Friday, February 29, 2008

Holland Area Youth Orchestra Concert Sunday

20th Anniversary Concert
Holland Area Youth Orchestra

WORLD PREMIERE of a new work
commissioned in celebration of the anniversary by Matthew Tommasini

Concert also includes:
Holland Area Junior Strings
Youth Orchestra Chamber Ensembles

Sunday, March 2, 2008 3:00pm
West Ottawa Performing Arts Center
1024 136th Avenue
in Harbor Lights Middle School

Tickets available online (click the buy tickets button) or at the door.
$7 adults and $4 students

This is a VERY special concert. Both orchestras are celebrating anniversaries. The Junior Strings group is now 10 years old!

This will be Claire's last time as concert master. She'll be graduating this spring.

Hope you can come and hear this exciting concert.

Thursday, February 28, 2008

Nurturing the "Right Brain"

Don't you think we should be nurturing our children wisely when it comes to right brain-ness and left brain-ness? Our youngest students (Kindermusik Village birth to 18months) haven't yet decided on hemispheric domination. They still don't cross the "midline" and they pick up items with one hand as readily as the other hand.

Can a parent make a difference in how they will think when they are mature? Do you WANT to? I believe in Kindermusik we include the right brain where as most of the education our children will receive from here on out is much more likely to promote left brain thinkers. Where will they end up as adults?

Considering what this national speaker has to say, the future may be shifting to the favor of the right brained thinkers!

Best selling author/Wired contributor will speak in our area on creativity in business.
Save The Date!
Tuesday, March 25, 2008

Daniel Pink
Author of best selling book:
A Whole New Mind
(Why Right-Brainers Will Rule The Future)

Pink is a contributing editor at Wired magazine, and has written influential business books. He'll be in the area speaking about his latest book, A Whole New Mind. The subject is the importance of using both our creative and analytical sides in our everyday business lives, and how this will be integral to success.
West Ottawa Public School
Performing Arts Center, Harbor Lights
1024 136th Ave.
Holland, MI 49424 - map
4:00 - 5:30 PM
Cost: $35 per person Reserve tickets at the Holland Area Arts Council
150 E. 8th St.
Holland, MI 49423 - map
or online at
Read Dan Pink's blog and more about the book on

Monday, February 25, 2008

Sign Lauguage class through Kindermusik

Kindermusik's Sing and Sing class scheduled to begin this Thursday at 3pm is worth doubling up for!

If you value your special time together and you enjoy learning about what's making your child's brain "tick"and you are you looking for more fun quality time with your 6 month to 3 year old then you will want to know about Kindermusik Sign and Sing.

This weekly 45 minute 10 week class will be taught by Yvette Odell. She will show caregivers many signs and explain the purpose behind encouraging sign language for very young children. American Sign Language is used rather than "Baby Signs" because this is a real language used and understood by many people including hearing impaired. The class is not intended for hearing impaired children since the goals are to use signs to decrease frustrations in children who are learning to talk.

The structure of the class is different that the "regular Kindermusik classes" since we are allowing free play to create learning situations that will be most effective for children's aquisition and comprehension of signs. There is some singing but the signing really takes precedence.

Added benefits are increased vocabulary, increased interactions with caregivers, increased understanding of the processes of language acquisition and parenting tips that help with directing children towards a learning goal.

Many of the general goals are similar to the ones in our regular Kindermusik classes but you'll find them to be very different! It's worth doubling up!

Enroll here.

Thursday, February 21, 2008

A Flower for YOU parents!

It's an arnica flower. A special flower for which I am very grateful.

I've noticed in class you children have been hard at work. The way I can tell is bumps and bruises on their foreheads, cheeks....wait till summer when you can see more on their knees and shins! It really is part of their work to plunge in to learning how to walk, run, jump, to the egg shaker basket and.....OOPS!!! Bump heads! I must recommend a most wonderful ointment for the bumps and bruises......

I have to tell you a little story. Actually bunches of you have heard about this one. Poor Claire! I (ME!!!!!)....I slammed the car door on her thumb. She was about maybe 10 or 11. I should ask her. She said "O-pen-the-door--" I opened the WRONG door!!! Then when I did open the door I grabbed my tube of Arnica that I kept in the pocket of the door and slathered the gel on her thumb. She had a bad ridge slanting across it and I thought she should have a purple nail....I tell you it was stuck in the door!!! It never did turn purple., I've carried arnica with me whenever I can and have given it out numerous times when I see that big welt on a child.

You can find Arnica cream or gel or oil (and tablets too for really bad falls--like bike accidents!) at the health food store! Keep them handy.

Tuesday, February 19, 2008

Click on the cello for a fun cello game. When I played it I said, "I'm sorry" to Camille Saint Saens....I need more practice!

