In Your Right Brain: The Mind’s Response to Music

In your right brain

The brain is a mysterious organ. It is responsible for all the functions of the body, processes pain, yet has no pain receptors of its own. It’s 73% water and produces enough energy to light a small LED bulb. An infant’s brain is constantly growing but is already about 80% of the size it will reach in adulthood. If you had a piece of your own brain the size of a grain of sand in your palm, it would contain over 100,000 neurons (the cell type that transmits information) and over 1 billion synapses (the junction between neurons). There is much we don’t know about the brain, but after decades of high-level research, we have learned a great deal.

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ABC English & Me proven classroom tips: Repetition with a twist increases learning

Kindermusik Educator Jane Denizot in France
Jane Denizot is an ABC English & Me Educator in Calvados, France. This week, she shares a few tips on how she incorporates repetition with a few activity twists in the ELL classroom for young children.

I find it is essential to have repetition and the proof is that they are learning fast. I just try to spice up things that are repeated to change it a little. I am on week two “1, 2, 3, GO!” and have followed the units as prescribed, just adding in an extra song when I thought we needed more movement.

Jane’s tips on giving repetition a twist in the ABC English & Me classroom

  • Add simple play props. At first we had no steering wheels for the Grandad’s farm activity, then later, we added coloured paper plates.
  • Repeat familiar movement and language concepts with a new song. I used the “Blue Danube” to follow on from “Clever Cows” repeating the “Up, Up” and “Down, Down” in time to the music with our scarves and they loved it.
  • Add in some silly moves for the “Hello” and “Goodbye” songs.
  • Play a new song. I also added in another activity, “The Morning Sun has Risen,” with instruments and lots of cock a doodles!

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FOL Fridays: Unstructured Play

Why Music?

Child-development specialists describe unstructured play as essential to children’s growth and crucial in cultivating creativity and imagination. Unstructured play also has a role in expanding intellectual, emotional, and social skills. “In other words,” according to MacPherson (2002), “unstructured child’s play – the kind with no rules, few gizmos and little or no adult direction – packs a powerful developmental wallop.”

HELPS for Parents: PARENTS magazine has this great article online about nurturing your child’s ability to play alone. Click here for an article with ideas for teaching your older children how to play alone.

– Compiled by Theresa Case, M.Ed. Theresa’s program, Kindermusik at Piano Central Studios, is proudly among the top 1% of Kindermusik programs worldwide.

FOL Fridays: Social Interaction

As children grow, they must learn to play with others, not just for sake of “getting along” but also because being able to interact with peers is an important part of becoming a successful learner.  Sharing and taking turns are difficult lessons to master, but as children spend more time playing together, they begin to recognize each other’s feelings and advance from parallel play (playing along side other children) to cooperative play (playing with other children). 

IDEA:  Use your Kindermusik songs and activities from class to inspire some parent-child play at home.  You can also encourage your child’s play by providing simple and developmentally appropriate play materials.  Organize the items into labeled bins and place in easy reach on shelves or in the closet.

– Compiled by Theresa Case, M.Ed.  Theresa’s Kindermusik program at Piano Central Studios in Greenville, South Carolina, is proudly among the top 1% of Kindermusik programs worldwide.

Science in the shower

This post was generously shared from the Studio3Music blog.

I am a teacher by profession, and a home schooling mom by trade. (Or is it the other way around?) In any case, I spend most of my waking hours teaching somebody something. If you are a parent, your “other job” is being a teacher, too.

Your child’s job? (I’m talking about children newborn to 7 specifically, here.) Your child’s job is to play. Play IS work for a child’s brain. The brain is designed for the first seven years of life to simply organize things. And organizing play is how the brain does just that. I don’t mean organized play. Organized play is something that adults do to children. Telling them how and what to play.

So why are their rooms so messy? Well, it’s not THAT kind of organization either. The brain’s job is to organize all the sensory input it is receiving. Done well, and your child will be a happy and eager learner when they enter elementary school.

Way back in 1949, N.A. Alessandrini defined play as, “A child’s way of learning and an outlet for his innate need of activity. It is his business or career. In it he engages himself with the same attitude and energy that we engage ourselves in our regular work. For each child it is a serious undertaking not to be confused with diversion or idle use of time. Play is not folly. It is purposeful activity.”

This is still true today. The “occupation” of play for a child serves as a foundation for the development of future occupations (the kind they earn money for!) when your child grows up.

Now for your job… As teachers of our children, what can we do that allows them to organize their play? By providing them with open ended toys like blocks, cars, dress-up clothes, art supplies, dolls (for boys, too!) legos, a sand box or water table, kid-friendly pans, utensils and pretend food.

Do sit down and play alongside your child. As well, give them room to play as they wish. Remember, there really is no wrong way to play with a toy. (I don’t consider breaking toys or eating sand playing.) Your child will play with the toys the way the brain needs to in order to organize itself.

Case in point. Science in the shower. We have an accumulation of foamie shapes left over from various craft projects. Big and little animals, cars, etc. A couple of months ago, I took a big handful of them and gave them to my 4 year old Natalie in the shower. The only thing I had to do was demonstrate that they “stuck” to the wall when wet. And then I stepped back and observed her.

It’s been months now, and they are still in the shower. She doesn’t want to take a bath because she wants to still play with those foamie pieces. What have I observed? Natalie organized her own play. Literally – Everytime I go to take a shower, all those animals will be arranged in a different pattern. Sometimes by color, by habitat, by size.  That’s science in the shower.

And then I get to see the outward manifestation of the internal organization that is going on. Because sometimes, Natalie takes two of the animals, and one is “bad”, and one is “good”, or one won’t let the other play with it, so she practices making friends, and works through social situations that are typical at this age.

You see, her brain knows what it needs. Your child’s does, too. We just have to provide the “tools” and the space to allow that to happen.

Special thanks to Studio 3 Music for allowing us to share this great post from the Studio 3 Music blog. Studio 3 Music in Seattle, Washington, the world’s largest Kindermusik program.

What can your child learn from a puddle?

What would it be like to walk through a puddle for the first time? To not notice it coming up and then just hear the rhythm of your walk change from a tap tap tap to splish splish splash? . . . You look down and notice you are standing in water. You see it, consider it, feel it. What an adventure of the senses!

Parents know how lucky they are to see this happen right before their eyes: their child discovering something new – something that has a sound, or a feeling, or shines, or moves. Discovery can be an incredible gift.

By letting your child walk through that puddle, millions (maybe billions) of sensory connections are made. Thought patterns, optical pathways, auditory stimulation, and your child’s perception of the world are altered and strengthened.

Embrace what a difference you make for your child by taking those walks that last a long long time but cover very little ground. Remember, every stone, pine cone, ant, bird, leaf, and puddle holds a world of discovery. Don’t miss it! Don’t worry about the puddle – the shoes will dry and the pants can be cleaned. The work of the child is to experience something new every day, and that’s one of the best ways you can help your kids learn and grow.

-This post was contributed by Kindermusik educator Helen Peterson. Helen’s Southern Twin Cities program, Kindermusik of the Valley, is in the top 1% of Kindermusik programs around the world.