Monday, April 29, 2019

Parachute Play

Believe it or not, after almost 12-years of librarianship, last Wednesday's Parachute Play was my first toddler parachute program ever! And it was only my second parachute program for any age group ever! (The first was Petite Parachute Play for babies ages birth - 16 months, which I did a little over a year ago.) It seems so simple, especially since I use the parachute in my other programs so so so often, but I have long been afraid of the parachute-exclusive program! I've always worried that it would seem like it was getting boring or that I wouldn't be able to come up with enough material to fill the time. In fact, now that I have done it, I can't say that I am fully over that irrational anxiety. Parachute programs are just plain scary!

Originally, in my research for Petite Parachute Play, I stumbled across this blog post from Laughter and Literacy. The librarian who wrote it didn't fill an entire 30-minutes with specifically parachute stuff. She did other songs and stories too. This realization took the pressure was off a bit at the time, but this time around, it was a little different. This time I had toddlers. I wanted to up my game a little, and also, I didn't want the program to feel too much like my other programs where I use the parachute for just a few minutes. So I planned for 25-minutes of parachute + one big book + goodbye song. Here's how my 30-minutes broke down  (red = ipodblue = sing, green = book):

1. Let’s All Clap is a hello song that I use often, but not in Musical Kids. I like it because it's easy, doesn't take up too much time, and I don't need the ipod to do it. I use it in most of my one-off programs for babies and toddlers and I learned it from Jbrary (of course):

After we finished  this song, I had all the grown ups lift up the parachute to reveal a bunch of balls underneath. Then I told the kids to run under, grab as many balls as they could, and throw them on top of the parachute. This sort of worked. It worked great for the kids who were about 2 and older, but 4 out of 6 of them were younger and I think this was too complex of an activity for those children.

2. Popcorn Chant by Carole Peterson, for which I had the kids bounce the balls on the parachute.

3. Popcorn by Joanie Leeds, for which I had the kids climb into the middle of the parachute and the adults shook all the balls up around them. After this song I had the kids all help me collect the balls,  then I instructed them to sit in a circle around the parachute.

4. I’m Being Swallowed by a Boa Constrictor was originally a poem by Shel Silverstein, but works really well as a parachute song! I borrowed this idea from a wonderful program that I attend regularly with my own kids at my home library. The song can be heard below (although I think the version I sang wound up being slightly different) and, when we did it with the parachute, I had everyone pull it up to the kids' body parts as we sang about them (like they're getting swallowed).

5. Colors Over You is my #1 favorite parachute song. To the tune of Twinkle, Twinkle, it goes "Red and green and yellow and blue, these are the colors over you. Red like an apple, green like a tree, yellow like the sun, and blue like the sea. Red and green and yellow and blue, these are the colors over you." This one is good for ALL ages!

6. Let’s Go Riding in an Elevator is another regular for me. It can be found in the video below and works just as well (if not better!) with the parachute and the kiddos underneath it:

7. Stop & Go by Greg & Steve was a good under-the-parachute freeze dance song.

After this song was over, I threw my little black sheep (made by Folkmanis) on to the parachute and did...

8. Baa Baa Blacksheep. The kids were still underneath for this, even though the sheep were on top of it and...

9. Mary Had a Little Lamb. Some kids liked dancing under the parachute; some liked helping us grown ups shake. 

10. Ten in the Bed by Fred Penner is fun because it's a short song and it gets faster and faster. If any of the kids are around the parachute, shaking it, the way the tempo increases usually gets everyone giggling and wiggling. The whatevers-are-in-the-middle fall off and everyone scrambles to get them back in. It's fast paced and lots of fun!

11. Wheels on the Bus is my go-to song for having the kids on top of the parachute. When I do this song, I sing three verses. (1) The wheels on the bus go round and round. (2) The wipers on the bus go swish swish swish. (3) The doors on the bus go open and shut. For the first verse, everyone sits (with the sheep in their laps, in this case) while the grown ups pull the kids around in a circle, like a ride. For the second verse, the grown ups "swish" the parachute around the kids back and forth. And, for the third verse, the grown up pull the parachute all the way down around the kids and then snap it up on the word "shut." In my head, it reminds me of a Venus fly trap and, most of the time, all the kids giggle.

12. Seals on the Bus (as a big book) was the one little non-parachute activity I worked in. I thought, since we'd just done Wheels on the Bus, it'd be cute to follow it up with Seals on the Bus. The book is about a bunch of animals that barrage a bus and make noise, basically. The seals go "erp erp erp," the snakes go "hiss hiss hiss," etc., until, on the last page, the people on the bus go "help, help, help!"

13. Blow a Kiss by Laurie Berkner is the song I always end with when I do a structured program. It's the best and everyone basically knows it means the end. Throw in some bubbles, and we've got ourselves a finale.

What worked least: Maybe, thinking back, the age group should have started at 18-months. In theory, I wanted those babies there, but in practice, I probably didn't have enough things to really accommodate their particular level.

What worked best: I think the kids enjoyed the part toward the beginning when they were crawling around on the parachute with the balls (to the song Popcorn by Joanie Leeds) the best. This was also probably the most baby-friendly activity that I did.

All in all, I still think parachute programs are intimidating. I'd do one again, absolutely, but I can't say I wouldn't be a little nervous that morning!

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