Sunday, January 13, 2019

Keeping Kids Moving in the Winter

Hi there! Today I wanted to talk a bit about a predicament we caregivers and our young children can easily find ourselves in on a cold day- we're inside most of the day, and let's face it, we get a little stir crazy. I've talked before on my blog about things you can do to help keep everyone occupied and in a good mood- try a change of scene, an indoor play place, music, children's media you both enjoy. Today I'd like to focus on movement.

Getting those kiddos to move and release that pent up energy can be beneficial in so many ways. It's recommended that kids get at least an hour of physical activity daily (CDC). This movement can prevent serious illness, increase children's ability to focus, and promote better moods. The department of Health and Human Services also released a new "Move Your Way" campaign that helps people incorporate daily tasks into part of their physical activity. (Special plug for my sister Francie who helped manage the promotion of this campaign). No matter how you decide to get your family moving, keep in mind all the benefits for the parenting or caregiving win!

I've been including more of my YouTube videos on my blog lately because I'd like to create context for them- explain a bit why you might want to check them out. My video this week is one you can move to. It's to that familiar tune from the song "Wild Thing," and hopefully it'll get everyone moving and releasing some of that wildness- in a way that hopefully won't make a huge mess or destroy your house. Your welcome!!

Sunday, January 6, 2019

"Little Bird, Go Through My Window"

In January, it can be difficult to summon the spirit to sing. The holidays are over, the weather is dreary, and people might not be feeling 100%. To liven things up a bit, I've focused on singing about birds of all things. Birdwatching in winter is one of my favorite things to do, and children can easily take part-  filling or even making bird feeders or houses. Birds like cardinals and blue jays are easy to spot, and it's exciting to see nature come alive when the birds accept the gifts of food and shelter that you offer them.

I use a song called "Little Bird." Watch it in full below. I discovered the way I do it is different (I learned it differently), than the traditional "Little Bird, Go Through My Window." I also pair this song with a singing game called "Go in and Out the Window." In it, children stand in a circle and hold hands, then lift their arms up to make an arch under which a child can weave in and out.

Whether you use the song as part of a winter music class, or for early language learning, try to pair it with some nature exploration as well. If you don't have the opportunity to make a bird house or feeder, and either bird watch or listen for bird songs, ask children to share their experience if they have done this before. If they haven't tried observing birds, perhaps you can spark an interest! Happy singing and bird watching!

Tuesday, January 1, 2019

Happy New Year!

Happy New Year all you blog readers! As you know, early language learning is a topic I write about quite a bit. Today I'll write a bit about an easy song you can use around New Year's for early language learning in 3 languages!

I've used this song for many years on the first day back from holiday break teaching my younger students. It's great because it's to the tune of "Happy Birthday," but instead you substitute, "Happy New Year." A short way to say "Happy New Year" in Spanish is "Feliz Año," which also fits nicely with the rhythm of the song. Check out my video below to see how I use English, ASL, and Spanish to do this simple adaptation!

The first day back to school after break can be a tough one for all involved. That's why a simple song such as this can be a great way to lift spirits, and transition nicely back to classroom routines. Whether you sing the song at school or at home, it's a fun way to ring in the new year! 

Monday, December 24, 2018

Honoring a Special Lady This Holidays

Hi all! If you've read my blog before, or even if you've just stumbled upon it, welcome! This year has been a momentous one for me- I started this blog- all about my reflections as a children's artist, as a music teacher, as a former preschool and Kindergarten teacher, and as a parent of a now ten year old. I also released my second children's album and started a YouTube channel (please subscribe)- with music videos of my original songs, music videos for early language learning, and music videos just for fun.

This year I also started studying to become a educational leader- hopefully specializing in arts integration or arts in schools, which leads me to my topic today. I'd like to honor a very special lady who inspired me along a path to education, my recently deceased Great Aunt Bim. Please read her obituary here.

Aunt Bim was a pioneering educational leader in Lansing, MI. She started the gifted and talented program there, and rose from being a Kindergarten teacher to supervising the elementary education program there in a career that spanned over 25 years. I was very lucky to have her in my life.

