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Musically Montessori: From India, a Celebration of Colors, Music & Dance for Children!

LET'S CELEBRATE "HOLI": COLORFUL SCARVES, CRAFT POMPOMS, TABLA DRUMMING MUSIC, AND SOME RHYTHM STICKS--- ALL YOU NEED TO CREATE A FUN CELEBRATION FROM INDIA!


All photos in this post are by the artists at Dollar Photo Club

CELEBRATING SPRING

Spring is here and the Indian celebration of Holi is a charming and fun way for young children to explore colors, music and the season. This celebration happens during the full moon in March, which marks the beginning of Spring. According to legend, Lord Krishna was a notorious prankster and one story tells of his Springtime fun of spraying colored water on his girlfriend, Radha Rani. You can see more Holi  fun in this youtube video:   



Throughout India, families join in on the colorful fun of the celebration of Holi. You can create an enjoyable music activity for your children to enjoy and learn a little more about the culture of India, too.

HERE'S MY LIST OF SUPPLIES FOR THESE ACTIVITIES:

  • Open space for movement
  • Visuals of the Indian Springtime celebration of "Holi"
  • Various colors of lightweight scarves (one for each child & teacher)
  • Collection of various colors of small craft pompoms (enough for each child to have a handful)
  • Visuals or a miniature flag of India
  • Globe or map to show the continent of Asia & country of India
  • A set of rhythm sticks for each child and teacher
  • Selections of Indian music: 
      1. "Holi Nach" (for movement)
      2. "Rag Malkaums" (for focused listening)
      3. "A B C D E F G H I Love You" (for playing instruments)
      4. "Bollywood for Children" (for playing along)

You will find the links to hear or download these songs in the text that follows.



THE COUNTRY OF INDIA

In the Montessori music room, the children often have miniature flags to identify and one of the children's favorites is the flag of India. Little ones love the colors (saffron, white & Indian green) and the "wheel" in the center (signifying the wheel of life and spiritual enlightenment.)

I like to introduce this music lesson featuring the celebration of Holi, by showing the flag to the children and pointing out the country of India and the continent of Asia on the little Montessori globe or puzzle map.


SINGING HELLO IN HINDU


When we sing our music hello song, the children echo me as I sing "Namaste", the Hindu way of saying hello.




LEARNING ABOUT THE FESTIVAL OF "HOLI"

Before our movement activity, I show some nice big photos of people celebrating Holi by spraying colors on each other as a little joke. I tell the children that the celebration of Holi is sometimes called the celebration of colors and marks the beginning of Spring.













MOVEMENT ACTIIVITIES FOR CELEBRATING HOLI

Next, I invite the children to create a little Holi celebration at our music circle! I explain that we will use colorful scarves instead of powdered colors. Each child chooses a partner and a colorful scarf. Then, I tell the children I am going to put some Indian dancing music on so that we can dance with our scarves and then throw them up in the air so they softly land on our partners' heads. 

For this part of our celebration, I like this song available as an mp3 download on Amazon: "Holi Nach" from the Album, Chalakiyan. 

Photo by J J Idarius for Magical Movement Company

After about a minute of dancing with and throwing the colorful scarves, then I give the children a handful of small colored pompoms to throw up in the air to make a dramatic ending to our dance.

After we put away the scarves and pick up all the pompoms, we all sit down and prepare to listen to some music of India. 

FOCUSED LISTENING TO THE MUSIC OF INDIA

I show the children a picture of someone playing the sitar. Then, I play a little excerpt from this music: "Rag Malkaums" from India Sound Lab. 




The children always notice the wonderful tabla drums in the music selection, and so I show them another photo of someone playing the tablas.


The children enjoy seeing other photos of Indian musicians, and they are of course fascinated by the "snake charmers" who play their flutes (called "pungi") to bring the cobras out to dance!



