Spring 2011 – Travis at Birkdale

Week 1

We got off to a great start today at Birkdale Residence.  The children are very enthusiastic, the parents seem appreciative and the staff are very supportive.  In many ways, this was a typical first class, in which the focus of learning is primarily on participation —that is, everyone needs to learn how to participate in a Rainbow Songs class.  Coaching the participants in the call and response of “Hello” was the first step.  Then, since most of the kids are over 3, we did “Here Today” with each kid getting a chance to stand up, turn around and sit back down.  Several of the children did not do the actions the first class.  I then decided to do “What are you wearing” and the level of participation increased dramatically.  “I Had a Rooster” got some of the parents doing the signing and the kids loved the animal sounds as always.  “Old MacDonald” was then a good way to get each of the kids to name their favourite animal.  We then did “Sleeping Bunnies” and that was a big hit, which got us off the floor and into “Elephants Have Wrinkles”.  Once we were on our feet we did the “Hello” scales moving in and out of the centre of the circle.  “Come On Everybody” allowed us to really get into a groove.  Then we got out the instruments and that was a blast.  The kids were mostly able to remember not to bang the other instruments against the drums!

All in all, this was a solid beginning.

Week 2

This was the last class for our contact person, Jason, who really gave it his all and helped us keep up the level of participation.  As far as the songs were concerned, this was basically a review of the first class.  Most of the children were able to participate in the class much more, with several more of them doing the actions for “Here Today” and “What Are You Wearing?”  For the jam session, we did a marching band version of “Elephants Marching”, marching all around the classroom in single file.  This definitely helped some of the more rambunctious kids focus on the group activity and participate more fully.  One of the kids requested “Sleeping Bunnies” and we did this as a parachute song.

Winter 2011 – Travis at Family Residence

Week 1

It was a great first class today at Family Residence! I’d say there were about 8 kids and 8 adults participating.  The children were of all ages, from new babies to around 6 or 7 years old.  We sang a wide variety of songs, from “Open Them, Shut Them”, to “Come On Everybody”, to “Zoom Zoom Zoom!” “Clean-O”, “Brown Cow Medley” and “Old MacDonald Had a Band” were particularly big hits.  Everyone seemed to have a great time and participated really well.  The group really got into “Shake it Baby Shake It” and “Old MacDonald Had A Band” during the jam session, playing all of the instruments right on queue and they also sang along for “The Lion Sleeps Tonight”, which I played as a parachute song.  I was really happy to have folks from what seemed to be a wide variety of cultural backgrounds and ages participating in and enjoying all of the songs.  Thanks to everybody who was there for making it a wonderful experience—I look forward to seeing my new friends again next week!

Week 2

On Thursday, 3 February, we had a lively kick-off class at Family Residence.  12 children participated, ranging in age from under 1 to over 5 years old.  Since some of the children were in the program last time and were familiar with the songs, I had some great help and there was much cheering for favourites such as “What are you wearing?” and “Sleeping bunnies”.  I look forward to having more of the parents participating in the weeks to come, as this adds an essential aspect to the Rainbow Songs method.  Despite low adult turn-out, we were able to hold it together in the jam session, which was actually quite rockin’.

Week 3

We had two new kids joining us today, which was great.  To draw them in, I used highly participatory songs like “What are you wearing?”, as well as “Listen to the water” which helped to include each child individually.  We then did an extended movement section consisting of “Brown Cow Medley”, including airplane and an extra addition of “She’d like to ride an elephant…” which led into the song “Elephants have wrinkles”.  By the time we were a few rounds into “Elephants”, everyone was in full participation mode and I was pleased to see smiles and laughter from everyone.  We rode that out for a good jam session, consisting of cowbell as instrument of the week which was a nice progression from the Brown Cow Medley.

Week 4

The group seems have have reached a milestone and turned a corner.  There were more parents today and some of the children who initially had a difficult time participating—some very quiet, some distracted by the toys in the room—have become much more engaged in the class—singing, smiling, making eye contact, doing the actions, etc.  The grown-ups are demonstrating similarly increased participation.  One little girl who just sat and stared at me for the first two classes even came to say goodbye to me when I was leaving!  It is definitely starting to feel more like a Rainbow Songs class, due mostly part to the increased attendance and participation of the grown-ups thanks to the ongoing encouragement and support of the staff.  For the kids, the difference in the quality of their experience is like night and day.

Week 5

Our 5th session at Family residence was by far our best to date!  There is an excitement in the air now when I arrive and several of the children jump up and announce my arrival—”Travis is HEEERE!  Travis is BAAACK!”. The level of participation of children and adults reached a new level and it seems like we have hit our stride.  Several of the parents are now coming with their children, singing with them, encouraging them to participate.  There are many more smiles all around and everyone seems to be really enjoying themselves.  The children are remembering more and more of the words and the actions to the songs and are becoming well-versed in the structure of the class.  This week, I showed them the ocean drum everyone seemed fascinated.  We sang “Four White Horses” while they passed it around, and almost everyone joined in with slapping and clapping to keep the beat.

Week 6

As this was our last class together for this session, I decided to follow Rainbow Songs tradition and make it a request class.  Each child had a favourite song to sing and they all seemed enthusiastic about the opportunity to contribute in that way.  Some of the children had made a card for me with their little handprints in different colours of paint and were excited to present it to me at the end of class.  One of the children, who had been the most reserved at the beginning of the session (the one who sat and stared at me for the first 3 classes) was the one who engaged me the most about the card and it seemed as though her mother had been instrumental in helping the kids to prepare it.  I know this may seem like a little thing, but it really had a big impact on me.  Here was a very young child who had succeeded not only in coming out of her own shell, but who was also able to engage her mother in the class and make something with the other children to show her gratitude.  Even after the class, when I was packing up, she came up to me on her own to make sure that I didn’t forget the card!  I was really, deeply touched.