Saturday, July 25, 2015

Can Music Get Children to Eat Well?

     Maybe you started reading this because that title is a little abby-normal.  It is; and, if it got your attention, Yay!  Can music get Children to eat well?  Yes, in a couple of ways.  Let's explore....
Although this is about being positive to keep your immune system strong, it also states that we DO react to lyrics.   When we sing about eating good food, children process that and remember it.  They go home and talk about.  It becomes part of their value system.   And we have to do it more than once.   It takes 1200 times of hearing or doing something for a child to completely learn a concept.

     We need a lot of good songs about food!  Try Peter Alsop's song "Apple Juice".
Songs for Teaching has a whole page for food songs!

     I think I've made the point.  Now, I'd like to introduce you to "The Smart Woman"
She is smart because she eats from all her food groups!

Here is what I do.  We talk about all the foods she could eat.  Each child gets a food they can feed to her.  We sing the song and the child puts the food in her mouth when that food is sung about.  They love feeding her.  (OK.  I will admit this to you.  Occassionally, I've been known to have her burp.  It does make them giggle!  And, I do say "Excuse me".)

Here is a picture of me using the doll with a class of 2 yr olds.  I start young.  (1200 times etc etc)  By the time they are four, they should have this!

You can purchase the doll.  OR ~ ~ you can make your own!
I saw someone use a clear plastic bag so the children can see what is going into the stomach.  Then, she pointed to each food when the song recapped.

Here are the lyrics.
It is sung to the tune of "I Know An Old Lady Who Swallowed a Fly
I know a smart woman, when her day began
She ate cereal that had some bran. 
She’s a healthy woman
I know a smart woman, who ate some fruit
Like peaches, bananas & berries (they’re cute)
She ate the fruit to go with the bran,
That she ate when her day began.
She’s a healthy woman.
I know a smart woman who ate some cheese
Oh jeez!  She ate some cheese. She ate some cheese... (repeat all)
I know a smart woman who drank some milk
Or soy silk, but she drank milk. She drank some milk to go with the cheese.. (repeat all)
I know a smart woman and veggies she ate
The more on her plate,
The more veggies she ate.  She ate the veggies to... (repeat all)
I know a smart woman
Who ate meat that was lean
And fish, chicken or tofu for good protein.  She ate protein to... (repeat all)
I know a smart woman who ate what was good

From each food group as she should….(repeat all)

On my newest CD - "Mr. Froggy's Fitness Fun" - I have a new version of this - Are you ready?  "The Smart Woman Merengue".  Yup.  It can be even more fun by adding a movement to each food group.  Que bueno!

If you'd like signs for each food group, click on Food Signs and download them for FREE from my website.  I use these for "Dance for the Food Groups".  which you can have FREE through the weekend.  Download now.  The deal goes away on Monday.

Buon appetito!  ¡buen provecho! Lekker eet!  Afiyet olsun!

Thursday, July 23, 2015

Repurposing Binder Clips

It's Scott from Brick by Brick. I love to repurpose materials—use materials in ways different from their intended purpose.

One of my favorite places to find items to repurpose is the office supply store (or the office supply section of your favorite discount store). Here are a few ideas for repurposing a favorite office item - binder clips.

Game Pieces - Use binder clips to make stand-up game pieces. This one uses a picture card. But you could use anything that could clip in the binder clip. Use photographs of your kids. Use index cards on which kids have printed their names or drawn pictures. Use letters or shapes from bulletin board sets. You can use anything. Clip it in the binder clip and stand on the table or gameboard. 

Or stick a colored sticker on the binder clip or buy a set of colored binder clips and use the clips themselves for game pieces.

Book Binding - Use binder clips to attach pages together in a homemade book. Kids could draw pictures and/or write words on sheets of paper or cards. Clip the pages together and turn the pages. 

This book is made from food labels. Cut labels from boxes or cans and tape the labels onto index cards. Clip the cards together. (Use logos that are familiar to kids. They can "read" this book because it uses environmental print, print they recognize.)

Homemade Clipboard - Use a piece of cardboard and a binder clip to make a homemade clipboard. Stack paper and align with the cardboard. Clip on the binder clip. Kids now have a portable "desk" to write or draw.

Mailbox Labels - I purchased these mailboxes for my classroom. I wanted to label each slot with a kid's name. But I wanted to be able to change the names or reuse the mailboxes from class to class. I clipped binder clips to the bottom of the slots and attached a small label with the kids' names. These worked great! I was able to remove a clip or add a clip when kids came or went. And, I could remove the label and put on a clean one to reuse the clip, too.

