Learning through Music: Steady Beat

Spotlight on Wiggle & Grow for Toddlers: Time for Lunch (August Unit)

Walking, running, riding a tricycle, dancing, kicking a ball: you name a whole body movement and your child is probably trying to master it….in the house, in the yard, at the grocery store, and sometimes while buckled in the car. (Please, stop kicking Mommy’s seat.) All this movement takes a sense of time and the ability to organize and coordinate movements within time.

In Kindermusik, we call this regularly paced repeated motion: steady beat! The most basic property of music is beat, the underlying, unchanging, repeating pulse. When playing the sandblocks while listening to “Donkeys Love Carrots” or tapping, shaking, or jingling the bells during “Sweet Potatoes,” your child is practicing steady beat. That same sense of steady beat will help your child walk, run, ride a tricycle, use scissors, and, yes, even kick the back of your seat in time to the music.

Everyday connection: Can’t catch me! Put on your favorite Kindermusik songs and pretend to be the Gingerbread Boy (or Girl!). As you take turns chasing each other, try stomping, running, marching, or jumping to the beat to get away. If the Gingerbread Boy gets caught, try tickling to a steady beat!

Learning through Music: Making Transitions

Spotlight on Wiggle & Grow for Toddlers: Beach Days (July Unit)

During childbirth, women in the last part of labor—called the Transition period—may feel exhausted, frustrated, impatient, and overwhelmed. In the movies, this is where the actress with perfectly applied makeup and red-carpet-worthy hair yells, “Get this baby out!” Thankfully, in reality, the mind tends to forget the intensity—and pain—of the transition period. However, parents of toddlers might experience similar feelings of exhaustion, frustration, and impatience during other “transition” moments with their child—like leaving the playground, putting away toys, or even starting the bedtime routine.

At Kindermusik, we know that toddlers can struggle with transitioning from one activity to another as they also experience rapid—and turbulent—emotional development. Helping your child navigate those feelings and learn how to move on to something else can ease the daily struggles between you and your little one. In class each week, we use musical cues to help children move from a big, blue boat to listening to a story to playing with sand blocks. All of these experiences give your child practice in bringing one thing to a close and beginning something new. Plus, the community of other parents and caregivers gives you the perfect place to share your own labor transition pains and successes!

Everyday Connection: Instruments Away. Sing the “Instruments Away” song from class and change the words to fit the situation. “Playground Away” can help your toddler make a smoother transition from the playground to the car seat.

Learning through Music: The Joy of Music

Spotlight on Laugh & Learn: Wild Animal Park (July Unit for Families and Preschoolers)

Parents sometimes don’t realize how “easy” a certain developmental stage is until their children move on to the next. Being pregnant seems “easy” when you are waking up every two to three hours to feed a newborn. Babies seem “easy” when your toddler won’t stay in the cart (quietly!) during your weekly grocery run. Toddlers seem “easy” when your preschooler stops taking an afternoon nap. Well, the truth is no developmental stage is actually “easy.” Each stage comes with unique challenges and delights.

At Kindermusik, we celebrate your child’s stage of development with the indelible joy of music. Woven through and around the learning in a Kindermusik class is the simple pleasure of making music together. When we play drums in class during “Ritsch Ratsch” or dance around the room to the “Yangtze Boat Song,” your child expresses thoughts and feelings naturally and easily through movement and music. Plus, when you join in the music making in class or “rumble, rumble, rumble in the jungle, jungle, jungle” at home, you create memorable moments full of joy that you and your child will carry in your hearts from one developmental stage to the next!

Everyday Connection: Singing in the Rain. You don’t need a sunny day to sing. Anytime is the right time to sing with your child. So, go ahead, sing along with the music from class or make up your own songs together. The memories you create will last a lifetime!

