The Long & Short of It: Montessori Music with Delibes' Sylvia Ballet Suite!

LITTLE CHILDREN LOVE HEARING, SINGING & PLAYING LONG SUSTAINED NOTES AND QUICK SHORT NOTES IN MONTESSORI MUSIC CLASS! Leo Delibes' Sylvia Ballet Suite is a very expressive piece of music with contrasts for children to listen and move to.
Photos in this post are by the artists at Dollar Photo Club

Contrasts, or opposites, in music are always a great way to bring more musical understanding to young children. And, this piece of music is just right for contrasts! In Preschool music class, we've been having fun with moving on "tiptoe" for the short, choppy notes at the beginning of this fun music.

Then, we "glide" on the second part of the music that is more flowing with long, sustained notes. The children compare it to stepping up the ladder on the playground slide and then gliding down the slippery part of the slide.

Then the music returns to quick, "tiptoe moves" again! This contrast is easily recognized by the children.

I found a nice, short rendition of Delibes' Sylvia Ballet Suite on Youtube so you can listen and get an idea of how the children can really move to the contrasting parts of the music. 

If you would like to expand this musical contrast activity there's a fun little singing warm up that presents playground  "pitch maps" to children that you can see and hear on my  post at this link: Preschoolers Sing with Pitch Maps.

After the children have enjoyed moving to this delightful music, it's fun to bring out the musical instruments to play "long, flowing notes" and then "short, choppy notes". 
Several instruments work well for this activity. Triangles and finger cymbals can hold a sustained note as well as short, choppy ones. 
One of my favorites for this activity is the woodblock/ guiro that is pictured below.

These can be purchased at this link: West Music (my favorite music supply store) or on Amazon as well.
After the children have explored this fun instrument for a few minutes, I show them how to make a longer lasting sound by scraping across it. Then we tap out shorter notes by tapping quickly and steadily. 

You can play the Sylvia Ballet Suite again for the children and this time they can play along with their wood block/guiros. You can model how to play the short notes at the beginning of the piece by tapping on their instruments. Then when the second more flowing part of the song begins you can change to scraping with long strokes across their instruments.
Who can resist such a fun way to enjoy "ballet music"?!

I'm delighted that you are reading my post and hope that you get some ideas for fun music activities with your little ones. There are lots of quick little music learning videos at my website, too. Just click the link: Little Lesson Videos.

I always love hearing your ideas so feel free to leave a comment in the section below!

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!
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The Montessori "Line": A Place for Movement!


A hallmark of the Montessori method is a wonderful activity called "movement on the line" and offering children this fun lesson daily is a great way to help children develop skills in balance & coordination. Click this link for more info: Wikisori: Walking on the Line

The photos in the article are by Carolyn at Magical Movement

There are so many ways to have children enjoy movement on "The Line", and adding an Obstacle Course can really enliven the day for a everyone. I like to set up an obstacle course along the line in the classroom about once a week for a nice variation to the daily "line" activity. If your environment has a taped or printed "line" for the children to practice movement, then you can add challenges like a tunnel and a balance beam and voila: Obstacle Course!

I place the movement equipment right on the taped line on the circle or group gathering area. So the children walk around in a single file line. A continuous "line" (as opposed to a straight line with a beginning and end) works best for this type of Obstacle Course, so that the children keep moving along. Sometimes, its fun to add a masking tape "arrow" to show children the direction in which to be moving. 

This mix-and-match balance beam set is from Lakeshore Educational Supply Company at this link: Beginning Balance Beam Set.

It's fun to vary the "obstacles" by placing balance saucers on the line for a little change. I usually limit the pieces of equipment I place on the Obstacle Course "Line" to a variety of three for any one day. These saucers, or sometimes called "wobble boards", are also at Lakeshore. (see link above) 

The children in my group also enjoyed a small sized ladder laid flat on the floor. Some children walked in between the rungs and others tiptoed over the tops of the rungs. I happened to have a small ladder from an old children's bunk bed set that was just the perfect size.

