Little Kids, the Elements of Music & "Carnival of The Animals"!


This week in preschool music, the children really sharpened their listening skills with the fun music from Camille Saint Saens', "Carnival of Animals"!

Check out this video for a wonderful introduction to this most famous music from the French composer, Camille Saint Saens:

We sat down to focus on listening, after a vigorous movement activity called "Pony Gallop" which emphasizes moving slowly and then moving quickly!  (from my favorite curriculum, "Music Room." ) Here's the link:

There's a great variety of slow and fast pieces to choose from in "Carnival of Animals." We listened to short excerpts:

  • Finale (very fast)
  • Tortoise (slow, of course)
  • Mules (fast again)
  • Elephant (slow and heavy)
  • Birds (definitely fast flute playing!)

Since the children I work with are young (2 1/2 to 6 yr olds) I usually set up listening to elements of music in a very simple way: 

  1. I choose music that obviously demonstrates the particular music element (short excerpts!)
  2. I create a pattern (ex: fast, slow, fast, slow..etc)

In this way, the children are likely to be more successful in recognizing the music element and the older kids delight in discovering that there is a pattern!

Recently, we had several music lessons featuring loud (Forte) and quiet (Piano) music (here's my blog link: Preschoolers learn about Forte & Piano )  For these lessons I chose:

  • The Swan (quiet/Piano)
  • Finale (LOUD/Forte)
  • Cuckoo in the Woods (quiet/Piano)
  • Pianists (LOUD/Forte)

My favorite for the music is:

No music class is complete without musical instruments and I have used several rhythm instruments to emphasize the elements in music.
Triangles and finger cymbals are great for working with the concepts of slow and fast. Since they are made of metal,  they can be played with a sustained slow sound and then with a quick short sound.

                                      Click the link for triangle from Child size triangle from Amazon

I take the hangers off the triangles that I have for the children and I demonstrate using them in the manner that is pictured below:
This photo is from a great website:
Where you can even click and hear how the triangle sounds!

Here are the finger cymbals I use from Amazon:Dozen metal finger cymbals at Amazon

I just started a new Pinterest page with activities around Carnival of the Animals. Here's the link:

Hope you have some fun with animal sounds of the orchestra and your little musicians!

  photo signature_zps350a142e.png

Advertising Disclosure: Magical Movement Company may be compensated in exchange for featured placement of certain sponsored products and services, or your clicking on links posted on this website. Thanks for your support!
View Post

Little Children & the Elements of Art: "The Line" and a Rationale!


I am preparing for my annual Montessori Art Workshop for AMS Interns and I am looking for the reasons why art is important in the Preschool environment. I came across a wonderful homeschool website: Inspired Montessori & Arts and this gem of a video from Dundee Montessori School:

                           "Lines & Patterns" from the Montessori School of Dundee

Sometimes, parents (and even teachers) question the significance of art activities in the Pre K learning environment. There are some children who "do nothing but ART all day!" I always imagine that Picasso was like that as a child...

It's true, in my 30 + years as a teacher, I have seen certain children head straight for the art area and spend hours there. I always fall back on my Montessori foundation based on the idea that a child is guided by the inner spirit to do what s/he really needs to do in order to create oneself. I have also seen those very same children one day (finally!) move to another area of the learning environment and whizz through the activities there. (Ex: go through virtually every math activity in a week's time!) 

For sure, the children who spend a good chunk of their time doing art, invariably develop important fine motor skills & eye/hand coordination. (let's not forget problem-solving skills!) Below are photos of a 4 yr old who spent months in the art area of the Montessori classroom and then went through a spurt of activity in the Language and Science areas because she found that she loved writing! (and her hand muscles were well prepared from all that time spent doing art)

                 Four yr old girl who did art every day!

          Same girl beginning to move into writing every day in the art area!

            Same 4 yr old girl who later spent months in the science area creating books!

