Wednesday, November 25, 2015

The Smart Woman Sets Off STEAM! (using a Thanksgiving Theme!)

      With the holidays coming, food is going to be a big part of our celebrations.  This is a good time of year to teach nutrition. 

When I take this doll out, every child comes up to me and sits down while excitedly asking “Can I feed her?”  We then go through a nutrition lesson I know they will never forget because they are using their entire brain!  How?  With the use of music and movement combined with a visual they can interact with, the brain is set up for easier comprehension and better retention.  Here is how we do that.
This is a picture of me working with a group of two-year-olds.
They love their Smart Woman Doll.

BRAIN FACT   Music creates a positive state for learning because it helps to reduce stress levels, heighten attention, enhance concentration, reinforce memory and stimulate motivation.  (Campbell, 97; Jensen, 2000)
Our first activity is the song, “I Know a Smart Woman”.  It uses a melody they are already familiar with – “I Know An Old Lady Who Swallowed a Fly”.  Because they already know the melody, their brain can give more focus to the content.  Instead of feeding her things she really shouldn’t put in her mouth, we feed her from all the food groups.  

Children can learn the concept of Thanksgiving and sharing with the "Salad" Activity.  Ask each child to bring in a baggie filled with something that could go into a salad.  When they get to class, each child puts what they brought into a bowl and by everyone sharing what they brought, we create a salad to share with each other!

Additional things to add to the lesson could be:
 *Have a food plate up front or at each place for the children to place food on
 *When the food is sung, they place it on the plate
     ^This allows them to see the plate filling up. GREAT visual!
                *Everyone joins in on “She’s a healthy woman!”  (Sing “Do Do Do Do Do Do!”)
*Be sure to encourage that singing because ……

BRAIN FACT Singing activates the semi-circular canals and aids in balance. 

This activity naturally leads to great extensions:
            Graphing and Sorting – Put all the Vegetables here.  How many are green?
            Personal preferences – How many people like Bananas best?
            Multicultural – Different families eat different foods.  Share your favorite                                                
BRAIN FACT Afro Cuban / Salsa beats can benefit the brain by about 20% more than Mozart!  (Parsons, 2006).

The second song is the Smart Woman Merengue.  Each child has a food to feed the Smart Woman.  Everyone is standing up doing the Merengue which is a simple dance for children as it only involves stepping and moving your hips.  After the food is fed to the doll, there is then an activity to do combining music with a movement.  At the end, each food is repeated with its group called out for recall and memory.

Science is FUNdamental and activities like these make it memorable and fun for the children and the adults teaching the lesson.  Feed your Smart Woman!

Maryann "Mar." Harman
Founder of Music with Mar., Inc
BA Music ED/ MA Education
Visit Facebook for daily brain facts : Facebook Brain Facts

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