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.
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).
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.
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.
The kids had a lot of energy today, so we spent a lot of time up on our feet and jumping on the bed as in 5 Little Monkeys, hopping like frogs and bunnies, and swinging our trunks like elephants. I was preparing these kids for a special animal theme week next week. I brought the cowbell and Brazilian agogo – Latin instruments – for the kids to try out. They were quite good at keeping a steady beat on the cowbell, while doing solos with the agogo.
The kids were stir crazy today as the rain had been falling for days now. They had tons of energy to get out. So we did a lot of jumping songs, like 5 Little Monkeys and Sleeping Bunnies, to get their sillies out. They enjoyed experimenting with the Cuban Clave Sticks that I brought for the instrument of the week, and we listened to Cuban music so that the caregivers and kids could hear how the Clave Sticks play a major part in the Latin band.
I used the theme of weather in class today. We talked about the thunderstorm and heavy rain that came on last night, and how the rain at this time of year brings about growth of flowers and trees and grass. I brought a thunder tube and a rain stick, and demonstrated both. The kids especially loved the thunder tube!
The kids were excited to see me again after we had a week off due to Easter Friday. I brought a Middle Eastern drum called the Darabouka. I had the kids and grown-ups keep the simple beat that I taught them, and then I added a second part on the Darabouka drum. Each person got a turn trying out the more simplified beat, and some of the parents and kids were really good at it! It was fun watching them feel so proud when they could get the beat.
I brought and used the Rainbow Rope for the first time at Birkdale today and the kids loved it. Not only did it keep them calm, focused and sitting in the circle during circle time, but they were amazing at feeling the beat of the songs that I would play and moving the rope right in time. We practiced Roly Poly, Row Row Row Your Boat, and The Wheels on the Bus. Their favourite part was the crocodile verse in the Row, Row, Row, Your Boat song. They screamed so loud and so long, I think we woke up the whole building. Then, we stood up and did movement songs with the Rainbow Rope. Afterwards I showed them the Caxixi from Brazil, and had each kid stand up and take turns trying the Caxixi rhythm. They enjoyed taking turns and having the spotlight on them.
After a week away from the Birkdale kids, I was excited to get back and share more musical moments with them. This time I brought my tongue drum from Africa. I demonstrated how each and every note sounds wonderful together, and then had the kids play duets (two kids at a time striking the tongue drum with their mallets) to practice sharing and cooperation. Each pair of kids ended up working really well together. I had all of the caregivers and children clap for each duet pair, and I think it really made each child feel proud of their contribution! I taught them an African song called Funga Alafia, which is a call and response song. Everyone got really into the song, to the point where a dad hopped up and started dancing, which inspired three more moms to get up and dance. That was the best part of the class!