Every little thing’s going to be alright

We started the class off with What are you Wearing, a song which has become a class favourite among both the children and mothers. The kids just love standing up and doing all the actions while the mothers clap and sing along. I felt a real sense of kinship between everyone this week. This really came into focus during the jam session when we started singing Three Little Birds. While playing the tambourines and shakers all the mothers settled into a groove and sang the words with heart. It’s as if everyone really took comfort in the lyrics ‘every little thing’s going to be alright’ and I could feel the daily struggles of life melting away as the song went on. It was a beautiful musical moment. When the song was done I told them that was the best rendition I’d ever heard, and I really meant that. We closed the class with the parachute and then sang the Goodbye Song.

Earth Week

It’s a great feeling when you walk into a room and several children point at you and announce your arrival to the others. A feeling that was made even better by hearing the RSF “Hands Together” CD being played.

Birkdale went green as we celebrated Earth Week. The children got to experience a Rainstick, then joined in the singing of Itsy Bitsy Spider, and Listen to the Water. Equal time was given to the sun as we also sang Trees Need the Sun,and Mr. Sun. We then took a trip as the wheels went round and round on an electric bus. That took us all the way out to a farm where we watched Oats and Beans and Barley Grow. We also did some bicycle riding, rowing, and finished off with some canoeing. And we did all that without getting wet, even though the Thunder Sticks indicated there might be a storm in the area.

Earth Week Celebration

It was an exciting week at Robertson House as we celebrated Earth Week! Some amazing earth day themed artwork was on display in the children’s room, so we took some time before class to admire the drawings and discuss the various themes and ideas surrounding the special day known to many as “Earth Day”. Many of the children had wonderful ideas on how to conserve energy, and even the young ones seemed to understand the idea that taking care of the planet is everyone’s responsibility.

We had a lot of familiar musical material to choose from, so we started with learning about the water cycle through the song The Itsby Bitsy Spider. We continued with the water theme and sang Listen tothe Water, singing about seeing different animals by the waterside. Singing about the sun came next,and we reviewed the actions for Mr. Sun and Trees Need the Sun. Paying homage to the tree, we stood tall for The Tree Song and practiced getting around the “green” way by Walking Along and singing The Bicycle Song.

For the instrument of the week I showed the group how to play the thunder tubes. These instruments were a huge hit, and as we passed them around the circle we chanted Thunder Pounding. I was encouraged by the participation of the grownups and kept the energy going for the jam where we sangI Can See Clearly Now and You Are My Sunshine. 

Singing for the Earth!

In honour of Earth Day, we sang many songs which celebrated the earth and its many animals. After singing the Hello Song, we went right into a series of animal related songs: Itsy Bitsy Spider, Old MacDonald, Alice the Camel, and Sleeping Little Bunnies. Then it was time to take a look at our planet from a distance, with Zoom, Zoom, Zoom, before landing in the country of Tibet. I brought in my tingshaw bells, which were very well received by the children and mothers. We played a listening game where I had each child close their eyes and listen to the never-ending resonance of the bells. The children were very focused and determined to listen for as long as they could. We continued the class by going into the ocean and joining the sharks for a fun filled version of Baby Shark and Row, Row, Row Your Boat. The class ended with a big jam session, parachute, and of course the distribution of CD’s to the women and children who had attended all three classes. Everyone was very excited and happy to receive their gift.

Singing their little hearts out!

Everyone brought their high energy singing voices and dancing feet for another lively class at Beatrice House! I decided to begin the class with some a capella songs such as I Hear Thunder and Lock the Door to help bring the group together in a more focused way. The contrast between loud and soft definitely grabbed their attention, and the children were very quick to pick up the lyrics and sing along. We then went into a series of transportation songs including Zoom, Zoom, Zoom, Wheels on the Bus, and Row Row Row Your Boat, until we ended our journey in the magical land of Tibet. I brought in my own singing bowl which was a big hit with the children and mothers. The mothers were especially intrigued and surprised by how difficult it was to make the bowl sing. We also chatted about the significance of the bowl in Tibetan meditation and ritual. Toward the end of the class we wrapped things up with a jam session, singing Shake It Baby, Shake It’, with shakers, and Jamaica Farewell, before singing the goodbye song.

Prep for Earth Day!

It was a smaller class at Robertson House today and so I decided to take an extra week to prep the participants for Earth Week.
I began by reviewing some material from the previous week (Mr. Sun, Trees Need The Sun, The Tree Song) and took some time to teach a new chant, Thunder Pounding. The rain continued to pour down as we sang The Itsy Bitsy Spider and I explained how this song was a great way to illustrate the water table cycle. By using the hands we do actions that help demonstrate how the rain comes down from the clouds, pools on the ground, and is then evaporated by the sun back up into the atmosphere. Sensing a need to stretch the legs, we stood up and did another animal song about Elephants Marching. We then sat down and practiced Rolling The Ball. 

