Attending a group activity for the first time can be intimidating — not only for the child, but for the parent or caregiver as well. I speak from experience, having done this many times since becoming a mom.
It can be especially intimidating to walk into a room where everyone else knows each other and has attended the activity before. This happens time and time again in our music classes, since many of our families attend sessions on a regular basis. The adults become friendly with each other, the children get along well, and we as instructors get to know everyone.
So when a new family comes to music for the first time, there are a few things we can do to help them feel just as welcome and part of the group as everyone else.
Last December, we offered our very first holiday-themed music class at Music Therapy Connections and it was a such a blast. I mean, what’s better than singing about reindeer and clicking reindeer hooves (a.k.a. castanets) with a bunch of kids?!
So of course we brought back Little Jingles this year, and we have a completely full class starting tomorrow evening. This year, Katey and I kept some favorite songs and activities from last year in the rotation, and we added a few new ones as well. The session is a mix of both familiar and completely original songs with lots of opportunities for singing, dancing, and instrument playing.
Just as we’ve done with many of our other class sessions, we’ve made our Little Jingles package available at Listen & Learn for Leaders, which is a resource we created for therapists, educators and parents.
This facilitator package includes a guide with a list of instruments, materials and instructions/suggestions for each song, as well as a lyric packet for participants, chords for the facilitator, and collection of mp3s.
You can purchase it as a standalone product, or get it for free when you become a VIP member (more about that here).
We’re super excited about kicking off the month of December with our Little Jingles class, and we invite you to join us in leading it with your own students, clients, and families!
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?
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.
While I initially created the Listen & Learn for Little Ones early childhood class just over two years ago, it wasn’t until last July that I was able to get it up and running on a continuous basis. Ever since, I’ve spent almost every Tuesday morning making music with young children and their parents or caregivers.
It didn’t take long for this class to become the biggest highlight of my week, especially since many of the same families registered for every single five-week session over the course of this year. I got to know the kiddos very well, and even better — they got to know each other.
I’ve met some amazing moms, grandmas, nannies, and a few dads here and there, too :) We’ve played with countless instruments, read tons of singable stories, showed off our dance moves, and the very best part is that I’ve had the pleasure of watching these children develop.
This morning’s class was my last before I take off some time for maternity leave, and I have to admit, it was bittersweet saying goodbye to everyone. All the adults in the room looked at me like I had 3 heads when I told them I’d be returning at the end of June, but the truth is, I’m already looking forward to it!
Since I won’t be practicing music therapy or teaching lessons over the summer, the classes will provide a nice creative outlet and chance to leave the house a couple times a week.
I can’t wait to spend Tuesday mornings snuggled up with my brand new baby girl in just a couple of weeks (or less!), but I will miss my “little ones”. It will be so much fun to see how they’ve grown and changed during that time.
Are you interested in starting an early childhood music program of your own? My course Create, Market, Make Music! (3 CMTE credits) takes you through the entire process. Learn more here.