What is important for the teacher, who is the one who facilitates the child's learning, is to set up plenty of activities in each curriculum area that appeal to the many children who love to do art. Doing art prepares the muscles of the hand for writing!
Practicing the first lesson of Art..."LINE" as seen in the video above not only gives the child the beginning point for every great work of art, but also gives the child a real-world way to continue to master the skills needed for writing, and all future handwork. 

It's easy to see the importance of mastering the element of LINE in art when you look at:

Leonardo da Vinci

Vincent Van Gogh

Claude Monet

Henri Matisse

And, of course, Pablo Picasso

I'm sure all those "little Picassos" out there will cherish their early art activities of mastering the line!

 photo signature_zps350a142e.png

Advertising Disclosure: Magical Movement Company may be compensated in exchange for featured placement of certain sponsored products and services, or your clicking on links posted on this website. Thanks for your support!
View Post

The Elements of Music: Preschoolers Learn "Forte and Piano"!


I've found that little children love to explore making music that is LOUD! and also music that is why not give them the actual symbols and vocabulary used in music notation!

                     (All photos are by Jeri-Jo Idarius Photography, from Carolyn's Archives)

When I introduce these symbols and their names to Preschoolers, I always say the word "Forte" in a loud voice and of course, "Piano" in a quiet voice. 
I use this classic approach from the Montessori method called The three-period lesson (read more at this link)

First period: Show the "Forte" symbol and say, "This is the music symbol (or sign) for when the music is LOUD and it is called "FORTE!" Can you say "Forte" with me in a loud voice?

Second period: Show the "Forte" symbol and say, "Which way would you say the word "Forte"? In a quiet voice or a LOUD voice?

Third period: Show the "Forte" symbol and say, "How would you say this?" "How would you sing or play this way?"

Next, comes the "Forte" & "Piano" Game!

I made a double-sided sign that has the "Forte" symbol on one side and the "Piano" symbol on the other side. You can also download a music font and print it out if you like. Then create your sign. I always laminate these, of course!

I invite the children to pretend like we are in a band and they will be the singers and I will be the band leader (or "conductor"). I tell them that, as the band leader, I will show them whether to sing LOUDLY or quietly by which sign I hold up. 

Then I show them the "Forte" side of my sign and ask them, "If I hold up this symbol, would you sing quietly or LOUDLY?" (And, I do likewise with the "Piano" symbol)
It's important to remind the children, "The challenge of this game, is to watch the conductor while you are singing, because I might be changing my sign!"
We start with a song everyone knows (my favorite: "The Itsy-bitsy Spider") 
Then the fun begins...and the children have a really great time with this "challenging game!" Even though it seems simple, it does sometimes take a little practice for the youngest children to get the hang of not only adjusting their singing voices, but watching the conductor at all times for the card-change "cues." So, we usually sing at least one other song to get some practice! (Yet another great developmental activity for refining attention skills and body/voice control!)
In a later lesson, or right away with the older groups, one of the children can be designated as the band leader or "conductor". 

In the Orff-Schulwerk music approach, the children use their bodies to spontaneously move to loud and quiet music. I love the Bushfire Press, The Music Room Primary Curriculum (find more info by clicking on the link) because there are several music selections from the cd (or mp3) that offer loud & quiet music for fun movement. 
Then, of course, the children will want to explore playing rhythm instruments in a "Forte" or a "Piano" way!
Sandblocks are great for this, since they can be scraped together in a quiet way and then tapped together in a loud way.

I like the sturdy sand blocks at Kindermusik International. Here's the  link:

Rhythm sticks are another great instrument for playing "Forte" and "Piano". I like this set with one ridged and one smooth stick: 
These can be found on Amazon or at the West Music site. Here's the link: Basic Beat Combo rhythm sticks from Westmusic

The children can play rhythm sticks quietly (for "Piano") by rubbing them together or even tapping together very lightly. And, they can play them loudly (for "Forte") by tapping them together loudly or even pounding on the floor as if playing a drum!

I hope your Preschoolers enjoy "The Forte & Piano Game" as much as we do!

Advertising Disclosure: Magical Movement Company may be compensated in exchange for featured placement of certain sponsored products and services, or your clicking on links posted on this website. Thanks for your support!
View Post

Outdoor Classroom: Time to Haul & Dig in the Garden!


