Goodbye my friends, goodbye!

Today was our last class of a 20-week session at Birkdale, and the kids were full of energy as usual. I brought the Chinese gong, and had each child try hitting the centre of it to practice hand-eye coordination. We also practiced taking turns and sharing with the ball and our “special number of the day”. The kids were ecstatic with their recorder and hand clacker gifts at the end of the class.

Chinese Gong

So Long, Farewell!

Since there were no requests for favourite songs for our last session, we decided to sing our “Greatest Hits”, starting with the peekaboo Open Them, Shut Them. We moved right into I Wake Up My Hands, Sticky Sticky Bubblegum, and Bath Time, and the older kids did a great job identifying body parts and singing along with these now-familiar words. We moved into an animal trio, starting with Sleeping Bunnies and Listen to the Water, before we stood up to march around the room with The Ants Go Marching. As someone who studied music theory as a kid, I felt like I absolutely had to sing one more major scale with the group, but luckily our Circle Scales let us sing our do-re-mi’s while moving in and out of a circle – a great way to feel the music as you sing! I treated the kids to an extended jam time with the more mellow Three Little Birds, and Jamaica Farewell, before rocking out with the parachute to the Sly and the Family Stone classic, Dance to the Music (which these kids did with gusto). After we sang our goodbyes, the kids got to play the guitar one last time and we exchanged many a high-five. The end of a session is always difficult, but I felt good knowing that the kids and moms at Robertson House would keep singing all the songs they learned during our time together, even without me there!

Reunited

It was nice to be reunited with my Birkdale moms, staff and kids again, after two consecutive weeks of not seeing them. They were very excited to be singing and dancing again with me, and had lots of energy, so I kept them up and dancing for a good part of the class. We also explored the rainbow rope and practiced songs such as Roly Poly (practicing opposites) and Row Row Row Your Boat (practicing working as a team and moving body forwards and back in rhythm).

A Gregarious Goodbye (for now)

The progress was palpable for the final class of the session at the Plaza. Not only were the kids participating in all of the songs, keeping rhythm and remembering the lyrics, but they were also anticipating and requesting songs throughout the class! The parents were also more engaged this week than they have ever been. I didn’t even need to encourage them to sing! As usual, my guitar remained an object of fascination (and occasional distraction) throughout the class, but hopefully the clappers and recorders that the kids received at the end of class will keep them musically stimulated and encourage their (already incredible) sense of rhythm and melody. I’m definitely going to miss this group, but both parents and shelter workers expressed a desire for Rainbow Songs Foundation to return, so hopefully it won’t be long before we’re singing together again.

Thunderous Movement!

It was a sweltering June day, but it seemed like the kids at Robertson House barely even noticed as they were just joyful balls of energy for our penultimate class of the session! We did a few Rainbow Songs classics to get warmed up – I Wake Up My Hands, Roly Poly, and Hands Together, Hands Apart. It’s so delightful to see how much these kids have grown and changed over the four months we’ve been together, and how they’ve mastered some of our staple songs. After getting the giggles out with Sleeping Bunnies and Little Green Frog, the theme of the week was transportation with How Now, Brown Cow. That allowed us to kick our legs like a bicycle, move forward and back like we were in a rowboat, and then chug around the circle to conclude with two train songs: Down By The Station, and I’ve Been Workin’ On The Railroad. We even had an encore transportation song with Wheels on the Bus, which these kids have also mastered. Since we’re at the start of the summer thunderstorm season, we brought out the thunder tubes to welcome the dramatic rainfall. The kids loved moving the thunder tubes around the room, hearing how they sounded in different areas and with different intensities of shaking. Our jam time was equally joyful, courtesy of two of Raffi’s biggest hits: Baby Beluga, and To Everyone in All the World. I’ll certainly be sad to wrap things up next week but I have no doubt these kids will continue making music without me!

thunder tube

Sharing, Helping, and Dancing!