There are many other things you can add to your obstacle course: 

There are some great ideas for your Montessori style Obstacle Course in Diane Craft's book, Movement Matters. You can find this great book at this link:

You might like to check out my blog post about this must-have book & the fun Montessori movement activities you can create for your group. Here's the link to my post: Africa-inspired Balance Beam Activities for the Montessori Environment.

A nice instrumental music piece on your sound system can give an enjoyable and inviting touch to your Obstacle Course Activity! My favorite is from Sanford Jones, Walking on the Line cd that can be purchased at this link: Montessori

I am always happy that you have come to visit my Blog and love to hear your ideas on this topic. Feel free to leave a comment in the section below!

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Montessori Outdoor Classroom: Let's Have A Lady Bug Tea Party!

WHAT COULD BE MORE ADORABLE THAN LADYBUGS & LITTLE CHILDREN?! They just go together in such a lovely little way.

Photo from the artists at Dollar Photo Club

If you've seen these two in action, then you see why ladybugs are a wonderful benefit of having a children's garden in the Outdoor Classroom. Not only do ladybugs benefit the garden by naturally controlling the aphid population, they also bring a  delightful sort of exploration to the little children.

Photo from the artists at Dollar Photo Club

During the late Spring and early Summer, containers of ladybugs can be purchased at your local plant nursery and releasing them into the garden is an enchanting experience for little children.

Photo by Carolyn at Magical Movement Company

We created a little annual tradition of releasing ladybugs into the garden and making a celebration of the event. It's great fun to have a ladybug tea party in the Outdoor Classroom and if you can find a ladybug table cloth your celebration has a darling appeal for the children. I was so fortunate to come across a ladybug tea set in a child-size picnic basket, and of course I snatched it up for a wonderful addition to our annual ladybug tea party.

Photo by Carolyn at Magical Movement Company

This ladybug tea set is available from Schylling Toys at this link:

Photo from Schylling Toy Company

Tea parties offer so much wonderful "process" for little children and in a Montessori environment it is easy to extend the process. This amazing ladybug tea set comes with a tea pot, tea cups, saucers, cream & sugar pitchers, polka dot napkins and a complete set of child size cutlery. So, I was inspired to create a classic Montessori table setting activity! I purchased some red oil cloth at the fabric store and cut it into 4 tiny "placemats." Then, with a sharpie pen, I created a Montessori style "control" for the child to set up his or her own place setting. You can read more about Montessori "control of error" at this link: AMS Resources/Montessori-Terminology.

Photo by Carolyn at Magical Movement Company

Since the tea set comes with 4 rounded child size knives, the children really enjoy using the knives to spread cream cheese on toast or crackers to go along with the tea. They can also cut up fruit and then eat the fruit with the tiny forks that come with this set! 

Brewing the tea has so many steps you can offer the children including using a kitchen timer to time the brewing and then the delicate process of pouring the tea into the tiny cups. If you have mint growing in your garden, the children can participate in gathering, drying and then crushing the mint for a fabulous cup of tea! You can read more about brewing tea with little ones at my past post here: Mathematics & the Outdoor Classroom

Drying herbs set-up for the Montessori Outdoor Classroom:

Mortar & Pestle set up for crushing the dried mint for tea:

Photo by Carolyn at Magical Movement Company

Another important and fun part of the process of having a tea party is the washing up after having tea. You can see the tea party dishwashing set up in this photo below. 

Photo by Carolyn at Magical Movement Company

I hope you have enjoyed reading this post and I'm delighted that you stopped by to visit my site. Leave me a comment about your experiences with the wonderful process of creating a tea party with little children...I'd love to hear your ideas! 

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!
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Summer Time Art in the Montessori Classroom, Indoors & Out!

LITTLE CHILDREN, THE SUMMER GARDEN, AND CREATING ART GO TOGETHER VERY WELL! Just provide the art tools and see what happens.