MAKING MUSIC WITH PARTNERS & RHYTHM STICKS

Now, it's our turn to make some music to celebrate Holi. Once again, I ask the children to choose a partner and then sit facing each other. Each child is given a set of rhythm sticks and we practice playing our own sticks, then I invite the children to tap their own sticks together, then tap the sticks of their partner's.  We alternate tapping our own sticks together, then tapping our sticks on our partner's sticks while we sing this ABC song from India: "A B C D E F G H I Love You" from Hum, Saath-Saath Hain.

Another song that is fun for the children to play along with is: "Lakdi Ki Kathi" (From "Masoom") from the album, Bollywood for Children.



Celebrating Holi with young children is great fun for welcoming Spring and a wonderful addition to your cultural studies about Asia and the country of India!

STUDY OF THE CONTINENT OF ASIA



I hope you have enjoyed your reading of this article, and I want to thank you for visiting my blog today. I am working on a Lesson Plan Activity Pack to go along with this music lesson and it will be ready soon! 

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My post here is part of the Montessori Monday Link-up at the Living Montessori Now site where you'll find amazing resources (many free!) and lots of articles by Montessori bloggers world-wide. This week, the free downloads are some beautiful Montessori style cutting strips featuring butterflies! Here's that link: Montessori Monday Link-up.


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From The Montessori Music Room: Fun Activities From Tchaikovsky & the Continent of Europe!

MONTESSORI CHILDREN REALLY ENJOY MAKING MUSIC WITH CASTANETS AND THE "SPANISH CHOCOLATE DANCE" FROM TCHAIKOVSKY'S MUSIC.




Photo by Carolyn at Magical Movement Company

Featuring music from Pyotr Ilyich Tchaikovsky is an excellent way to introduce young children to the musical heritage of the continent of Europe. Tchaikovsky's Nutcracker Ballet is a familiar piece of orchestral music and has a rich array of playful music representing dances from around the world. 
Since he was a Russian composer, it works out well to bring his music to your cultural studies of Europe and Eurasia.

Young children love to see pictures of the people who make the music they are listening to! I always try to have some nice big visuals of the composer, or the musical instruments, or the dancers that explain the music we are focusing on in each lesson. 

For this lesson, I begin by showing a picture of the composer, Tchaikovsky. I am always impressed with how well young children can repeat his name after I introduce it! Then, I explain that he was born in Russia, a country in Europe.


Photo by the artists at Dollar Photo Club

Montessori children are fortunate to have  globes, puzzle maps and even flags, on the shelves of their learning environment. If you have these, it is nice to show the children where the country of Russia is located on the continent of Europe (or Eurasia). Then, I like to show the flag of Russia.  

Photo by the artists at Dollar Photo Club

Once again when singing your "Hello Song" you can sing hello in Russian. 


I found this Youtube video that is a short & sweet lesson on how to say "Hello" in Russian. 



If you have a collection of miniature flags of the world, it is fun to play one of the marching songs from the Nutcracker Ballet and give the children flags to go marching along the "Montessori Line". 

Here are two music selections that children really like to move/march along to:


After some movement activity with Tchaikovsky music, I invite the children to sit back down and get their ears ready for listening to some more music from The Nutcracker Ballet. I always like to play about a minute of the Dance of the Reed Pipes for them because it is so familiar. 

Then, while the children are listening, I show them some of the pictures of the actual ballet from this book, George Balanchine's The Nutcracker. 


The Nutcracker Ballet picture book available at Amazon

Visuals of an orchestra pit and ballet stage are also helpful for these children who have sometimes not actually seen a live orchestra.

Photo by the artists at Dollar Photo Club

The book cited above has wonderful photos of the ballet and I introduce the "Chocolate Dance " to the children with some visuals of Spanish dancers. 

Photo by the artists at Dollar Photo Club

The little ones love to hear about the "Chocolate Dance" and this is where we take out our castanets so that we can play along. You can even hear the castanets that are played in the  orchestral music.



Photo by the artists at Dollar Photo Club 

For young children, I prefer the wooden castanets from Suzuki. They have a true and pleasant sound. You can purchase them at Amazon at this link: Children's Wooden Castanets 
If you haven't yet offered castanets to your group, you are in for a real treat! Castanets are one of the very best activities for developing that important pincer grasp used in writing. 

