Thursday, September 27, 2007

What's this about music and reading? AGAIN?

I'm doing what I can to shout it from the rooftops. Music is good for you! My blogging friend, Molly from Kindermusik International, posted about a study that I just love hearing about.

Because the brainstem offers a common pathway that processes music and speech, the study suggests that musical training conceivably could help children develop literacy skills and combat literacy disorders.

Read the article.
Skip the tutor. Forget the phonics. Ditch the drudgery.
Sing some songs. Play the piccolo. Come on and Contra (dance that is!)
It's more fun that way!
I'm singing and twirling!

Tuesday, September 25, 2007

Music is Everywhere, In my head in the air, in my kitchen!

How about your kitchen? Bathtub? Car?.....everywhere! That's where Young Child I students are looking this week. We will make a "found sound concerto" in class today!

In Village and Our Time I often will ask parents to imitate a sound vocally. Imitate your child's vocal explorations (Who's making all that noise?) and imitate sounds you hear in your environment(like the filling of the bath tub). Playing like this with sounds helps children to listen with intent because you are modeling it for them. (For children there's not much more important than what the parents are doing!)and it's affirming their own explorations since ....well, you noticed!!!! Doesn't it feel good to be noticed?

Seeing this little video brought back memories of my dad. He used to ALWAYS vocalize sounds he heard. Not just for little kids...he did it because he loved sounds. He would ask us as we got older "How do you think you would spell that?" It was fun to try to figure out letters for those funny sounds. My dad was a musician and a poet. Is it any wonder why all of his 7 children still love music?

Enjoy exploring with your ears.

Thanks Merri

Tuesday, September 18, 2007

Dancing is MATH

Kindermusik Village has a lot of dances in it. The babies love when the adults carry them facing in towards the circle. Oh, my! How they wriggle with delight when the circle takes four steps in and flies baby high then four steps out and down.....And they are working on the math of it all. Depth perception judgments for the eyes, figuring out the time it took to go in and out, to how the size of the person changed from large circle to stepping in to make the circle smaller....

In Our Time we dance:
Oh, Lukey's Boat is painted green. Aha! Me boys!
Oh, Lukey's boat is painted green the finest boat you've ever seen. Aha me riddle aye day!
These are auditory patterns that are stipes for the ears! a narrow stipe and a wide stripe (short phrase then long phrase). We repeat this over and over again.

In Imagine That! we are singing more stripes:
La la la la laa laa la la la la laa.
La la la la laa laa la la la la laa.
La la la la laa laa la la la la laa.
La la laa la la laa la la la la laa.
Step in, turn yourself around.
Step out, turn your self about.

The stipes look like this in my head: 4 similar red stripes then 2 matching blue stripes. Do it again!

In Young Child 1 we play a singing game called Rig a Jig. We are walking to the musical meter (the musical measuring stick for measuring time) that counts in 2's and we skip for the refrain's meter which counts in 6's.

In Young Child3 we dance to the folksy music of David Holt singing "Old Lady No Nose"
We're learning steps like do si do, peel the orange, swing your partner. We are measuring time and distance with musical phrases.

The children don't have to know the theory of it at this age but later they will find their brain has created places for understanding steady beat, time, distance, measuring, counting, estimating, predicting, patterns, repetition, momentum, and lots of other physics concepts.

This is good brain stuff. I'm glad you're in Kindermusik. For your kids sake. It makes them smart.

Some good dancing to be had at the Overisel Township Hall this Friday Sept. 21st at 7:30. It's my favorite: Contra Dancing. Great music. Great friendships. Great dancing. Do come. It's open to the public and beginners are VERY welcome. The callers will walk you through the dances and ....yes, you will have to think! And then you will say "Oh, Yes! Kindermusik is great brain work for our children!"

Everybody swing your partner!

Sunday, September 16, 2007

Serving Suggestion!

The Holland Farmer's Market was in full harvest yesterday. The colors are spectacular. At the Boeve's stand, where I work there were big rainbow piles of sweet peppers, cauliflowers of white, orange, purple and green Italian cauliflower! Huge, dense cabbages (I sold one which weighed 9.99lbs for $1.25!), sweetest onions you've ever had, piles of tomatoes, bright green delicious broccoli.....

It was cold too! The change of seasons is coming through.

So I have lots of veggies in my kitchen right now. It takes time to make a meal when you start by chopping the vegetables instead of opening the plastic bag! Do we have time for this? Yes, we must! Here's my philosophy.