All photos by Carolyn @ Magical Movement Company unless otherwise noted

We all know how much little children enjoy outdoor activities and gardening is probably one of the most popular in the Outdoor Classroom. Some children not only enjoy planting and maintaining the garden, they also love the harvest. And, drawing a still life of veggies is a great way to extend this activity even more! In the Montessori environment, children are given lots of activities to develop drawing skills from observing nature. In fact, Dr. Montessori included drawing from nature as part of the Art curriculum in the Preschool and School-age environment. Here's the link for a great wikispaces article about Montessori's approach to art & creativity in the children's education:Wikispaces Creativity & Montessori. As always, Montessori emphasized observation, not only on the part of the teacher, but as a way for the child to create from reality.  

"The sensory education which prepares for the accurate perception of all the differential details in the qualities of things, is therefore the foundation of the observation of things… it helps us to collect from the external world the material for the imagination." –Maria Montessori
One summer, when our Children's Garden harvest included a beautiful purple eggplant, the children thought we should make pictures of our harvest. (Children do love the color purple!) We took our Outdoor Classroom inside and set up a little still life of yellow squash, cherry tomatoes, and our beautiful purple eggplant.

Then, we took the still life to a special art table set up with fine tip ink pens (washable inks), colored pencils, regular pencils and special art drawing paper.

The 5 yr old pictured in the photo below, chose to write the names of the veggies she drew and I was delighted! Not only did she help plant the vegetable garden in the Spring, she was now drawing and even writing about this wonderful harvest! 

This was "Montessori in action" since this devoted little student was drawing from an actual piece of nature that she was very familiar with! We hear more from Dr. Montessori in this passage from her book, The Discovery of the Child :  
We do not give lessons in drawing and modeling, and yet many of our children know how to draw flowers, birds, landscapes, and even imaginary scenes in an admirable way” (Montessori, 1978, p. 280).
Sometimes this wonderfully accurate drawing ability exhibited by the young child in the Montessori environment shows up all of a sudden and the adults are delighted! Yet, this carefully prepared Montessori environment has been fostering skills in fine motor and careful observation since the child was a toddler!

The young child has been manipulating objects (especially picking them up with the pincer grasp important for drawing/ writing) and observing nature (beautiful fresh flowers, classroom pets, and of course the outdoor classroom Children's Garden) from day one in the Montessori environment. Then, there are the  aesthetically pleasing and colorful Montessori materials that are found throughout the curriculum, including the color tablets, geometric insets, short bead stairs, Botany cabinet...just to mention a few! You can read more about how ART is organic to the Montessori classroom at this past post of mine by clicking the link: The Elements of Art: Organic to the Montessori Classroom! 

Our 5 yr old in the above photos valued her picture so much that she went on to place it in an art frame and then she decorated the frame with sequins, and other collage items!

Since the children so enjoyed the colors from out garden harvest, I decided to place the veggies in a fancy bowl (Thrift store find) and this made it very inviting for creative drawing. This led to a fun exploration of still life settings of fruit, veggies and flowers from famous artists and so I displayed these prints near the drawing table where our still life was set up. 

 "Still Life with Apple" by Paul Cezanne

Over the weeks at the end of the summer, we changed the objects in the still life that was displayed at our special drawing table and so the children had many fresh ideas to contribute to the creative juices flowing in our classroom!

I just had to include these amazing little paper creations inspired by experiences the children had in the Outdoor Classroom. 
Looking through a clay pot:
 Actual experience & Art Creation

Tadpoles hatching out of frog eggs:
Actual experience & Art creation

Hauling with a wheelbarrow in the children's garden:
Actual experience & Art creation

I am always delighted that you are reading this post at my blog and hope you got some useful information. Feel free to leave a comment in the section below!

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!
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Step Right Up & Choose Your Instrument! Montessori Style Rhythm Band Activities


Photo from Carolyn at Magical Movement Company

Sometimes little children and rhythm instruments can turn into a lot of noisy chaos and even a migraine headache for the adult! Yet, Preschoolers seem to have such an attraction to exploring every musical instrument in sight. Not only is this exploration fun for the child; it is also important developmentally. Our music classes have been filled with lots of rhythm instruments in the past few weeks!