Photo by Carolyn at Magical Movement Company

I like to include the Russian Dance from the Nutcracker because Tchaikovsky was Russian. This song is lively and has a strong steady beat for playing along. Another piece that is fun for the children is Polchinelle, The French Clown Dance.
Photo by the artists at Dollar Photo Club

You can play short excerpts from Tchaikovsky's music according to the age and interest of your group. The Nutcracker Ballet is full of interesting sounds made by percussion instruments that children really enjoy. Just about any selection from The Nutcracker Ballet is a wonderful exploration for children to move or play along with.

Of course, featuring music from the Russian composer, Tchaikovsky, is a great addition to your cultural studies unit on Europe (and Eurasia).
Photo by the artists at Dollar Photo Club

Thank you for visiting my blog and I hope you found some fun ideas for music activities with your group.

You can read lots more articles (like mine) from Montessorians world wide at the Montessori Monday Link-up BY CLICKING HERE: Living Montessori Now.  Deb Chitwood has posted a fun article with lots of activities using the song, "Five Little Speckled Frogs" and an absolutely adorable video of her grand daughter singing while working with the materials!

To go along with this article, I am busily working to complete my Lesson Plan Activity Pack, Musically Montessori: Activities from Tchaikovsky & the Continent of Europe. It will be added to  MY TpT STORE soon and my subscribers will be the first to know! 

IN THE MEANTIME...there's still time to register for the $45. Gift Certificate at TpT from our Montessori March Sale on TpT. Sign up to win and check out the sales at 8 TpT Montessori sellers site. 

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Artfully Montessori: 7 Reasons Your Children Need to Make Art Everyday!

HAVE YOU EVER WALKED INTO A ROOM AND DISCOVERED A GROUP OF CHILDREN SO ENGAGED IN THE PROCESS OF MAKING ART THAT YOU COULD ALMOST HEAR A PIN DROP? 


Ah! The mesmerizing power of the process of making art!
All photos were taken by Carolyn at Magical Movement Company

Every Friday afternoon, when I arrive at my Montessori Music Class in the Lower Elementary Room at Fountainhead Montessori, I often come upon that group busily finishing up their creations from their Art Class. The room has a delightful feeling of calm, beauty and intense quiet, yet the art work being produced is alive with excitement and playful energy! 

These whimsical and gorgeously colorful masterpieces in this post were the result of their recent art lesson about the CONCEPT of ORGANIC SHAPE. 

Each student started their project with a string (!) to create their shape in such a way that the results were left to chance and not constructed with a specific end in mind. The surprise of the string's shape sparked the imaginations of the children to go on to make art that is wild, like nature, yet thoughtfully executed with design elements of eye-catching color, subtle symmetry (or asymmetry, too), illusion of texture, and amazing spacial effects using combinations of mixed media. 

 "The Monsters Collection": Mixed Media Art 
from 5-7 yr olds in the Lower Elementary Montessori Room at Fountainhead Montessori 

Coincidentally, I would be teaching my annual Montessori Institute AMS Art Workshop the next day, and my mind immediately went to the many, many benefits children reap from the process of making art. 

My Montessori training workshop students (Montessori teachers & Interns) always spend quite a bit of time developing their RATIONALE STATEMENTS, and this year's group came up with an impressive array of REASONS WHY ART IS IMPORTANT IN THE EARLY CHILDHOOD ENVIRONMENT.
You can read some more about the importance of art in the Montessori curriculum at my past posts 
CLICK HERE: Here Is An Art Rationale You Can Really Use
And HERE: The Elements of Art: They are Organic to the Montessori Classroom


Making art is organic...it happens naturally!

I think you will agree that the art area of an early childhood environment is often the most popular activity area for the children. Even with the youngest of children, making art is oftentimes spontaneous and bold! Give a toddler a fat marker, crayon, or a paintbrush and a large sheet of paper and voila!...the first masterpiece happens. 