Learning Through Music: Repetition

Spotlight on Wiggle & Grow for Toddlers: How Do You Feel? (June Unit)

As a parent, some things are worth repeating—the first time you hold your baby, your child’s first laugh or first few steps, watching your child make a new friend, and even a random snuggle on a rainy day. Other moments are best left in the past—your child’s first bout with croup (or an ear infection or a stomach bug!), the, um, diaper incident that happened on a quick trip to the store, and yes, even the 95threading of your child’s favorite book. (Good riddance Goodnight Moon, indeed!)

However, from a child development standpoint, reading that same book over and over again is actually a good thing. Few things build your child’s brain and open opportunities for learning more than consistent repetition of healthy activities and experiences. Every new activity your child participates in makes a new neural pathway in your child’s brain. Each time that experience is repeated, the neural pathway (learning!) is strengthened. So, every week in Kindermusik class, we intentionally repeat some of the same activities from previous weeks and also give you the music and resources to repeat them at home. It’s how your child learns best!

Everyday connection: Practice makes perfect learning. Listen to the music from class and do the activities together at home. Repeat. Listen to the music from class and do the activities together at home. Repeat.

Learning Through Music: Variety and Repetition

Spotlight on Laugh & Learn for Families: Splash (June Unit)

To parents of young children, a night out at the movies can seem like a vacation and adds a little bit of variety to days often noted by routine. (And, no, the latest animated feature does NOT count as a night out!) On the other hand, staying in and watching a re-run of a favorite sitcom when your child (finally!) falls asleep can provide a sense of comfort. Plus, you often catch a joke or two that you missed the first time.  Truth be told, we all need a little but of variety and repetition in our lives—and for your child, both actually support early learning!

Children need a variety of new experiences to help lay the groundwork for learning, but a one-time event does not make a lasting impression. Every new activity your child actively participates in makes a new neural pathway in the brain. Each time that activity is repeated that connection grows stronger. So, from week to week in class, we include an age-appropriate mixture of both new and familiar activities to help make the learning last and help children boost skills and gain confidence in their abilities. Plus, we give you the tools to repeat all of the activities at home—or on the go—so the learning continues throughout the week!

Everyday Connection: Repeat after me. The next time your child asks you to read the same book again and again or put the same song on repeat just say “yes!” Each new reading or listen can reveal something new to your child. Plus, now you know the reason behind the request!

 

Learning Through Music: Vocabulary Development

Spotlight on Move & Groove for Preschoolers: Feel the Music (May Unit)

Preschoolers need to hear three little words often throughout the day. No, not those three little words, but, of course, “I love you” can never be said enough! Telling a young child to “use your words” can profoundly impact a preschooler’s vocabulary development, and more. Although typically developing 4- to 5-year-old children know between 1,000 to 2,000 words, they still need help identifying the world around them, especially the increasingly complex range of emotions they experience throughout any given day.

At Kindermusik, we know expanding children’s vocabulary can boost their conversational abilities, early literacy skills, and even help with self-control. All key skills needed for early academic (and life!) success. This month we intentionally use music to identify, label, and explore feelings. So, in class, when your child shares reasons to feel happy, sad, or angry, then sings about that emotion or creates a story that starts sadly and ends happily, your little one is safely learning about feelings and gaining practice expressing them using words.

Everyday Connection:  Feelings, Nothing More than Feelings. Listening and moving to music gives you easy opportunities to talk with your child about feelings. When listening to music, ask: How do you feel when you listen to this song? How would you dance to this song if you were feeling angry? Sad? Scared? Confused? Shy? Disappointed? Lonely? Joyful?

Learning Through Music: Nonsense

Spotlight on Wiggle & Grow for Toddlers: Down on the Ground (May Unit)

Do you remember your child’s first few words? Although Webster’s Dictionary didn’t include definitions for “da,” “ba-ba,” or “la,” you knew—without a doubt—your little one said daddy, bye, and mommy. (Or, something along those lines!) Now, as a toddler, you may hear your child deliberately making up silly sounding words and giggling profusely. I mean, seriously, blibber-blobber, really is funny! Laughing together over nonsense words supports your child’s growing sense of humor!