First cut up a red or orange pepper. (They are THE sweetest!) Arrange on a dish and leave on the counter. As the hungry children come by they nibble! Then Get out a second cutting board and knife and have them start chopping vegetables with you.

How young do you start them with this kind of work? As SOON as they are interested in dragging a chair over to the counter and standing on it begging to help. It does increase the time it takes to make the soup but this is an investment you will want to make. Because now when we are cutting and chopping we are also talking. It is a way of creating time and space for sharing what's on their minds and what's on your mind. It works well if you don't have an agenda...if the door to conversation is just open. Maybe you are just going to listen for a while. Maybe you are going to ask them open ended questions. Maybe you'll sing: "This is the way we chop the tomatoes..."

(Claire was watching some children here at the house and they helped us cut and chop a huge mound of peppers for salsa and for freezing last year. We all had great conversation. This year they came over ASKING "Do you have any vegetables we can chop?)

What happens when they grow up and everyone is so busy running from here to there that no two people are in the kitchen at same time? Well, yesterday I came home and the Moussaka was already made. And it was SO delicious. Who chopped for that? Not me! Thanks Claire.

Leek Soup
Clean and chop 2 leeks
Melt 1/4 cup of butter in a skillet
Saute the leeks until tender
Heat up 2 quarts of chicken broth
Peel and chop 5 potatoes
Chop 4 carrots
Simmer everything in the chicken broth until cooked (about 45 minutes)
Add 1/2 Cup of half and half
Grate in about 1/2 tsp. of fresh nutmeg
Shake in about 2 shakes of cayenne pepper
Salt and pepper to taste.

Saturday, September 15, 2007

ARTS in the Holland Area

If you are reading this blog and you are from the Holland area I strongly encourage you to sign up for the Hope College email newsletter/arts calendar. Email Derek Emerson:
Tell him I sent you! Every week I get a great list of abundant art happenings for the area. For instance this weekend was
Philadelphia's Koresh Dance Company, renowned for their powerful stage presence and high-energy style. This is the first in Hope College's series called the Great Performance Series. And the deal is the family ticket price! Go ahead and email to have the info sent to you. I so appreciate these reminder emails!

And by the way, the Vienna Boys Choir is coming too. Have you ever heard angel voices? Don't let this one pass you by.

Friday, September 14, 2007

Do you LIVE in your living room?

Once when Claire was about 2 she discovered the scissors. Luckily the newspaper was nearby...actually right in the heavily used walkway going into the living room. She worked for almost 2 hours singing and cutting the paper into tiny pieces. (How long is a child's attention span?) (How happy was I for two hours to do things on my agenda?) She was getting very accomplished with those scissors and I was so proud of her new skills!

She was an absolute gray mess!!!! And the living room, already quite lived in, was a disaster. As my friend, Jody would say: "Signs of a struggle!"

Well actually, signs of LIFE. And for that I am grateful.
Today Claire who is 17 is very dexterous, making many things with her hands from her beautiful lampwork glass bead earrings to beautiful violin music.

In Kindermusik Our Time we begin working with our hands and fingers while we singing "If You're Happy and You Know It". Time for children to explore their little hands and the many things we can do with them! They look so intently at their hands and you can almost see them thinking: "So THESE are thumbs!"

So when you find life in your living room remember this:

A House Becomes a Home When You Can Write "I love You" On the Furniture

Life is short. Enjoy it! Dust if you must, but wouldn't it be better to paint a picture or write a letter, bake a cake or plant a seed, ponder the difference between want and need?

Dust if you must, but there's not much time, with rivers to swim and mountains to climb, music to hear and books to read, friends to cherish and life to lead.

Dust if you must, but the world's out there with the sun in your eyes, the wind in your hair, a flutter of snow, a shower of rain. This day will not come around again.

Dust if you must, but bear in mind, old age will come and it's not kind. And when you go- and go you must- you, yourself will make more dust!

It's not what you gather, but what you scatter that tells what kind of life you have lived.
author unknown
Peace, Yvette

Sunday, September 9, 2007

Caught You Blinking!

