Little Kids, Music & the Glockenspiel with "High and Low"!


More High & Low activities with the little ones in music class this week. This time we listened to excerpts from Camille Saint Saens, Carnival of the Animals. The children enjoyed repeating his name as we said it as best we could in the French way!
French Composer, Camille Saint Saens: "The Carnival of Animals"

First, the selection titled "Fossils" in which the Xylophone is prominent and delightful! Since the children had played the Xylophone themselves last week, they recognized its sound immediately while we all listened very attentively.

Book & cd available at Amazon at this link: Carnival of Animals at Amazon

Then, we listened to the selection titled, "The Aquarium" in which there is the sparkly Glockenspiel playing throughout. 

Photo from the artists at Bigstock Photo

The children were wonderful at playing the Glockenspiel that I brought to class. They had already experienced the larger Xylophone (in an earlier lesson)  which is a little easier for small hands as the bars are larger and the mallets, too. So, when they got a chance at the smaller Glockenspiel, they used great control and played with both hands, in the middle of each bar, and with just the right touch to make it sound lovely!
I am always excited to see how many children play on the low bars and then the high bars, too. By now, many understand where the low tones are (longer bars to the left) and where the higher tones are! (shorter bars to the right)

I recently added a new page to my website called, STUFF FOR KIDS with some fun little kids videos about some of the activities from our Montessori music classes. 

Here's the video about one of the activities we do each week to  playfully warm up our voices...featuring High & Low.  I use a toy rocket ship as a prop to move up high & down low, which really helps the children get their singing voices up there!

                " I Take My Voice Up High" from Carolyn @ Magical Movement Company

In this post from 2012, I explained a little more about the Glockenspiel and there is a little video so you can see how it sounds. Here's the link: Glockenspiel: A brief history
Hope you enjoy exploring my site!

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Outdoor Classroom: Little Children & Bird "Habitats"!


Little (and big) kids really love feeding the wild birds, so why not give them lots of learning experiences caring for the birds?!
4 yr olds working together to fill the wild bird feeder in the 
Montessori Preschool Outdoor Classroom
Photo by Carolyn at Magical Movement Company

These preschoolers are working together to put wild bird seed in the feeder. The large container that holds the seed is a fun sensory experience for young children and gathering the seed in the hand is a wonderful "Whole Hand Transfer" activity that Montessori teachers love to provide for children!
Since young children love to carry buckets I recommend storing the bird seed in a large container with a tight-fitting lid and study handle. I found the large bird food container in the picture above at my local Petco. There's a good size bird food container at Amazon, too: 7 Pound Wild Bird Seed Container.

My favorite bird feeders are the ones made of clear acrylic so that the children can easily see the level of seed in the feeder. I think the sturdy Duncraft brand is great...they last for many years!

You can find them at  Wild Birds Unlimited stores or at the on-line store for Duncraft:Duncraft Acrylic Bird Feeder

The following is also a lovely clear acrylic feeder that is available at Amazon. Here's the link Acrylic bird feeders.

These feeders don't always have to be mounted on windows, either. The suction cup can be removed and then there is a hole for attaching the feeder to a fence if that works better in your environment. 

Of course, the feeder should be hung high enough for the birds to feel comfortable coming to visit and this means it will be out of the children's reach. These 4 yr olds are preparing to fill the bird feeder and so they are carrying the step ladder over to the feeding station!

Cooperation! Carrying a ladder is an important part of feeding 
the birds.
Photo by Carolyn at Magical Movement Company 

You don't really have to worry about the seed that happens to miss the feeder and land on the ground below...some birds are ground feeders, like these lovely Mourning Doves.

Mourning Doves feed on the seed that fell from the wild bird feeder on the fence
Photo by Carolyn at Magical Movement Company

I'll be writing future posts with more ideas for creating and nurturing a wild bird habitat in your outdoor environment. Have fun feeding the birds!


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Little Kids & the Arts: The Season of Hearts!



All photos by Carolyn at Magical Movement Company

This four-year-old had the idea alright! We're all starting to see signs of Springtime and of course it would be lovely to find a "heart plant" somewhere in the garden! 
I really think it is important to give Preschoolers lots of art materials for creating their own hand-made Valentines and other beauties that go along with this "Season of Hearts." 

From simple gluing "doo-dads"on red heart-shaped doilies (the glitter glue makes it very exciting!)... the universally adored tracing half a heart shape on folded paper and then the delightful surprise of unfolding!....