Also as I'm "playing" I'm thinking of bow speed and the division of bow because sometimes one bowing has several notes.

That's more math....

Have fun.

Suzuki Violin Twinkle Variation #1

Here's a Kindermusik graduate moving ahead with her private lessons! Way to go Sienna. Congratulations. You sound great!

Finding patters everywhere.....

From Wikipedia:

A pattern, from the French patron, is a theme of reoccurring events or objects, sometimes referred to as elements of a set. These elements repeat in a predictable manner. It can be a template or model which can be used to generate things or parts of a thing, especially if the things that are created have enough in common for the underlying pattern to be inferred, in which case the things are said to exhibit the pattern. Pattern matching is the act of checking for the presence of the constituents of a pattern, whereas the detecting for underlying patterns is referred to as pattern recognition. The question of how a pattern emerges is accomplished through the work of the scientific field of pattern formation. Patterns are also related to repeated shapes or objects, sometimes referred to as elements of the series. Some patterns (for example, many visual patterns) may be directly observable, such as simple decorative patterns (stripes, zigzags, and polka-dots). Others can be more complicated, such as the regular tiling of a plane, echos, and balanced binary branching.

The most basic patterns are based on repetition and periodicity. A single template, or cell, is combined with duplicates without change or modification. For example, in aviation, a "holding pattern" is a flight path which can be repeated until the aircraft has been granted clearance for landing.

Pattern recognition is more complex when templates are used to generate variants. For example, in English, sentences often follow the "N-VP" (noun - verb phrase) pattern, but some knowledge of the English language is required to detect the pattern. Computer science, ethology, and psychology are fields which study patterns.

In addition to static patterns, Simple Harmonic Oscillators produce repeated patterns of movement.

In Kindermusik "Imagine That!" we are pretending, playing, twirling....looks like just plain old good fun. Deeper down we are becoming intentional listeners and intelligent thinkers! This week we are listening for patters of words in songs. For instance how many times do you hear a repeated word in "Row, Row, Row Your Boat?" I believe this kind of work creates places in your brain for math.

I'll often stop a circle dance to point out how the song has a pattern of "aural stripes" for the ear. Last semester singing "Shoo Fly, Don't Bother Me" (thin stripe, thin stripe, thick stripe....) and the rondo activity we did with our "Drum Walk" (walk, run, walk, run, walk) where we illustrated the different movement with different color scarves on the floor.

A couple weeks after this particular activity Grace's mom tells me her story about how Grace is processing patterns in her mind:

Grace (3 1/2 yo) asked me if she would have a bath tonight. I answered, "No, you had one last night." She said, "That's a pattern, bath/no-bath, bath/no-bath."

Since then she finds patterns everywhere, in the color of cars (grey car, red car, grey car). or in her jewelry box (round earrings, silver earrings, round earrings etc.).

She loves Kindermusik and has learned more than I even imagined she would.

At this age they can't help but be brilliant! I'm so excited to be working with these children and to be nurturing their amazing potential!

PS (also from Wikipedia:)
The golden ratio, (approximately 1.6180339887), occurs frequently in the natural world. Two numbers a and b keep the golden ratio when (a+b)/a = a/b, in this case a/b equals the golden ratio. It has a direct relationship to the Fibonacci numbers. This pattern was exploited by Leonardo da Vinci in his art. The Fibonacci pattern has a closed-form expression. These patterns can be seen in nature, from the spirals of flowers to the symmetry of the human body (as expressed in Da Vinci's Vitruvian Man, one of the most referenced and reproduced works of art today.

Wednesday, February 13, 2008

Loving rituals

I am imagining the loving ritual this song must have been for this little cherub. And I imagine the loving rituals all the Kindermusik families have with "This Little Cow Eats Grass", "Shiny Dinah", "The Jack in the Box Jumps Up", "Lucy Locket", and "Kapulu Pulu Kane".

That's how the real meaning of Valentines gets to your children's hearts.

Happy Day,
Filled with love,
Miss Yvette

More on Loving Rituals

Here's a page from a book published by Loving Guidance and Becky Bailey. It's about I love you rituals and how important they are neurologically to your child's emotional development.

Don't they just happen? Well, I think because of our stressed lives, fast paced living, and maybe we can even blame TV...we just don't take enough time for these really important connections.

Read on (And then go visit "Loving Guidance").