Didn’t I tell you!? Don’t blink! They will be grown up before you know it. Parenting takes us into an amazing dimension of time. With an infant 10 minutes is an eternity.... and 6 months is a blink of the eye! Now my first born (my first Kindermusik graduate!) I’ve sent off for his second year in college! And my second is in the midst of the college search asking "How far can I go?" I was sure my children would never get to the teenage years (much less get through them!) and that this letting go time would never, never come to pass. I was determined not to blink! Now I blink for the tears! Tears of sadness and tears of proud joy.

Sure as the sun comes up day after day we can’t do anything about the speed of light!

Here’s a story I love. My mother told it to us often during our growing up years. I don’t know the origin, maybe someone can tell me! I love the truth in it and I believe it has made a great impact on how I approach children in my teaching and in my parenting.

Read it to your children, and listen carefully.

Once upon a time the wind and the sun were having an argument. The wind huffed and puffed and proclaimed to be mightier than the sun.

The sun proposed a contest to settle the argument. “Do you see that man down there on the path? We will see who can get his coat off.”

The wind, seeing an easy contest, boisterously said, “I’ll go first!” With that the sun hid behind the clouds and the wind began the contest. He blew and blew. The man below felt the cool air and buttoned up his coat. The wind whirled a mighty gust and the man clutched his coat tighter. Harder and harder the wind blew nearly knocking over the man and tighter and tighter he pulled his coat around him.

Finally the wind gave up. Exhausted, he said to the sun “You try. That man is so stubborn.”

The sun grinned from ear to ear and came out from behind the cloud beaming brightly. “Oh, how warm it has become” thought the man as he dropped his arms by his sides. A minute more of the bright warmth and the man unbuttoned his coat then slipped it off.

The wise "sun" finds a way to convince the man to choose to take his coat off.

Parenting and teaching can’t always be so simplified, I know. But in general, choose your battles wisely and approach with a level head. Breathe out and bring out the empathy and warmth. We all know this intellectually but the emotions are often the stumbling block. My greatest challenge has been choosing a path different than my own parents. Their ways are deeply embedded in our hearts and though we may want to try a different approach, when we are under stress and emotionally charged the old way presents itself with a mighty gust.

If you are looking for great books to deepen parenting wisdom, look for these (my all time favorites):

Reading list:

The Out of Sync Child, Carol Kranowitz, 1998

Smart Moves, Carla Hannaford, 1995

Baby Teacher, Rebecca Shore, 2000

Punish By Rewards, Alfie Kohn, 1995

Raising Your Spirited Child, Mary Sheedy Kircinka, 1991

Life Enriching Education, Marshall B. Rosenberg, 2002

A General Theory of Love, Thomas Lewis

Conscious Discipline, Becky Bailey

Love and peace,

Yvette Odell, M.M.E., director

Kindermusik of Holland

“Imagination is more important than knowledge.” A. Einstein

Sunday, September 2, 2007

When Should You Enroll Your Baby In Kindermusik?

How young is too young? If that's your question I think you will enjoy reading this entry from Eliott's mom. Eliott fell asleep in the middle of most classes but I know he still got an infinite amount of goodness from his experience in the summer class.....

His mom writes:

I had always planned on getting Eliott involved in Kindermusik eventually. I thought I would have to wait until he was 6 months old just like everything else that is fun for parents and their babies. I was happy to find a class to take with my 2 month old. I was surprised to learn that Kindermusik is more than the songs. The music is just one of the tools for building up my son's brain and strengthening our bond. There are so many opportunities around every day life we take for granted to teach our little ones. Things that I had at one time done begrudgingly with my baby, I now do happily. I love opening junk mail! Eliott likes the feel of the envelopes on his hands and to see the colors and the sound of the crackling paper. Putting away laundry is FUN! I unload the dryer and my son gets a laundry basket train trip from the laundry room to where ever I need to put away the laundry. Then we have a fun game of peek-a-boo with the clothes as we identify the colors, textures, and what body part they cover. Doing the dishes is fun too! There are lots if musical instruments in the kitchen.

I love all of the silly songs and dances because it is fun and it is laying the foundation for reading and math. There is a good sound rational explanation for every silly move and song. I love all of the little extra tid bits of information worked into the classes. I love the socialization aspects of the class too. It makes me feel good to know my son is going to know how to greet a friend and to respect boundaries and structure.

.... Eliott really is a good happy boy! I hope he lets you see more of that in the next round of classes!

Thanks again!
Kate (Eliott's Mom)

And the DEAL is still on: For babies 5 months and younger you can register for 5 weeks tuition free. Don't wait for them to grow up any more!