soon as I get him up in the morning, he starts bouncing in my arms.

As babies get more core and neck strength, they enjoy putting it to good use by being appropriately tossed around in rhythmic bounces and songs. Please adhere to the word "appropriately." My dad also likes to bounce his grandkids... but sometimes is a little too rough, and his bouncing has the opposite affect... He's getting better though. :-)

These bounces are some of my little jumping-bean's favorites....

1. The Old Woman's Pies 
There was an old woman 
as I have heard tell, 
she went to sell pies, 
but her pies did not sell. 
She hurried back home 
but her step was too high, 
so she stumbled and fell, 
and the birds ate her pies! 

First two lines, just bounce baby to the rhythm of the chanted words (or to a melody of your own making) as you go.
On "she hurried back home," - move babies arms quickly as if running (or bounce faster)
On "but her step was too high" - lift or gently toss baby up on the word "high"
On "so she stumbled and fell" - on "fell" drop baby a few inches or so either from your arm or through legs.
On "and the birds ate her pies" - tickle babies sides like little birdies poking at a pie.

2.  Triddety Trot 

Triddety trot to market, 
to buy a sweet green pear, 
Triddety trot and home again, 
and throw him(her) up in the air. 

Triddety trot to market, 
to buy a loaf of bread, 
Triddety trot and home again 
and throw him(her) in bed! 

Bounce baby to the rhythm of the first three lines, as if trotting on a horse.
On "throw him up in the air!" Toss baby a few inches or so up in the air or lift baby high from one knee to the other.
On "throw him in bed!"- with baby in your arms, pretend to "throw" baby by doing a throwing motion... of course, never losing your safe hold on your little pumpkin.

3. Bouncing Up and Down 
Bouncing up and down in a little red wagon,
Bouncing up and down in a little red wagon,
Bouncing up and down in a little red wagon,
Won't you be my darling? 

One wheel's off and the axel's draggin... (2 more times)
Won't you be my darlin? 

Other wheel's off and the axel's draggin... (2 more times)
Won't you be my darlin? 

Back wheels off and we all fall out,  (2 more times)
Won't you be my darlin? 

This one is best if sung. It's to the tune of "The Paw Paw Patch." (where, oh where is pretty little Susie?... If you don't know the melody go to this link and click on "Listen to the Song"). All my kids love this one... when they hear me doing this with baby M, the other two come running for their turn too.

You can certainly use your imagination for how to make this as fun and silly as possible, but here are some suggestions to get your thoughts going -

With baby/child sitting in your lap:
1st verse - Bounce child as if riding in a bumpy wagon (not necessarily neat and tidy).
2nd verse - Move child to one knee and lean him/her over so they're tilted outward on your knee.
3rd verse - Move child to other knee and do the same thing.
4th verse - Drop child between legs on the word "out" for each line (still keeping hold of them, of course...).

Well, that should be good enough. Don't be afraid to toss your little sweetheart around a bit - don't worry they'll let you know if they don't like it... and they'll also definitely let you know if they DO like it.
Get going and go play with your baby! :-)

Thursday, April 26, 2012

Get 'em singing! Five simple songs.

There are lots of interesting things that little K sings about... some more confusing than others. For example, yesterday he told me "Mommy, this is my song I just made. It's called "Praise God together let's zoom you gahbeeee!!"
Well, at least he's creating songs....

So, I thought I'd sing a few other ones around him and with him to.... um,  refine his song-making abilities....  although the above mentioned song was quite creative.... although also slightly sacrilegious.  :-)

The many simple songs of childhood are wonderful because:
  • They're short. 
  • They're memorable and repetitive. 
  • They use simple, easy-to-sing notes. 
  • The subject matter is innocent. 

Here are 5 "simple songs" to add to you and your child's life this week.
There are hundreds of songs to choose from, of course, this is just a sampling for the purpose of getting us all singing with our kids more and getting melodies into their head so that they can keep singing them on their own.... and eventually make their own songs as they play.

1. A Hunting We Will Go   (for melody, go here)

2. Hot Cross Buns (Melody: here)

3. It's Raining, It's Pouring (Melody: here)

4. The Farmer in the Dell (Melody: here)

5. London Bridge is Falling Down (Melody: here)

If you need the melodies, there is a link attached to be reminded.
These are common is the U.S., of course.... but readers in other countries will have their own folk-songs to choose from (any of you want to share your favorites with us??)

Have fun! 

Tuesday, April 24, 2012

Snack&Song - "Five Cream Buns"

Around here, we love snack time.... So, why not pair it with a little counting song?
This is a simple song to the tune of "Mary Had A Little Lamb"

Five Cream Buns
Five cream buns in teddy's shop,
teddy's shop, teddy's shop.
Five cream buns in teddy's shop,
round with a cherry on top.