Not to mention...ALL THE WONDERFUL WRITING that goes along with making these heart creations...if it turns out to be a valentine, then you're probably going to write something inside!

This young fellow had lots to say inside his valentine to his dad. And, who can ever question the benefit of early writing experiences that inevitably happen in the Art Department of the Preschool Classroom?! (or at the kitchen table at home!)

A typical Montessori classroom will have little trays set up with supplies necessary for creating valentines of all kinds and so, including envelopes for the children only adds to the "real life" experience for the child...and encourages yet more writing!

The helpful teacher who is really a "facilitator" will always be willing to assist in the writing process for the child, but "writing" 
I ♡ U is very appealing to a child and by the end of the Season of Hearts...many children can easily write this message all by themselves!

I love this picture below of children collaborating on this heart art project. One has hole-punched (with a flower shaped hole punch) a border along her cut out of a heart, while the other child gathers the little flower shapes that came out of the hole puncher. She's putting them in a tiny envelope to save for a later project!

Yet another heart idea...

This four-year-old has punched out a border with a heart shaped hole puncher and, it looks like she is going to gather up the punch-outs for yet another project...ooh! yellow hearts...won't that look great on a piece of red or, even better, a piece of purple paper!

I saved this one for the last...

These New Age children with their ideas of not letting anything go to waste! This little one has decided that the paper left from cutting out her pink heart is even prettier than the inside so... became her heart necklace! You've just got to love it....

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Another "High & Low" Activity with Little Kids & the Xylophone!



Watch the short video at the end of this post to see it!

The Xylophone is a beautiful sounding instrument and it's a great one for young children since it has relatively large bars and is played with thick handled mallets. The little children in our preschool music classes greatly enjoyed playing the high notes and the low notes after we did a little activity from the wonderful music curriculum,  "Music Room" from the Australian company called Bushfire Press. They have excellent materials for even the youngest of music classrooms. Here's their website link:


First, I think its important to help the children get their hands warmed up and we always start our music class with some flexing of the muscles in our hands, fingers, & shoulders. This is always a big hit as the little ones love to show me how strong they are! 

In this lesson, I introduced the Xylophone for the first time and showed them that the bars are made of wood and explained that this is how we know it is a Xylophone. I use the Orff-Schulwerk style barred instruments (bars can be easily removed), but for this lesson I left all the bars on. 

                                        Photo from the website of WEST MUSIC

I learned a great trick from Kalani (another fabulous music resource person) who demonstrated how he places rubber bands on the pins in between the bars and then stretches them across the bars so that the bars stay in place and don't pop off when a young child is tapping with a mallet.

                                See example below:

 Kalani's website has many resources including his very popular annual seminars which feature his unique "drumming circle" techniques. Here's the link:


As we continued for a little longer the children got better and better at identifying whether I was playing high or low on the Xylophone. The 5 & 6 yr olds figured out that they could also tell whether it was high or low by where I was playing on the Xylophone: the longer bars to my left are the low notes and the shorter bars to my right are the high notes!

When the children each had a turn to play the Xylophone I was delightfully surprised to see how many of them chose to play the high notes and the low notes just as I had done! Then, they went on to create their unique little tunes that were very darling.
YOU CAN FIND OUT MORE about the Xylophone and see a video of a famous Xylophone player at my blog post from 2012:

P.S. I just added a new STUFF FOR KIDS page to my website with some little interactive music lessons on High & Low:
Stuff for kids at magical movement company
Hope you enjoy!
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Outdoor Classroom: Making Outdoor Signs and Academic Learning!


These 4 yr olds love to make outdoor signs for their environment!
Photo by Carolyn at Magical Movement Company

When I was completing my Montessori re-certification with AMS in 2005, I chose the topic of Outdoor Classroom for my Synthesis Project. Before I knew it, I had so many activities for my group of Montessori children that I often longed to spend the entire morning outdoors so that every child could record their birdwatching, scrub clay pots, wash windows, rake leaves, dig in the garden, feed & water the worms in the worm composter, check the levels in the rain gauge ...the list goes on and on! (You can read more Outdoor Classroom posts by clicking OUTDOORS on this blog's header.)