Chapter 1: I Love You Rituals: Activities to Build Bonds and Strengthen
Relationship with Children
We get caught up in our obligations and tasks and
lose sight of our children until they "get in trouble'' (displease us) or "do
something special" (please us). During both of these occasions, the children
receive our full and undivided attention. We could call one negative attention
and the other positive attention. Neither is helpful or healthy. Children come to
learn that for them to be "loved" (i.e., get attention) they must either
misbehave or be special. These two positions require children to be less than
others (in trouble) or better than others (winning) to get their most basic
needs met. This becomes a vicious cycle. They ultimately come to constantly
strive to get love and miss out on giving and receiving love. Ironically, the
real reason adults get caught up in their obligations is their own need to avoid
feeling less than others or their own need to feel better than others to
maintain their sense of self-esteem. To keep your children from this same
pitfall, you can take charge and establish strong relationships with children.
Adults must take time to "be" with their children. This time must be commanded
and orchestrated by adults, not demanded by children. "I Love You" Rituals can
be the beginning of this process.
Often adults find themselves locked in
negative patterns of interactions with their children. As the child grows and
challenges the adults around him or her more, constant battles can be the norm
instead of the exception. These battles can be especially trying during the
toddler years. As these battles continue day in and day out, the relationship
between the adult and child becomes strained. The willingness to begin the
healing process must come from the adult. Many adults just don't know what to
do. The question becomes, how can we "make up" with out children without giving
into them? How do we begin meeting the needs of children on our terms instead of
theirs? What can be done? What will heal the relationship? The answer is "I Love
You Rituals". When your relationship with a child becomes challenging make time
for an "Love You Ritual" in the morning and in the evening. As you add these
moments of unconditional love into your relationship, you will be inviting
cooperation into your home or classroom.

1997-2007 ©Loving Guidance, Inc. All rights reserved.

You come to Kindermusik for the experience of "I love you" rituals!!! And it's just that reason your children LOVE exaggeration!



Monday, February 11, 2008

Making the most of your child's early education experience:

This little car

This little car is going on a trip. Trip. Trip. Trip, trip, trip. A little game like this - turning your finger into a car and driving it down the road is an exciting time for the brain - as vision tracking is engaged, eye-hand coordination is enhanced and fine motor skills are being practiced. This simple game is a brain workout in disguise. It can be found in the AWAY WE GO Home activity guide. (From the Kindermusik "Our Time" home materials.)

Kindermusik classes have a great deal to offer families who want to be very involved in their children's early education. It's a good beginning that never ends.

Thanks Helen, you are so wise.

Preschool Consumers: Be In The Know

Letter to the Editor of the Holland Sentinel
Dear Editor,
Parents should be encouraged to make educated decisions for their pre-school aged children concerning academics and socialization. The narrow question of "Which preschool program is best?" ignores the bigger issue of "Is preschool the best choice for my child?"
There are studies on all sides of the latter question, some saying results of beginning education earlier are beneficial, others say preschool is the best choice only for "at risk" children, still others say there are no lasting benefits seen in children once they are in 3rd to 6th grade and finally there are studies that point to evidence that shows preschool experience may have a detrimental effect on children's social and emotional development.
Parents are their children's best teacher. As an educator myself, I would encourage parents not to rush right out with the crowd to stand in preschool registration lines without carefully considering if preschool would better suit their child better than quality time with the parents. Otherwise it's simply a reaction to peer pressure and media views. I see preschool as a business and the Holland Sentinel's front page article of Feb. 8, 2008 "A Head Start On Learning" as free advertisement for those preschool businesses!
1.Head Start benefits at risk children but not those not at risk.
Researchers Darcy Olsen and Lisa Snell surveyed the research on early education polices in a new report for the Reason Foundation titled Assessing Proposals for Preschool and Kindergarten: Essential Information for Parents, Taxpayers, and Policymakers. What they found should make universal preschool advocates think twice.
....“The studies conducted on mainstream children generally do not show benefits from early education programs,” they explain, pointing to a 2005 RAND Corporation analysis which found that “children participating in preschool not targeted to disadvantaged children were no better off in terms of high school or college completion, earnings, or criminal justice involvement than those not going to any preschool.” While slim research evidence points to benefits for disadvantaged children, giving subsidies to middle- and upper-class children is just not justified by research.
2.No lasting benefits: the benefits of Head Start Programs tend to “fade out” by second or third grade.
McGroder, Sharon M., “Head Start: What Do We Know About What Works”—U.S. Department of Health and Human Services
Lisa Snell, Director of Education and Child Welfare at the Reason Foundation, in her article titled “Don’t Expect Long-Term Gain From Early Education Money,” discusses the absurdity of Michigan considering another investment of hundreds of millions of taxpayer dollars to public prekindergarten programs that just aren’t showing any return. Snell writes in her article that “policymakers [should not] be focusing scarce education resources on programs that can [not] make a lasting difference.” She reinforced her statements by quoting from The National Center for Education Statistics Early Childhood Longitudinal Study, which found that there were no “substantive differences in children’s third-grade achievement relative to the type of kindergarten program (full-day vs. half-day) they attended.” The article also mentions the California-based RAND Corp.’s December 2006 report, “School Readiness, Full-Day Kindergarten, and Student Achievement,” which found that children in the full-day kindergarten programs were showing decreased mathematics skills by the time they were in fifth grade, than those who had only attended a part-day kindergarten program. Snell, Lisa. “Don’t Expect Long-Term Gain from Early Education Money,” published by The Michigan Education Report, Fall 2007 Issue.
“Significant, immediate gains in cognitive test scores, socioemotional test scores, and health status, (though) in the long-run, cognitive and socioemotional test scores of former Head Start students do not remain superior to those of disadvantaged children who did not attend Head Start.”
3.Detriments of preschool:
"We find that attendance in preschool centers, even for short periods of time each week, hinders the rate at which young children develop social skills and display the motivation to engage classroom tasks, as reported by their kindergarten teachers.....For children from lower-income homes, additional hours in center programs does not further slow social development while it does advance cognitive gains (Figure E2). But for children from higher-income families, additional hours in care do further slow behavioral growth, while at the same time failing to improve cognitive outcomes relative to moderate attendance of 15 to 30 hours per week. The benefits of longer hours of care are clearly greater for children from lower-income families."