I brought an Ocean Drum for the IOTW and as we passed the large frame drum around the room I showed the grownups the actions to Listen To The Water. We saw a bunch of animals by the waterside mainly ducks, frogs, crocodiles, lions, birds and bugs!
After putting away the popular instrument we brought out the jam bag and sang a couple of songs together (Down In The Valley and I Can See Clearly Now). For me, the jam was the highlight of the class as many of the grownups closed their eyes and seemed to lose themselves in the music. Sometimes I can tell that they come to class stressed and tired but by the end its amazing to see the smiles on their faces and I can only hope to have made a difference in their day.

Rain Rain Go Away

The weather outside was quite dreary and many of the people who normally drop in to the Massey Centre were not around. I was joined by one expectant mother who had not been to the program before. She entered quietly and asked if anyone else was going to come, then sat in a rocker in the corner. The two present staff members and I sat around her and started singing. We sang through a few songs which were unfamiliar and talked about how they might be useful in connecting with her baby. Our sing along session quickly evolved into a full on jam session with instruments for all. The one participant who was present suggested some of her favourite songs and we sang through them as she taught me some new melodies for some old classics.

There was one expectant mother and two staff members. At first she was quite timid but soon came out of her shell by singing and suggesting songs to sing. She said she hadn’t been singing to her unborn baby yet and I encouraged her to do so while teaching her a bunch of songs.

I brought snack with me to the program which is being stored in the RSF locker at Massey. The new intake social worker came by to sing with us as well as Alina who has been assigned to the RSF sessions. They tell me that they had received excellent feedback about the program from the previous week, but that due to the weather, none of those participants were around this week. They also were very excited about the snack program saying that it would be an added incentive to attend the sessions.

From shoes to shopping to travelling

I had another amazing class at Robertson House this week! After arriving a little bit early, I was able to spend some time chatting with one of the moms who attends my class religiously. Her baby was sleeping so we talked about everything from shoes to shopping to travelling! It was wonderful to get to know her a bit better and, as always, I am thankful for these moments as they help me connect with the residents on a more personal level.

As people started arriving for class I was happy to see that all the little faces were familiar, so I sought out to review some of the challenging material from last week’s class. We started with The Days Of The Week and What Are You Wearing. We also did some preparation for Earth Week by reviewing the sign language for Mr. Sun and Trees Need The Sun. I also taught them a new song called The Tree Song. It had quite a lot of words and actions, so I took them through the song slowly. Chanting the text first, then adding the actions, and finally putting everything together while singing the melody. They did very well and were extremely focused. To finish the song, I showed them how to do the yoga tree pose, and was very impressed with their efforts – balancing on one foot can be very hard to do! We then drove our firetrucks around the room at a frenzied pace for Hurry Hurry Drive The Firetruck. 

After sitting down we refocused by Rolling The Ball and Passing The Bean Bag. I then brought out two pairs of Clave Sticks for the instrument of the week. I taught them the basic clave rhythm and we kept the beat using the sticks and our hands as we sang Five Little Monkeys. We kept the sticks out for the jam and sang Down In The Valley and Hands Up! After playing around with the parachute, we sang The Goodbye Song and had some snacks together.

Roll the ball

One of the highlights of each week’s music class is always the parachute, but we seem to have developed another favourite part in our weekly class at Jessie’s: the ball! For the past few weeks we’ve been working on sharing and taking turns while singing with our purple ball. When the ball comes out of the bag the kids’ faces light up – one little guy particularly loves rolling the ball back and forth, and is always ready to clap when either he or another child has successfully rolled the ball.

Playing with the ball is a great activity on so may levels. As we sing our ball-rolling song we get the opportunity to say each other’s names, use some of our sign language (letters of first names, “roll” and “ball”) and help our little ones learn how to share, follow instructions, wait their turn and appreciate each other’s successes. It seems like a lot for a group of children who aren’t even two years old yet, but the transformation from when we first started playing with the ball until now is proof that our kids are learning all kinds of great social skills along with their gross motor skills. It’s an incredible thing to experience!

Birkdale Jam

We had a slightly smaller group this week, with two moms and eight children – three of them repeaters from last week. We sang Alice the Camel, I Have Ten Little Fingers, Six Little Ducks, Johnny Works with One Hammer, and Sleeping Bunnies. The children took turns learning to play the tambourine, and they had a great time rocking out in the jam session to Jamaica Farewell. As always, the parachute proved to be a great hit. It was so nice hearing all the children yelling “good-bye” as they were enjoying their post-singing snack.