[vc_row][vc_column][vc_column_text]Some parts of the world are enjoying balmy temperatures right now. Others are digging out from snowstorms and wishing they could enjoy balmy temperatures sooner rather than later. If you’re in the Northern Hemisphere, we’re approaching a momentous day – the first day of Spring! And we’re here to help you celebrate in an easy, family-friendly, happy, memorable kind of way. (After all, that’s what we celebrate about kids and parents in our Kindermusik classes every week!)
You probably read with your child nearly every day, sometimes multiple times a day. And we bet you can even recite, word for word, a few of your child’s most beloved books that you have read over and over again. But you can still make this day and the event of reading a book together by reading something new about Spring. Here are a few of our favorite Spring-themed titles:
After you Read the Book, Go on your Own “Listening Walk”
This is a delightful activity that will become a fast favorite… and get you outside for a little healthy exercise and special together time.
Make – and Sail – a Miniature Boat
These cork boats and walnut boats are just adorable – so fun to make and even more fun to “sail” in the sink, in a puddle, or in a creek.
Plant a Seed
If you don’t have a green thumb, or it’s been awhile since you tried planting anything, here’s a super short, super easy, video to inspire you. There’s nothing more fascinating than watching something grow![/vc_column_text][vc_video link=”https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=XL9aRtkSMZw”][/vc_column][/vc_row][vc_row][vc_column][vc_column_text]
Download and Learn Kindermusik’s “The Growing Song” Together
There’s nothing better than bonding together over learning and singing a new song together. Here’s a sweet little song that you can download and add to your repertoire – and your playlist.
Make a Springtime Wreath
Grandma will love this for her front door! Watch the 30-second video tutorial for this adorable little craft that’s perfect for even younger children to make.[/vc_column_text][vc_video link=”https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=0SN5GJm-jIg”][/vc_column][/vc_row][vc_row][vc_column][vc_column_text]
Plan a Picnic – in the Backyard or at a Park
You can really turn this into an “event” by enjoying planning the picnic with your child as much as actually going on the picnic (you’ll find some really fantastic picnic ideas here). Turn it into a play date by inviting a few friends.
Celebrating the little moments is what childhood is all about. And a little simple celebration, sharing some special moments together, will go a long way towards helping your child blossom into a happy, confident, creative individual.
Shared by Theresa Case, owner of Kindermusik at Piano Central Studios in beautiful Greenville, South Carolina, where Springtime is always beautiful![/vc_column_text][/vc_column][/vc_row]
[vc_row][vc_column][vc_column_text]Here at Kindermusik, we love sharing tips that help make parenting a little easier and also help bring out the best in your kids – including their creativity and self-expressiveness! After all, one of the gifts of learning music and participating in a weekly music class is the beautiful way in which self-expression and creativity are both fostered and encouraged.
With Valentine’s Day just around the corner, we thought you’d be inspired to enjoy some of these simple Valentine’s themed, DIY crafts with your children. And by the way, we’d love for you to share pictures of your results on the Kindermusik Facebook page. #KindermusikCreativity[/vc_column_text][/vc_column][/vc_row][vc_row][vc_column][vc_column_text]
[/vc_column_text][vc_column_text]Our friends over at The Artful Parent always have such great ideas. Check out this beautiful heart-shaped sun catcher and their great idea for a Do-it-Yourself light table!
[/vc_column_text][vc_column_text]Need some extra decorations around the house? How about a wreath made from Valentine’s Day colored tissue paper? The folks at Happy Hooligans provide the instructions – you provide the fun!
[/vc_column_text][vc_column_text]Want to look at the world a little differently? Maybe with a little more heart? Then take a look at Happily Ever Mom’s heart-shaped binoculars. – yet another use for used toilet paper rolls!
[/vc_column_text][vc_column_text]This is a favorite – also from Toddler Approved. The Bouquet of Love lets your little one have a blast making free designs with paint or any other medium, and in the end, produces a beautiful finished product, filled with the unique artistic expressions of your child. Take a peek!
[vc_row][vc_column][vc_column_text]Friends, I’m a parent. It’s the position I’m most proud of. My wife feels the same way. We have two boys – a 14 year old and a 10 year old. They are the twin joys of our life together. In our quest to make the best parenting choices, I’d like to think we’ve done pretty well – most of the time. This story is about one of the times we messed up…pretty badly. But in the end, we turned our mistake into an opportunity to teach our oldest a valuable lesson. Buckle up…it’s going to be a bit bumpy at the outset.[/vc_column_text][/vc_column][/vc_row][vc_row][vc_column][vc_column_text]
Setting the Scene
It was July of 2014. We live in Western Pennsylvania and my wife’s parents live on the Eastern side of the state. Our boys were almost 300 miles away visiting their grandparents. This will be important later.
