Tuesday, January 30, 2007

Meditate on this: Brain Gyms

My mom linked me to an article this morning on MSN about a yoga controversy in public schools. Supporters say the "yogic panting" and "meditation" helps to calm students with attention-deficit disorders, and may even help to reduce another fast-approaching problem in schools: childhood obesity. The controversy is that some parents say it violates the separation of church and state.

Not even going touch that one. Especially now, that I can do a headstand after two years studying yoga.

I'd like to offer another possible solution, though: "Brain Gyms."

Neurologist and Kinesiologist Carla Hannaford studies the practice in Hawaii, and in her book, "Why Learning is not all in Your Head," she provides compelling research on the impact of the Brain Gym philosophy, which promotes drinking water, bringing music into the classroom, and doing simple exercises that encourage the crossing of the corpus callosum. Sound familiar?

Try it. The kids in the picture above are doing the "Cross Crawl."
"This exercise helps coordinate the right and left brain by exercising the information flow between the two hemispheres. It is useful for spelling, writing, listening, reading and comprehension.
  • Stand or sit. (Standing's more fun).
  • Put the right hand across the body to the left knee as you raise it, and then do the same thing for the left hand on the right knee just as if you were marching.
  • Do this either sitting or standing for about 2 minutes.
  • When you're done, give it a second, and see if you don't notice a difference in your ability to think a little more on the alert.

Monday, January 29, 2007

Follow the resources

After the "Following the Drinking Gourd" post on Martin Luther King Jr. Day, a Kindermusik Dad, Joel Bresler, wrote to say he collects research on the song. Recently he sent a link to his online Web site and archive, a project sparked by a picture book he read about the song two summers ago.

Friday, January 26, 2007

Fly Me to the Moon

When pieced together, pictures of graffitti from around a city sing "Fly Me to the Moon."
That song.
It's one of the first songs I ever played from a Real Book.
One of the first songs jazz mentor Jon Metzger used to show me how to outline chords anywhere on the guitar neck, with the melody line on top.
It was the language used to bridge a generation gap between myself and another music mentor, Mr. Saunders. This retired, piano-playing, martini-swigging neighbor left me his ukulele when he died. A gift in honor of the time I spent at the foot of his hospital bed, playing "Polly Wolly" on a what he called a "crap ukulele."
I may need to go get some paint and stencils.

Thursday, January 25, 2007


Launched in 2005 The Free Sound Project is like a flickr for odd-minutia audio. A place where you can upload, download, or cruise the sound of almost everything, from a child's jewlery box, to a raindrop. Purely exists in the spirit of sharing free sound. There will never be a copyright issue here. The only protection you see is that these sounds will never have copyrighted.

I did do a search on "animals," remembering how much the little ones liked to get around the CD player in Kindermusik class and listen to the sounds. How their eyes lit up when they heard a sound, and then tried to imitate it.

Don't know if I could imitate some of these, though. Worth a try. Or a listen, anyway.

Especially this Tibetan chant.
And this Nightengale.

I squirmed. Then I got the squid.

When I first read about this kid's hand-soap that promises, not only to clean your child's hands, but also actually teaches them how to wash their hands, I thought: Ridiculous. Watch the video, too.

Then I saw this.

It's taking care of the little details when nobody is watching--that's what really counts. And in your classrooms, parents are taking in every little detail. I talked with one singe parent who said other families in her class won't re-enroll because the room is too small.

What do parents think about your room? Ask. A fix could be really simple. But those little details make a big difference.

Tuesday, January 23, 2007

Hold on to your recorder

Video of a professionally performing group of musicians that feature, yes, the Recorder.
Hat tip, the Kindermusik Educators of Canada Yahoo group.

If you must wear shoes

Like everything else, children's shoes get funkdified. Thanks Helen. I'll keep an eye out for the stripies.

Like my new bumper sticker?

Make your own here.

Monday, January 22, 2007

Candy Band

I believe that's a children's string symphony backing up this punkster "Monster" song.

The Lovely Mrs. Davis calls it the future of children's music.

Leaving a washable mark on the belly, hand, toes

Photo and words by Kindermusik Educator Katie Henderson

It has become a weekly goodbye ritual to stamp the hands of each child at the end of class with an ink stamp whose picture coordinates specifically to some activity done that week. In NO way is this a symbol of a “job well done,” but, rather, it serves to create a ritual, and to trigger a tangible memory (at least until the next good bath) of special moments in the Kindermusik classroom.

Some children, typically the older ones (and “older” is broaching three in Kindermusik!) ask for more than one stamp, and, in one recent class, several children extended the request to arms, feet, legs and, well.... even bellies!

I wish you could have witnessed one such recent wee one, begging with sighs and toddler whines, for mom to unsnap her “onesie” so she, TOO, could receive a “belly stamp.”

Enjoy the attached picture, from the final day of fall semester, with many precious feet, orchestrated simultaneously and instinctively, in a sitting circle, to receive the semester end’s “KINDERMUSIK logo” a VERY special stamp.... and consider what indelible picture YOU want to leave on the hands, and in the hearts, of your child, and the children with which you come into contact today.

Friday, January 19, 2007

The birth of pooh

Mollie Greene reminds us that this week is Pooh's birthday. Celebrate.
When I first heard his name, I said, just as you are going to say, "But I thought he was a boy?"
"So did I," said Christopher Robin.
"Then you can't call him Winnie?"
"I don't."
"But you said -- "
"He's Winnie-ther-Pooh. Don't you know what 'ther' means?"
"Ah, yes, now I do," I said quickly; and I hope you do too, because it is all the explanation you are going to get.

Thursday, January 18, 2007

Trophy kids?

