How to Throw a Music-themed Birthday Party

Looking for a unique way to celebrate your child’s birthday?  Whether your child is turning 1 or going on 7, we have the perfect solution – a customized musical birthday party!

Birthday Party with Kindermusik

Kids LOVE music, and there’s no better way to involve the whole crowd than to throw a musical birthday party.  And it’s EASIER than you might think!  Here’s how:

Step 1 – Contact your local Kindermusik educator.

Kindermusik educators are the experts when it comes to making music and making children smile, and they know how to put together the perfect blend of music, dancing, instruments, and singing to celebrate your child’s special day in the most memorable of ways.

Step 2 – Choose your theme.

Your Kindermusik educator is one of the most creative people on the planet!  She can plan a general music-themed party, or she can customize the music and activities to the theme of your choice – themes like 1st birthday, princess, teddy bear picnic, under the sea, bubbles and balloon, on the farm, monster trucks, and more!

Step 3 – Plan your guest list.

Consult with your Kindermusik teacher, but usually about 10 – 12 children is a good size for a Kindermusik birthday party.  If the children are 3 years or younger, you’ll want to be sure that the children’s parents know that they get to participate too!

Step 4 – Put together your party favors.

Carry the musical theme right on through to the favors.  Your Kindermusik teacher can help you plan some musical party favors, or you can put together your own with age-appropriate instruments available from the Kindermusik store.

Or you can do a “Make it, Take it” party favor and make your own homemade instruments at the party.

Kindermusik Birthday CheerStep 5 – Plan your decorations.

As with most things involving young children, the simpler, the better.  Colorful balloons make for a nice table decoration.  Make your own banner using these free printable banner letters or frame this Kindermusik Birthday Cheer printable to put on the table by the cake or gifts.

Step 6 – Relax and enjoy!

The smile on your child’s face will be worth it all.  You’ll love not having to do much more than show up.  And the memories?  Well, they’ll be priceless.  That’s the beauty of Kindermusik!

Contributed by Theresa Case whose award-winning Kindermusik program is located in beautiful upstate South Carolina at Piano Central Studios.

 

It’s Rhyme Time!

Sally Go Round the Sun

Sally Go Round the Moon

Sally Go Round the Chimney Top

Every Afternoon.

Children are aware of rhymes long before they can identify them and can identify them sooner than they can produce them. Reading, reciting, or singing rhymes to young children before they can understand the principle behind rhyming is as important as introducing children to music before they can create it or to books before they can read.

Being able to hear and identify words that rhyme is the earliest phonemic awareness task. Phonemic awareness is the understanding that a word is made up of a sequence of discrete sounds, or phonemes, and it is an essential skill for learning to read. Plus, rhyming is the precursor skill to identifying syllables within words.

3 Tips for Playing Rhyming Games with Young Children:

  1. Ask children to listen for the “words that sound alike.”
  2. Try to use rhyming words that have only one syllable, such as “cat,” “sat,” “mat.”
  3. When first introducing the concept of rhyming, use words that can be associated with pictures, such as “dog” and “frog” or “sun” and “moon.” Later, progress to playing rhyming games without visual support.

Try this free Kindermusik@Home activity: Rhyme Around Town 

Rhyme Around Town Kindermusik@HomeThis rhyming activity for young children introduces the concept of rhyming in a simple way, then challenges children to spot the words that “sound alike.” Does mouse rhyme with pig or house?

Looking for more activities that support a young child’s development? Find a local Kindermusik educator at www.kindermusik.com and visit a class.

Help! My Child “Sleeps” in Kindermusik

Yes. It’s true. My daughter, Ellery, slept through Kindermusik class—for four months! Now, before you begin conjuring up images of a snuggled and swaddled baby girl being gently rocked to quiet lullabies, let me stop you.

She was two and not really asleep. She just didn’t want anyone to see her. And, in fact, if I am perfectly honest, she didn’t always want to go to class. She wanted to play on the stairs outside of class or smell the tulips in front of the building or peek in the window during her older sister’s Kindermusik class. But, as soon as we stepped inside her class, the eyes would shut and she would slump in my lap—asleep.

Seriously, this is the face of my child when it was time to go into class:

Before Kindermusik class

Just when I thought I had this parenting thing figured out

At this point, I should confess that I thought I had this parenting—and Kindermusik—thing down. After all, I lived and breathed Kindermusik as the Senior Director of Marketing for seven years at Kindermusik International. I knew all the latest parenting—and music education research—and participated in Kindermusik classrooms around the world long before becoming a parent, which meant I learned from THE BEST in the business. Plus, we had Emerson, our oldest daughter (AKA “The Rule Follower” and “Safety Patrol”). But, along came Ellery, our spirited child.

Now, if you’ve never had to participate in an active Kindermusik class with, um, a sleeping child, it’s not easy. It’s kind of like taking the class by yourself, while swinging a 25 pound bag of sugar in the air and bouncing it on your knees! But, thankfully, I knew one thing. Ellery was absorbing it all in and participating in the way that best fit her at that developmental stage. How do I know? Well, on the car ride home, she would sing all of the songs, repeat the fingerplays, and even mention certain things her teacher, Jane Hendrix, said in class. Then later, Ellery and Emerson would play Kindermusik class in the living room  and (surprise, surprise!) Ellery would be fully awake for that class!

I knew that this sleepy behavior could last the first few classes as Ellery adjusted to this new group of friends. In fact, it can often take five weeks for a young child to feel confident enough to participate more actively in class. And, I was right…sorta.