Now…my May American Express bill had been a bit high – it reflected about $300 in purchases from iTunes. My wife, who handles our finances, pointed this out and asked me to curtail my spending. I’m a conductor and music educator. I do tend to spend quite a bit on music through iTunes, particularly in the summer when I am planning my year – though $300 is pretty high for one month. I mistakenly just assumed I had somehow lost track and overspent. Not checking to see if I had actually splurged that much on music purchases was my FIRST MISTAKE.
I promised Jane I would avoid any further purchases for the rest of the summer.
We return to July and a child-free house. As much as we love our boys, we were enjoying a bit of quiet. I was working in the kitchen when I heard Jane yell for me in the family room.
Uh oh. “Yes?”
I could tell I probably did something.
“You spent over $850 on iTunes last month! You said you’d stop!”
At this point, I knew something was off. I knew I hadn’t spent any money on music in June. Refraining from any purchases through iTunes, I had spent a great deal of time listening to music on YouTube. What was going on?
We looked at the bill together – countless charges of $1.08…$5.44…then $10.89…then $21.79. Finally, toward the end of June, someone had charged several items costing $54.49. My bill with Apple totaled $878.[/vc_column_text][/vc_column][/vc_row][vc_row][vc_column][blockquote cite=”- Dr. Boyle”]”In the interest of full disclosure, I was relieved that it wasn’t me who was in trouble.”[/blockquote][vc_column_text]
I immediately thought my card had been compromised, so I did what anyone would do – I called American Express. While on hold, I remembered – I had connected our oldest son’s iPod Touch to my American Express account.
We had a deal with him: if he wanted to download anything – anything at all – he had to ask permission. Whether an app was free or cost money, he had to ask. Nathan had been good about this deal. He always asked. He hadn’t abused this trust since we purchased the iPod Touch for him two years prior. I would occasionally check his device to see what he’d been doing. In two years I never found anything of concern and slowly reduced how often I checked in. MISTAKE NUMBER TWO.
Still on hold, I asked Jane to call Nathan, just to check if he had downloaded anything. The customer service agent returned and agreed that if I didn’t make the purchases, which due to their repetitive nature and increasing value, things did look suspicious. While discussing possibilities with my friendly Amex Rep, I heard Jane, in an extremely loud and uncharacteristic voice, say the following:
“YOU DID WHAT?!?!?”
I sighed into the receiver. We had apparently caught the culprit – the mastermind behind the charges: our then 10 year-old son.
“Um…Ma’am?” I said sheepishly. “Never mind. We figured out what happened. Thanks for your help, though.”
I hung up.
In our 20 year marriage, I don’t think I have ever seen Jane as angry as she was that day, talking to our son on the phone (who I’m sure was extremely grateful of his 300-mile-safety-buffer). He admitted that he had been playing a game on his iPod – Clash of Clans – that may have had some “in-app purchases.”
In the interest of full disclosure, I was relieved that it wasn’t me who was in trouble.
Freemium Games and In-App Purchases
This incident introduced us to the relatively new concept of Freemium Games, brilliantly satirized by South Park the following November in the episode, “Freemium Isn’t Free.” I’m sure most know what this is, but for the uninitiated, a Freemium Game is a game that is free to download. It’s also free to play. However, it’s been designed to take advantage of our desire to move quickly through a task to get that final reward. Yes, you can play for free, but for an in-app purchase of only 99¢, you can instantly buy resources instead of collecting them over the course of days or weeks. For for $1.99, you can buy quite a bit more. And for $9.99, you can buy even more! Why wait weeks to complete a task in-game when – for pennies – you can have instant gratification?
This bit of marketing magic works. It works really well, so well that Clash of Clan’s parent company, Supercell, normally takes in over $2 million each day. Let me type that again – the company brings in 7 figures a day for selling…nothing. In Clash of Clans you can purchase gems which simply speed up game play. There is no actual product delivered – digital or otherwise. Last year, Supercell generated $2.3 billion in revenue, selling the ability to increase the speed of gameplay.[/vc_column_text][vc_column_text]
So…I had failed to verify the purchases from May. As it turns out, all of that $300-plus iTunes bill was Nathan. He started small. As he played the game, he kept increasing the number of gems he was buying. A “Pocketful” of gems costs 99¢; a “Pile” – $4.99. With just a couple clicks, you can get your resources and speed up the play. Once he got going, absent parental supervision, human nature took over. There was no stopping him. He peaked at buying “Boxes” of gems for $49.99. We had caught on before he jumped to the next purchase level – $99.99…plus tax, of course.