How do you turn that little plot of dirt into a kid-friendly place to grow veggies and flowers that kids will love?  

                      Four-year old enjoying the peace of the garden in the Spring
All Photos taken by Carolyn at Magical Movement Company

Now's the time to get the garden started and that just might be the most fun part of all. If you don't have a kid-size wheel barrel, you don't know what you're missing!

                 Little children hauling stepping stones into the soon-to-be garden plot

If your outdoor environment has a little patch of dirt, then you have the starters for a fun garden project for the children that will bring enjoyment all year long. 
We started with hauling child-size stepping stones from the trunk of my car to the future garden. Stepping stones and child-size wheel barrel were from the Home Depot. Here's the link:
Home Depot child's wheelbarrow

Placing stepping stones in you future garden plot is not only a very satisfying activity for young children, it also sets up a great "control of error" for later work in the garden. 

Providing a little pathway in the garden helps the children walk in the area that is not planted, rather than walking on newly planted seed beds (and squashing little seedlings!) Walking on the little stepping stones is a fun large-motor activity as well, since it helps little ones develop a sense of balance and coordination!

Hauling with a wheelbarrow is one of those "real life" activities that children LOVE! And, once again, there is the aspect of working together in a team: "cooperation makes it happen..."

Then, of course, there's the digging. And, we all know that children love digging in the dirt! Digging can be a year long gardening activity, especially if one area of the garden is left "fallow" so that children can always dig there. 

February is a good time for preparing the soil, too. We added manure to our garden beds and so then the children needed to wear special gardening shoes or boots. That way their play shoes won't get soiled. This is a great learning activity as well (left foot  and right foot!) If manure is not acceptable in your school's garden, then bags of compost can be bought at the local garden store (or Home Depot again!) Then, the children can dig these additives into the soil for weeks!

And, before you know it---the children will be starting the first seeds in the little beds they have created in their little garden.

Watch for my next Outdoor Classroom post about planting delightful little kid-friendly garden beds!

 photo signature_zps350a142e.png

Advertising Disclosure: Magical Movement Company may be compensated in exchange for featured placement of certain sponsored products and services, or your clicking on links posted on this website. Thanks for your support!
View Post

The Music & Singing: Preschoolers and "Pitch Maps"


Our music classes keep moving up a notch! These darling 3-6 yr olds are gaining skills in singing: "up-up-up...and down-down-down..."

A 3 yr old singer. Photography by Jeri-Jo Idarius (from Carolyn's archives)

It is very delightful to hear those sweet little voices warming up (and tuning up) at the beginning of each of our weekly music classes. I've included a special edition of my "quirky videos" featuring these little ones singing from "pitch maps." You'll find it at the end of this blog post and I think you'll enjoy it!

One of my goals as a music teacher, is to instill a love of music in the young children that I teach and the best way to achieve that goal, I have found, is to have fun! 

The joy of singing shown by a 4 yr old. Photography by Jeri-Jo Idarius (from Carolyn's archives)

Along with having fun, it seems effortless for little children to associate music concepts with their  everyday play experiences like going up and down the slide.  Our classes this week focused on the music concepts of loud and quiet. These recent rainy days gave us a great example of the quiet sounds of falling rain and the loud sounds of a thunder storm. The children easily transfer these sounds from nature to our studies in music including "piano" (music term for quiet) and "forte" (the term for loud).

One of the songs we sang is called "I Hear Thunder" (fromThe Music Room Curriculum  produced by Bushfire Press) and the children echoed the lines of the song using their loud voices and their quiet voices. I think this type of activity is appealing to the children because they enjoy the opposites and it is yet another exercise in developing control of the voice.  

The biggest hit of the week was our fun vocal warm-ups using the "pitch maps" that you will see in the video below. This musical activity is not only vocal training for the young child, it offers another "reading" experience that is fun!     


 photo signature_zps350a142e.png

Advertising Disclosure: Magical Movement Company may be compensated in exchange for featured placement of certain sponsored products and services, or your clicking on links posted on this website. Thanks for your support!
View Post

Outdoor Classroom: Rainy Days!


