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Tuesday, August 30, 2011

Tuesday Tip! My Favorite Resource Website

If you are a parent or teacher, and don't know about, you MUST go there! It's my favorite site for just about any learning materials to use with children of all ages. Although it's free, there is an optional membership of $20 for an individual teacher or family, or $125 for entire school. I highly recommend you purchase the membership so we can ensure this amazing site continues to exist.But agian, you don't have to subscribe.This website has just about anything you might need, from maps and diagrams, to crafts, animal facts and printouts,games, flags, science,little printable books- you name it! When I create my songs of the month I often try to find relevant websites that will expand the topic of the song. When I do a search, ALWAYS comes up first. I don't even look anywhere else anymore. If you poke around the site for five minutes, you'll be sold! Hope this tip makes your school year more fun and productive!

Tuesday, August 23, 2011

Tuesday Tip! Creating Your Circle Time Space

Here are 3 simple tips to make your circle space welcoming and functional for a variety of activities!

1. Allow enough space! I can't tell you how many classrooms I have performed in that didn't have enough wiggle room for kids! We sometimes cram kids into a small space where they can't help but bump into each other while doing simple movement songs, and wonder why we spend so much time reminding them to stay in their own "personal space."

2.Make sure you're not sitting in front of a window, as glare can make it hard for kids to see you. And watch that sun! If your circle space gets sun, have window coverings available so kids don't wilt!

3. Having an area carpet, either circular or rectangular helps children find a place more quickly. And again, make sure it's large enough to allow elbow room!

Stay tuned for my next blog article for a more detailed discussion of circle time space...and have a great school year!

Tuesday, August 16, 2011

Tuesday Tip! Back to School Songs

Okay, I know the sun JUST came out here in the Great Northwest, but I also know you teachers and librarians are busy little bees (oh yes, the bees are finally here, too!) getting ready for the beginning of school again. And nothing says welcome like a good song!

So here's my tip:

Go to my website and download all of the past September songs of the month.My songs are organized by category, by year and month, by playlist, and alphabetically, so just choose the "by month and year" list. Most of the past September songs are great for back to school topics. And the same goes for the rest of your school year. For example, download all past December, or October, or April songs, and you'll have seasonal collections to take you through the year. All have either printable activities or movement of some kind. And don't forget- ALL MATERIALS ARE TOTALLY FREE TO DOWNLOAD!They are there simple to make our job easier, cheaper, and more fun!No password needed and no signup. So you can practically grab them on your way out the door when you're not sure what you're going to do that day!

And one more tip for September- download the playlist of classroom management songs. Some of them are not September songs, so you'll want them at the beginning of the school year. Link to my website songs of the month:

Friday, August 12, 2011

“Grandma, NO Singing!”

This is what my grandson says to me nearly every time I sing (he’s almost three now). Anyone who knows me, knows that I am absolutely smitten with my two young grandchildren. I was there to see them both arrive into the world, and have been incredibly lucky to help care for them on a regular basis. Of course I was singing to them from the day they were born. In fact, many of my website songs of the month for the last 2 1/2 years were inspired, concocted, and tested while on their watch (insert shameless plug for my FREE website songs here!). So it’s pretty funny that as soon as my grandson had words, he would say, “Grandma! NO singing!” I could have been crushed. I could try to analyze why he would say this. But I make my living singing… people pay me to sing! So I’m pretty sure my voice isn’t that annoying. I do have some theories, but they don’t really matter. What matters, is that I not stop singing to him.

When my grandson says, “Grandma, NO singing,” I pretend to be mortally wounded, as I feign crying (this has always been my response). It has become our private joke. He knows I love to sing, and that I will keep singing, and he’s safe in asking me not to…. because there’s no danger of that happening!

But over the years I have worked with so many adults who have also been told not to sing, and it has left them sad and not to be too dramatic, incomplete. We all need to sing, And as a practical matter, preschool teachers, daycare providers, and children's librarians must sing to do their jobs well.

In my workshop, “Help! I Can’t Sing, But I Want to!” (another shameless plug!) I work with parents, teachers, and childcare providers who believe they “can’t” sing. What I’ve consistently found is that:

1.Every person I have worked with can, indeed sing, and
2. Every person I’ve worked with can remember an exact moment when someone told them they couldn't, or shouldn’t sing. This might have been a child, husband or wife, or even a teacher. But for too many, the end result is the same.From that day forward, they don't sing. This breaks my heart. And it’s one of the many reasons so many adults don’t sing, or are extremely uncomfortable singing.

We are all born with a voice, and we are literally wired to sing. Children need to hear us singing, and they need to be encouraged to discover their own voices. Singing joins us together, teaches us empathy, helps support early literacy, and calms and comforts us- and so much more. It’s much too precious a gift to not use.

Years ago, after presenting at a major conference, I attended a workshop where a nationally known and respected presenter told the audience, “If you can’t sing in tune, don’t sing with children. They will learn out-of-tune singing.” I was mortified. You could just feel the attendees' voices being shut down. First of all, children have so many opportunities to hear in-tune and even well-trained voices, from recordings to concerts, to the many people in their lives. What children don’t have enough of is a live, caring voice. To sit in a lap and feel the vibration of a person’s voice singing to them. Music is our first language; it communicates through emotions. If an adult sings to a child from the heart, that child will be nurtured- regardless of the musical ability of the singer. And this very personal musical connection is what children need.

If you are an adult who has been told not to sing, or just don’t think you “can” sing, know you are not alone. Sadly, you are probably in the majority. But know that you need to sing, and the children in your life need to hear you sing. Period. End of story. We all learn to sing by singing

I'll be writing much more about singing and its benefits to not only young children, but ourselves. We humans are all in this together! In the meantime, Just Sing!

Did this touch a nerve with you? Share your story here!

Tuesday, August 9, 2011

Tuesday Tip! Apple and an Ant extras

Here's a great tip for one of my most popular songs for building early literacy. Apple and an Ant is one of my songs of the month, and you can download the mp3, and and print out pages with pictures, words, and letters to use with the song. But the real tip a link to my very good friend, Jim Thomas's wiki site. Jim has really used this song! He has posted pages for the entire alphabet, as well as entire versions in Spanish and for Australian audiences! This song works because it is simple, singable, and VERY repetitive- key for building early literacy. While you're at Jim's Wiki site, spend some time looking around. He has posted a huge amount of free information.

Link to Jim's Wiki site:
link to my website for the original Apple and an Ant song:

Tuesday, August 2, 2011

Tuesday Tip! Bounce a Bouncy Ball

Sometimes after my songs of the month are published, I find new ways to use them. This is the first of my Tuesday Tips to let you know about these additional ideas. As I add more, you'll be able to easily find them on this blog under "Songs of the Month Additional Ideas." If you have changed one of my songs or used it in a different way, please share it on my blog.

Bounce a Bouncy Ball
If you work with infants to two-year-olds, you can use my "Bounce a Bouncy Ball" song of the month as a finger play, instead of a movement song. Instead of following the written directions while using actual balls, do the following:
Whenever you say "Bounce a bouncy ball..," hold one hand flat in front of you, and form a ball with the other hand. Have the "ball" hand "bounce" up and down on open hand.
Verses 2, 3, 4, and 5, lend themselves to additional finger play motions. Babies love balls, and they love this song, so try it out! Copy and paste the link below to get to the song on my website.Its free to download, of course!