Because we had failed to check in on Nathan’s iPod activity, we completely missed the install of the “Freemium” game and the initial purchases. We had to accept some responsibility. Of course, Nathan broke our deal and failed to ask permission to install the game and buy anything in the game. He had been so good in the past – asking if he could buy a $1.99 app or a 99¢ song. We never thought something like this would happen.
So what did we do?
At a friend’s suggestion, I immediately called Apple. I explained the situation to them, and without asking for a refund, they offered to refund the entire amount of $1189. Pretty amazing if you ask me.
But we still needed to deal with Nathan. Thankfully, his absence gave us time to think. We had some important and often complicated concepts we wanted to get across to our son. He had spent the equivalent of our rent on nothing of any real value. He had also abused our trust. What consequence (or set of consequences) would teach rather than simply punish? How could we use this opportunity to help him understand finances?[/vc_column_text][/vc_column][/vc_row][vc_row][vc_column][vc_column_text]
Here’s what we came up with. Nathan immediately lost all his internet connected devices and internet privileges – iPod, Xbox, and computer access outside of school work. This falls into the “negative punishment” block of Operant Conditioning. What we did next required a long term commitment and would result in our son truly appreciating the value of money.
We told Nathan that we transferred the money in his savings account to our account to partially take care of his debt (we didn’t really). This lowered the total amount owed to about $800. We devised a complex life lesson for our son that, in the end, taught him more than just finances. We would teach him how to live on a budget and what that requires in everyday life.
Nathan would work five hours a week at minimum wage until the $800 was paid off.
Those five real hours would represent a virtual normal 40 hour work week – so each hour equated to an 8 hour day’s pay at minimum wage.
This gave him a virtual weekly salary of $290 a week.
Out of that weekly virtual salary, Nathan had to take care of the following weekly virtual expenses:
Roughly $40 in taxes and withholdings
$90 in rent – based on the low end of one bedroom apartment rent listings in our area
$15 in utilities
$30 in heath insurance
$10 in transportation costs (he’d take public transportation to his “virtual” job)
$40 in groceries
This left him with $65 a week. Out of this money, he had to pay down the entire debt of $1189. Each hour he worked beyond his five real hours represented a virtual hour’s work of overtime and he’d virtually be paid time and a half. To his credit, he did take advantage of this and did more than five hours of work almost every week – sometimes as much as 15 real hours total. What did we have him do?
Cooking (taught him to make pasta sauce – a very important skill in my book)
Watching his little brother
Assisting both of us with various tasks
Each week, we sat down with him and entered his hours into a Google Sheets document I created, complete with formulas that figured everything out for us. He could see his income, taxes and other withholdings, expenses, and savings. We allowed him to decide how much to save each week, but encouraged him to save as much as he could. If we went out to see a movie as a family, he had to deduct the ticket cost from his savings (no, we didn’t actually make him pay for the ticket – we’re not monsters!). We set up a minimum payment on the debt, but he could elect to pay more. We also allowed him to buy back his electronics (at seriously reduced used prices), as if he had been required to pawn them.
One last monkey wrench – we laid him off one week and “outsourced” his “job” to his 7 year-old brother. He had to rely on his savings to meet his financial requirements that week. We explained that this happens sometimes and people still need to find a way to get by. That’s one of the reasons personal saving is so important – to deal with the unexpected.
In the End
When all was said and done, this learning experience took almost six months to play out. By the end of December, Nathan had paid off the $1189 dollar virtual debt from his virtual income, and finished with about $240 in his virtual savings account. He learned that living on a budget can be a challenging thing, especially at the outset. He learned that money is normally something one earns through hard work. He learned to value his time and the work he produced. We learned that we should never take anything for granted and be as present as we can be in the ever-growing list of digital parental tasks.
Trust me…we wanted to yell at him when he returned from Eastern Pennsylvania. He had spent almost $12oo! But the physical and temporal space afforded to us by the fact that Nathan was visiting his grandparents allowed us to cool down, realize our part in this fiasco, and come up with something that would deliver a serious consequence while attempting to teach him some very valuable life lessons.