As a little girl, I had chronic ear infections that led to a severe language delay. I could sense that adults around me were worried and wanted me to work on my speech. I felt bad- like I was doing something wrong, and I didn't know how to fix it.

Aunt Bim was one of those adults that tried to help. Whenever she would visit, she would get me to talk with her in a fun way- in a way that made me feel important, not ashamed. She would read me stories, sing songs with me, get me to share stories with her. She always told me how smart she thought I was and encouraged me in every way.

People like my Aunt Bim are the kind of inspiring, often unsung, leaders that gently nurture children into adulthood. They prepare them to overcome obstacles, think creatively, and develop confidence. They also specialize in preparing others to do so. Aunt Bim inspired me, and I aspire to be as accomplished in helping children as she lived her life to be.

To all those who have found my blog this year- have a Happy Holidays and may 2019 bring more opportunities to nurture our children to find joy and peace!

Thursday, November 22, 2018


Hi everyone! I'm writing after taking a couple of weeks off- I've been very busy, but incredibly thankful for the new opportunities I've had this autumn. I have a couple of new YouTubes to share today, and in the true spirit of the "blog," I want to let you know what I've been up to.

This school year I started a new teaching position. I'm working as a music teacher in a special education setting, and I'm loving it! Simply put, my students help me understand how music can lift us up. I'm enjoying preparing students for a concert- I think it will be among the best I've taken part in over the years.

I also started taking classes to get a Master's in Educational Leadership. I'm learning about leadership skills and what it means to be a culturally proficient leader- interesting stuff, and the opportunity to contemplate and imagine myself in a position where I could have a positive effect on education is exciting!

Starting in September, I have also been traveling around the country, participating in library performer showcases. I travelled to Oklahoma, Oregon, Delaware, and Texas. I also have the opportunity to do a showcase in Northern California- it will be the first time I've had the opportunity to return there after having moved to Maryland 6 years ago. I can't wait!

I also travelled to Ohio for the Children's Music Network Annual Conference. I got a chance to reconnect with children's performer friends, and to bring my son along. As the star of some of my videos, he was met with fans for the first time. He has always been shy, but I think seeing people respond positively to him has been so helpful to him. For example, he came up with all of the ideas for the kid joke video below. Check it out! (PS- we also got to visit Oberlin, my alma mater- I've got a future Obie for sure!)

Starting my Youtube channel is also something new this fall. The two videos I put up today are in the spirit of Thanksgiving. As ever, I'm thankful for the chance to share my music. I've had a busy year in promoting my album, "I am 4, 5, 6." Hearing it played on the radio, having people listen and respond, working with a distributer and publicist, spending countless hours preparing emails and sending out copies- I'm thankful for all of it!

I've been working pretty hard, as all parents do- driven by the idea that children are our next innovators, problem solvers, and compassionate adults- especially my own. I'm thankful for the opportunity to talk about all of that work to other caring adults through this blog. I've enjoyed connecting with other parents and educators- and as sappy as this sounds- I mean every word- I believe together we can make a difference for our kids. Happy Thanksgiving!

Tuesday, October 23, 2018

Early Learning on my YouTube Channel

This week I'm writing my blog about the work I am doing on my YouTube channel. Each week I have been releasing new learning videos. Didn't know about that? That's OK- now's your chance to go check it out, AND I'm going to tell you all about it- including what is special about this week's video. I'm putting out a few different kinds of early learning videos on my YouTube channel- sing and sign, early Spanish language learning through song, kid humor, and kid's music videos.

The sing and sign videos are the result of my work as a co-teacher for an American Sign Language class for preschool, kindergarten, and first and second grade students. My colleague taught me everything I know- she is a fluent speaker, and as a deaf person, she explained some of the subtleties of communicating through sign. Although I'm definitely still not an expert, we were able to combine our skills a bit to prepare sing and sign experiences for our students- we hope that you'll use them too!