Along came "______" (child's name) one fine day,
one fine day, one fine day.
Along came "______" one fine day,
and took one bun away.

Four cream buns in teddy's shop....
Three cream buns in teddy's shop....
Two cream buns in teddy's shop....
One cream bun in teddy's shop....

 To make a simple "cream bun," you can do whatever you feel inspired to do, but these are the materials I used for ours:

Vanilla wafers, French vanilla yogurt (for the cream), pink jelly beans for the cherries... and a teddy bear!
You could use any round, sweet-bread-like item for the buns, pudding for the cream, and anything red-ish if you don't have real cherries.

AND - you get bonus points if you make a real "shop" for teddy out of a box.  The points are very valuable... you can earn a..... a..... hmm..... well, you can just be happy with yourself.

So, first, around snack time I made the simple cream buns:
 Five cookies with a bit of yogurt.

Then, top each with another cookie, and a little more "cream" to hold the "cherry" on.

The boys were very excited already about a special snack... since most of the time, it's just goldfish for snack. :-)

First, we got familiar with the song by singing it through once. Then we used our fingers to count down as each boy got one bun at a time.

J had some trouble getting the right amount of fingers... he looked cute trying to figure it out though...

Getting close to the end....

And, mommy got the last one, in case you were wondering. :-)
Then, we get to eat our yummy snack. Fun times.

We'll probably try this again next week and maybe the week after.... I'm hoping they can go through it by themselves while I eat all the cream buns watch in loving admiration.


Friday, April 20, 2012

Lullabies with Meaning

Well, baby M is coming up on his 1st birthday. Hard to believe...
Around the time he was born, I was reading Noel Piper's book about family traditions (you can check out the online version here.). She wrote briefly about singing songs for her kids' bedtimes that reflected her desires and prayers for each one specifically. For the Piper family, these were hymns of their faith - well-loved and sung over the years.

Whether you sing hymns or not, the concept of having a special song for each child is filled with delightful bonding opportunities: the parent knowing the child or the circumstances surrounding the child's arrival so well, that they lovingly choose a song to "fit the occasion"; the child knowing that he/she is known and loved enough to have a special song unto him/herself. Just beautiful.

I took this to heart when baby M (who was a surprise-pregnancy) arrived. I did grow up singing hymns in church, and one that came to my mind upon baby M's arrival was Great is Thy Faithfulness. I was nervous about baby #3.... not "ready" for baby #3.... so the hymn was, for me, a song that reminded me that God has been faithful in the past, and He will be faithful still. Faithful to give a weak mother what she needs to unconditionally love this precious boy.

It could be any song special to you, special to your child or special to your family.
"All the Pretty Little Horses" for the sweet girl who plays with her horses all day.
"All Night, All Day" for the boy who is afraid of leaving mom or dad.
Welsh, German, French, etc. songs to reflect heritage and family... there are so many options.
You should choose something meaningful so that when they ask, "Why do you always sing that song to me?" You can tell them right away. And they'll always remember both the song and the reason.

I'm working backward with the other two... don't really have a song that's hands-down for them, but maybe it will come...  But little baby M definitely knows "Great is Thy Faithfulness" - He quiets right down when I sing it before bedtime as if he's listening to each word... It's what I sing to him most often, and probably always will.
I hope when HE sings that as a boy and as a man, we can exchange a look that says, "Yep, that is your song." And, I pray the beautiful truths in that hymn will be characteristic of his life as well... And I am very thankful for God's faithfulness and the blessings that our boys are.
"All I have needed Thy hand has provided,
Great is Thy faithfulness, Lord unto me." 

What about you? Do you have a special song unique to each or perhaps one child?

Wednesday, April 18, 2012

I "heart" Pandora

There are a lot of wonderful things about modern technology... and pandora.com is one of them.
This week has been busy and intermingled with sickness, so our days are not as structured as I would like... but, never fear! I can still increase my child's musical understanding thanks to places like pandora!

Who doesn't use pandora? Anyone? It's been around for years now, but if you haven't used it yet - go try it.
You type in a genre or composer and then it crafts a radio station based on that type. And, it just keeps playing (there are a few advertisements along the way but they're not bad at all).

How can you use this mighty little tool to influence your kiddos musical minds?
Try creating stations that are different than the music you typically play for them, or music that will open up their palette to new and wonderful sounds.

My recommendation today? The Johann Sebastian Bach station.
Now, we are self-proclaimed classical music nerds here.... but that's certainly not ALL we listen to. But, we LOVE classical music and even though this love does not always come naturally for most kids, introducing it to them little bits at a time opens their minds up to the sheer beauty of music in ways that are not afforded by our catchy, pop culture.

