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

Wednesday, December 19, 2012

Festive Shaker / Drums!

It's such a great time with little kids and Christmas. I never knew it would be so fun! The kids just naturally LOVE Christmas and everything about it.
Since all our boys like to make music and, often, be loud about it, we made some Christmas-themed shakers to accompany their festive mood and silly carol singing. These certainly don't need to be Christmasy, but ours are (sort of.... you'll see....)

So, if you need a project to set your little one/s on while you bake those cookies, this may be it!

A tin can, rubber band, helium-sized balloon, items to put in can (like beans, pasta, rice, etc... we used jingle bells), paint, Mod Podge, and whatever else you'd like to incorporate.

1. Gather kiddos and have them paint their can in festive colors.
 You may need to come help once or twice....
These didn't turn out quite as lovely as I thought they would. Another idea that might be fun is to cut up some wrapping paper and glue that all around the can, then Mod Podge it. Maybe next year..

The boys thought they were masterpieces though, and excitedly put their jingle bells in the can when the painting was done.

Next, the supervising adult (with or without cookie dough on your fingers), should cut the head of the balloon. Make sure you cut it so that it is a semi-circle, and not still tapered at the end.
The supervising adult should next stretch the semi-circle of that recently-cut balloon across the open end of the can, stretching it taut and affix it on the side of the can by wrapping the rubber band around twice or however many times it will go.

The boys wanted to put some ribbon around them too. 
After they're dry, shake and enjoy!! Be careful - if you use the jingle bells like I did, they are LOUD! If you have an exuberant child like I do, you may wish you had used something a bit softer. :-) 
I Mod-Podged after they went to their naps so the paint didn't peel off and the surface was smoother. 

and off he goes!

It can be a shaker or a drum! Use hands or drum sticks. You could even scrape the sides with a stick too and use it as a guiro. 

Baby M liked it too. :-) 

Enjoy all the music making around this time of year and be sure your kids get in on it! 

Thursday, December 13, 2012

Our Favorite "12 Days of Christmas" Books

The boys are into counting nowadays... so this carol has been one of their favorites recently. So, I decided to check out a few different "Twelve Days of Christmas" books - some traditional, some not as traditional.

Honestly, though... this is the carol that I least like to sing because of its never-ending, overly-repeating, lasting-forever nature.... But, it was also one of my favorites as a child, and seems to appeal to my kiddos currently as well. They love things that repeat, come and go in sequence, and are creatively done - and this carol fits to a "tee."

So, check out what options your library has available, then muster up the courage to sing through this long carol as you go through the book! Have your kids sing along and "help" you with the numbers and counting.

Here are a few we like:

"The Twelve Days of Christmas" - Laurel Long 

This is a beautifully illustrated book with the traditional lyrics - I personally love the artwork. My boys have yet to share in my level of appreciation.... but the pictures are all very descriptive and engaging.

"Twelve Days of a Muppet Christmas (And a Chicken In a Pine Tree)" -  Martha T. Ottersley

Oh my word. Classic Muppets silliness. And, my children love silliness. All that you would expect from the Muppets!

"The Twelve Days of Christmas Dogs" - Carolyn Conahan

This is adorable - many breeds are represented throughout and the illustrations are very charming. :-)

"The Twelve Days of Christmas Candy" - Olivia Morris
This book is very simply illustrated and is about an elf who receives all sorts of candy from his dear Daddy Elf throughout the verses of the song. This combines 2 things my boys love - counting and candy! :-)

"A Pirate's Twelve Days of Christmas" - Philip Yates

This story details a lonely cabin boy aboard a pirate ship who thinks he's being abandoned at Christmas, only to receive 12 "days" of gifts from those thoughtful pirates he plunders with (you didn't know pirates were so kind-hearted, did you?). The illustrations are lovely and very creative.

So, hopefully you can grab one of those and teach this classic carol to your own little munchkins - by whatever means they'd enjoy!

Have fun!

Monday, December 10, 2012

Classical Music Album Recommendations

Several people have asked what "Classical" albums they could pick up to get that music going in the home. So, if you're not having a soiree of musicians coming to jam at your house each night, this is probably a good idea!

Here are a few suggestions for a traditional, classical mix that combine some of the most well-known and well-loved pieces. These are not your "classical music for relaxation" types.... there is a mix of different speeds, volumes, time periods, etc.

Just fyi... don't underestimate the value of playing classical music around the home, school, etc. I would never have fallen in love with classical music if my dear mother had not bought that cheesy "Sounds of the Oboe" CD (thanks Mom!) which had on it the Largo from the "New World Symphony"  (Dvorak) and the opening to Tchaikovsky's "Swan Lake" - both of which were a level of beauty that I had not heard before - and when I did, there was no looking back!
Now, calm your fears, your child will probably not turn into a music nerd like me; but a quote that my husband relishes is, "the tide raises all ships." The higher the quality of music you expose your family/classroom to, the higher their appreciation and understanding will go too.

So, in no particular order are three picks you can add to your Amazon, etc. list for yourself, or add them to your gift requests for those family members who have been asking!

1. The Greatest Classical Masterpieces! - London Philharmonic (Create Space) 
Aside from the silly exclamation point on this title, it's a great assortment by a well-respected orchestra.

2. The 50 Greatest Pieces of Classical Music  - Performer: London Philharmonic Orchestra (X5 Music Group)
This is a vast collection by, again, a great orchestra. You probably won't need another after this one! :-)

3. 25 Classical Favorites - various ensembles (Vox Classical)
This is a great collection - lots of diversity and excellent choices!

Hope that helps some of you out there!
These are a few of many to choose from - feel free to browse around yourself!

Do you have a favorite piece from childhood, etc.?

And..... Just for fun:
Check out some classic Bugs Bunny.