Thursday, July 21, 2005

Create a musical garden

One thing we're doing here at Kindermusik International is creating a musical garden. Using old instruments, such as upside-down drums for planters, hollowed-out guitars for flower beds, and trumpets and bassoons stuck in the ground like blooming plants--we're creating a visual epitome what we do every day at Kindermusik: find creative ways to integrate music into every aspect of life.

Why not start a musical garden of your own?

  • Look for old instruments at garage sales, flea markets, and second-hand stores.
  • Clean the instruments as best as you can.
  • Apply four coats of polyurethane, letting each coat completely dry before applying the next.
  • Stick the instruments into your garden as if you're garden is growing instruments!

For more inspiration, look at these hand-crafted, musical furniture pieces.

Tuesday, July 19, 2005

When do imaginary friends go too far?

Even the greatest child development thinkers can be wrong a time or two. In the 1960s, Swiss Child psychologist Jean Piaget and Dr. Spock thought imaginary friends to be a bad thing. Even today some parents worry when an extra plate and empty chair appears at the dinner table.

But a new study in Developmental Psychology says not to worry. School-age children who had imaginary friends had a more developed “theory of the mind,” or the understanding that others have thoughts and feelings, too.

“Imaginary friends, often associated with introverted or disturbed children, are an integral part of social development, giving young ones an outlet for difficult feelings or confusion," according to the May 25 article in the San Jose Mercury News.

Still, if a Kindermusik parent in your class is concerned about a child’s new pretend play-pal, experts in the San Jose article say there are a few things a parent can watch for when it comes to healthy relationships with imaginary friends:
  • Most imaginary friends stick around for a year.
  • They often appear most notably between the stages of imaginative play and language development (the study notes that 6- and 7-year-olds were just as likely to have imaginary friends as 3- and 4-year-olds).
  • Make sure that fantasy is not interfering with normal life.
  • The imaginary friend should be under the child’s control—not encouraging bad behavior in the child.

Monday, July 18, 2005

Organize artwork

For more ideas on getting organized, go to

Organizing Kids Artworkby Maria Gracia

A picture is worth 1,000 words. Take photos of the artwork that your child creates and keep these photos in a scrapbook. This way, even if the artwork is discarded for space purposes, you'll still have the memory!

Keep it contained. For other artwork that does not lay flat, the perfect container may be a large, plastic container with a lid. Your child will have a space for shadowboxes, and other artwork that won't fit into a file folder.

Hang it. Get your child his very own artwork bulletin board so he can display his favorite artwork in his bedroom. When organized on a nice cork board, this really adds a nice touch to a child's room. Plus, your child can very easily switch one piece of art, with another.

Supply mania. If your child produces a lot of artwork at home, she probably has tons of crayons, markers and other art supplies. Keep it all in a portable box, light enough for your child to be able to transport it from one room into the next. In addition, separate and organize the supplies into separate Zip-lock baggies before putting them in the box. This will keep everything organized and easily accessible.

The perfect gift. Kids artwork makes the perfect gift for grandma, grandpa, sister Jane, Aunt Sue, Uncle Jim, and so on. Rather than buying gifts for your child to give to family members, encourage them to give their creations away as special gifts to special Maria Gracia - Get Organized Now!Want to get organized? Get your FREE Get Organized Now! Idea-Pak, filled with tips and ideas to help you organize your home, your office and your life, at the Get Organized Now! Web site

Tuesday, July 12, 2005

Who needs an iPod when you have a brain?

Scientists are now discovering "musical hallucinations." Something I suspect the mind does to comfort itself. Something that scientists suspect will continue happening as people are continually bombarded by sounds: clever cell phone rings, commercial jingles, email "dings."

Want to know how the mind takes all that sound in?

"Our brains use special networks of neurons to perceive music," according a story in the Science section of the New York Times. "When sounds first enter the brain, they activate a region near the ears called the primary auditory cortex that starts processing sounds at their most basic level. The auditory cortex then passes on signals of its own to other regions, which can recognize more complex features of music, like rhythm, key changes and melody."

The article goes on to talk about one of the most extensive studies of people who experience musical hallucinations.

Monday, July 11, 2005

Turn on the shadow pupppets

Take the TV out of a child's bedroom. Put in a shadow puppet theater. Or play music. Read a story. Act the story out.

A new study in the New York Times throws even more light on why there is a dark side to putting a television in a child's bedroom. It's not that TV itself is bad. It's when and where a child watches TV, according to the New York Times article, that's causing static in a child's ability to learn math.

Share this study with families in class today and talk about the options: "What can you and your child do to replace television in the bedroom?"

  • Play classical music and wave flashlights to the music
  • Plug in a night-light
  • Tape pictures from your favorite books on the wall and make up stories about the characters
  • Throw Kindermusik colored scarves over the lamps to change the light in the room
  • Grab a flashlight, a white sheet, and make shadow puppets from cardboard