I Can’t Believe I Did THIS in Music Class

Young children tend to view the world with an abundance of imagination. They can easily envision living life as an astronaut, walking on lava, riding on a unicorn, or sailing on a pirate ship to the land of dinosaurs (Pirates of the Caribbean meets Jurassic Park). Of course, they have never actually done those things in real life, but it doesn’t stop them from imagining or pretending that they have. Take these kids. They imagined what it would be like to be in a band:

Yes, they were a little bit right and a little bit not right, but they certainly had fun imagining what it would be like!

What about you? Have you ever imagined what happens in a music class? Well, if you think that there would be some singing, listening to music, playing instruments, and dancing, you would be partly right. (Okay, mostly right!) However, in music class, we do things that may surprise you—or to be more accurate, you may be surprised to find yourself doing them. Take a look at just a few things people have said that they are surprised to find themselves doing in a Kindermusik class.

6 Things I Can’t Believe I Did in Music Class

  1. I sang out loud where other people could hear me and I didn’t care. Yes, we sing in the shower, in our cars, or maybe at a place of worship or at a concert with thousands of other people; however, I never expected to sing out loud in a small group setting with a smile! My children loved hearing my voice and seeing me participate in class. In fact, it helped them love it even more!
  2. I pretended to be a peep squirrel (whatever that is!), a slithering snake, a hopping rabbit, and all sorts of other animals. Again, all of this happened in front of other people and I did not care. For one, they were pretending to be those animals, too. More importantly, my children reminded me just how fun it can be to give in to my imagination.
  3. I purposefully wore my super fuzzy cozy socks with multicolored toes to show the other parents. Then told the other parents where to buy them. In music class, we take off our shoes so it’s all about the socks…or the pedicure during those warmer months. So not only, did the other parents and I exchange parenting tips specific to the age of our children we also shared where to find the cutest socks—or where to get the best pedicure in town.
  4. I broke out in a sweat hoisting my child up in the air, swinging her in a blanket hammock, and bouncing my little one up and down in an imaginary little red wagon. It was a workout for me. The best part: Those “sweaty moments” tended to be full of giggles from my child.
  5. I learned new languages…sort of. Technically, I learned to sing different songs in other languages: Spanish, French, English, and more!
  6. I finally found a place to put to good use all those dance moves I collected in my younger years including the Sprinkler, the Cabbage Patch, the Electric Slide, and even the Macarena. And, while I never had moves like Jagger, my children loved dancing with me and trying out those moves, too.

YC boy with new logoShare your own “unbelievable” story on our Kindermusik Facebook Page by completing this phrase: I can’t believe I Did [BLANK] in Kindermusik class.

Contributed by Lisa Camino Rowell, a freelance writer in the Atlanta area. Her children, now 9 and 7, still request a ride on the little red wagon—and it is STILL a workout.

Science Says: Music Makes You a Better Reader

We love it when science backs up again and again what music teachers and parents have known for a long time – music and music classes have significant and far-reaching benefits that extend beyond singing, moving, and playing instruments and into areas of brain development, academic advantage, language development, literacy, and more.  In particular, new research is highlighting the powerful connection between music and reading.LanguageAndLiteracy_Puzzle

One long-time researcher and advocate for the benefits of music is Dr. Nina Kraus, Professor of Neurobiology & Physiology, Otolaryngology, and the Hugh Knowles Chair in Audiology at Northwestern University.  For your reading pleasure, here are some of the highlights of her studies, both past and current, with links to past Minds on Music posts.

What Science Says about the Music-Literacy Connection

Music is a powerful tool for strengthening and improving reading ability.

Many of the same aspects of sound processing that are deficient in children with language and learning impairments have been found to be strengthened in those who receive music training, and music-based interventions have demonstrated some success in the remediation of reading problems, too.  – Dr. Nina Kraus in this Neuroscience article

Children between the ages of 6 and 9 years old who took music lessons could better differentiate speech sounds, which directly relates to language and literacy skills.

Learning to play a musical instrument or to sing can help disadvantaged children strengthen their reading and language skills by improving the way their nervous systems process sounds in a busy environment.

A preschooler’s ability to follow a rhythm and keep a steady beat can accurately predict early language skills and reading skills.

Benefits of music on reading only seen when participants consistently and actively engage in the music making over an extended period of time.

Experience the benefits of music firsthand! Contact your local Kindermusik educator today at www.Kindermusik.com.

 

How to Raise a Child Who Cares for the Environment

children around the worldToday officially marks Earth Day! However, for young children, every day is Earth Day. After all, they discover something new and wonderful about the outside world each time they encounter it. It’s one of the reasons a walk with a toddler takes 30 minutes just to make it from the front door to the sidewalk. Flowers, leaves, rocks, grass, worms, butterflies, birds, clouds….there are so many beautiful parts of the environment that cause children to pause and investigate further!

