Friday, February 6, 2015

Musical Kids (for babies ages 6-16 months)

First, let me say that I absolutely LOVE doing Musical Kids for all age groups. This is a reoccurring program done in three 30-minute sessions per week: 6-16 months at 10:00, 17-23 months at 10:45, and 3-5 years at 11:30, for 3 or 4 weeks in a row. They're very well-attended with a core group of wonderful regulars and I seriously just adore all of them. Each age group comes complete with its own set of funny quirks and I feel like I can really appreciate them all equally but differently. For this post, I am going to focus on the babies I get first at 10:00.

A singing and dancing program with babies can be intimidating at first, mainly because children this young can't exactly sing or dance. It took me a LOT of time to get comfortable with this age group but I think I am 90% there now. Regardless of how little they are, it's still important that they're exposed to music and rhythms early! Here's why:

1. Singing helps children to hear the smaller sounds that make up words, because each note gets its own sound.

2.  Moving, marching, clapping, and playing instruments helps with children’s motor skills.

3. Singing helps children build vocabulary through song lyrics. For younger children, “naming songs” where you are singing a list of animals, foods, or any other objects are beneficial.

4. Singing different pitches helps children think spatially because the notes of the melody move up and down.

5. Singing different rhythms helps children think mathematically because the beats are timed and precise.

6. Singing with young children helps them to learn critical communication skills such as reciprocal dialogue, speech sounds, and how to associate sounds with objects, events and feelings.

This week was the first class in a 4-week session, and for those I like to go around and introduce everyone. For this, I use our lamb puppet and all the parents sing Mary Had a Little Lamb, replacing "Mary" with each child's name as I make the lamb kiss and hug and dance for each baby we're singing about. (Side note: This is a massive time-sucker if the group is large but so worth it when you see the tiny ones giggle! Plus, it's a really good way to learn all the children's names.)

Here's my week 1 playlist:
(red = ipod, blue = sing)

1. A New Way to Say Hello by Big Jeff (almost exclusively the only Hello Song I use)
2. Mary Had a Little Lamb/__ Had a Little Lamb (lamb puppet)
3. Aiken Drum by Baby Genius (drums)
4. Whole Lotta Lovin’ by Fats Domino (drums)
5. Scarf Dance by Mary Jo Huff (scarf)
6. Popcorn Kernels (scarf + handout) *See below
7. The Scarf is On My Head (scarf + handout) *See below
8. Elevator Song by MaryLee Sunseri
9. I Know a Chicken by Laurie Berkner (shakers)
10. Itsy Bitsy Spider
11. Twinkle, Twinkle Little Star
12. Blow a Kiss by Laurie Berkner (again, my go-to Goodbye Song)

And here are the fun scarf songs that we sang:

Popcorn Kernels (to the tune of Open Shut Them)
Popcorn kernels, Popcorn kernels,
In the pot, In the pot,
Shake them, shake them, shake them,
Shake them, shake them, shake them
‘Till they pop! ‘Till they pop!

The Scarf is on My Head!  (to the tune of The Farmer in the Dell)
The scarf is on my head, the scarf is on my head!
Hi ho the dairy-o, the scarf is on my head!
The scarf goes up and down, the scarf goes up and down!
Hi ho the dairy-o, the scarf goes up and down!
The scarf goes fast and slow, the scarf goes fast and slow!
Hi ho the dairy-o, the scarf goes fast and slow!
The scarf is on my head, the scarf is on my head!
Hi ho the dairy-o, the scarf is on my head!

What works best: The Elevator Song by MaryLee Sunseri is always a favorite with this group. I use the recording, which goes faster, but here is a video from Jbrary that shows the jist of what the parents do with their children during this song:

What works the best #2: I find that singing two sing-a-long type songs before the Goodbye Song (Itsy Bitsy Spider and Twinkle Twinkle Little Star today) makes ending the program seem less sudden. This might be a weird, personal thing though. Either way, I like it.

What works the least: Sometimes giving back the instruments is hard for the babies (and the middle group also, actually). There's a fine line between giving one child special privileges and prying a shaker from a tiny hand. This is always tricky for me and I am super-grateful that the parents are both helpful and understanding in this situation.

What specifically worked the least this morning: Ugh, somehow the "Shake to Shuffle" mode on the iPod was set to "on" and something happened where, if we moved around too much, it would shuffle in the middle of the song. I don't know. It actually seemed to be shuffling arbitrarily mid-song and it was jarring for everyone. We were enjoying a nice round of I Know a Chicken and suddenly the song just cut off. I tried to recover by enthusiastically having everyone shake your shakers in the air (YAY!) and then shake them on the floor (YAY!) and then shake them in a circle (YAY!), but it was clearly a band-aided situation and a little embarrassing. Again, I am super-grateful for nice parents!

Ok! I'll discuss the middle group next week!

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