Kindermusik celebrated my child—even when she was asleep

Kindermusik puppetI should mention that our Kindermusik Educator, Jane Hendrix, took my Ellery in stride. Every week Jane would try a new tactic to encourage participation while also fully accepting Ellery’s form of engagement. In fact, we would often “sleep hello to Ellery” at the start of each class or sing “Resting in the Green Grass.” Eventually, Jane uncovered the one thing that finally coaxed Ellery’s eyes open for longer and longer moments—a dog puppet. Little by little Ellery began to participate with her eyes open, as long as the dog puppet watched. She danced with the dog. Played instruments with the dog and even got to take the dog home one week to play Kindermusik at home. She took that dog everywhere, which meant we played Kindermusik everywhere! We even sang hello–well, barked hello–to the peonies at the grocery store.

I would love to say that from that day forward Ellery eagerly bounded into class each week, but no. She still wanted to play on the steps, smell the flowers, and basically do her own thing, but we kept going and learning and playing and singing. And, you know what? It paid off, because I have the gift of time to see how it did!

5 Years Later

Ellery 1st gradeAs parents, it takes years to see the fruits of our labor. Are we making the right choices for our kids? Is this worth the time, the money, the struggle? Well, today Ellery is halfway through first grade. And guess what? She participates with her eyes wide open! Kindermusik helped set the foundation for her love of learning—and her confidence to be herself. She loves to read, excels at math, and easily creates a network of close friends who accept her for her. Is she musical? Yes…but we plan to hold off on the drum lessons for now.

Last month, Miss Jane posted a picture on my Facebook page and said, “This girl reminds me of Ellery”:

Childhood Quote

You see. That’s the other thing. Kindermusik creates bonds that transcend the classroom experience long after a child “ages out.” I know that Jane will always celebrate Ellery for who she is. It’s why Jane—and Kindermusik—will remain firmly planted in my heart.

Kindermusik: A Place to Celebrate Your Child

Every child is welcomed in Kindermusik and celebrated for who they are and how they participate. There is no right or wrong way. Even when children don’t seem to be participating in class (i.e. sleeping or running or sitting in your lap), they are absorbing and participating in their own unique way. It’s one of the reasons why Kindermusik provides materials for families to use together outside the class. Children are most comfortable at home in their own environments. It is worth it…even when they sleep through class!

Kindermusik Classes - Enroll Now - For a Child's Brain, Body, Heart & SoulFind a local Kindermusik educator at www.kindermusik.com and experience firsthand how we celebrate every child!

Contributed by Lisa Camino Rowell, a freelance writer living the Atlanta area.

Music Class: Where Shoes Aren’t Required But Participation Is

When it comes to gaining the most benefit from a music class, there are three essentials of participation – engagement, consistency, and longevity.  This according to a recent study led by Dr. Nina Kraus, the Hugh Knowles professor of communication sciences in the School of Communication and of neurobiology and physiology in the Weinberg College of Arts and Sciences at Northwestern

“Our results support the importance of active experience and meaningful engagement with sound to stimulate changes in the brain,” said Kraus, director of Northwestern’s Auditory Neuroscience Laboratory.

What this study highlighted was that music training significantly impacts brain development, language development, literacy, academic achievement, and more, but only when the three essentials of participation are included.

three essentials of participation in a music class

Essential #1 – Engagement
It’s not enough to passively sit in a music class.  Kraus’ study illustrated the significance of active engagement by playing instruments.  In Kindermusik classes, children are also involved in music-making and learning through movement, use of props, and active listening.

Essential #2 – Consistency
Music isn’t a quick fix, according to Kraus, nor is it a one-time wonder.  There must be regular and consistent participation.  Kindermusik educators have observed time and time again that it’s consistent attendance, week after week and year after year, that has the greatest impact on a child’s complete development.

Essential #3 – Longevity
Interestingly enough, Kraus’ research also highlighted that it’s longevity that really counts.  It was “…two years of music training – but not one – improved the brains’ ability to distinguish similar-sounding syllables, a skill linked to literacy.”  Kindermusik has always believed in the multi-year benefits of early childhood music education, and their multi-level curricula support that belief.

Kindermusik is where music and learning play
Learn more about the benefits of actively participating in a music class.  Visit http://www.kindermusik.com/about/benefits-of-music-for-children/.

Contributed by Kindermusik educator Theresa Case, whose award-winning Kindermusik program is located in beautiful upstate South Carolina at Piano Central Studios.

New Research: Teaching self-regulation increases school readiness

“To researchers’ awe, music and movement experiences help children better self-regulate behavior and enjoy a safe, creative outlet for self-expression. Studies point to a specific cluster of social-emotional skills—called self-regulation skills—as particularly important for a variety of school successes.”  (Dr. Debby Pool, Vice President at Kindermusik International)

According to a new study from Oregon State University co-authored by child development expert Megan McClelland, children with strong self-regulation skills – skills that “help children pay attention, follow directions, stay on task and persist through difficulty” – transition more successfully into Kindergarten.

At-risk children participated in an intervention program that utilized movement and music-based games to help children develop and learn self-regulation skills. These music games were designed to help children learn to stop, think, and then act, three steps that are part of the self-regulation process.

“Most children do just fine in the transition to kindergarten, but 20 to 25 percent of them experience difficulties – those difficulties have a lot to do with self-regulation,” McClelland said. “Any intervention you can develop to make that transition easier can be beneficial.”

Here’s a music and movement game from Kindermusik@Home that gives kids fun practice with those all-important self-regulation skills:

Head and Shoulders 1-2-3Want to learn more about using music in your school to reach children from underserved populations? Visit www.Kindermusik.com/schools.

Contributed by Kindermusik educator Theresa Case, whose award-winning Kindermusik program at Piano Central Studios is located in beautiful upstate South Carolina.