The Influence of Preschool Centers on Children's Development Nationwide

Susanna Loeb
Margaret Bridges
Daphna Bassok
Bruce Fuller
Russ Rumberger

Stanford University
University of California

Presentation at the Association for Policy Analysis and Management
Washington, D.C. November 4, 2005

This paper has undergone peer review and will appear in Economics of Education Review.

Thursday, February 7, 2008

Language Development in Kindermusik class

How do children grow their vocabulary? When do babies really learn words? When do babies understand words?

If you want a child with a big vocabulary you have to use your words! Talk to your baby morning, noon, and night!

Last week in our Kindermusik Village class we worked with little nursery rhymes: Hey diddle diddle, This little cow eats grass, (and more). The home activity was to play with words, tell stories, recite more rhymes, play with your voice (squeaky or low, fast or slow etc) . What does all this mean to a 5 month old?

Well, they are making brain connections for language from the day they are born. Drawing conclusions on the rhythm and melodies of what is spoken. Patterns of phrases, repeated words, the connections of words to your facial expression and body language. The give and take of conversation. So much going on here.

First time parents may feel awkward having one way conversations about diaper changes, folding laundry and reading the newspaper but that's the key for helping a child figure out this whole language thing! When you take this seriously, they take it as positive reinforcement for being curious and communicative. (What's important to you is definitely important to them.)

In class last week for the Kindermusik Our Time children (18 months to 3 1/2 yo) we introduced "scaffolding" which is a parenting technique for encouraging exploration and also for getting children to do what YOU want them to do. First you observe and affirm what they are already doing (we were working with the rhythm sticks and the musical element of fast and slow), we imitated them (imitation is a sure form of affirmation for children) and describe and label everything, giving informational feedback. Then we suggest a variation to their action...we challenge. The whole activity is dependent on conversation. Talk, talk, talk.....

Click on the picture above to watch a video from How Stuff Works about some of the research they've done on the language-IQ connection. I'm not advocating a word counting assessment software...I'd rather talk to my babies because I love them not because my goal is a certain IQ. But I do want to give my babies what I can to increase their potential...who doesn't want the best for their baby?

So....snow day today (no classes).

Hey, Baby! Talk some, sing some!
Reminds me of a song I haven't sung in ages:

Chatter with the angels, soon in the morning.
Chatter with the angels all day long!
Chatter with the angels, soon in the morning.
Chatter with the angels all day long!
I want to join that band and chatter with the angels all day long.

Have fun,

Monday, February 4, 2008

Claire may have to stay home with us forever because I can't figure out all this taxes stuff!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

She tells me the paper work is due on the 15th of this month for the financial aid forms for one of the schools to which she's applying.

I am consumed by numbers that don't add up. I'm easily distracted. And easily set off! (Is this a parenting test?)

So when you all are down to the wire of April 15th I will be skipping and singing and twirling because I will be all done.

But on the lines of distractions: I'm speaking to the catechists (and others) at St. Francis Church from 10-noon this Saturday. The topic is Opening Children to Learning: What's going on in their brain?

You will hear passion.....Children and related favorite topic!

Wish me peace.
ps. the person in the photo above has not neglected the rest of her house and family like I have. What IS for dinner anyway?

Sunday, February 3, 2008

Trombones - Stars and Stripes

Thanks to Joshua for bringing in his trombone to your Kindermusik Young Child 2 class last week! I'm sorry I could not play it for you...I did take trombone in college as a secondary instrument but that was many years ago.

I think you will enjoy seeing some wild trombone music in action. This one is hard to play on the piccolo! (But fun.)