However, one of the most requested activities in our Montessori Outdoor Classroom was SIGN MAKING! This fun activity was asked for over and over again! There were signs for toy bins ("balls, shovels, boats, buckets..."), and signs for little chores ("the bridge has to be swept") and    many signs that were messages to the creatures who live in the outdoor environment       ("No cats allowed" and "Squirrel feeder"...)
Photo by Carolyn at Magical Movement Company 

I had some 12in x 6in plastic "signs"  made (Tap Plastics company in my area) with holes drilled so the signs could be attached to fences... The children would use non-permanent markers to write (or draw) their messages on the signs. Then, they would thread pipe cleaners through the holes so that the signs could be hung in the appropriate areas of the outdoor environment.

Photo by Carolyn at Magical Movement Company 

Because the children fed and attracted lots of different birds to the outdoor "habitat," cats would love to climb the fence and go hunting.  So, of course, the children made signs to prevent that!

Photo by Carolyn at Magical Movement Company 

The sign above read: "Squirrel Feeder", but got worn by sun and rain...which is fine! Weather is weather and when it wears away the lettering, then its time to write a new message!

Photo by Carolyn at Magical Movement Company 

Lots of fine motor skills developing with this part of the process of threading the pipe cleaners through the holes and then twisting them tight!

Photo by Carolyn at Magical Movement Company

Once again, I am convinced that children can learn just about all the necessary skills for academic achievement through "the art of play!" 

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The Elements of Music: Little Kids' & Music Notation!


Our music classes are zooming along this time of year, and the little children are not only singing in-tune, but they are also keeping a steady pulse in the rhythms we practice, such as "Ta- Ti-ti Toe"...

That is music-speak for:   q     h
Or: Quarter note, Eighth note-eighth note, Half.......note!

And, since the eighth notes are half the value of the quarter note, they must be chanted together quickly to equal the time it takes to say "Ta" and then since the half note is equal to 2 quarter notes, it must be chanted as a drawn out that it is equal to the time it would take to say "Ta" twice. And, this is all done in unison in a group and with much expression! There's some interesting, yet subtle, mathematical principles in there!

Even the very youngest children are beginning to echo these rhythms correctly and they keep a perfect beat! It's a delight to hear a large group of twenty-four  3, 4, & 5 yr olds reciting the rhythms in unison and with much enthusiasm!

However, when one of the teachers came to me with some papers her 5 yr old daughter wrote during "work time" in the Montessori classroom, I was way beyond delighted! 

Take a look:

We've decided she is our Little Ms Mozart!

It reminded me of a 4 yr old student I had years ago who loved to write music everyday in our Preschool classroom. I would always provide music staff paper in the Art area of our classroom because I regard doing Art as a "Pre-language" activity for young children. 

Writing music on large lined staff paper is a great combination of:
  • drawing 
  • writing on the lines 
  • connecting characters...
  • and even coloring in!
That child is practicing skills required not only for writing, but also for reading...and of course, music composition! 

This young 4 yr old composer would write and write and write his music notes and then...HE WOULD sing THE MUSIC TO ME!

It gets even better...he would also be sure every day to take his worn and "heavily-printed-upon" paper home to his mom so she could play his composition on their piano! 

Another 4 yr old brought me his lovely rendition of a violin when we happened to be studying the instrument family of Strings. 
Take a look:
This paper construction was particularly amazing since the child made the "strings" by cutting lines in the middle of the paper! And, you can see the bow on the left side and even the tiny "bridge" to the right!

And a few weeks later he came up with this artistic "flute" when we were studying the Woodwind family of instruments:

I am convinced, as I get older and older, that children can develop just about all the academic skills they need for success in school (and life!) through THE ARTS. Who can we find that will put more money towards the arts instead of towards nuclear weapons?!

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Preschool Music Lesson: "High & Low" at Circle Time with the Balloon Game


AT CIRCLE: THESE 'BALLOON MUSIC NOTES' WERE SUNG BY THE CHILDREN AS "LOW"-"HIGH"-"LOW"-"HIGH" (bringing voices down low and up high, then down low and up high again)

Then the teachers (that's me and my teacher friend, Joy) asked the children to close their eyes as we changed the positions of our balloons for the children to sing a new "high/low" balloon note pattern. These 3 & 4 years olds were very good at this game...then it was time for the children to hold the balloons. Four children stood in a line before the group and each child decided whether their balloon would be a high note or a low note. The rest of the children pretended to be the "band" and they sang the balloon note patterns beautifully! Everyone had a great time with our balloon note game! 