Terri Lenzo sent this Q&A article in the Akron Beacon Journal with Family Psychologist John Rosemond. A parent asked if programs such as Kindermusik were a waste of money. He replied that only status-seeking parents enroll in such programs to create what he calls a "Trophy Child."

Ouch. Like being a parent isn't hard enough.

Wonder if parents in Alyssa Preddie-Allen's special needs classrooms think about trophies when their child joins their typically developing peers after participating in Kindermusik.

Or if parents with kids at La Creche child care center in "Murderapolis" think about trophies when they drop off their kids, and then stand in yet another, federal line hoping for a break, or a warm bed.

Same goes for the kids at St. Mary's who, if left alone, and without access to programs like Kindermusik, would start school 2 full grades behind their peers.

Reality is that there are a lot of families between the posh and poor sides of town who budget and balance every penny to make sure they're setting up the best life possible for their children. Every penny counts. But I know, from my 5 years experience here at Kindermusik, and 2 years teaching in the Kindermusik classroom, that I can tell a difference between a child who has been in Kindermusik and one that hasn't. And I can tell, not by the trophy, or the bumper sticker on the car, but in the eyes of that child.

Parents will either see it as a luxury or a necessity, and that's a personal decision--parents make tough decisions every day, and this is one that bears investigating. We'd like to help. Try a class for free and see if the little hairs on the back of your neck don't stand up. See if your own heart doesn't swell and swoon with a newfound love of learning. See if it's a necessity, or a luxury.

The first class is on us.
Then please tell Mr. Rosemund what you think.

Wednesday, January 17, 2007

Shoes off, combat boots, too

Kerry McGinley is a writer for Cinchouse.com, an online resource and support Web site for military families. She called last week about a story on Kindermusik and how the program's worldwide reach can provide a little consistency for the transient lifestyle of these families.

Kindermusik has 73 Educators bringing a little something familiar to those stationed in various military communities around the world--including Fort Bragg, North Carolina, where Kerry talked with parents for this article.

Special hat tip-salute to all the Kindermusik Educators reaching to these families--and a special hat tip to these families. Especially now.

Tuesday, January 16, 2007

How many buttons do you see?

The photographer, Sara Brennan-Harrell, at the Greensboro Kindermusik Convention is also a wedding, engagement, and maternity photographer. Check out her blog.

Monday, January 15, 2007

Stars, a song, and a story of freedom

“Follow the Drinking Gourd” is a song with a secret code. While slave owners thought they heard singing in the fields, the slaves were really passing on a message telling each other how to escape. The “drinking gourd” refers to the constellation we call the Big Dipper. The Big Dipper always hangs in the northern sky—the direction you go if you’re fleeing to Canada to escape slavery. “Left foot, peg foot” describes a one-legged man who would help the slaves on the way, the rest of the song describes the route.”
- page 10, America the Musical, by Do-Re-Me & You!

Listen to "Follow the Drinking Gourd"
See if you can match the clues in the song to the stories and pictures on the quilt pictured above.
Order the "Follow the Drinking Gourd" story and song and others that make up America's history in the online kindermusik store.

Friday, January 12, 2007

The eye brow story

Still feeling a little under the weather today, and I'm going home, back to bed with my soup, books, and hot tea. Couldn't resist sharing what brought a smile to this grumpy face, though:

"TeleFables are little books that live on your computer desktop, which you can download from our site and read anytime you like. No plug-ins or special software required! You only need to uncompress the file, and it's ready to play."

My favorite is "The Eyebrow Story."

Wednesday, January 10, 2007

Alphabet of Nations

Hat tip Head, Shoulders, Knees and all that.

Happy Birthday Xander

I first met Xander when he was just a little kid, like, 3 years old. He wasn't even a big brother yet, like he is now, to Lexi. He hadn't quite earned super-hero staus as Commander Xander, but he still made quite a first impression.

The first question he asked when I climbed out of the car after a long drive from Seattle to his doorstep in Abbotsford, BC, was something to the effect of "Did you bring me any presents?" I was there to host some focus groups with the parents in his mother's Kindermusik program. Fortunately I was prepared with a kazoo fresh from a music museum in Seattle, and a very odd children's book, with accompanying CD.

After a few minutes, we were pals, drawing and telling stories together.

Happy Birthday Commander.

Now, Darcie, how'd you make the cool graphic?

Raindrops keep falling on my head

I rent a little house in Greensboro and it's usually my little monastary. Only since the home's owner realized that the house really needs a new roof (I rent), the roofers have taken that solitude from my happy, little quiet home. And with Sunday's monsoon sweeping across North Carolina, sometime around 9 pm that night I had a beautiful little waterfall pouring from the ceiling fan. I tossed out three, full buckets of rainwater that night and early morning. It finally stopped dripping two days later, and now pieces of the ceiling are falling.

Needless to say, that's why I've missed a few posts. I am, however, very happy it stopped raining.

Don't know whether I feel like Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid, or Chicken Little. Somewhere in between I guess.

Friday, January 05, 2007

Kindermusik ink

Temporary tattoos just for toddlers feature the picture and the word. I know a certain fiddling pig that would appreciate this very much in this semester's Fiddle-Dee-Dee, the spring 2007 learning theme in Kindermusik.

Tattoos for tots

Wednesday, January 03, 2007

Know the EO part 2

A second installment in a little visual game we've been playing here at Kindermusik called "Know the EO." See if you can guess who did the song and dance bit at Chuck E. Cheese restaurant; who saw Orville Redenbacher on a plane; who has two phantom fingers; and who was held up at gun point.

Tuesday, January 02, 2007

Resolution # 1

1. I will not be so hard on myself, or others, this year.

Thanks for the reminder, Santa.