Caribana at June Callwood Centre

This week was a very special class! Toronto’s Caribana parade and festival is coming up this weekend, so we had a Caribana-themed class. We all had a lot of fun!  We did some Jamaican music, some reggae music, and of course I included some Bob Marley songs – these ones really got all of the volunteers and moms singing along!

I brought Hawaiian leis to class for us all to wear, and we did some of our regular Rainbow Songs repertoire (such as “Hands Together, Hands Apart”) with added body bells that the grownups and babies wore around their wrists and ankles.  I brought a mini steel pan in for the Instrument of the week, and the whole class loved it.  The best part about seeing the class develop week to week is how the babies are learning to use an instrument and then pass it along to the next person without crying, or fighting to give it up.  I think they’re starting to realize that there’s always more fun activities around the corner, so putting away an instrument isn’t so bad after all.

We ended the class on a nice note with everyone smiling – the Caribana theme was a big success!


Ooh Ooh Ooh, Ah Ah! – Monkey Clave Rhythm

Wow! Lots of participants came out to sing and play this week.  We started on time with a decent size group who were sitting nicely and singing.  But as the class went on the door kept opening and more and more people came in.  We sang a few rounds of the Hello song to welcome all of the participants and then got everyone up and moving around.  We ended up chanting “5 Little Monkeys” and I brought out the claves to teach the traditional rhythm.  The entire group got the hang of it quickly and we jammed out on a medley of claves rhythm songs such as “I Want Candy,” and “All the Nations.”  We finished the class with a few instrument jam songs.

Birkdale likes Bananas

We were a little less in number this week, but that didn’t mean there was less energy in the room.  Ten children enjoyed “Momma Don’ Allow,” “Funga Alafia,” “Apples and Bananas,” and “All de Nations Like Bananas.”  With six of the children having been there three weeks or more there is a regular cheering section who lead the newcomers and encourage them to join in.  With such an enthusiastic group, Caribbean themed class should be a blast.

Feeling Hot, Hot, Hot!

This week’s class was HOT.  Literally! Jessie’s Centre’s A/C system wasn’t working!  To cope, we moved the class from the regular room to the more open-concept hallway where we had a few fans.

It was still hot, and most of the babies were rockin’ out in their diapers!  As a result, I kept this class more low-energy than usual.  As a group, we didn’t do too much movement, or dancing, but I took the opportunity to include a few slower paced songs and lullabies in the mix.  We did get the babies moving a little with a lap ride, “The Grand Old Duke of York”, and lifted them up and down for “Flying Babies”.  (That one was a favourite for sure!)   Last week, I had played the song “Hot, Hot, Hot!” for the jam part of class, and this week we did it sitting down with actions for the babies – waving their arms in the air and clapping to the beat!  I also did a sharing activity with a ball, rolling it back and forth around the room.  This worked really well as most of the participants in this week’s group were a bit older than they were the previous weeks.

This was also the biggest group I’ve had so far this summer, which is great as it means word is getting around and more people are returning or joining in to the class!  The instrument of the week this week was the African Kalimba, also known as the thumb piano, and we played a few lullabies on it together, including “Twinkle, Twinkle” and “Frere Jacques”.

Shake, Rattle, Maraca

Well, we had a few more again this week.  While the number of adults remains similar to previous weeks, we had 14 children participating!  They were all shaking and rattling with the maracas as instrument of the week.  And the one child who has been there all three weeks helped lead the singing of “Clap Your Hands, Now Sing 1, 2, 3”, “I Shut the Door”, “Apples and Bananas”, “Corner Grocery Store”, and “Mama Don’ Allow”, among others.  Looking forward to even more people next week, hopefully we can recruit more adults.

Introducing: the Gong!

Second week of classes was even better than the first. We had a couple of new faces and a couple returned from the previous week. I started the class out by reviewing some key songs we had learned the week before.

One of the babies LOVED “The Tickle Song” so I did a few more songs about tickling, like “Tickling Turtles”. We also jammed to “Hot, Hot, Hot!” as we’re in the middle of a heat wave in Toronto.

The best part of this class was the Instrument of the week where I introduced the Chinese gong. All of the babies loved it and couldn’t wait for their turn to bang on it! Many were able to do it on their own, without the help of their mom or another grown-up, so this was very exciting.

Most of the children in this class are babies, but there was one older child and she wanted to try my guitar so after class I let her strum while I played the chords and we sang our ABCs together. All in all, it was a fun day!

Here we grow

Well, here we grow.  No, that’s not a typo – we had six more people this week! 12 children and two adults sang along to “BINGO”, “Sticky Bubblegum”, “I Shut the Door”, “Mama Don’ Allow”, and other favourites. Most of those in attendance were new, but their shyness was quickly overcome by the fun energy of the returnees and they joined right in. They grooved on the tambourine, our Instrument of the Week, and of course screams of delight were heard as they danced under the parachute.

Courtney starts at June Callwood Centre

The June Callwood Centre re-opened today after being closed for a week due to renovations.  The building looks great! We had a smaller class size as it was the first day back.  Some participants had been to the previous session with Jessica so they already knew a lot of our Rainbow Songs repertoire!

We started off the session with some opposite songs, such as “Roly Poly”. We tried some animal songs, and we jammed with all of the instruments to “You Are My Sunshine”.   We also learned a Jamaican song called “Clap Your Hands and Sing 1-2-3” as we will have a Caribana-themed class coming up.

Hands down, the highlight of the class for the babies was the parachute, as they were all playing peek-a-boo underneath with the grown-ups.  After class, I sat with the babies for a few minutes and had some of them strum my guitar because they had all been sizing it up for the whole class. That was a big success.  I’m looking forward to seeing everyone again next week, and hopefully some new faces too!

Surprise, a real guitar!

It was good to be back at Birkdale again. We had an enthusiastic group to get things started. We sang and clapped through “Clap You Hands, Now Sing 1, 2, 3”, “Sticky Bubblegum”, “BINGO”, “Old McDonald”, “The Wheels on the Bus” and “Sleeping Bunnies” among others. As usual, the parachute proved to be a big hit.

I received a most interesting comment from a pre-teen who had been playing with others at the far end of the room. When he wandered by after class while some of the kids were checking out the guitar, he expressed his surprise that there was a real guitar. He thought the music was coming from a CD player!