Our 10 year-old handled all of this very well. As things got going, he would often be the one to initiate our time together filling out the Google Sheet. He’d point out how much he had saved and make pretty well informed financial decisions for a kid his age – like when it made sense to try and buy back his iPod or his Xbox privileges.[/vc_column_text][/vc_column][/vc_row][vc_row][vc_column][vc_column_text]
The Digital Parenting Landscape
In reality – we just have new and fascinating technological situations on which we must focus age-old parenting duties. Yes, Nathan was 10, a bit older than your average Kindermusik kid, but believe me, this can happen with any child that has access to an iPod, iPhone, or iPad. We quickly learned how to turn on parental controls for purchases, and as a second option, how to only allow gift cards for purchases on the App Store.
Huff Post recently reported on a 6 year-old girl in Dallas named Brooke who ordered a doll house and four pounds of cookies through the family’s Amazon Echo device. When no one was looking, she asked the internet connected device, “Alexa, can you play doll house with me and get me a doll house?” following the request with, “Alexa, I love you.” Because the girl’s mother had one-click ordering enabled, Amazon shipped a $170 doll house to the family home, much to Brooke’s delight.
As technology continues to deliver conveniences, as parents we need to be ever vigilant, both in monitoring and in educating our kids.
Nathan, now a high school freshman, smiles when we recall that summer and subsequent months. He’s gotten very good at saving money. And really, it seems like just a week ago he was four, playing with Thomas the Tank engines on the living room floor. For those of you with young kids, 14 will be here before bedtime. So friends, be ready!
Apple has continued to develop controls for parents knowing that kids will be interfacing with the App Store and iTunes. Their Family Sharing controls are extremely useful and can be found here.
Likewise, Google has parental controls that are pretty robust. Information on how to adjust them are located here.
For the record, we did eventually tell Nathan that Apple refunded the money. We’re not that cruel – even if once in a blue moon he (and even his younger brother, Patrick) might give us a pretty serious eye roll.[/vc_column_text][/vc_column][/vc_row][vc_row][vc_column][vc_video link=”https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=aIWnj1JrENU”][/vc_column][/vc_row]
[vc_row][vc_column][vc_column_text]The New Year is upon us! Over the past month many of us have been dwelling on resolutions. What can I do in 2017 that will make me a better version of myself? What can I change? What can I add? What can I take away? We all do it to some degree. Well friends – you’re reading a music blog. Hopefully it won’t be overly surprising that we make some music-based suggestions that can hopefully have a positive impact on your new year.[/vc_column_text][vc_separator][/vc_column][/vc_row][vc_row][vc_column][vc_column_text]
It Starts with Music
There’s a rather old tradition in many English speaking countries in the world. The song, Auld Lang Syne is sung. As a musician, I love that important moments of our collective life on this planet are marked with music. It’s a ritual – something that carries special meaning and is repeated time and time again. That song looks back across the previous year and reminds us that as we look forward, to not forget all the good times of the past – those close connections with friends and family, time spent together enjoying each other’s company.
As this new year starts, what new traditions might you start? What memories will you create – memories so strong and moving that they will be the memories you think of when singing Auld Lang Syne at the end of 2017? And…how might they be musical memories?[/vc_column_text][/vc_column][/vc_row][vc_row][vc_column][vc_column_text]
Outside Your Regular Routine
Experience something new! I’m a classically trained musician who never had much time for popular music. It was never that I didn’t like pop music. It was an “only so many hours in the day” kind of thing. So…I am going to experience a concert in 2017, something I’d never go to normally. I’ve already started looking.
Check your area’s concert listings. Is there a bluegrass band that looks interesting and you’ve never experienced bluegrass? Maybe a symphony performance? Try something new and expand your musical horizons. Get a group of friends together, or find something family friendly that works for the kids.
Perhaps your town or city has an annual New Year’s event that involves live music. Go! Experience life – and do it in real time with your eyes. Limit how much you experience the world through a five inch screen. Take a few pictures and then be in the moment with friends and family. See smiles first hand. Make memories in the original hard drive – your brain! And get this, when you make new memories and music is included, hearing that music again brings back those memories with greater richness.[/vc_column_text][vc_column_text]This suggestion makes me thing of the group, Postmodern Jukebox. This is a fantastic collective group founded and lead by Scott Bradlee. They take some iconic songs and reimagine them, quiet amazingly, in completely different styles. Musical theatre as 70s soul…pop as 40s jazz – what this group does is incredibly creative. Old favorites can be experienced in a new way. Here’s the group performing Madonna’s pop anthem, Material Girl, as a Roaring 20’s number, featuring Gunhild Carling singing, rocking it on trombone, and tap dancing![/vc_column_text][vc_video link=”https://youtu.be/RUuQ4hoXsCM”][/vc_column][/vc_row][vc_row][vc_column][vc_column_text]
Music + Movement = Magic
Trust me on this – I’m a doctor! Well…a music doctor. And we are experts at music and movement. Like so many of us, I am going to try my best to get in better shape in 2017. And now I’ve announced this to all of you…so keep me honest!
