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

Tuesday, June 26, 2012

Be Careful Little Ears What You Hear

I was at a park with the kiddos the other day, and was walking past an SUV, from which obnoxious and obscene music was coming... several derogatory-to-women lyrics were interspersed with various curse words...  As I walked by, my grumbling at this noise pollution turned to horror as I saw three children under the age of (what looked like) six sitting in there, waiting for their parent/s and listening to those lyrics as they sat. 

What in the world are we thinking, when we allow little ears to hear things that are not really appropriate for us, let alone, an innocent and very absorbing little mind? 

Some time ago, there was a little girl belting out Nicki Minaj's "Super Bass" on a popular talk show, and everyone thought it was great. I think I am the lone ranger who found it extremely sad. 
Think about what Nicki Minaj portrays in her (soft-porn) videos, and then also take this selection of lyrics from the above mentioned song: 

From "Super Bass" 
He pop bottles and he got the right kind of bill
He cold, he dope, he might sell coke
He always in the air, but he never fly coach
He a &$#%@!$&* trip, trip, sailor of the ship, ship
When he make it drip, drip kiss him on the lip, lip
That's the kind of dude I was lookin' for
And yes you'll get slapped if you're lookin' hoe
and later...
He just gotta give me that look, when he give me that look
Then the panties comin' off, off, uh

The whole place stood up and applauded after this little girl sang this. 
I wanted to cry. 

We are daft if we think the words and images that are produced in our culture to illicit sales based on sexual  lust and desire for beauty/fame, will not influence our children because they are "too little to understand." 
It IS true: they are too little to understand... so why in the world would we develop a taste for these base things in our kids' minds, when they can not fully comprehend what they may be communicating and what the intent is behind these words? 
So, I appeal to you: be aware and discerning about what your child hears, both in your presence and with family or friends. We may not be able to control everything they hear, but our responsibility is to guide them into pure and true and beautiful things that build up character and imagination. 

We must not destroy their innocence just because we happen to "like" that music, or think it's "cute" when little  Jane sings about seducing a boy with her body or laugh when Jimmie drops the f-bomb. “They don’t really understand… They’re just being expressive.” 
Not OK. 
Curb these things away from children, do not make excuses and allow them. Your child’s very character is at stake.   

So please, invest in building the beauty of your child's mind and steer clear of making premature adults out of our precious children.  

Friday, June 22, 2012

Walkin' Old Joe

We had a great (hot!) day at the train station in Strasburg, PA this week for their Day out with Thomas. Great fun. Highly recommended. Lots of kids, and wheee--oooo! - when they ALL go into meltdown mode at the same time, it's a bit crazy, but even with that, it's great fun!

Today I wanted to share another of our favorite baby/toddler bounces, and we even used it on the train when baby M was getting antsy for lunch.

There are many variations of this around, but this is the one we like.
Here are the words:

Walkin' Old Joe

Walkin' old Joe, walkin' old Joe - 
You're the best horse in the country. 
Walkin' old Joe, walkin' old Joe
You're the best horse in the country 


Gallop Old Joe, gallop Old Joe,
You're the best horse in the country.

Gallop Old Joe, gallop Old Joe, 
You're the best horse in the country


Mosey Old Joe, mosey old Joe, 
You're the best horse in the country. 
Mosey Old Joe, mosey old Joe, 
You're the best horse in the country. 


Walkin' old Joe, walkin' old Joe - 
You're the best horse in the country. 
Walkin' old Joe, walkin' old Joe, 
You're the best horse in the country. Whoa! 

With baby/toddler in arms or on lap, bounce moderately on first verse. 
On second verse, bounce faster and more horse-gallopy-like (my new word creation)
On third verse, sashay side to side. 
On fourth verse, back to moderate and happy bouncing from first time. 

With the "whoa" parts in between, feel free to make those as fun as you can. I wrote them differently to try and describe what we do, but you can do lots of things. These little transitions are great to teach expectancy, build excitement, etc. 
You can draw the words out to increase suspense, make them loud and obnoxious or a combination of soft and loud, do a crescendo with your voice up until the verse, raise baby up high on the word, etc. etc... be creative and find out what brings the most giggles from your little one. 

This can be chanted or sung. Below is the song we use: 

Have fun - keep bouncing and chanting with those babies! 

Monday, June 18, 2012

Make-It-a-Song Monday: Good Morning Songs!

Imagine.... It's a beautiful day.... you got a great night's sleep.... the birds are chirping... the children are skipping around the house with laughter... the coffee is perfect.... Ahh....

