This week’s class at Ernestine was a sunny affair. With the time slot moved back to accommodate dinner, everyone was on time and ready to sing. People were singing together more than in previous weeks, parents were engaged, and we didn’t have the usual struggle to get everybody sitting in a circle. The kids are starting to eagerly anticipate certain songs now, and even throw out requests. One spontaneous request was for “hot potato”, which I incorporated into the class when it came time to pass the beanbag around. There was a charming moment when the beanbag was tossed gingerly across the room, then brought back by its recipient to continue making its way around the circle without leaving anybody out. I’m sad that next week is our last, but I’m excited to bring out the clapper instruments for the kids to take with them.
The ongoing renovations and perfect outdoor weather at Robertson House meant we again had a small class with just four kids this week. This can sometimes make the kids and moms feel awkward, but these kids are boundless balls of energy and excitement, so we had no trouble jumping right into our Hello, Everybody song. Since three of the four kids were over age 3, I realized we could use this as an opportunity to try some more advanced repertoire with more participation. The kids jumped right into We’re All Here Today, and What Are You Wearing, where they loved the opportunity to point out the colours around the room. I gave them a chance to jump around with Sleeping Bunnies, and walk with Walk, Walk, Walk, and You Walk, and Stop. These songs all had great moments of stop and go, fast and slow: opposites that are extremely fun to act out. Afterwards, we practiced sharing with two pairs of musical spoons for four kids. Sometimes sharing in a small group is harder than in a big one, but the kids worked very hard and kept their excitement in check while they passed the spoons back and forth. I’m sure they found it a gratifying experience, but I could tell they were relieved when it was finally time to bring out the big bag of instruments and play to their hearts’ content!
This week was a smaller group, as a number of families took the opportunity to go outside after being cooped up inside from the rainfall the previous few days. However, the kids (and one parent) who showed up were engaged and smiling throughout the whole class. Not only did they remember all of the songs from the previous week, but they took to new songs almost instantly. Sticky, Sticky, Bubblegum seems to be the running favourite in the class, along with any songs that involve dancing or movements (Hokey Pokey and I Feel A Lot Like Singing, in particular). Everyone did a great job of sharing the bean bag around the circle, but when it came time to bring out the big instrument bag there was a bit of sibling rivalry over the tambourines. Ultimately, however, everyone left smiling and looking forward to next week.
I experimented with the kids today and brought only two chime bars to see if they would be able to share nicely with one another and take turns playing the role of the firetruck that would “Ding” its bell. They handled this challenge beautifully! I then challenged them even further, and asked two children to take turns hitting the C and G bars alternatively, and they managed to figure that out as well. I was really proud of how well everyone shared today.
It was a soggy day outside, so this week we used it as an excuse to sing all about it. Itsy, Bitsy, Spiders fought valiantly up their waterspouts! Thunder pounded on the floor! Some of our raindrops even transformed into lemon drops! But, of course, our time together wouldn’t be complete without all kinds of dancing around.
This week was less chaotic than last: nobody crawled on my guitar, very few tears, and lots of participation from parents. The group is still having a bit of difficulty sitting in a circle around the carpet, but that’s only because they’re eager to be closer to the guitar, which doesn’t seem to hamper their focus or participation at all. The oldest one in the group knows all the songs at this point, which is great, but she tends to make a point of singing ahead of the rest of the class, so I’ll emphasize the importance of singing as a group more next week. This week started a bit late because of dinner at the shelter again (and people filtered in throughout the class), so next week we’re going to begin at 6:30 instead of 6, which should work better for everyone.
I brought animal week to Birkdale this week. The kids loved taking turns with the turtle puppet and singing, “I’m a turtle in my shell,” as well as passing around the beanbag froggie. They shared really well this week and enjoyed learning some new animal-themed songs.
This week was a little more chaotic than last. It took quite some time to get everyone quiet and ready to sing The Hello Song (a mix of criers and distractions from the toys in the room). Once things got started we were on quite a roll, and everyone recognized the songs from last week and were happy to sing them again. Sticky Sticky Bubblegum, in particular, was the big hit of the class, with everyone engaged, including the ones who are normally a bit quieter. The parents were all smiles today, though a bit talkative when the energy got a bit much to handle. I brought out the turtle puppet and wooden frogs from my animal week class earlier in the day, and though the kids were very excited to play with them and pass them around, they sucked most of the energy out of the circle and group effort. Lesson learned: next time I’ll stick to more movement songs for the restless and energetic kids, and minimize the number of objects, as they can become distracting. However, it’s nice to see the kids so engaged with the musical instruments (particularly my guitar), and as soon as we have a better rapport for when to play and when to listen, things will go much more smoothly.
The beautiful weather we’ve had this week gave everyone an extra burst of energy. There was nothing for it, but to get up and boogie our way through class today! Monkeys jumped on beds, and bunnies hopped up out of their slumber. Elephants marched, and snakes slithered. It was a merry menagerie of fun!
Things got off to a bit of a late start on Wednesday, as the beginning of class coincided with the end of dinner (the shelter coordinator said that dinner would start a bit earlier next week). Though we were only expecting 5 at first, by the end of The Hello Song our little room was completely packed! This group was particularly difficult to get focused for certain songs. A few of the kids were quite taken with my guitar, and often abandoned the circle to either run around or try to play with my guitar. There were a few moments where I had to pause the class until everyone was sitting down again, and the parents and shelter coordinators were very helpful in that regard. One highlight of the class was The Itsy Bitsy Spider, which was met with cheers. We had one very eager older sibling in the class, who knew many of the songs. Going forward, I’ll ask her to help lead / get the other kids focused. Hopefully next week there will be a bit more of a break between dinner and music, to give everyone time to digest and calm down a little (but not too much!).