The right music can positively affect physical activity. Samantha Lafave over at Fitness Magazine wrote a great article on selecting the right playlist for your workout. Here are the basics:
That first piece on the playlist sets the pace and the tone. Go high energy!
Variety is key: having lots of music to choose from.
Pay attention to the lyrics. Samantha tells us:
There’s a reason T-Swift’s “Shake It Off” is so popular—the song is catchy, feel-good and relatable. Cook deems it the perfect mid-workout song. When you’re ready to give up, it can literally help you “shake off” negative thoughts, she says. Same goes for Gloria Gaynor’s “I Will Survive” and Kelly Clarkson’s “What Doesn’t Kill You (Makes You Stronger).” Tune in to the empowering words next time you’ve hit struggle city to power through.
– Samantha Lafave, Fitness Magazine
Don’t forget to pick music to which you might have a personal connection. It makes the experience more meaningful. And don’t forget cool down music!
It’s a solid prescription. Exercise – with music. When you’re with friends and family – let that time be filled with music. Try something “musically new” this year. And as far as your kids? Well…the earlier you expose them to musical activity, the more they will appreciate it as they get older. It will just be part of their story. Beyond all the developmental benefits music impacts as they grow, music will bring joy into their lives – yours, too! Get them moving and grooving, singing and playing this year. We are waiting for you with life changing Kindermusik experiences.
Happy New Year from all of us at Kindermusik International![/vc_column_text][/vc_column][/vc_row]
[vc_row][vc_column][vc_column_text]There is no better gift than the gift of time, but with our busy lives and constant demands, it can also be one of the hardest gifts to give – especially during the holidays.
It’s during the holiday season that we long for the gift of time the most – time together, time to make memories, time to slow down a bit. Here are some ideas for making that holiday wish come true!
These crafts could even turn into Christmas gifts for grandparents and neighbors. Here are some simplehand craft ideas from Kindermusik – crafts using your kids own hands. Or enjoy letting your little drummer make his or her ownCoffee Can Drum. We also highly recommendThe Artful Parent website as another fabulous kid-friendly resource for crafts.
Get in the kitchen together
How about breakfast for dinner? Or a “make-your-own-pizza” night? Or a make-it, bake-it, gift-it night? Even young children can enjoy contributing as you prepare an easy meal together or make some brownies for an elderly neighbor down the street. Making and sharing a meal together is a relationship builder![/vc_column_text][/vc_column][/vc_row][vc_row][vc_column][vc_column_text]
Commit to a “device free” evening together
Pop some popcorn. Play charades. Tell jokes. Put a puzzle or two together. Talk and share some childhood memories. Listen to music as you create some holiday cards to mail out. Set aside time to engage with each other rather than screens. Those glowing wonders will still be there when your done!
Schedule a family game night
Put it on the calendar, circle it in red, and make it non-negotiable. Teach your children your favorite game from when you were a kid (Uno orCandy Land, anyone?!), and then let them teach you one of their favorite games.[/vc_column_text][/vc_column][/vc_row][vc_row][vc_column][vc_column_text]
Attend a carol sing or concert together
Nothing creates a memorable shared experience like attending a concert. This time of year especially there are often many free and kid-friendly concerts that the whole family can enjoy.
Drive around and look at holiday lights
You know those neighborhoods where everyone goes all out. Make this extra fun by getting everyone in their pajamas, loading up in the car, and oohing and ahhing over all of the lights. And don’t forget to go through the drive-through for hot chocolate on the way home.
This display probably took a serious amount of time to produce![/vc_column_text][vc_video link=”https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=rmgf60CI_ks”][/vc_column][/vc_row][vc_row][vc_column][vc_column_text]Week in and week out, Kindermusik gives you the gift of time together with your child – singing, dancing, playing, learning, and making music. Consider giving the gift of time by enrolling your child inKindermusik. You’ll savor the moments, the laughter, the memories, and the music you’ll share!
[/vc_column_text][vc_column_text]Shared by Theresa Case, whose award-winning Kindermusik program at Piano Central Studios has been giving families in upstate South Carolina the gift of music and the gift of time together for over 20 years now.[/vc_column_text][/vc_column][/vc_row]