Saturday, October 25, 2014

Thankfulness and Music

"Thank you for letting me be myself again"  Sly & the Family Stone

It's almost November.  Fall is in full swing.  In the US, we will be celebrating Thanksgiving and, as with everything in life, there are songs to go with that.   I'd like to offer a free download of my song "Say 'Thank You'".  It is available for two weeks by going to Say "Thank You" and using code :  Thanks
With the decorations out already for Christmas, we aren't given the time to have our brains process the idea of thankfulness.  (I tried to buy Thanksgiving materials this week and they were already in the marked down bin with the Halloween stuff, as if the holiday had already occurred.)  It upsets me that we overlook such an important holiday, a holiday that teaches the importance of being thankful.  It must be important because there are hundreds of songs on thankfulness.  Here is a link to a list :

Each year at this time, I get up and do "Tommy Turkey".  Who doesn't like to shake their tailfeathers?  Here are the lyrics :
Tommy Turkey, he loves to dance
He shakes his tail feathers when he has a chance
Tommy Turkey wants to dance with you
So, get up on your feet.  You can do it, too
Shake your tail feathers.  Shake 'em down
Flap your wings and turn around
Gobble.  Gobble. Gobble.  Gobble.  Strut your stuff.
Sit back down.   Tommy says "Enough!"
         Tommy Turkey                         Preschoolers shaking tailfeathers

As early childhood teachers, we enjoy exposing our children to life and the many wonderful aspects of it.  Part of that is a familiarity with what is happening around them and that includes the Seasons and the Celebrations.   
           What else is happening in the Fall?  Leaves are 'FALLing'.  You can do the "Autumn Leave Oom Pah Pah".  I have this song available with 10 leaves and 5 so you can adjust according to how long the age level you work with will stay captivated.
Here's what you do :
Here is a video of teachers learning how to do the song / activity.  
                           Teachers doing Autumn Leave Oom Pah Pah

One more activity to teach what the concept of Thanksgiving is all about is the Sharing Salad. Ask the children what things they are thankful for.  Use stick time to tap out words they may use - family, turkey dinner, cooler weather, fruit.  Have a classroom salad and teach how when we share, there is enough for all.
Ask each child to bring in one baggie with something that would go in a salad (olives, tomatoes, carrots).  You supply a bowl and dressings.  As the children get to class, you tell them "Look.  You brought a bag of raisins.  When we put it in the bowl it adds to what everyone else brought and we have enough to share a salad."
Before eating your salad, sing a song of thankfulness.  They will remember this for the rest of their lives.
Please visit me at

                 HAPPY THANKSGIVING

Friday, October 24, 2014

Very Busy Spiders (a la Eric Carle)

It is no secret that Kindergartners love Eric Carle! His simple stories and bright, vivid collaged illustrations are truly works of Art! 

Just in time for Halloween I had my littles make some VERY busy spiders. We began by watching the movie Eric Carle: Picture Writer. My students listened to him read "The Very Busy Spider", then watched him make a few of his collage papers.

I actually pre-made some painted papers in the interest of time, but this is definitely something you can have your students make ahead of time.

I then taught them how to make a web (white crayon on black paper). They cut the bodies (circle head and oval body) as well as the legs. We bent the legs to give the spider a 3-D look. 

I just loved how everything turned out, and the kids were thrilled with their Halloween/Not Halloween artwork! 

I have lots more Eric Carle projects which are forthcoming, so you may want to hop over to my classroom blog to check them out!

Joanna Davis is a National Board Certified Art Teacher from Venice, Florida. She writes for her classroom blog "We Heart Art", has a son in Kindergarten who is her main source of inspiration, and hates spiders.

Saturday, October 18, 2014

SINGING A STORY - The Magic of Musical Books, Part I

The following information is adapted from posts on In Harmony – A music education blog from Heritage Music Press. In deference to The Husband, who maintains that blogposts are different than book chapters, I am breaking the information into two parts. You can thank him later. Really. He’d love to be thanked – because that means he’s right.