Photo from the artists at Dollar Photo Club

Experimentation with sounds is an important part of the development of auditory discrimination skills (distinguishing individual sounds in speech) that aid in language acquisition, reading, and later actually playing an instrument. Like for example, playing the french horn in the high school marching band! 

You can read a scholarly article about the importance of children's development of auditory discrimination skills at this link:  Chicago Journals: Elementary School Journal .

So, how do you as the adult, offer children fun experiences with a variety of instruments and still maintain a sense of "making music" rather than making chaos?

I always fall back to the Montessori method in just about every music class that I teach (and that is currently 30 classes a week and growing!) In "Montessori land", children are allowed freedom within the carefully prepared environment and this idea works really well when offering children activities with a variety of musical instruments.

In the beginning, there are lots of group times where all the children play the same instrument. That is, every child has a set of rhythm sticks, or their own tambourine to play. Everyone playing the same instrument doesn't usually sound chaotic. I also choose instrument sets that have a pleasing but also quieter sound. (Ex: wooden castanets are quieter than plastic ones and I always choose the nice quiet maracas that have something like sand inside rather than the harsh ones that are filled with something that is louder) You can read more about my favorite rhythm instruments, where to buy them, how to first introduce these to children, and a little classroom management at my past post by clicking this link: "Music Please!" Good Music & Good Manners Go Together.

After the children have had experience with a variety of rhythm instruments, then it is time for the next level of exploration: "Ensemble Playing!" In the music world, when people play different instruments together, such as in a band or orchestra, this is called an "ensemble." You can read more about ensemble playing using a fun cd from Frank Leto at this past post of mine: "Rhythm Band" with Children: Ding, Tap-tap, Click!

When its time to play a variety of instruments together in our music time, I first tell the children that I have 3..(or 4 ...or 5) different instruments today and they will CHOOSE the instrument they want to play. There are containers that I set out with the various rhythm instruments that the children can choose from and these are instruments that they have already had some experience with playing in earlier music times. 

Photo from Carolyn at Magical Movement Company

I first show the children the instruments one by one, and play it for them. Then, before we all begin to choose and play instruments, we play the "Listen and Tell Me What You Hear" song/game. This song is another of Frank Leto's fun activity songs from his Rhythm Band cd (available at Amazon or at Frank's website:

I play a variation of this game by lining up the instruments and then having the children all close their eyes (no peeking!) and then I play one of the instruments and sing the song...the children tell me which one they heard.
The instruments pictured above are: 

  • rhythm sticks
  • sand blocks
  • triangle
  • maracas
  • tambourine
* I don't include drums or cymbals in these first experiences with "ensemble playing" with children!

Next, it's time for the children to pick something to play. I set the baskets of instruments in the middle of the circle and  point to each basket and name the instrument as well as tell the children how many they can take. (ex: 2 rhythm sticks, or one tambourine, etc.) 

Then, I tell the children that I will come around and tap them on the head. When they get tapped, they go and choose the instrument they want to play. After they choose an instrument, they can walk carefully back to their place and "rest" their instruments until all the children have theirs. 

I tap several children at a time and try to move this along quickly without having a huge group of children hovering around the baskets. Also, I don't allow children to trade in their instrument once they have gone back to their place at the circle. This is something you can decide for yourself, but I stick to this rule and say, "You can remember to choose that instrument next time!" 

Now, the rhythm band plays! I have fun with the children by calling ourselves the "Daffodil Room Rhythm Band" or some name that is appropriate for their group. We begin by just all playing our favorite way and it usually sounds very lovely. 

Next, we practice playing our favorite rhythms together: 
ti-ti, ta, ti-ti, ta (repeat 4 or 8 times) 
ta, ti-ti, to-oe (repeat 4 or 8 times)
See more of this at my website: STUFF FOR KIDS video  "Rhythm Echoes" .

Then it is fun to play along to a song that you and your group like (from classical music or one of your favorites.)

As an added challenge, you can sing a song the children all know and play along. 