It's raining...and the outdoor classroom is wet! There are still some very unique activities for rainy days in the preschool outdoor classroom.
This is the only time to make those wonderful "rain paintings," and it passes by quickly, so don't miss the opportunity!

   Mural created by 4 yr olds using washable markers, coffee filters, colored tissue paper, and the rain!
Photo by Carolyn at Magical Movement Company

The first step happens indoors. This mural was created by each child coloring in a large coffee filter with water proof markers. The  picture below shows how an individual coffee filter was colored with washable markers. Later, we used double sided scotch tape to attach the finished coffee filters to the larger mural paper. For individualized rain paintings, the coffee filter can be taped to an 8 x 12 piece of white art paper for each child. We did both in our class: we all contributed to the larger rain painting "group mural," and also each child made their own smaller rain painting.

   First, indoors: Use washable markers to color a design on a large coffee filter for your rain painting
Photo by Carolyn at Magical Movement Company 

Adding bits of colored tissue paper can bring a beautiful design element to the piece because the tissue paper will "bleed" color throughout the project. 
We found that working on a stiff plastic table mat worked best for this project so that the rain painting could be easily carried outside to be rained upon and then carried inside for drying. 
For the larger mural, we worked on a long wooden plank on the floor indoors. Then there was the fun activity of carrying the plank outdoors to the rain. Many children helped carry the plank outdoors with lots of giggles along with taking very careful steps. We love singing songs about "Cooperation" when we work together to accomplish an important task!
It's best to take the rain paintings out during the light rain and usually a few minutes is plenty! The rain drops add a lovely spatter effect to the designs. I think everything about this project is very beautiful and such a happy way to spend a rainy day with kids.

Don't forget the rain gauge! Rainy days are the only times to collect and measure the amount of rainfall. This is an activity loaded with academic possibilities. It is fun for the children to check the level of the rain gauge each day and then to record it in the little weather notebook. Here we have both language and math skills developing in a fun and also relevant way!

   Simple acrylic rain gauge from the local hardware store that is easy for children to check each day.
Photo by Carolyn at Magical Movement Company 

Here's a lovely little record-keeping book that I purchased in the Etsy store of Mamaroots. Here's the link:  rain notebook

Rain Notebook from Mamaroots on Etsy

These little weather recording books are very appealing to the children. "Mamaroots" offers both a lined and unlined page choice. I find the unlined pages work best for younger children since they can also draw the weather along with "writing" their names and the date. However, the wonderful advantage of the lined pages (especially for older kids) is that the children love to practice their writing on the line! 

In case you didn't get your rain gauge set up in time for the rainy weather, a simple bucket set out in the rain is also a great way to measure rainfall. We use a ruler to see how many inches of water have collected in the bucket after a rainy spell. It may not be the official measure according to the National Weather Service, but it is fun for little kids and a fabulous "practical math" lesson!

Quick & simple "rain gauge": just use a bucket & a ruler!

Photo by Carolyn at Magical Movement Company 

Nowadays, in our region, many schools with outdoor classrooms are setting up rain barrels. Here's a photo of a beautiful rain barrel that is available at Costco:

Photo of rain barrel available at Rain Barrels at Costco

Don't forget this very, very fun outdoor activity on a rainy day: put on those rain boots and jump in the puddles!

Photo by Carolyn at Magical Movement Company 

Why not turn it into a drama play activity with the whole firefighter outfit!

Firefighter Drama Play Outfits are great for outdoor play!
Photo by Carolyn at Magical Movement Company 

Happy rainy days!
"Rain, rain
Stay a while
Kiss the trees 
And make them smile!" (to the tune of "Rain, Rain go away")

 photo signature_zps350a142e.png

Advertising Disclosure: Magical Movement Company may be compensated in exchange for featured placement of certain sponsored products and services, or your clicking on links posted on this website. Thanks for your support!
View Post
Next PostNewer Posts Previous PostOlder Posts Home