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

An App to Love
Before we get to the main topic of this post, I’d like to share a recently discovered and brilliant app: Freeze Dance.  For a mere $.99, you can select any song in your iTunes library and add pauses – essentially doing away with remotes or lurking next to the CD player when your kiddos are freeze dancing. Users can select Auto Freeze or create customized intervals.  The app is highlighted in Amy M. Burn’s  FREE e-book, Help! I am an elementary music teacher with one or more iPads! 

Full disclosure: This book was was discovered via the 15 Of The Best Music Technology in Education Books web article by Australian, Katie Wardrobe. Her music-tech-education site, Midnight Music, is a treasure trove of great ideas and information. You’ll be happy you took a look!

                  Why Sing a Book?
One of my passions is music and literacy – and a favorite way to share this with students and families is by presenting musical books at the end of class time. When a book is sung, it goes beyond the simple and everyday – it’s elevated into a new and special experience.   A musical book engages, invites positive communal participation, opens teaching opportunities and provides non-stressful (group) pronunciation practice, especially important for the many families and students I work with whose first language is not English.

Music/songs share many elements with the books read in early childhood classrooms. Music/songs/books
·      use symbolic notation,
·      are rhythmic and sequential (there are beginnings, middles, ends)
·      provide vocabulary enrichment,
·      teach tenses and plurals,
·      are rich in poetic language,
·      allow visualization, reflection and
·      encourage good pronunciation. 

Music is also reductive – it gets to the heart of things very quickly.
Shadow Chasers by Elly MacKay. Thank you, S. Hassler!

Depending on the season and concepts I want to reinforce, Books are sung two or three times, and their subject matter reflects the season or concepts highlighted during class. Most books employ audience participation through echoing the text line by line or a chorus. Some books are even vehicles to encourage solo singing.

How to Begin?
1. Find a song that has been turned into a book, and sing it!
The best place to do this is a library. You’ll be amazed what you can find in the children’s section! But wait, there’s more. To add a richer dimension, consider pairing books with the recordings that inspired them, e.g., What a Wonderful World, by George David Weiss & Bob Thiele, Ashley Bryan (illus). The singer that made this song famous was Louis Armstrong.

This brightly illustrated book is filled with positive images of the world and different cultures and is a favorite of those I teach. The story goes that this song was written specifically for Armstrong in the late 1960’s to quell civil unrest, since he was a beloved civil and cultural ambassador. This may or may not be true- but it’s interesting to ponder! After introducing Armstrong and the book, I turn the pages while playing a recording of the song. We don’t stop there. We immediately sing it again – but this without accompaniment.

Another option: After reading the book, use the app, Watchlater,* or another video downloader, to download the YouTube video of Armstrong directly to your iPad or computer. My families love watching this great man sing. He doesn’t play his famous trumpet on this recording, but it’s right there in his hand! *At this writing, Watchlater is still operable, but is in a transition period with the iTunes, due to the recent IOS updates.

There are many more wonderful options to choose from. Here are songs/books that work nicely, all with iconic singers attached:
YouTubes to use: Burl Ives.  The stringed instruments are fantastic.

Danny Kaye’s version is included as a comparative. You’ll either love or hate the background singers!

A, You’re Adorable. Perry Como’s 1949 hit is about how adorable his sweetheart is. For me,  this song/book works far better as song an adult sings to a child.

YouTubes to use: Dean Martin’s recording OR Sesame Street.
YouTubes to use: Julie Andrews’ recording.

The book’s rich illustrations call for slowly turned pages, so this recording may be for listening purposes only! Film clip.

2. Referencing Melodies. 
There are a number of deservedly popular books that reference a well know melody and add or “piggyback” their words onto it. These books wouldn’t works as well, or at all, if they didn’t have a very specific song and melody as their foundation. Let’s take a look at two:
Melody: “It Aint’ Gonna Rain No More.”  This is a great book for colors, patterns, rhyming, body parts….and slightly subversive fun! The illustrations are exceptional (though the little boy is a bit creepy – in an art-is-purely-subjective kind of way).
NOTE: Syllabication is not completely accurate.  Be sure to practice before presenting, and make necessary adjustment.