Other Ideas:
  • You could also use the binder clips as counters or other manipulatives. 
  • Add the clips to an activity that allows kids to practice pinching to open the clips. (Great for fine motor development) 
  • Hang the clips on pushpins to make easily changeable wall displays. 
  • Or just clip papers together, as the binder clips were designed to do.

What ways could you use these in your classroom?

Wednesday, July 22, 2015

A Fun Dance Activity for Outside Summer Play

Happy Mid-Summer!

In so many parts of the country, summer is the only time children can go barefoot,  venture outside without a jacket, enjoy the warm sunshine, and spend hours and hours playing (and dancing!) outside.  Here is one of my favorite dance activities that works as well outside on a nice day as it does in the classroom or gym.  And it has the added advantage of familiarizing young children with their surroundings.

ACTIVITY:  Take a Virtual Tour of Your Hometown

Summer is a wonderful time to get to know your hometown.  Take a virtual tour of some of the highlights, adding as many ideas as you and the children can think of.    Allow the children time to respond to each prompt.  If you can, follow it up another day with a real tour.  Here is a virtual tour of my hometown, Cincinnati!  It is easy to take these basic ideas, and substitute your own city, town, or rural area's local landmarks and activities.

Let's Have Fun in Cincinnati!

Materials:  None!
Music:  Optional, but an upbeat song about your city, or something related to it, would enhance the activity

Call out the following movement prompts one by one, allowing plenty of time in between for the children to explore their ideas.

* Climb a tree, grab buckeyes, climb down, and pick up those that have fallen on the ground

    * Paddle a rowboat, kayak, or canoe down the Ohio River, then jump out and swim.  Climb back in the boat and dry off

    * Hit a baseball like your favorite Cincinnati Reds player, then 
    jump to catch a fly ball.  Now run around the bases, first, 
    second, third, and home, as fast as you can!

    * Throw, kick and catch a football like your favorite Cincinnati Bengal’s player
    * Skate on the ice: go backward, forward, make a figure eight.  Pretend like you have a hockey stick, and slap a hockey puck like a Cincinnati Cyclones player

    * Run, jump, dribble, and shoot like a University of Cincinnati Bearcat basketball player.

    * Run circles around the fountain on Fountain Square.  Then imagine you are the water squirting out of the fountain

    * Run, jump, climb, and leap like your favorite animals at the Cincinnati Zoo
    * Climb all the way to the top of the highest building downtown, look at the sights, and then climb back down
    * Play at Kings Island amusement park -- imagine you are riding your favorite rides.
    * Imagine you are playing an instrument in a parade!

    * Visit the aquarium.  Swim, crawl, and move like your favorite water creatures.

    * Fly like an airplane over the city.  What do you see when you look down?

    Conclude the activity by asking:  What was your favorite place to visit in Cincinnati?

    This activity can be expanded as a geography/social studies lesson.  You can "visit" lots of places and lots of sites.  Read about them, and take a tour as in the activity above!

    Have a wonderful summer, and keep on dancin',


    Saturday, July 18, 2015


    Ms. Brigid here, from Merit School of Music  in Chicago. Thank you for joining me. On a hot summer night in Chicago – and we’re having a lot of them all of a sudden – I met with a group of Pre-K teachers to conduct a workshop on  “Musical Building Blocks” focusing on elements and techniques for successfully integrating music into the classroom and circle time. We discussed fast and slow, high and low, piano and forte, sound and no sound, stopping and starting, how to teach a song and sing a book. Woven throughout were transition chants and songs to facilitate movement and change levels from sitting to standing. Here are a few of my favorites. Please share yours below in "Comments" or email them directly to me ( I will post them to our community so we can all benefit!

    Down Is the Earth (chant)

    Down is the earth.                    (Drum the floor)
     Up is the sky.                            (Fling arms up in air, above head. Voice rises) 
    Here are my friends,                  (Both hands gesture to friends on either side)
    And here am I.                           (Both hands touch chest)

    I found this chant on one of my down the rabbit hole internet searches, purely by accident, and have not as yet been able to track down the provenance. Thank you to whomever penned it! My 2-3s and 3-5 year old children loved this from the beginning of the  year to the end. It’s extremely flexible – and can be performed sitting or standing. Use of comparatives (high/low, piano/forte, etc.) are especially effective. When children are comfortable, try the chant using opposite movements, e.g. standing and reaching up to the sky while chanting "down is the earth," etc.
    *A chant merely means that the words are spoken, not sung.

