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Wednesday, April 27, 2011

How to Have a Happy Concert Experience With Your Toddler

I just returned from the last in my Shake, Rattle, and Roll Series for one and two-year-olds. As any parent or grandparent with this age child knows, life is always interesting (to say the least!). The library is the perfect place to begin to learn how to behave in public, and I am always amazed at the creative ways parents think of to not only survive, but to enjoy the experience! Today was a perfect example.This particular series was music time and parent education about how to use music to build early literacy skills. One mom with an adorable two-year old who wanted to just RUN- scooped him up and stood with him for the whole program. She bounced, twirled, and swayed, and stayed focused on what we were doing, while staying in the same space. She was fully engaged in the songs, and her son followed her cue. The result was that they shared special time and were both fully present for it. Instead of chasing him around, or leaving the room, she found a way they could interact together; she was relaxed and joyful! It was a tribute to good parenting.

There is no technique that works for every child every time he or she is in public. But there are ways to make it work most of the time. Every successful shared experience you and your child have will help to build your relationship, his relationship to and respect of others, and leave memories in both of your hearts.

After thirty years of giving children's concerts, I have gathered a few tips that you can use to insure you and your child have a positive experience at a concert or other public program. Try them next time you find yourself at a program with an active child!

1. Sit with your child! This sounds obvious, but often adults feel they will obstruct the view if they sit right in the audience. If children are seated on the floor, don't worry about it. Children behind you will move around so they can see. And if you are sitting with your child you can monitor and model behavior, quietly dealing with any problem that may arise. There's nothing quite as distracting as an adult trying to get his or her child's attention from the back of the room. It always seems the child is the only one not listening!

2.If you have what my best friend, Marylee, calls a "little zoomer," it helps to not sit in the front row. Just sit 3 or 4 rows back, and your child will be more likely to stay there.

3.If your child gets away from you (they are VERY fast) and somehow makes it to the front of the room and the "stage" area, don't hesitate to get up and gently take him or her back to your spot. This can be done quickly and will not disrupt a seasoned performer!

4.If your child is just not ready to sit for a program, (two-year-olds are allowed to not feel like sitting!) feel free to leave the room and walk around outside, or just come back another day. Like everything else, learning how to behave in public is a process, more diffiult for some than others. And one of the things we get to do is decide what kind of citizens we want to send into the world. It is a privilege and a responsibity.And a whole lot of fun!

On a more personal note from this performer... I love performing for children. I always learn from them, and love that I never know what's going to happen next!I use a lot of props, and always invite children up to examine them after the concert. I only step in when safety is involved. A good children's librarian will give clear behavior guidelines before a program, but of course, things just happen!

If you have found strategies for "guiding" your children in public, especially at concerts and theater events, please share them here! After all, it really does take a village- and we're it!

Monday, April 25, 2011

Free Children's Songs Part Two- Ways to Use Them

There are so many creative ways people have found to use my free songs of the month,and all the other materials on my website. Read below for just a few...

1. Teachers and Librarians:
Let parents know which of my songs you're using, so they can download and sing them at home. Repetition builds memory and reinforces what you're teaching. It also gives working parents a way to be a part of their children's day!
2. Teachers and Librarians:
To find seasonal songs, just locate by month for each year. For example,if you want winter holiday songs, just check all past December songs of the month.
For a fun free or inexpensive party favor, just go to the play lists page and download the suggested songs. You can make custom Cd's as party favors. The suggested songs also have some fast easy props to make to go along with the songs.
4.Head Start and EACAP Teachers:
Using free materials, you can make "kits" for parents to take home and use with their children. Since you will only incur the cost of materials, you might even be able to make a kit for each family.
Either make a custom CD or a kit including songs and props (felt pieces, homemade instruments, books from printable pages),and use as auction item.
6. Literacy Organizations:
Make custom Cd's and distribute to students or families. Copy the music and early literacy handout and include with the CD.

7.Don't forget there are play lists for different types of songs so you can easily make a CD of dancing songs, or quiet songs(just two of the play lists)for your car, library, or classroom.

Remember, you can use the free songs of the month and printable materials on my website for any purpose that is not for profit.

If you have used my songs in any of these or other ways, please post your comment on this blog to let others know!

Wednesday, April 20, 2011

Free Children's Songs for Teachers, Librarians, and Childcare Providers

Let's get to the free stuff first! My website, has over 120 free songs you can download to support early literacy, child development, and good old musical fun! You don't need a password or sign up- it's totally free. You may reproduce and copy these materials for any use except for profit. I have been posting a free song of the month for 11 years, so there's a lot to choose from! All songs are available all the time. In addition to the mp3 files you can burn to a CD, you can print out the sheet music and guitar chords, lyrics, activities, and any prop patterns for the songs. Find songs by month, or by category of use (movement, seasonal, languages, etc.). The main focus of my music is supporting early literacy, so I'll be writing much more about that in upcoming blogs. I'll also give you ideas about creative ways to use these songs for fun and learning. The possibilities are endless! As a parent you can download songs and make CD's to give as party favors ( I have a play list for that).Teachers and librarians who use these songs can let parents know so they can download them at home and share the same songs (repetition builds memory in young brains!). I'm always looking for ideas for my song of the month, so let me know if you have one! In the meantime, have fun and go download!

Friday, April 15, 2011

Here We Go!

Wecome to my new blog!As I travel around singing with children and presenting music workshops to teachers, parents and librarians, every day seems to bring something new! Whether a new way to sing a song, or make an instrument, or read and sing a book, there is always something generated by my interractions with you and your children, (as well as thoughts inside my head). All of those thoughts and ideas need a home; a place where they can be shared and grow. My emphasis is always on having fun with music, and using it to build early literacy. So stay tuned for Jump in with your own thoughts and ideas!

To get started, I'd like to remind you that this is the time of year to make your own shakers from plastic Easter eggs. They will only be in the stores another two weeks, and then like the Easter Bunny will be gone. I love egg shakers because they are inexpensive, brightly colored (can be used by little ones to learn colors), are washable and easy to make. You will find instructions as well as recommended songs for using them with preschoolers on my website Check the homemade instruments page. There will be much more information coming on homemade instruments, as my summer reading concert this summer, "Sticks and Stones, Seeds and Bones," will be all about making rhythm instruments from objects found both around the house and outside in nature. You can check the summer reading page on my website for more details and recommended free songs to download. Stay tuned!