OK, fine - that's not a typical morning around here, but we DID have a pretty good morning today.... even though the bird chirping was a little too early and too close to my window, and the boys were happily 'snipping' (their word) each other with kitchen tongs, not skipping... but the coffee was good!

If the morning is going great or not-so-great, singing helps! Hence my recommendation to have a "good morning" song/s! They're not just for preschool classes, people.

You may have one from childhood you remember... I do. I can't remember it at the moment, though...

I CAN remember one from grad. school, from my sight-singing class. We had this very nice but slightly  silly professor, who, when anyone came in late would immediately go to the piano and start banging out some chords, and the whole class would sing, "Good morning, bright sunshine, we're gad you are here! You make the world happy we're glad you are here" to the late person, who would then have to describe (in the same melody) why he/she was late. Oh the memories....

Anyway - Having a morning song is one way to get your kiddo's spirits up in the morning and get them thinking in melody throughout the day!

Choose one you're familiar with, do an internet/YouTube search for some ideas (just be careful... there's some surefire cheesiness out there that is not good for ANY morning!), or make up your own.

Today we were singing a little song with these lyrics and a pretty simple melody we had in our heads:

Good morning, good morning,
I hope you're feeling fine.
Good morning, good morning,
to all the *boys here who are mine.

*or kids, or girls, or family, etc.

Another one is the good 'ole popular song with the following Bible verse:

"This is the Day" 
This is the day (echo: This is the day)
That the Lord has made (that the Lord has made)
We will rejoice (We will rejoice)
And be glad in it (and be glad in it)

Having an echoing song is great because children naturally want to echo it after you once they get the hang of the melody, which makes it more likely that they'll sing with you!

If you want one put to a melody you know, this one fits with the tune "There's a Hole in the Bucket."
(If you need a reminder for this melody, go Here!)

Good morning, dear *baby, dear baby
Good morning, dear baby, dear baby, Good day!
I'm so happy to see you, to see you,
I'm so happy to see you, to see you, today!

*insert child's name. 

Or, to "Farmer In the Dell"

It's time to start the day,
get up out of the hay,
the sun is out, so let's get up,
It's time to start the day

Sing your favorite morning song while getting the kids up, while getting them dressed, while making breakfast, whatever! They'll catch on quick!

Do you have a "morning song" to start the day off?
If not, find one and get it in your household repertoire!

What did you make into a song today?

Friday, June 15, 2012

Ode to Sandra Boynton

I love Sandra Boynton. I haven't met her, of course.... but I'd like to... what would our chat be like, I wonder...? I imagine she'd keep me or anyone laughing most of the time.

I love the silliness of her books (hilarious, really) with the way they rhyme and flow, the snuggly affection and all the tie-ins she has to fun melodies. So fun.

So, to honor the lady whom I have never met, but whose books we love, I put together a small, very humble, Ode to Sandra Boynton... I hope you all enjoy.

(To the tune/chorus of "Jingle Bells") 

Horns to Toes, pajama-dee-bop, run
up to exercise. 
Oh My, Oh My Oh Dinosaurs!
Where is my Bee-Bo? 

Philly Chicks on I-95, 
Moo, Baa, La, La, La!
Blue Hat, Green Hat, Pookie too, 
Ten dogs and one cat (MRROW!!)

With a ba and a moo
and a cockle-doodle-doo, 
Hippos Go Berserk!
Gitchy Goo,  it's Tickle Time! 
I love my Snuggle Puppy too! 

A Penguin who belongs to me, 
14 pets named "Bob"
Hey, Wake Up! a turkey's tripping, 
No, not the hippopotamus! 

If you knew every reference in there, you're a fan too!
Check out a few more of her books, which I think are written as much for the kids as they are for the adults who read them! :-)

What's your kids' favorite Boynton book (or yours)?

Thursday, June 14, 2012

Tuesday, June 12, 2012

Possum Come A-Knockin'

I was at the library the other day and was telling the lady at the counter about my little blog and she suggested "Possum Come A Knockin."  I had to go and look it up because I had never learned it before; and ever since I did, I've been singing this little tune around the house, anxiously awaiting my hold request for the book from the library to come in...  and finally, it came!

So, we had fun with this little number, and we hope you can too!

First - Check out this book from your library. If it or another one similar is not available, you can just use the words or the melody.
"Possum Come A-Knockin'" by Nancy Van Laan

I love this book and the trouble-making expression on the possum's face. :-)

Next - Get familiar with the chant and the melody. Here's us doing the melody to the chorus. The rest of it is chanted, as we also demonstrate (albeit imperfectly):

Gather kiddos and read the book together, chanting it in rhythmic sing-songy speaking. 
Have kids do two "knocks" after the word door. 