I’m always overjoyed by the enthusiasm of the kids at the Plaza Hotel! Though initially the enthusiasm had the tendency to get chaotic, we’ve settled into a very nice class dynamic. The kids are anticipating which songs are going to come next (it seems like Sticky, Sticky, Bubblegum can’t come quickly enough, as they start asking for it from the beginning of class), and helping newcomers with actions and hand motions. This week had some of the best sharing I’ve seen at the Plaza, with everyone patiently waiting their turn to play with the Ting-Shaw bells, and nobody fighting over instruments in the jam bag (which the kids love bringing out and packing up). There were a number of older siblings this week, which meant we were able to have a nice big parachute jam, and the kids were bouncing with even more energy than normal. It was a delight!

Tingsha Bells

A gregarious goodbye

Our final class at Ernestine was delayed a bit following dinner, but had the usual attendance and the same amount of happy engagement from the kids. We were able to fit in a lot more songs this time around, because it took less time to get everyone sitting in a circle and participating. I took requests, from which the overwhelming consensus on the class favourite was Sleeping Bunnies (in fact, one of the parents requested that we do it a second time, during the parachute). Unfortunately, it’s hard to say goodbye, especially when it seems like the kids are just starting to be comfortable with the songs in a group setting, but hopefully there will be a little more music in their lives in general now (and they can continue to practice their rhythm with their clappers, which made for some fun high fives at the end of class). I’ll definitely miss this group!

Sharing is Caring!

We had a bit of a hectic start this week, as the ongoing renovations at Robertson House meant that our usual room was unavailable. Thankfully, RH’s wonderful staff helped me make a space in the Family Centre. Teeming with toys, books, and activities, I knew this may be a bit of a challenge for easily distracted 2-year-olds, but we did our best to power through!

Since we had an infant in the class, we started with a peekaboo song, Open Them, Shut Them, which the older kids enjoyed, too. We practiced the names of our body parts with I Wake Up My Hands and Head and Shoulders, with the older kids helping the younger ones as the song got faster and more challenging. We moved on to some animal songs with the stomp-heavy Elephants are Marching, followed by Listen to the Water, Old McDonald, and Little Green Frog. I pose this question: is there anything more fun than being encouraged to squish up your eyes and stick out your tongue in pursuit of the perfect frog face?

Since the kids were eager to play with the Family Centre toys, we had an extra-long jam time, which we used as an opportunity to practice sharing. With only six kids and dozens of instruments, there were certainly plenty to go around, but with the great variety of instruments to choose from, it’s easy to want to play that instrument – the one another kid is using. Sharing really is just like any other skill that a toddler has to practice in order to master, so I was really proud of kids and moms alike for pushing through the tears to a place where the kids started to get the hang of taking turns – sharing is caring!

New faces

In contrast to last week’s smaller group, the Genoa room was packed on Friday. There were a few brand new faces, which made for a great “hello” song, as it was a good chance for some of the new kids to be introduced to their peers and get some of their jitters out as they were encouraged to participate by some of the more seasoned kids. There were a lot of bouncing and movement songs this week (I rearranged the order of things to accommodate some restless jumpers who didn’t want to sit). By the end of the movement, some kids were even remarking that they wanted to sit down and do a capella songs, which is usually one of the biggest struggles of class. This group loves the instruments in the bag, but jam time can tend to get a bit unruly and there was a little bit of fighting over instruments, which dropped the focus for the latter part of the class. However, when it came time to put things away and sing the goodbye song, everyone was sitting close and attentively, though more than a few kids tried to play my guitar as I was playing. I think next week I’ll come a bit earlier and let them strum the guitar before class so they don’t interrupt during songs.

Jump Around!

Our group at Redwood was full of their usual energy, and we wasted no time putting it to good use. We jumped as bunnies; we jumped as monkeys; we jumped as sailors. We were even jumping around as elephants! We finally got the jumps out of our system to gather around and learn about playing the spoons, which turned out to not just be for soup after all!

Spoons