We Love Our Parachute

Parachute for Music Class

Those of you who already own one of these will never believe that this is the NEWEST addition to our collection of movement props.

We have just about everything else (including most of what is available from our friends at Bear Paw Creek) but for some reason, a parachute didn’t make it into our hands until just a few months ago.

We’ve been having a blast using our parachute in the current session of our early childhood classes, and it’s a huge hit with all the kiddos. Most of them are getting used to holding the handles, but there are always a few who would rather stand underneath or right on top of the parachute. Needless to say, we are just as entertained as the children every time it comes out.

There are lots of songs that lend themselves to the parachute, like “Ring Around the Rosy” and “Pop Goes the Weasel”, and it has also given me an opportunity to write some new ones. Can’t wait to share those with you soon!

As often as we’ve been using this fun prop, we need to keep it fresh with a variety of material. What are some of your favorite parachute tunes and activities?

Apples & Bananas

Apples & Bananas | Children's SongIt’s no secret that most of the songs I use in music therapy sessions, groups and classes are originals that I’ve written myself. I’m a firm believer in tailoring materials to my individual clients and groups of students, which is much more easily done when I’m composing the lyrics and melodies.

But there is certainly a place for familiar songs in those settings, especially where young children and their families are concerned. When I’m creating curricula for my early childhood classes, I always make sure to intersperse a few songs most people will know and be able to sing along with right away.

Familiar music creates a feeling of belonging and encourages stronger participation. If children see their parents or caregivers singing along, they are much more likely to try and do the same. I have an arsenal of favorites, and Apples and Bananas is most definitely one of them. Here’s the version that I recorded for a recent class.

You probably learned this song before you hit kindergarten; in fact, my two-year-old son came home singing it a few weeks ago. “Apples and Bananas” is silly and a bit nonsensical, but it’s also great for working on the concept of vowels and the sounds that they make.

In addition to the original songs that I share here, I’ll also be posting more of my favorite “classics” from time to time. What are some of yours? The beginning of the school year is always a repertoire-building frenzy for me!

Hum a Tune

Hum a Tune Album Cover

I’ve seen a lot of funny things in my years of working with kids, but one of the funniest has to be watching a child learn to play the kazoo. For some, it clicks right away, but most of the time there is a learning curve involved.

My two-year-old fell into the latter category; once he got it, though, I finally had to hide the kazoo during naptime to give my ears a break ;)

Learning to play the kazoo 😂 #parkergram #bingo

A video posted by Rachel Rambach (@rachelrambach) on

Parker’s rendition of “Bingo” inspired me to write a song all about playing the kazoo, which was a topic I hadn’t previously tackled. The song ended up in my Ring, Sing, Strum & Drum songbook (along with 11 other songs for all kinds of instruments).

The key to teaching a child to play the kazoo is to first help him or her master humming. When I use this song, I introduce it first with no kazoo at all; instead, we just sing and hum. Then we add kazoos, at which point there’s no turning back!

Kazoos are great for working on oral motor skills, proper breath support and control, and of course, upping the silliness factor of any class or music therapy session. I’m in the middle of planning my upcoming Listen & Learn for Little Ones session, and this song might just have to be included.

P.S. Did you know that you can gain instant access to a vast collection of over 200 songs (mp3, lead sheet, and instrumental track), videos, tutorials, and visual aides, plus ALL new releases from Listen & Learn Music?

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Five Little Ducklings

Five Little Ducklings

Earlier this week as I organized all of my singable stories on the bookshelves of our brand new studio, I took note of my favorites and those that have been most effective in classes and music therapy sessions. Five Little Ducklings ranks in the top 10, although if you ask my son Parker, he will tell you it’s #1.

I’ve shared other Melanie Gerth books here on the blog before, but this one takes the cake for a few reasons. First of all, the ducks: they are big, colorful, and fuzzy. They’ve stood the test of time (I’ve had this book for 7+ years!) and still look good as new. Second, there’s counting involved as in all of her books; I like that there are only five ducks to count and therefore it’s a bit shorter than the others. This fits my younger kiddos’ attention spans — or lack thereof — quite well.

And third, the familiar melody is easy for little ones to learn and remember. I think Parker had the entire song memorized after one or two listens, and he’s 2. (Of course, at this point he could sing it in his sleep, as we listen to it on every single car ride.)

I have used this singable story in my early childhood classes, both with the book and as a standalone song. If you don’t have the actual book, you could make picture cards to go with it or even have your students “act out” the story. Another way to get creative with it is to change the ducklings to other animals and replace “quack, quack, quack” with the appropriate sounds.

I’m on the hunt for some fresh new singable stories to add to my collection, so please share your favorites with me! You can find a whole heap of singable stories I’ve shared right here.

1-2-3, Clack With Me

1-2-3 Clack With Me Album Cover

Every time we get in the car, my 2-year-old son Parker asks for “mama songs”. I have about 200 of ’em loaded up on my phone, but his favorite album is a collection of songs from one of my past early childhood class sessions.

I’ve listened to that album so often that I catch myself humming the songs at random times throughout the day, especially this one. It’s all about playing the — you guessed it — castanets.

I use castanets all the time in both my music therapy sessions and classes because they are so useful for addressing fine motor skills. Plus they make a lot of noise, and that seems to be an important qualification for a well-liked instrument ;)

I also address other goals with this song, including counting to 3, learning directions (up and down), crossing the midline, and keeping a steady beat.

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