And, for more challenge, you can sing songs in which one instrument at a time is played. Two that I love from Frank Leto are: "Come On Everybody, Play Your...(tambourines)" and "We Are Fine Musicians" both from his Rhythm Band Jam cd  (link is in above text.) It's important that you prepare the children for these songs, by explaining what the songs will say and then asking the children, "Who will play when the song says 'tambourine'? Will everybody play, or just the people with tambourines?"

If the group is young or inexperienced, I have several music times in which everyone plays along, until they seem ready for the new challenges mentioned above.

We end our ensemble playing by putting the instruments away very carefully. I once again tap heads so that this is done in an orderly fashion a few children at at time.

Montessori folks like to have "shelf works" as a follow-up activity for presentations that occurred at the large group circle and so I do offer something for a follow-up to put on the music shelf for individual exploration at work time.


Photo by Carolyn at Magical Movement Company

I set up a basket with 4 or 5 rhythm instruments that the children have played and these can go along with 3 part cards so that the child can play the instrument and then find the card that matches. I often allow 2 children to work together with this activity. 

Photo by Carolyn at Magical Movement Company

I also supply photocopies of line drawings of the instruments to color in so the child can create a little "Rhythm Instruments" booklet to take home.

Photo by Carolyn at Magical Movement Company

I thought these little 3-part card sets were available from the Montessori supplier that I purchased them from a few years ago, but alas! they have been discontinued! So, this is another music activity on my list to create for future downloads. 

Photo by Jeri-Jo Idarius Photography from Carolyn's Archives

For now, it is possible to find line drawings of various rhythm instruments on google images and you could make your own DIY 3-part cards & booklets. This is a very popular activity that children love and it gives them more individualized experience with playing & identifying the names of instruments & the sounds they make.

The following photo is of a child in my class a few years ago who had autism and this game was one of her favorite work time activities!

Photo by Carolyn at Magical Movement Company

It is always exciting for me to have you read my posts and I hope you got some ideas for making music time an organized and very fun part of your day. I love to hear about your experiences, so don't hesitate to leave a comment in the section below!

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!
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Montessori Style Art Activities for the Study of the Continent of Africa!

THINKING OF AFRICA: BEADS, CLOTH, & BEAUTIFUL PATTERNS THAT CHILDREN LOVE! Necklaces, baskets, and cloth wraps bring the environment to life in a lovely way.

Photo from the artists at Dollar Photo Club

Most Montessori classrooms feature the study of the seven continents, and Africa, in my opinion, is one of the most fascinating! African music & dance always come to mind, and this is a great way to first  introduce the content to children. You can read more at my past post: Music Story & Dance from Africa for Children to Enjoy!

Another very inviting area of African studies is the art that is produced by the diverse cultural groups of the continent. The everyday living of each region offers wonderful examples of amazing fabrics to wear and even more amazing jewelry, especially the bead work. In many African villages, intricate bead work is worn everyday and not just on special occasions. The following photo is of a person in the daily life activity of making a fire for cooking and you can easily see the amazing beaded adornments!

Photo from the artists at Dollar Photo Club

I have found that bead work with young children is a wonderful enhancement to a Preschool African Studies unit. Preschool children not only enjoy beading necklaces together with colorful beads and sturdy string, but this is also an important activity for building skills using the small muscles that are developing in the hand and fingers (important for writing!)

Showing the children photos of African jewelry art is a good place to start and usually children really love the colors and older children notice the patterns, right away!

For children under two yrs old, I limit the beading activities to very large beads that are not a choking hazard (use a choke tube to test your bead choice) and I always closely supervise this activity. 