This knock could be the kids knocking on a hard surface, clapping twice, or striking a drum/bowl, etc. (which is what my children chose this time). 


Granny was a sittin' and a-rockin' and a-knittin' 
When a possum come a-knockin' at the door. (KNOCK, KNOCK!)

Ma was busy cookin' in the kitchen makin' taters
When a possum come a-knockin' at the door. (KNOCK, KNOCK!

This is just the beginning of what you can do with this little rhyme.... dress ups, making sounds for each character, adding more instruments, etc. etc.... 

Be enthusiastic, silly and as musical as you can. Have fun! 

Wednesday, June 6, 2012

Ball Rolling and Bouncing

Anyone who knows us knows that my children have a natural obsession with anything that bounces, rolls or is thrown... Little baby M is falling right into that mold too! Amazing... the hubs and I are both music nerds... what do we get? Little jocks. :-)

So, this reminded me of a few ball-themed-songs for your little ones' enjoyment while playing with a ball.

Oh! Also - one of my favorite blogs is doing a series called "30 for 30" focused on playing with your kids; not just giving them things to play with, but actually engaging with them. I think it's a great challenge for us all not to get bogged down in "doing" too many things while we miss out on actually playing with our kids. Mine especially love us being involved with them, not just passing one toy after another at them. You can check out her series; click: HERE!

OK, some simple ball songs!

Bounce High, Bounce Low

Bounce High, Bounce Low,
Bounce the Ball to Shiloh!
Bounce High, Bounce Low,
Bounce the ball right by-oh!

This one is great while bouncing a ball to your little one (duh!).

Roll The Ball

I roll the ball to "baby"
she rolls it back to me,
I roll the ball to "baby"
she rolls it back to me,
Roll the ball, roll the ball,
I roll the ball to "baby" she rolls it back to me.

Insert your child's name for "baby." You may be surprised how early you baby starts rolling a ball back to you when you do so to him/her!

Roll, Catch!
Roll, catch, roll, catch,
Bounce, Bounce the ball.
Roll, catch, roll, catch
Bounce, Bounce the ball.

Do this one slow enough to do each motion - or fast enough if doing it with a giggly toddler. :-)

Here are the tunes:

Have fun playing with your baby and his or her favorite ball!

Monday, June 4, 2012

"Make It a Song" Monday

So, I thought I'd do a semi-regular post about making random daily events into songs. Monday is great because usually I'm feeling rather sluggish and tired (although I did get to sleep in today after a lot of early mornings... thanks to my sweet hubs!!), so it's a good way to get me (and you!) singing with our kids even if that may be the last thing I (you) feel like doing.

So, the point is to get more melodies going in your child's brain to get them thinking musically about words, events, feelings, etc. An easy way to do this is to just put activities or thoughts to simple melodies.

You can use any number of familiar tunes to accomplish this. Here are some suggestions to get you thinking:

  • Twinkle, Twinkle, Little Star
  • Jingle Bells
  • There's a Hole In the Bucket
  • London Bridge
  • Hot Cross Buns
  • Polly Put the Kettle On
  • Here We Go 'Round the Mulberry Bush

Today's singing subject: Getting Dressed.  

 We chose the tune, "Polly Put the Kettle On" for this.
It went something like this: We'll use the name.... Susie!

"Susie" put your pants on please, pants on please, pants on please.
"Susie" put your pants on please; then we'll go outside.

"Susie" put your shirt on next, shirt on next, shirt on next.
"Susie" put your shirt on next, then we'll go and play!

You can use it to help teach body parts to younger kids, or left and right to older ones....

(To the tune of  Twinkle, Twinkle:)
One leg goes inside your pants,
next leg goes inside one too.
Out comes a foot, then there's two
Now we pull them up, up, woo!
Now our pants are on our legs,
Next our shirt goes over our head.

They don't need to rhyme... but you can always make up nonsense words to make a rhyme, which kids usually love.

They may start to sing along with you, make up their own words to finish the thread, or just stare at you like you have three heads. Either way, they are listening and hearing melody and descriptive words, helping them to learn how to make melodies of their own.

The above "getting dressed" singing took about 2-3 minutes, then they were off to play, singing as they went!

So, welcome to "Make It a Song" Mondays.
Share what YOU made into a song today!