Thursday, February 18, 2016

KINDNESS - Be Kind, Teach Kind - Part II

 How to Be Kind, How to Teach Kind 

Ms. Brigid here, from Merit School of Music  in Chicago. Thank you for joining me!

In a month that celebrates love and friendship, I’d like to revisit last month’s topic – Kindness. As part of my January post, I put out a call for books and activities that helped foster kindness in the Pre-K and Kindergarten classrooms, and received many thoughtful suggestions. Thank you from the bottom of my heart.

My favorites for use in music class:
Because of You by B.G. Hennessy is a sweet picture book. The text and bright, cheerywatercolor illustrations make easily understood points for younger Early Childhood kiddos. I created a musical chorus that I inserted every few pages. It’s not rocket science, but the kiddos learned and sang the simple chorus easily and with great sincerity.
Because of you, because of you,
You make the world a better place.
Because of you, because of you,
You put a smile upon my face.

Flora and the Penguin by Molly Idle, is a book without words – but nevertheless, it documents perfectly how misunderstandings occur between friends, and the reparations needed for a thoughtless response. I pair the book with a post-reading paper plate skating session to an excerpt of Waldteufel’s The Skater’s Waltz and encourage fancy stuff like twirling, skating backwards, etc.

If you have more time, the next three books are great for small groups: Helen Lester’s All For Me and None For All about the reformation of a greedy overbearing pig: Iza Trapani’s Baa Baa Black Sheep, recommended by friend Anna Stange, about giving and misgivings: and Kadir Nelson’s If You Plant a Seed, the alarming yet beautifully illustrated (eek) picture book drawing the similarity between planting a garden and planting seeds of kindness.

For older kiddos in First or Second Grade, I recommend Trudy Ludwig’s The Invisible Boy. Patrice Barton’s beautiful illustrations perfectly capture the essence of the poignant story about a boy who is overlooked and ignored by his classmates until...well, I’ll let you find out for yourself!  From the book jacket: “…this gentle story shows how small acts of kindness can help children feel included and allow them to flourish. Any parent, teacher, or counselor, look for material that sensitively addresses the needs of quieter children will find ‘The Invisible Boy’ a valuable and important resource.’ I agree completely.

Each Kindness by Jacqueline Lewis, is also highly recommended for older kiddos. I shared this with one of my Second Grade teachers, and she read it to her students. They commented that the book embraced the same theme – inclusion - as R.J. Palacio’s book, Wonder, but with a fraction of the pages! There is no resolution, but the protagonist comes to a greater self-realization, and is “…stung by the opportunity that’s been lost. How much better could it have been if she’d just shown …a little kindness and opened her heart to friendship?” (from the book jacket).

The Children’s Music Network’s Peace Songbook: Peace Songs for Children yielded a number of wonderful song, among them, Pam Donkin’s Kindness is Everywhere, which my kiddos loved singing.   

I Will Be Your Friend, published by Teaching Tolerance, yielded more treasures, among them, Bob Blue’s Courage – which still brings me to tears. It is not a song for Pre-K, or even K, though others may hold another opinion, but definitely a song to hold in your heart. This book is out of print, but may be found quite easily on secondary book markets. It originally came with a CD of the songs in the book – and if you find a copy with a CD, you have truly struck gold.

Lastly, I stumbled upon a site called Erase Meanness. The brainchild of Eric Johnson, a 6th grade teacher in Mishawaka, IN, his original idea has grown into an international movement involving thousands and thousand of students in over 15 countries and six continents -  and going strong! 

Merit School of Music, Chicago
Call on Merit School of Music! Our onsite school is in the West Loop. We work in the schools throughout the area providing band, orchestra, percussion, choir, early childhood, and general music instruction with project based units including Recorder, Music and Storytelling and Songwriting. We do great work! YoYo Ma is a supporter!

Chicago Families
Please come to Merit’s Storytime sessions. It’s free, fun, and facilitated by singers and storytellers Amy Lowe, Irica Baurer, Janet Janz, & Brigid Finucane. Stories and songs start at 11am, and we end with time for family networking. Storytime is be offered once a month on the 2nd Monday. The next session is March 14, 2016.

I am continually inspired by the Children’s Music Network (CMN) community, an international group of socially conscious musicians, educators, librarians, families, songwriters and good people, who “celebrate the positive power of music in the lives of children by sharing songs, exchanging ideas, and creating community.” Please visit CMN, and find a gathering in your region.

©2016 Brigid Finucane  * 847-213-0713 *

Blog History
June 2015. Summer Songs

Aug.2014. Educators Who Care, Share. Singers, Sites & Songs – Part II: Midwest & Great Lakes (Listening Locally)          

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