Winter 2011 – Travis at Family Residence

Week 1

It was a great first class today at Family Residence! I’d say there were about 8 kids and 8 adults participating.  The children were of all ages, from new babies to around 6 or 7 years old.  We sang a wide variety of songs, from “Open Them, Shut Them”, to “Come On Everybody”, to “Zoom Zoom Zoom!” “Clean-O”, “Brown Cow Medley” and “Old MacDonald Had a Band” were particularly big hits.  Everyone seemed to have a great time and participated really well.  The group really got into “Shake it Baby Shake It” and “Old MacDonald Had A Band” during the jam session, playing all of the instruments right on queue and they also sang along for “The Lion Sleeps Tonight”, which I played as a parachute song.  I was really happy to have folks from what seemed to be a wide variety of cultural backgrounds and ages participating in and enjoying all of the songs.  Thanks to everybody who was there for making it a wonderful experience—I look forward to seeing my new friends again next week!

Week 2

On Thursday, 3 February, we had a lively kick-off class at Family Residence.  12 children participated, ranging in age from under 1 to over 5 years old.  Since some of the children were in the program last time and were familiar with the songs, I had some great help and there was much cheering for favourites such as “What are you wearing?” and “Sleeping bunnies”.  I look forward to having more of the parents participating in the weeks to come, as this adds an essential aspect to the Rainbow Songs method.  Despite low adult turn-out, we were able to hold it together in the jam session, which was actually quite rockin’.

Week 3

We had two new kids joining us today, which was great.  To draw them in, I used highly participatory songs like “What are you wearing?”, as well as “Listen to the water” which helped to include each child individually.  We then did an extended movement section consisting of “Brown Cow Medley”, including airplane and an extra addition of “She’d like to ride an elephant…” which led into the song “Elephants have wrinkles”.  By the time we were a few rounds into “Elephants”, everyone was in full participation mode and I was pleased to see smiles and laughter from everyone.  We rode that out for a good jam session, consisting of cowbell as instrument of the week which was a nice progression from the Brown Cow Medley.

Week 4

The group seems have have reached a milestone and turned a corner.  There were more parents today and some of the children who initially had a difficult time participating—some very quiet, some distracted by the toys in the room—have become much more engaged in the class—singing, smiling, making eye contact, doing the actions, etc.  The grown-ups are demonstrating similarly increased participation.  One little girl who just sat and stared at me for the first two classes even came to say goodbye to me when I was leaving!  It is definitely starting to feel more like a Rainbow Songs class, due mostly part to the increased attendance and participation of the grown-ups thanks to the ongoing encouragement and support of the staff.  For the kids, the difference in the quality of their experience is like night and day.

Week 5

Our 5th session at Family residence was by far our best to date!  There is an excitement in the air now when I arrive and several of the children jump up and announce my arrival—”Travis is HEEERE!  Travis is BAAACK!”. The level of participation of children and adults reached a new level and it seems like we have hit our stride.  Several of the parents are now coming with their children, singing with them, encouraging them to participate.  There are many more smiles all around and everyone seems to be really enjoying themselves.  The children are remembering more and more of the words and the actions to the songs and are becoming well-versed in the structure of the class.  This week, I showed them the ocean drum everyone seemed fascinated.  We sang “Four White Horses” while they passed it around, and almost everyone joined in with slapping and clapping to keep the beat.

Week 6

As this was our last class together for this session, I decided to follow Rainbow Songs tradition and make it a request class.  Each child had a favourite song to sing and they all seemed enthusiastic about the opportunity to contribute in that way.  Some of the children had made a card for me with their little handprints in different colours of paint and were excited to present it to me at the end of class.  One of the children, who had been the most reserved at the beginning of the session (the one who sat and stared at me for the first 3 classes) was the one who engaged me the most about the card and it seemed as though her mother had been instrumental in helping the kids to prepare it.  I know this may seem like a little thing, but it really had a big impact on me.  Here was a very young child who had succeeded not only in coming out of her own shell, but who was also able to engage her mother in the class and make something with the other children to show her gratitude.  Even after the class, when I was packing up, she came up to me on her own to make sure that I didn’t forget the card!  I was really, deeply touched.

Winter 2011 – Brian at Redwood

Week 1

A fun start for the winter session at the Redwood Shelter.  There were eight children, but I was a little disappointed at first when there were only two parents.  Come to find out, four kids belonged to one mother, and four to the other.  And a good time was had by all.  If we get another family or two of similar size we’ll be happily overcrowded.

Songs included “Clap Your Hands, Now Sing 1, 2, 3”, “Apples and Bananas”, “Sticky Bubblegum”, and “Listen to the Water”.  And the bag of instruments and parachute proved to be big hits.  Looking forward to next week.

Week 2

One of the two families from the previous week attended, then a mother and her baby came in toward the end of the class.  The four children who returned remember the songs that they did last week, and enjoyed some new material.  They have a way of keeping things interesting, especially when it comes to naming animals that required sound effects for “Old McDonald”, like a T-rex and a yak.  They also provided a challenge of trying to find rhymes for apples and oranges in “Corner Grocery Store”.  Other songs included “Mama Don’ Allow”/”Oh When the Kids” and “What are You Wearing?”.  Everyone also enjoyed the Thunder Tube.  Being an older group, everyone, including the mother, was very adapt at producing the louder and softer sounds.

Week 3   

The family that was present at the first two sessions has gone on to other things.  But the other family that attended the first week was back again.  And they brought friends!!  So we had 4 adults and 9 children singing and carrying on.  The enthusiasm from the family that had missed last week quickly spread to everyone there.  We did several songs in preparation for animal week, including, “Itsy, Bitsy Spider”, “Listen to the Water”, “We’re Going to the Zoo”, and “Three Little Birds”.  We even had time to fulfill a request from one of the children who remembered doing “Sticky Bubblegum” the first week.  With this momentum, Animal Week is going to be a blast.

Week 4

We were smaller in number with only one parent and three children, but we still had lots of fun.  One child was a veteran while the parent and other two children were new.  After a brief geography lesson with one boy, we sang and clapped our way through songs which included “Sticky Bubblegum”, “All de Nations Like Bananas”, and “Corner Grocery Store”.  The jam session included songs “Jamaica Farewell” and “Three Little Birds” for a Caribbean flavour adding to the warmth of the class on a cold winter day.

Week 5

Was greeted by my geography student from last week, who immediately made a request from “Sticky Bubblegum”.  There were also two other children and two adults who were back for more.  As well, a new child joined the festivities.  Other songs included “I Shut the Door”, “All de Nations Like Bananas”, “BINGO”, “Corner Grocery Store”, and “Jamaica Farewell” and “3 Little Birds” for the jam session.  The instrument of the week continues to be of great interest to both adults and children, this week being the clave sticks.  They really enjoy hearing about them and trying them out

Week 6

Turnover at Redwood again reduced our numbers.  There was one mother and baby who had attended previously accompanied by two ladies and one child who were new.  The young boy who had been there before continues to stare in fascination at the goings on while the young girl wiggled and danced to the music in her mother’s arms.  Gearing toward the babies, we sang, “I Wake Up My Hands with a Clap, Clap, Clap”, “Hands Together”, “Itsy Bitsy Spider”, “I Had a Rooster”, “Elephants Are Marching”, “I’m in the Mood for Jammin'”, and “Twist ‘n’ Shout”.  While glad that families have the opportunity to move forward with their lives, one does miss those who had become regulars over the first few weeks.  But we’ll all continue to have fun with the ones who do show up.