I brought Animal Week to the Birkdale shelter today. We sang all sorts of songs about animals (Baby Shark, Crocky Crocodile, I Had a Rooster). I showed the class some sign language for different animals and they caught onto them quickly and enjoyed practicing while we sang along!
This week we had a small group made up of our youngest singers, so we focused a lot of our singing on songs that involve singing about and pointing to different parts of our bodies. It’s always really exciting when young ones who have been participating for a number of weeks suddenly “get it” and go from mostly observing to enthusiastically pointing to their noses, ears, cheeks, toes, heads, eyes, knees, and so on!
It took a little while to get all the kids into the room at the same time this week, so they tended to gradually filter in throughout the class. Though they always participate wholeheartedly when they arrive, I’ll make a point of highlighting the importance of everyone starting on time and parents being present throughout the class (there were fewer parents this week and they didn’t arrive until 10 or 15 minutes in). All in all, the class went well, but hopefully next week things are a little more timely in terms of attendance, as I wouldn’t want anyone to miss anything!
Today I had a gentleman with his young child in my class. He brought an acoustic guitar and was eager to play along with me. Although he didn’t know the chords I was playing, he noodled along and enjoyed himself immensely. The kids enjoyed having two guitars in class as well!
This week our normal room was occupied, so we had class in the upstairs area next to where everyone has dinner. Because it was more central in the shelter, there were lots of passersby who came to join in singing or clapping along to the songs. Despite the more open location, the kids were really focused and well behaved this week, remembering even more songs and passing the bean bag around the circle with ease.
The class was small today, but quite excited and antsy, so I got everyone up on their feet and we did lots of dancing and movement songs. I introduced the class to the This is my Trunk song, where the kids learn about the different seasons and what happens to the trees during these seasons. We practiced making a yoga tree together as well.
One of our favourite active songs with this group is when we sing “Well you walk, and you walk, and you walk, and you STOP!” Our group is great at walking around, and are always keen to STOP at just the right time (and giggle!). We also did some tiptoeing, marching, and gliding, and it’s great to see the kids learn how to use their bodies in different ways as we move to the beat of our song!
On the day after Halloween, I thought it would be appropriate to start the class with the 5 Little Pumpkins song from last week. To my pleasant surprise, many of the kids remembered the lyrics word for word, even going so far as to preemptively blurt out the next lines! This week everyone seemed quite excited by the songs with stops and starts, such as the Bicycle Song, Walk Walk Walk and Stop, and Shake it Baby Shake It. When one of the kids referred to one of these songs as being a game, all of a sudden some of the more reluctant ones started participating more eagerly. Framing them that way seems to be quite effective, and I’ve made a mental note as such. The children are also getting much better at sharing and putting away instruments during jam time, and it was all smiles by the end of class (as opposed to the occasional bickering over who gets which drum). Wonderful improvements!
We really got our Halloween groove on today by singing lots of songs about pumpkins, witches, wind, howling, costumes, and sleeping bats! Our little singers were especially great at sleeping upside down like bats, and then flying around once night came.