The Spanish language learning songs are songs I learned over the years to combine language learning and music in my early childhood and elementary classes. I have worked as a music teacher in a Spanish language immersion program in a charter school, lived in places where Spanish was the predominant language spoken, and love performing the songs I'm sharing!

The kid humor videos started with my son's stuffed animals. I wrote a song about them, "Make-Believe Zoo." He helped me make a music video for that song, and performed some of the voices of the stuffed animals on the recording. As we were doing this, he started using his snake puppet to tell me jokes, and I thought they were so funny that I asked if we could record them- maybe brighten somebody else's day with a little laughter. He said yes!

The kid's music videos are of my original songs for children. I have two albums- "One and Two is Three," and "I am 4, 5, 6," which was released this year. The first album was the product of having written songs over the years for my students and my family, and the second one was an intensive project to write songs for young children about imagination, creative problem solving, and empathy. 

This week I'm releasing the music video to "From There to Here." It's a song about using your imagination as a young child, how children might experience or think about things in ways that are a bit different than adults. The urge to question and learn about themselves and their surroundings is forefront in the song, as well as rhymes from familiar children's literature.

You can find "From There to Here," as well as several of my other children's songs on my YouTube Channel- my songs, in addition to the sing and sign, Spanish song and kid joke videos, are all a taste of what I do as an educator and performer. Please check them out and share them with some little ones you may know! Here's the link to my YouTube, and here is my new video!

Sunday, October 14, 2018

Fall Songs for Early Childhood

As promised, here my favorite songs for fall. A reader also shared one! Videos (where I could find them) again are approximate to the words I provided (the way I do these songs). Enjoy, use, comment, and share!

Gray Squirrel-

Gray Squirrel, gray squirrel, swish your bushy tail
Gray squirrel, gray squirrel, swish your bushy tail
Wrinkle up your little nose, hide a nut between your toes
Gray Squirrel, gray squirrel, swish your bushy tail

Leaves are Falling- (from Music Together)

Leaves are falling softly floating tumbling to the ground
Leaves are falling softly floating tumbling to the ground
Orange, red, brown, yellow, orange, tumbling to the ground
Orange, red, brown, yellow, orange, tumbling to the ground

Way Up High in the Apple Tree-

Way up high in the apple tree
Two little apples were smiling at me
I shook that tree as hard as I could
Down cam the apples- mmmm they were good

5 Little Apples- (shared by Nancy Hershatter)- a fall fingerplay

5 little apples, juicy to the core, 1 tumbled down and then there were 4.
4 little apples, swaying on the tree, 1 tumbled down and then there were 3.
3 little apples, shiny and new, 1 tumbled down and then there were 2.
2 little apples, shining in the sun, 1 tumbled down and then there was 1.
1 little apple ready to roll, let's reach and knock it down with our apple picking pole!

Pumpkin Patch- (solfeggi syllables provided)- can be played as a circle game

Pumpkin patch, the pumpkin patch (sol-sol-mi-la-sol-sol-mi)
I'm looking for a pumpkin in the pumpkin patch (fa-sol-sol-sol-sol-la-la-la-sol-sol-mi)
And I'll find one, that's nice and fat (mi-fa-fa-re-mi-fa-fa-re)
To turn into a jack-o-lantern just like that (re-sol-sol-sol-sol-la-la-la-la-sol-sol-mi)

H-A-L-L-O-W-E-E-N- (a song from when I was little- I'm not sure who wrote it)!

(Sung to the tune from Dance Macabre by Camille Saint-Saens)

H, A, double L, O, W, double E, N spells Halloween
H, A, double L, O, W, double E, N spells Halloween

verse: (these words are made up by me)
Halloween mean ghosts and goblins
Witches and vampires and spooky bats
Trick or treating, candy eating
Pumpkins with faces and big black cats

Pumpkin BOO!- (I'm also not sure who wrote this one, but the kids LOVE it)!

To scare someone on Halloween
I'll tell you what I'll do
I'll hide behind this pumpkin mask and
Then I'll holler, "BOO!"

Not sure what I'll write about next week- I just attended the Children's Music Network Annual Conference though, so a few ideas are swirling--- stay tuned!!