In Kindermusik, we know that nonsense words also support your child’s early language and literacy development. While your child may laugh at the silliness of nonsense words from class like “Fiddle-dee-dee” or “fuzzy wuzzy,” your child is also practicing in the development of specific oral motor skills that create vowels, consonants, or cluster sounds. Nonsense words often employ alliteration and rhyme, which fosters phonemic awareness or the understanding that words are made up of small speech sounds or phonemes. So, blibber-blobber or fiddle-dee-dee away!

Everyday Connection: Call the Doctor. Dr. Seuss made a living making up nonsense words like wocket, grickle-grass, and zizzer-zazzer-zuzz. Read some Dr. Seuss this week and add some new nonsense words to your family’s vocabulary.

Learning Through Music: Rhythmic Dictation

Spotlight on Move & Groove for School Aged Kids: Drums, Drums, Drums (April/May unit)

 

Do you remember taking spelling tests as a child? Sitting at your desk, listening intently as your teacher said a word, and then trying to visualize what the word looked like while also attempting to write it on your paper or (gasp!) spell it out loud in front of the whole class? Ugh! For English speakers, that silent “e” caught many of us off guard. You probably didn’t realize it at the time but listening, identifying the word, and then writing the word down helped you become a better reader.

Although we don’t give spelling tests (or any tests, for that matter) in Kindermusik, we do give your child’s ears lots of musical practice in listening to rhythms, identifying what they hear, repeating them, and using rhythm cards to “write” the patterns down. We call this process rhythmic dictation. So, while we “ta ta ti-ti ta,” clap, pick out the right rhythm card, or play an instrument along with “Tepok Amai-amai,” your child gains practice in recognizing relationships between sounds and symbols, which supports your child’s budding musicianship and early literacy skills.

Everyday Connection: Are you copying me? Children love to be a copycat. Clap out a rhythm and let your child repeat it. Make each clapping rhythm more difficult than the last. Take turns being the copycat.

Learning through Music: Expressive Movement

Becoming a parent means becoming a teacher—as in your child’s first and best teacher. But it also means becoming a student. Children teach us how to move and sound like a garbage truck, an airplane zooming in the sky, popcorn popping in the microwave, or even how to spin around in a circle faster than fast pretending to be a whirlpool. (Most of us need help learning how not to feel queasy after that one!)

Supporting your child’s expressive movement helps connect the outer world of movement and sound with the inner world of feelings and observations. In class each week, when we dance around the room in time to the music, reach for a star in the night, or spread our robin wings and fly in search of food, your child taps into a growing imagination and experiences support for early artistic expressions.

Everyday Connection: Take a Bird Bath. Expressive movement isn’t just for class. Tap into your child’s imagination during bath time. After feeding all those baby birds in class, your little robin needs a bath. How would a robin (gently) splash in the water, wash the dirt from feathers, or even fly around the room to dry off?

Learning through Music: Stop & Go

Driving in stop-and-go traffic can be frustrating. A quick trip to the store can turn into a 30-minute ordeal. (Will we make this light? Oh no, someone is turning left. Someone else is trying to merge. Urgh!) Stop and go. Stop and go. Will you ever make it to the store? Thankfully, adults usually practice self-control during stop-and-go traffic. Otherwise, drivers would use sidewalks as shortcuts, ignore traffic signals, or nudge the car in front of them just to get where they want to go.

Your child, however, is still learning self-control. Activities that encourage stopping and going in response to a cue helps children practice regulating their body movements or speech and waiting their turn. In Kindermusik class, we include many opportunities for your child to practice starting and stopping: from the first “Hello” song we sing, to starting and stopping when playing the rhythm sticks, and even when walking around the “farm” stopping to look at the animals we hear. All this practice boosts your child’s inhibitory control and confidence, which will set the stage for early academic success.

Everyday Connection: Toys Away! Using musical cues, such as “Instruments away, instruments away…” can make it easier for your child to handle transitions, such as picking up toys, getting out of the bathtub, or even putting on shoes. You’ve seen it work in class, now try it at home!