Melody: “The Ants Go Marching.” “Dressed in raincoats and carrying umbrellas, a platoon of aunts march through the rainy city streets led by a little girl with a drum in this cumulative rhyme.” (cover). Clever illustrations of rapid numeric (aunt) expansion highlight this funny take on this classic childhood song.
Other examples: The Seals on the Bus by Lenny Hort & G. B. Karas (Melody: Wheels on the Bus) and Cows in the Kitchen by A. Anderson (Melody: “Skip to My Lou”).

That’s all for now. Please join me in November for Part II: Piggybacking Melodies.

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.

©2014 Brigid Finucane  * 847-213-0713 *

Blog History: December 2013 – Present

Thursday, October 16, 2014

Windy Songs from the Windy City!

Hello! MacaroniSoup with Miss Carole from Chicago here!  Wherever you live you may experience windy days. It may be in the Spring, when the wind can bring rain and the smell of damp earth and sprouting things. It may be in the Winter, when the wind blows cold and sounds hollow. It may be in the Summer, when it is a welcome relief to a sweaty day. But I like the Autumn winds, making leaves and squirrels dance! 

For my blog this month I’m sharing three great songs and a chant!  Don’t forget to check back on my 2012 (SeasonSings) and 2013 (Blow the Wind) September/October blogs for more windy songs!  
Let’s begin – WHOOSH!

THE CHANT:  The Windy Day
Walking at the beginning...

This simple poem will get everyone moving.  First demonstrate the movement to your children while they are sitting down.  Simply speak the words rhythmically while walking to the beat. On the last line, turn and face the other direction, ready to begin again walking again. Then invite them to try it with you. Pause briefly at the end of each repetition to be sure everyone changes direction.  Go a little faster with each repetition!

Now we're running really fast!

There was a man in our town,
Went for a walk one day

The wind it blew so very hard
It turned him the other way!

To hear this, click here! It's on my "H.U.M. - Highly Usable Music" cd.  
I usually do 4-5 repetitions. 

NOTE:  Be sure you have open space for running! Do “The Windy Day” outdoors, too!

Miss Carole and class - ready to fly!


I first blogged about this song several years ago - so I'll be brief here - check out the original blog "Making BOO Fun" for even more details!

A visual can really help for this slightly spooky song – you and your child(ren) can draw the farm on paper, or use a flannelboard as I do. Each child loves to put a bat on the farm before we start!  The tune is “The Green Grass Grew All Around” – but in a minor key – that’s the slightly spooky part!  It is also on my “H.U.M. – Highly Usable Music” cd. It will soon be available for album download if you prefer that to a cd.

This is a call/response or echo song. The leader sings the line, the children sing it back. We flap our bat wings during the chorus. I advise my younger students to snuggle up to a friend or teacher should they become scared, which hardly ever happens.

There was a farm…
A spooky little farm…
The spookiest farm….
That you ever did see—eee!
A field’s on the farm, the farm’s full of spooks – BOO!
And the black bats flew all around, all around
The black bats flew all around, OH –
The black bats flew all around, all around
The black bats flew all around!

Our flannelboard Black Bat Farm!
V.2 And on that farm…
      There was a vine
      The creepiest vine
      That you ever did see-eee!
      A vine’s on the field, the field’s on the farm, the farm’s full of spooks – BOO!
Add a verse:
V.3  On that vine, there is a pumpkin
        The cutest little pumpkin 
        That you ever did see-eee!
V.4  And in that pumpkin, 
       There are some seeds
       The slimy-est seeds 
       That you ever did see-eee!

What to do for motions? We trace a square in the air for the farm. We flat-hand a circular motion for the field.  Use your pointer finger to squiggle a line from high to low for that creepy vine.  Smile when you make a circle with your thumbs and pointer fingers for that cute pumpkin.  And wipe your slimed hands together for the gooshy seeds!  Flap those bat wings, flinging hands overhead for the “OH” in the chorus.
    Children ask me for this song all year long – it’s a favorite!