So, while your kids are playing and you are folding laundry or working on a project, try out a classical station on pandora. Even if you they protest with "this is boring" (gasp!), it is SO IMPORTANT to put great things before our children's eyes and ears to allow them to experience wonderful gifts like incredible music that has lasted for hundreds of years.

(And... for those of you thinking about piano, etc. lessons in the future, it will help them to love that experience more if you have already whetted their appetite for that genre!)

Other suggestions:

  • Type in a favorite Classical piece of yours into pandora - one from your own childhood or current likes - just stay away from tricky things like.... John Cage at this early time (or anytime... just kidding... sort of...) 
  •  Try something fun like bluegrass, Natalie MacMaster, Celtic Fiddle Festival, Salsa Clave, etc.. 
Have fun! 

Friday, April 13, 2012

Clapping Game = Sneaky Rhythm Practice

Well, today I felt like I hadn't done anything very musically stimulating with the boys all week... so of course I decide to do something when they're crankiest right before nap time. Brilliant, I know.
They were getting testy with each other and needed to go to bed a diversion by their dear mother.

So, I thought we could do a clapping game (what I told them) which would include some organized rhythm training (what I told myself).

Very simple. Here's what we used:
popsicle sticks, tooth picks, some treats (if needed.. and oh yes, they were needed today), and some paper for a confined "work" surface.

The goals of this activity were to: 

  • Teach concept of fast and slow beats.
  • Teach concept of creating and describing a pattern (In our case, the description was rhythmic).
  • Get rhythm in their body!!

The popsicle sticks represent
a quarter note (one beat)  Vocalized as "Ta"
Two toothpicks represented a set of eighth notes (1/2 beat each). Vocalized as "ti-ti"

Each person gets 4 Ta's and 8 ti-ti's (or less depending on age).

The parent/teacher will demonstrate first - with LOTS of demonstrating as you go.... or else all the kids' clapping will sound the same instead of having the difference between the slow and fast notes.

Tell kiddos to arrange the ta's and ti-ti's on their page to make a clapping pattern.

I made one first to demonstrate:

Ta, Ta, ti-ti

(slow, slow, quick-quick)

They did great echoing this back to me clapping and chanting it.

When they did it correctly, they got a chocolate chip.

Pointing as you go is a good idea to help them follow along and not get lost... who's really used to reading a bunch of sticks on a page, anyway?

Now it was their turn.

I helped K demonstrate for all of us, then we each tried to copy him, all of us receiving a chocolate chip for our wonderful effort.

Keep going around as long as you'd like and as long as their interest holds.
This is K telling us he could do this "hard" one he made up because he's really, really strong. :-)

I felt a bit like I was feeding the dolphins at Sea World when they performed a nice trick by giving the boys a chocolate chip for each wonderful demonstration, but it was helpful at this time of day, and made it more fun anyway. So, whatever works, sometimes! :-)


Monday, April 9, 2012

Climbing Up and Sliding Down

There are any number of times when I'm sitting waiting.... waiting..... with baby M.
At the pediatrician's.... at a family member's house..... while he's supposed to be sleeping..... etc, etc....

Any baby chants are good for having a fun little tete a tete while killing time... And, these below involve using your fingers to "climb" and "slide" on your little precious baby. These will be enjoyed by most toddlers out there too.... :-)

Rhymes with these tapping motions are fun games to involve your child in while also incorporating his or her ability to feel a beat or pulse. The happiness and giggles for all involved make these a win-win. :-)

The first, a very well known nursery rhyme and oh-so-fun:

1. Hickory, Dickory Dock
Hickory, Dickory Dock,
The mouse ran up the clock.
The clock struck one
and down he run,
Hickory, Dickory, Dock.

1st 2 lines: "walk" or "run" two fingers up from baby's foot to head.
"The clock struck one" - tap baby's head or nose once.
"and down he run.." run fingers back down to toes.

 2. Climb Up the Ladder
Climb up the ladder,
hurry to the slide!
Sit at the top
and down you slide!

Walk 2 fingers up baby's legs and tummy, fingers start to run on "hurry to the slide."
"Sit at the top" - Land on baby's shoulder.
On last line, "slide" fingers down baby's arm.

3. Johnny, Johnny, Whoops!
Johnny, Johnny, Johnny, Johnny, Whoops!
Johnny, Johnny, Whoops!
Johnny, Johnny, Johnny, Whoops!