With older children who are not likely to put smaller beads in the mouth, I use the standard "pony" beads in a variety of colors. After children have had some experience with the process of making a bead necklace or bracelet, I like to introduce making a bead necklace using a pattern. (example: black, yellow, red, black, yellow, red, black, yellow, red)

Photo by Carolyn at Magical Movement Company

I have a choice of "bead patterns" set up on a tray with little containers of pony beads separated into the various colors of beads in the pattern models. I made the "Bead Pattern Controls" by glueing beads on a small dowel and leaving the ends of the dowel exposed so as to create a little "handle" on both ends of the pattern. There can be a variety of these little teacher made patterns for the child to choose. Also, the patterns should start simple (3 color pattern repeated 2 or 3 times on the small dowel) and then you can gradually offer more complicated patterns for the children as they gain skills. (5 or 6 colors in a repeating pattern).

The photo below shows a simpler 3 color bead pattern on a dowel and a 4 yr old boy is making his necklace from the pattern. I definitely show children a finished necklace so that they can really see how the pattern repeats and how it looks when there are many beads on the necklace. Sometimes, children think that the bead pattern necklace they make is supposed to be limited to the nine or so beads you have put on the dowel, so you might have to explain that they can keep the pattern going (continue to repeat the pattern) and really make a long and beautiful necklace or bracelet. That's why I often show a finished necklace I have made from the pattern. 

Photo by Carolyn at Magical Movement Company

Another African necklace work that is great for the children who aren't that interested in beading, is simply coloring in a pattern on a paper plate with the center cut out. This is modeled after the wonderful necklaces of South Africa that hook around the neck of the wearer as in this photo: 

Photo by the artists at Dollar Photo Club

I was fortunate to find one of these beautiful necklaces (Cost Plus) made in Africa and after I show it to the children and let them try it on, I display it in the Art Area and each child can make one for themselves using a paper plate, scissors, and colorful markers.

Photo by Carolyn at Magical Movement Company

For younger children, the teacher can prepare the paper plates with the centers cut out or an older child can do this for a younger child. We use the centers that are cut out for our "salad spinner art" (read about this art activity at this past post of mine: "Please Pass the Salad Spinner: Preschool Art!")

I really love the beautiful bead necklaces that are worn in abundance! And, I happen to have one that was given to me by a woman from the Xhosa people of South Africa.(read more by tapping this link:

Photo by the artists at Dollar Photo Club

I like to wear my beautiful necklace and lovely "kanga" (African sarong) to school when we are studying South Africa and below is a photo of me greeting the children in my Preschool class with a hand shake and the hello word in Swahili, "Jambo!" (Sorry that the picture didn't show the beautiful orange colors on my voluminous necklace!)

Photo from Carolyn's Archives: Magical Movement Company

After the children see me all dressed up, they enjoy trying on the African cloth I have set up in a basket on the Cultural Studies Shelf, and then wear their necklaces they have made while they do their work at school!

This 4 yr old in the photo is recording math problems with his friend and they wore the African cloth ALL morning!

Photo by Carolyn at Magical Movement Company

It's also nice for the children to set up the snack table for the day with table cloths made of African fabric, as in the photos below. The children love the vibrant colors and wonderful patterns!

Photo by Carolyn at Magical Movement Company

Photo by Carolyn at Magical Movement Company

There are some lovely ideas for matching African cloth as a classic Montessori Sensorial Activity that I found at the Trillium Montessori Blog. Just click on the link to see these activities: Trillium Montessori Blog: Study of Africa.

Trillium has a huge Download Bundle, The Seven Continents A-Z  that includes a wonderful selection of beautiful photos and cultural studies materials  for the continent of Africa as well as the other six continents...that is an incredible deal! I happen to be an affiliate marketer and  I have a special link where you can see more and even purchase if you like: 
Affiliate Continents A-Z Carolyn at Sendowl

 Just so many fun ways to study about this amazing continent! The animals of Africa are very fascinating for young children and there are so many different cultural groups could devote a whole year to this continent! I have a few more upcoming blog posts about musical instruments of Africa (even some to make with your children) and a wonderful dramatic presentation, "Welcoming Song & Dance", suitable for a "Cultural Evening" Celebration in your program.

Photo by the artists at Dollar Photo Club

I hope you have gotten some helpful ideas from this post and I always enjoy hearing from you so please feel free to write a comment in the section below!

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!
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