Sunday, August 16, 2015

Back To School with Excitement - and MUSIC!

Miss Carole's back to school - in the 60's!
   “Back to school” – what do you think of first?  Miss Carole here, of Macaroni Soup!  I think of the new outfit my mom always sewed for the big day – in my end of Massachusetts it was the first Wednesday after Labor Day.  I was so excited to find out who my teacher would be for the year – we didn’t know until we lined up to go into the school building!  Would it be that “old, tough” lady?  Would it be someone new?  It was almost as exciting as Christmas morning!  Then it became less about the teacher, and more about seeing kids I hadn’t seen for three months, wondering if anyone would still like me, and seeing if there were “new kids” (read new cute boys!)  A new school year equaled excitement about the unknown.

    Can we still create that for the children we work with?  In many towns school begins in mid-August, or never ends in year-round schools.  I've seen children become a bit jaded about school at younger and younger ages .  I talked with a 2nd grader recently who was not looking forward to returning to school.  Eight years old, and the thrill was gone!  She said she wasn’t looking forward to all the work (learning should be fun, right?) and homework (at least 90 minutes per night) and no time to play until next summer. (Really?  Yup!  Her school has done away with recess!)

STOP THE MADNESS!  At least WE can bring the excitement back to the Early Childhood classroom. Here's a few gentle reminders before I turn on the tunes:
     If you teach K – remember that for at least the first 2 months your students are still in a Pre-K brain.  Getting self-organized, planning, finishing tasks independently and following what seems like a zillion instructions takes time and practice.  Their bodies are still begging for movement, freedom to explore their new environment and action! 

    If you teach PreK - remember that those 3’s are still in the Toddler brain (touch it, taste it, throw it – figure it out through exploration), and the 4’s are still in the 3-year old brain (watch, imitate, and explore through trial and error.)  They ALL need time and tasks to make the transition to preschoolers who can be independent AND dependent at the same time!

Bring on the MUSIC!  Singing and dancing can be a wonderful distraction from the stress of back-to-school.  Just yesterday I did a concert at a daycare where there was a toddler struggling with her second day there.  As soon as I started to sing she peeked from her caregiver’s lap.  By the third song she was nodding and smiling.  By the time we were up and dancing her hands were in the air and her feet were prancing!  Now I know that music will not solve all the problems of humanity, but in my little world, it’s magic sometimes!
    Here are a few of the songs I’ll be singing with the bright, shiny faces in front of me this September!

Pointing to selves, "I May Be Little"

I May Be Little   (by me!)                  For PRESCHOOLERS             
     Hear it HERE, or on my Parents’ Choice GOLD Award-winning cd “Polka Dots!”  It’s a scale song- going down from Do to Do.

I may be little but I can do lots of things, you can, too!
Clap my hands, one-two-three
Clap your hands along with me!
Turn around, turn around, 
Don’t be late!

"Stretch my hands way up high!"

(Additional verses:  stamp my feet, stretch my hands way up high, sit back down and tap my knee – or add you favorite motion)

"Sit and tap my knee"

Everybody Clap Your Hands!    
(learned from Ella Jenkins, author unknown)
     Hear it HERE, or on my “Stinky Cake!” recording.  PRESCHOOL 4’s and K - and younger children with help.

Everybody Clap Your Hands!
This great little zipper song will get everyone moving and giggling!  Just zip in the next activity and sing it again!

Everybody clap your hands!
Everybody clap your hands!
Everybody, come on and clap your hands!
v.2  Stamp your feet
v.3  Jump up high
v.4  Turn real slow
v.5  Wiggle around
v.6  Clap and stamp
v.7  Clap, stamp and turn
v.8  Everybody sing along (with tongue sticking out - see picture below!)

Dancing Scarf Blues  (by me)    KINDERGARTEN and PRESCHOOL 4’s

 Hear it HERE in it's entirety, or on my “Dancing Feet” cd.  You will need scarves – I use these colorful, durable scarves from BearPawCreek. A 13-pack is only $22 and comes in a great mesh bag - be sure to put MacSoup in the coupon code box for a special discount!

V.1:      Put your scarf to the side, then back the other way
            Keep your scarf a-movin’ now you can sway!
You’ve got the blues – you’ve got the dancing scarf blues, Yeah!
Just keep your scarf a-movin’, you’ve got the dancing scarf blues.

V.2       Put your scarf to the front, and then to the back
            Careful, keep it movin’, don’t you give me no flack!

Chorus, Bridge:
Turn your scarf around, your head around, your hips around, too.
Then FREEZE!  It’s called the Dancing Scarf Blues!
Then jump up’n’down and up’n’down and up’n’down, FREEZE!
Don’t move a muscle, I’m watching you!

V.3       Shake your scarf way up high, then shake it down low.
            Shake up’n’down and up’n’down – look at you go!


DIRECTIONS:  Follow the directions built into the song!  Put some “attitude” into the “Yeah” each time.  Encourage children to stand with enough space between them that no one gets hit – although that’s why scarves are one of my favorite manipulatives – they’re soft!  As a "big finish", toss your scarf high into the air and say "YEAH!"
Everybody Sing Along - with your tongue sticking out!

     Now, get the serotonin and adrenaline flowing in your students’ brains and bodies to start the school year off with smiles and laughter.  Let me know if it works!

      One more thing - need inspiration to go back to school and be awesome - watch this video.  This kid says it all!

Yours for a Back-To-School Song!
“Miss Carole” Stephens
Macaroni Soup! Active Music for Active Learners!

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