Many scholarly studies have concluded that creating art is a crucial part of a child's development. 
From The College Board for the National Coalition for Core Arts Standards, Jan. 2012:
"Executive Summary Introduction:
In recent years, there has been great interest among educators in the links between arts-based learning and human development. Research initiatives of the past decade have linked arts participation to cognitive growth and academic skills, including the strengthening of long-term memory and reading ability (Gazzaniga et al., 2008), creative thinking skills, and writing fluency (Deasy et al., 2002). Arts participation has additionally been linked to positive social outcomes, including overall engagement in school (Deasy et al., 2002), increased graduation rates (Israel, 2009), and increased community engagement and pro-social activities (Catterall, 2009). In an effort to strengthen research efforts linking arts to overall health and well-being across the lifespan, the National Endowment for the Arts established an interagency task force on the arts and human development in the fall of 2011 (Hanna et al., 2011), ensuring that such research continues to inform and strengthen arts educational practice nationwide."
I highly recommend checking out the full article here: CHILD DEVELOPMENT & ARTS EDUCATION, A Review of Current Research & Best Practices. That article is not only chock full of research-based information, it is also a comprehensive outline of HOW we as educators can implement these important learning experiences for students from early childhood all the way through college level!

Making art helps the child develop 
the small muscles of the hand for writing.

If you ignore all other of the many reasons for children to make art, this one has to ring a bell loud and clear! The materials and mediums necessary to make art require a refinement of skills that are based on the use of the small muscles of the hands...just the ones a young child is developing for writing. 

Here's what Dr. Montessori wrote:
"The exercises we have described as 'drawing' actually were intended to train the hand so that it would be ready to write. These exercises were taken as a part of the complex preparation by means of which a child's small hand, still uncertain in the movements, could execute that minute kind of drawing that constitutes writing. The Discovery of the Child, p. 280."

Painting, drawing, cutting, gluing, carving, sculpting, print making, etching, handicraft fabrication, and even doodling require using that famous "pincer grasp" that originates with the first art experiences in the young child's world. Even creating shapes with a stick in the sand or making handprints on the walls of caves (like the earliest know art of the caves of Lascaux) requires the coordinating of actions of the hand/eye/mind to communicate an idea through a picture. Creating art truly is ancient!    

Making art helps the child 
communicate ideas.

Before a child begins to write down ideas, s/he usually makes marks & designs on a piece of paper. Not only does making art help the child's small muscle development, it also helps the child "tell her story!" 

The first time my son made a painting at the easel in the art room of his preschool, he told me it was "going fishing." There were two gigantic strokes of orange paint on the oversized piece of paper. One line was moving upward and the other line was connected, curved and moving downward, quite reminiscent of a fishing pole. And yes, he had just gone fishing when we were camping out the weekend before.

Don't you agree: a picture is worth a thousand words!

Making art helps the child develop 
creative thinking skills.

Creativity seems to always be in a sentence describing the process of making art. But, consider the obvious "thinking outside the box" that is evident in so much of the history of art. Artists have traditionally been the pace setters in everything from film to fashion, to home decor, and of course, computers and technology. 

The first showing of the French Impressionist painters "faced harsh opposition from the conventional art community in France." 
From Wikipedia:
"Impressionism is a 19th-century art movement that originated with a group of Paris-based artists whose independent exhibitions brought them to prominence during the 1870s and 1880s. Impressionist painting characteristics include relatively small, thin, yet visible brush strokes, open composition, emphasis on accurate depiction of light in its changing qualities (often accentuating the effects of the passage of time), ordinary subject matter, inclusion of movement as a crucial element of human perception and experience, and unusual visual angles."
Young children are new to the world and seem to have less inhibition when it comes to making art. Their art often captures the imagination because it is so unusual, inventive, and unique. When a young artist "envisions" her composition, the process of putting the idea into concrete form doesn't necessarily follow the conventional rules of painting, drawing, and sculpting. The child's mind is creating something new without any constraints. Developing creative thinking skills is one of those necessary skills for our young students to build their "higher order thinking abilities."  So, art is an ideal vehicle for people of any age to stretch their capacity for thinking creatively. You can read more on this topic here: 
Eduscapes: Professional Development Resources for Educators & Librarians.
And here: 
Skills You Need.Com


Making art helps the child develop concentration skills.