Here is the music bulletin board at a preschool where I teach, and each week I change the arrangement of the notes. This one is "High-Low-High-Low"...the children enjoy showing their parents how they "read" the music notes and sing!
Over the years, I've tried different balloon combinations, from helium filled black balloons (which I think look most like the quarter notes in music notation) to large balloons on sticks and nowadays I like the small balloons on a stick. Helium balloons are very exciting for the children, but they are a bit distracting as the children love to let them go on up to the ceiling! The small mylar balloons on sticks seem to work the best since they are the easiest for me to cart around to 32 classrooms in a week, and the ones I have been using these days I have had for 6 months and they are still full of air!

ON THE SHELF: Later, the children can make their own music "staff" with balloon music notes and then sing them with their friends!

SET-UP: First paper has 4 balloon outlines and the second paper has a two line "music staff." (Teacher can have the treble clef printed on the "staff paper" or the older children can make a treble clef of their own.)

Here's an example of Treble Clef already printed on child's paper:

SUPPLIES:  Scissors, glue, ribbon, and markers for coloring in the balloons.

This one was made by a 4 yr.old & a 7 yr old ( who drew in the treble clef):


      Here's a set up with balloons printed on colored paper:

Things can be simplified for different age groups: 
~ the balloon master can be copied off on colored paper
~ the "balloons" can be pre-cut by an adult
~ adult or older child can draw the treble clef or it can be added to the master before copying
~ ribbon can be pre-cut by an adult
Lots of fun and lots of learning through the arts!

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Early Music Education for Young Children: A Rationale!


If you need a reason to bring the fun of music to children...

                       All photos by Jeri-Jo Idarius (from Carolyn's Magical Movement Company Archive)

After presenting a fun-filled Music Workshop to Montessori teachers on Saturday, I got "jazzed" once again about the wonderful (and endless!) benefits of musical experiences for young children. 
I think my very enthusiastic participants in the Saturday Workshop already greatly enjoy music with children, however, all of us struggle with explaining our reasons to include music in the various areas of the Preschool curriculum. 

In the first few minutes of the video, Anita Collins shows a wonderful little animation that concisely demonstrates how early music experiences improve the COGNITIVE DEVELOPMENT in children (enhancing "executive function" of the brain). Great REASON for INCORPORATING MUSIC IN EVERYTHING WE PRESENT TO OUR LITTLE ONES! 

I love this little activity (below) for children featuring the concepts of  "Piano" (a term for quiet in music) and "Forte" (a term for loud in music) in the form of a game called "The Conductor." 

After experiences with moving to quiet music (tiptoe) and LOUD music (stomping), the children can sit for a moment and listen to selections of quiet and LOUD music (the first minute of Beethoven's Fifth is a great one!) 

Then, I show the children the "signs" (or 'symbols') for quiet and loud in music and of course, give them the names: Piano and Forte, which they love to say in a quiet voice (piano) and a loud voice (forte). 

Next, I show the children a picture of an orchestra with the conductor very visible, (download from Google or purchase from a music supplier like West Music)  and point out the conductor and give them this name, too. They can repeat this word while you point to the conductor and explain that this is the person who is the "leader of the band" and shows the musicians HOW to play the music they are playing together. 

I start with the children choosing a favorite song (Twinkle, Twinkle is always a great one) and I tell them I will be the conductor and they are to watch the sign that I show and sing accordingly...Here's a great time to review: Ask the children (while holding up the Forte sign), "Would you sing quietly or LOUDLY?..." Then, (while holding up the Piano sign), "Would you sing LOUDLY again, or quietly?"

Now it's time to sing. This is the really fun part, as I show one of the cards and listen to the wonderful singing of the children who now are recognizing which way they should be singing. After the first part of the song, I change the sign and I am always delighted to hear the children change the volume of their voices! 
Later, a child can be "the conductor." 

When "the conductor" holds up the card with the symbol for piano (I call it a "fancy P" when introducing it to the children), the other children sing in a quiet voice. Likewise with the Forte card, singing LOUDLY.

Later, this game can be played with the children playing rhythm instruments. Rhythm sticks (my all-time favorite) are great for this activity. Show the children to play the instruments loudly by tapping them together and then quietly by rubbing them together.
How's that for MUSIC FUN along with READING! not to mention learning MUSIC NOTATION! 

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