A Friendly Blue Goblin!
Ok – I’ll be up front about this one – it’s one of MY favorites!  Get out your scarves and have a blast!  

    We first talk about what a goblin might be – since they are pretend, we can make them anything we want – big/small, nice/nasty, quiet/loud – it’s a great chance to talk about opposites!  Hear it on my “Season Sings!” cd!
    Then we put a scarf over our head – because goblins can be any color – and tiptoe, float, and say “boo!” before putting the scarf on the floor to “sleep on the ground.” 
    While my students are quietly sleeping, I whisper “When I count to 3, you will wake up, stretch your arms, then sit criss-cross, applesauce.”  Once accomplished, I call them to put their scarves away by color – “If you have a blue scarf, put it in the bag,” and so on.

Ten little goblins dancing in a ring
Goblins of every hue!
Ten little goblins hear them sing:
Ooo ooo ooo  (use high voices!)

Ten little goblins floating all about
Ten little goblins, hear them shout!
Boo! Boo! Boo! (use loud voices)

Ten little goblins dancing all alone
Ten little goblins, hear them moan:
Ahhh Ahhh Ahhh  (use low voices)

Ten little goblins sleeping on the ground
Ten little goblins – don’t make a sound!
                  © KimboEducational 1985
Sleeping goblins - as cute as goblins get!

If are looking for great scarves, try They offer scarves (and many other great props for movement) made to my specifications. If you order from the Miss Carole’s Macaroni Soup Specials page, you’ll get a discount!

My good friend Susan Salidor posted this one just days ago – hot out of her fertile musical mind!  It’s a great zipper song – and you can sing it TOMORROW!  WatchSusan do it HERE!

Hey little leaf, little leaf, little RED leaf
Hey little leaf, fallin’ on the ground
Hey little leaf, little leaf, little RED leaf
Hey little leaf, fallin’ on the ground.

Rake up the leaves, put ‘em in a pile
Throw ‘em in the air with an October smile!
Rake up the leaves, put ‘em in a pile
Throw ‘em in the air with an October smile!

Repeat with different colored leaves! It’s that simple – whoo-hoo!  A BIG THANKS to Susan Salidor for sharing!  In case you’re thinking, “Where have I heard that name before?” – fellow author on this blog Brigid Finucane listed Susan as one of her fav Midwest Children’s Musician/Educators in her July blog!

Please check back for my November 16 blog – my newest cd, “Polka Dots! is set for November 1st release, and I’ll be sharing more new songs!  Let me know how you’re using the songs I post each month.  I also take requests – “Miss Carole – I need a new banana song – whatcha got?”  (and yes, I have a banana song!)

Yours for a Windy Song!

“Miss Carole” Stephens

Wednesday, October 15, 2014

Montessori-Inspired Owl Activities Using Free Printables

By Deb Chitwood from Living Montessori Now 

Owls are a very versatile theme. Online, I found owl activities for an owl classroom theme, fall owls, Owl Moon winter owl activities, valentine owls, Earth Day ("Give a Hoot! Don't Pollute!") owls, and owls used in the study of birds. 

Free Owl Printables and Montessori-Inspired Owl Activities
I had lots of fun finding printables for my free owl printables post at Living Montessori Now. Here, I've created some owl activities using free printables for preschoolers through first graders. These activities all work especially well with a fall or classroom theme, although they should work with most owl themes. 

You'll find many activities for preschoolers through first graders throughout the year along with presentation ideas in my previous posts at PreK + K Sharing. You'll also find ideas for using free printables to create activity trays here: How to Use Printables to Create Montessori-Inspired Activities

At Living Montessori Now, I have a post with resource links of Free Printables for Montessori Homeschools and Preschools

Disclosure: This post contains affiliate links at no cost to you. 

"5 Little Owls" Activities

  "5 Little Owls" Activities 
I LOVE doing songs and fingerplays with preschoolers! I have a fun series at Living Montessori Now with free songs and rhymes for circle time. Right now, "Free Educational Songs for Circle Time," "Free Fall Songs and Rhymes for Circle Time," and "Free Halloween Songs and Rhymes for Circle Time" are especially popular. 