All of us early childhood educators have observed the extreme concentration a child can exhibit in the midst of creating a painting, a drawing, or a sculpture. Working with art mediums requires both exploration and precision, and that kind of concentrated effort is just what we want to cultivate in the young child! 

That level of immersed attention is felt in the wonderful and peaceful atmosphere of the Montessori style art studio where the children are allowed the time and space to focus, uninterrupted, so that concentration skills develop naturally.   


Making art helps the child develop organizational skills.

Children benefit from both structured and unstructured art experiences. The Free Choice Art Shelf in the Montessori room holds attractive baskets filled with materials like
  • markers 
  • pens 
  • colored pencils 
  • glue 
  • collage materials 
  • scissors 
  • staplers 
  • stamps & ink pads 
  • tape 
  • pipe cleaners 
  • clay 
  • wire 
  • wooden shapes 
  • water colors 
  • oil pastels 
  • colored chalks 
  • and an assortment of paper. 
When a child conceives of his/her art creation, s/he formulates a mental plan and then gathers the materials needed to complete the project. There is a step by step process in art production that builds organizational skills out of a sort of "basic necessity." If the project isn't done with some kind of underlying orderly process, then the art piece may present problems that can interfere with the outcome the child was envisioning. 

Of course, little ones are resourceful and usually figure out solutions for these problems that can arise in creative art production. However, this is where the teacher's role as a guide plays an important part in assisting the child's developing organizational skills. Once, the child has gotten the procedure organized (or re-organized) then the creative process flourishes!

Likewise, the Montessori environment offers children art experiences that are set up on trays on the Art Shelf. These activities have everything the child needs for completing the art piece, already set up on the tray. 

The child has been shown the process through a simple and precise demonstration by the adult, and then the child is invited to make his/her own project using the materials on the tray and following the steps outlined by the teacher's demonstration.

These steps involved in making art require memory, visual discrimination, and body coordination. The step by step process of making art aids the children in developing constructive thinking  and planning skills so that they can eventually fabricate their creative ideas on their own.  


Making art helps the child develop observational skills.

Even the most unconventional of Art has a basis in reality. The artist first conceived of his/her idea from something in his/her life. Many times, art is made by observing a "model." Other times, the artist may pull an image out of the memory and convey it to the paper or clay before them. Even in Abstract and Modern Art, the wild shapes and unusual color combinations still have titles like "Concentric Squares & Circles" by Kandinsky, and "Les Demoisselles D Avignon" (The Women of Avignon) by Picasso. 

As children progress in their skills with the various mediums of art, they begin to make art that is representational. The older child has observed everything in his/her environment and has also had a great many experiences over the years, even if they are only 4 or 5 years old! The avid child artist has already become an accomplished "observer" and it shows in the gradually increasing detail of his/her work. And, once again, we all want the child's observation skills to continue to develop throughout childhood and beyond! 

NOT TO MENTION...making art is: 
  • HEALING, it's a way of 
  • EXPRESSING EMOTIONS, it's 
  • UPLIFTING to the creator as well as the on-looker, it's a way of 
  • MAKING SENSE OF THE WORLD, it's an
  • EXPRESSION of the surrounding CULTURE, 
  • it's pleasing to the eye, 
  • it's disturbing to the eye, 
  • it makes you think, it makes you feel, it makes you cry, or laugh or even say: 

"Hey, I could do that!"

"The hand is an organ of expression, and in the area of artistic creation, it has practically occupied the first place. In early infancy the hand assists the intelligence to develop, and in a mature man it is the instrument which controls his destiny on earth." Maria Montessori, The Discovery of the Child. 1948 

So glad to have you visit my blog today! This article is part of the Montessori Monday Link-up at the Living Montessori Now Site. You can read more Montessori articles at the Link up from bloggers world wide. Here's the Link: Montessori Mondays!

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