While on this Earth Day it may be too early to introduce concepts of pollution, habitat, or species protection, it’s NOT too early to talk to children about the amazing things that the Earth can do. Children must first learn to understand and to love nature and the environment before they can be weighted with the challenge of trying to “save” it. At this age, just concentrate on establishing an emotional connection, awe, understanding, and respect for what nature is and how it works when its systems are working properly. Young children will naturally respond to nature this way!

Earth Day Activity: Composting with Kids

Composting is an ideal and child-friendly place to start teaching children about the environment! It involves dirt, digging, and water–three things children already love! And the idea that, left to their own devices, recyclable food and plant materials can turn back into dirt, and then grow more food and plant materials, is an ideal first lesson about why the Earth is incredible. Try this step-by-step composting guide specifically created with young children in mind:

Composting with Kids

Looking for more ideas on living green with kids? Check out our Pinterest Board.

Contributed by Lisa Camino Rowell, a freelance writer living green with kids (or trying her best!) in the Atlanta, Georgia, area.

Scooby-Dooby-Doo-Wap Your Way Through Jazz Appreciation Month

Throughout the Kindermusik experience, we deliberately introduce children to a wide variety of musical genres to give them a greater understanding of what is possible through music. This month we celebrate Jazz Appreciation Month! We wanted to make it easy for you to celebrate it, too, so the children in your life can experience the value of improvisation and emotional expression and gain an appreciation of this musical genre that traces its roots to the Southern (United States) African-American music of the early 20th century. Try this Kindermusik@Home activity to give children a taste of jazz and to support early language development.

Scat Cat Is Where It’s At

Listening to and mimicking (or echoing) language is the earliest phonological awareness skill. (Being able to hear, identify, discriminate, and mimic sounds is a precursor to matching initial and final sounds and to blending phonemes, all things that stack up to eventually enable reading.) Scat is a kind of singing found in jazz that uses nonsense syllables instead of words. Try this together:

Scat Cat Kindermusik@Home activity

 

4 Ways to Extend this Jazz Activity for Kids

  • Explore the senses by talking with children about their sense of hearing. Explain that we use our ears to hear, listen, and to learn about the world. By listening closely, we know how to imitate the sounds we hear.
  • Use this game as a model for teaching children how to imitate sounds and language. Find something in your home or classroom that makes an interesting sound. Have children listen to the sound. Then model for children how to mimic that sound. Practice, practice, practice!
  • Play a call-and-response game at home, in the classroom, in the car, or outside: say a phrase, sentence, or simple pattern of sounds and children to repeat it back to you. For an added challenge, see if children can repeat it back with the same pace/speed, rhythm, and with the same expression as you. For instance, can they raise their voice at the end of a sentence to denote a question?
  • Do you speak more than one language? Say some words, phrases, or sentences in another language (even if you only studied it in high school!) and have children repeat them back to you as accurately as possible.

Learn more about Kindermusik@Home activities.

Contributed by Lisa Camino Rowell a freelance writing in the Atlanta area.

The One Thing that Can Prepare a Child for Success (It’s not what you think!)

Pew Research Center recently asked a national sample of adults which skills were most important for children to have in order to get ahead in today’s world. Out of the 10 skills from which they could choose, more respondents said communication skills were most important for success, followed by reading, math, and teamwork.

Much of the groundwork and preparation for successful development of these academic and life skills can be laid at a young age.  So where can parents and teachers find that one early childhood experience that delivers on developing all of these vital skills from a very early age?

Music… It’s all in here!

Music teaches communication skills. 
Learning to listen, singing back and forth, sharing non-verbal responses, creative movement responses to music, being part of an ensemble… all of these elements of communication are an integral part of music and music making.  And all are heightened by the experience to be had only in a group music class.

Music enhances literacy skills. 
Just as in reading, music symbols have meaning.  You read music from left to right just as you read words from left to right. Music involves rhythm, syntax, vocabulary, and expression just as reading does. Music is a form of communication just like the written word. Music improves phonological and phonemic awareness.  The list could go on.

Music promotes math skills. 
Numbers, patterns, proportions, ratios, spatial reasoning… sounds like a highly sophisticated list of skills. But all are skills that are mastered by musicians and mathematicians alike. And all of these are introduced to one degree or another even in an early childhood music program like Kindermusik (studio program) or ABC Music & Me (school program).

Music facilitates teamwork.
This is especially evident in a music class, where children share, listen, take turns, and make music together. There’s something about music and a music class that encourages children to work together, cooperate, and problem-solve. Perhaps it’s because in music class, differences are leveled out and there’s one common experience – the joy of making music together.

Watch carefully and you’ll see a delightful example of the ways that even in one activity, music (specifically, Kindermusik!) can teach aspects communication, vocabulary (reading), math (spatial development), and teamwork.

music teaches communication reading math and teamwork
Discover more about the rich benefits of music education with these free e-books.