For the "5 Little Owls" activity tray, I used the free Owl Tot Pack (“5 Little Owls”) from Our Little Monkeys. During the winter, you could use the “5 Little Owls” tree and owls from Homeschool Share. I also used the 5 Little Owls Printable Puzzle by Growing in PreK and K at Teachers Notebook. 

I simply printed out, cut apart, and laminated the pieces. If you're wondering, this is my favorite laminator. I put the puzzle pieces in a pencil box and placed everything on a Multicraft wooden tray

"My Owl Numbers Book" Tray

  "My Owl Numbers Book" Tray 
For this activity, I used My Owl Numbers Book by Amy from Wildflower Ramblings at Hip Homeschool Moms. Creating the owl numbers book is a fun way for children to work on cutting and stapling skills along with math skills. Some children will be able to use the booklet as reading practice, too. 

Owl Paper Cutting Tray 

  Owl Paper Cutting Tray 
This tray uses the Owl Give You Four Free Bookmarks printable by mzmary at Teachers Notebook. For simpler cutting activities, you could add the cutting page from the Owl Tot Pack from Our Little Monkeys. The Owl Tot Pack includes "finish the pattern" strips that could also be used as cutting strips where children cut between the owls. 

Owl Shapes 

Owl Shapes 

I think this activity is TOO CUTE (and creative)! I love the Silly Shaped Owls from Teach With Me. I traced the shapes onto one color of craft foam. I only used one color because of the Montessori principle of isolation of quality

Owl Shape Matching Layout  

Here, the owls and shapes are a matching activity. I used a Montessori Services rug for my layout. In addition to matching shapes, children could trace the foam shapes. You could also have construction paper available for children to create their own shape owls. 

Owl Letter Tumble Tray 

Owl Letter Tumble Tray

This activity uses the Owl Letter Tumble printables from PreKinders. The child simply tumbles the letter owls onto the black felt (or other black cloth used as the night sky) and then matches the letter owls to the letters on the letter chart. Younger children can use this as a matching activity while older children can use this to review phonetic sounds or alphabetical order.

Owl Addition 

  Owl Addition Tray 
For this addition activity, I used Owl Number Matching Cards from KidSparkz and Maths Symbols Cards from Activity Village. The felt owls are Creatology felt stickers from Michaels craft store. 

Owl Addition Layout 

I used only 10 felt owls and owl number cards 1-10. For each equation, the child could choose how many owls to use for each addend and them count them to find the sum. 

Finish Drawing the Owl Activity 

Finish Drawing the Owl Activity 

This is a more challenging activity using the Complete the Drawing Owl printable from Making Learning Fun. It's nice to have some special drawing materials such as the Faber-Castell graphite sketch set, which is what I have in the pencil box on the tray. 

More Free Owl Printables and Fall Activities 

Go to today's post at Living Montessori Now for links to lots of owl freebies from around the blogosphere: Free Owl Printables and Montessori-Inspired Owl Activities.

For October calendar observances and activities, see my October Themed Activities for Kids at Living Montessori Now. You'll also find many fall themes and activities in my "Montessori-Inspired Fall Activities" post. 

Montessori at Home or School - How to Teach Grace and Courtesy eBookIf you'd like to focus on manners with children, please check out my eBook Montessori at Home or School: How to Teach Grace and Courtesy! It's written for anyone who'd like to feel comfortable teaching manners to children ages 2-12.

Have a happy autumn!
Deb - SigantureLiving Montessori Now Button  
Deb ChitwoodDeb Chitwood is a certified Montessori teacher with a master’s degree in Early Childhood Studies from Sheffield Hallam University in Sheffield, England. Deb taught in Montessori schools in Iowa and Arizona before becoming owner/director/teacher of her own Montessori school in South Dakota. Later, she homeschooled her two children through high school. Deb is now a Montessori writer who lives in San Diego with her husband of 39 years (and lives in the city where her kids, kids-in-law, and baby granddaughter live). She blogs at Living Montessori Now.
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