Get baby's little hand in your hand, and starting with baby's pinky, use your pointer finger to tap on the top of each finger, until you get to the Whoops! where "Johnny" (your finger) slides down and then is back up and tapping again until the next Whoops! - which can happen wherever, of course. There's no need to follow the above text to a "t" or anything.
When you do the Whoops! do it in a higher pitched voice.... usually makes for more giggles. :-)
I still remember seeing elementary-aged kids doing this to each other, so there must be something exciting about it that extends past baby-hood. :-)

Have fun getting those babies giggling! Here's a giggling baby M for your entertainment:

Friday, April 6, 2012

Good Friday

I don't know what you're doing on this lovely weekend, but we're talking about Easter - and for us that means more than just eggs, chocolate bunnies and peeps; it means most significantly that we learn about and celebrate Jesus' death and resurrection - and the amazing grace that is offered to us all as a result.

K and J are just coming around with understanding these types of things, which is fun because K is asking more serious questions and J is learning the basic ideas of the story.

So, today we made a paper "stained-glass"cross for talking about Good Friday (or Holy Friday).
We used some colors of Easter. Those being,

Purple - Jesus is King, and the robe he wore upon being mocked was purple
Red - Jesus' blood that was shed
White - Jesus' sacrifice washes away our sins, and the color of the angel's garment at the empty tomb
Yellow - for the sun that dawned on that Resurrection morning when the women went to the tomb.
Green - New life in Jesus

We added this song that incorporated some of our Easter colors - to the tune of "Jesus Loves Me"
They were antsy to get outside after the craft, so we sang it while they were getting dressed, and I'll reincorporate it as we go throughout the day... (Again, no fancy song or "official" music time needed, but music throughout the day helps get these little tunes and their message into our kiddos' heads.)

"Red means Jesus died for me,
White says I am clean like He,
Purple was the robe which He had worn,
Yellow shone the sun that Easter morn.

Thank you God for Easter, Thank you God for Easter,
Thank you God for Easter, When Jesus rose again."

Tuesday, April 3, 2012

Easter Egg Maracas

This post is dedicated to my friend, Katie, who reminded me of this idea, since she is a musically-inclined momma too!

Plastic eggs can turn into great little shakers, and these are super easy to make.
Here's what we did to make our festive toys:

Gather some empty plastic eggs, a basket to put the finished ones in, some painter's or strong scotch tape, and things to fill eggs with (like dry beans, rice, pasta, pony beads, etc.). We used stickers to decorate these eggs. I chose to go temporary with these things since I'll need the eggs on Sunday for an egg hunt!

I thought I'd take this one more "musical" step forward by filling the eggs with different materials. Then, we could talk about the timbre (pronounced tamber... just in case you're not used to using that word...) and match sounds after putting them together.

So, we gathered random materials. K thoroughly enjoyed being put in charge of collecting the sticks.
 We used beans, rice, jingle bells, pennies, pom-poms, little sticks and little plastic CARS figures (which was very perplexing to K.. who wondered why on earth does mommy want me to put cars in eggs... She's lost it).

Next, the boys put some of each material into their eggs so we had two eggs of each.

A little messy, but not too bad....

Mommy taped the eggs closed and then the boys decorated them with stickers.

All the eggs were put in the basket and we each chose two whose sound we liked best (no one chose the pom pom ones... can't imagine why...) and sang "If you're happy and you know it, shake your eggs (SHAKE, SHAKE, SHAKE).... Then we switched to the other person's eggs and sang again.

J was ready to be done by now, so K and I moved on to identifying same sounds.
I made a list of each material and he had to check it off as he found the match.
We also talked about each sound as each egg was shaken.
He did great and identified them all easily. Guess I'll need to move on to something more challenging next time...

Have you made your egg shakers yet this season??
Have fun!

Monday, April 2, 2012

If These Old Walls Could Hear...

One of the most important things we can do to help our children learn how to carry a tune is to carry one ourselves! Which leads me to my question of the day...

Are you singing?

Is happiness, grief, and anything in between coming out of you in song throughout the day?

When was the last time you walked around the house singing some tune that was in your head? When did you feel so inspired and content that your heart led you to a song?
Hopefully, it wasn't that long ago.

Kids hear that, you know... and it does them a lot of good.

As stated before, I think that singing is the most important part of training a child to know and understand music - hearing melody in fast and slow, high and low tones does wonders for opening up their musical mind. And then pair all that with a strong emotion. Powerful stuff.

Do you ever hear your child singing by themselves somewhere in the home and think, "that's so wonderful. I love to hear him/her sing..." Well, they think the same thing about you!

So, again, when was the last time you sang as you went about your daily tasks? Or as you were driving in the car? Or as you were working outside?
Are you singing in front of your kids? Are you teaching them the tunes you loved as a child?

You don't even need to have a "music" slot in your day - just let the happiness, sadness, contentment, weariness, joy - whatever in your heart come out in song throughout the day. Sing like no one is listening... but I bet you someone is. And they love to hear it.

Beautiful music... can calm the agitations of the soul. 
It is one of the most magnificent and delightful gifts God gas given. 
-Martin Luther