    Two Little Hands (chant)

    Two little hands go clap, clap, clap. (Clap hands simultaneously with “clap”)
    Two little feet go tap, tap, tap. (Stamp feet – more fun than tapping!)
    One little body turns around. (Turn body around one time)
     Everyone here sits right down. (Everyone sits down)

    The rhythm and rhyming words make this a fun and easy group activity to move from high to low, or standing to sitting. Eventually, my kiddos “audiate” the chant, i.e., they hide the words in their heads and perform the motions, all together, entirely in silence. Silent round of applause! Many of you may be familiar with some version of this rhyme that uses “one little child turns around.” I changed it after the umpteenth child – over many years – rightfully pointed out that I was not a child.

    Everybody Have a Seat 
    Piggyback tune: Shortnin’ Bread

    Everybody have a seat, have a seat, have a seat,
    Everybody have a seat on the floor.
    Not on the ceiling, not on the door,
    Everybody have a seat on the floor.

    Everybody have a seat, have a seat, have a seat,
    Everybody have a seat on your chair.
    Not on the ceiling, not on the stair,
    Everybody have a seat on your chair.

    A favorite with both children and teachers, this is a great way to get from high to low, from standing to seated. Encourage other rhyming pairs – the sillier the better.
    Some ideas: Everybody have a seat… on the rug. Not on a ___, not on a bug,… or
    Everybody have a seat…at the circle. Not at a ___, no at a birkel,… and etc. This chant can also be used to line kiddos up at the end of the day (Everybody line up… at the door) – really, there are no limits to the way it can be used. Pre-K and K teachers are the champions of creative “piggybacking” – adapting words to known melodies for their own purposes!        

    Tall As A Tree (chant)   

    Tall as a tree.                                    (Stand and stretch arms as high as possible)
    Wide as a house.                                    (Stretch arms and legs out wide)
    Thin as a pin.                                    (Jump body back, arms glued to body)
    Small as a mouse. (x2)                           (Curl into small ball)

    Movement is key to learning! The similes used employ the whole body – so it’s an effective way to bring a dose of gross motor after an period of inactivity. Repeat the chant more than once to wake up the body. Comparatives may also be used.
    Per friend Allison Ashley:  To transition to lining up, end with “quiet as a mouse.

    Thanks for reading!

    Please share your transitions chants and songs below in “Comments” or
    email me:
    I hope you’ll join me next month for musical musings.
    Until then, happy singing!

    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 – the 2nd and 4th Mondays of the month. It’s free, fun, and facilitated by singers and storytellers Amy Lowe, Irica Baurer & me. Stories and songs start at 11am, and we end with instrument exploration and family networking. Storytime will continue through the summer months, so come on down!
    The next session is July 27.

    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.

    ©2015 Brigid Finucane  * 847-213-0713 *


    Thursday, July 16, 2015

    Gratitude (and Exhaustion!)

    Teachers learning fingerplays!
     Happy Summer from Miss Carole of Macaroni Soup!
     To all who have faithfully come to PreKandKSharing on the 16th of each month - THANK YOU!  Today I am winging my way toward Johnson City, TN to Sing, Dance and LEARN through music with teachers and caregivers at the East Tennessee State University Early Childhood Conference on Friday and Saturday.  
      Last week I did four workshops at the SDE "I Teach K!" Conference in Las Vegas!  And there's lots more sharing and learning coming up in August!
    SDE "I Teach K!" in Las Vegas - stretchy band fun!
     This month I don't have a song to share or dance to teach you - please page through one of the gazillion blogs I've written since this wonderful project started. Okay, maybe not a gazillion, but 44 blog posts is a lot for a person who had never read a blog, followed a blog or written a blog.    
     Thanks to Debbie Clement's immense patience in showing me the ropes, and for dreaming this up in the first place!  Thanks to all who have written to me, asked wonderful questions and even invited me to their schools, libraries and conferences. My job - sharing music, movement and sparking imagination is a privilage!
    I can't wait to go back to school!  Crazy, huh?

        I will get back on track next month - I promise you songs to keep "back to school" humming in the key of FUN! 

    Yours for a Song!
    "Miss Carole" Stephens
    Macaroni Soup! Active Music for Active Learners!

    Wednesday, July 15, 2015

    Montessori-Inspired Pioneer Activities Using Free Printables

    By Deb Chitwood from Living Montessori Now  

    I grew up 40 miles from DeSmet, South Dakota, of Little Town on the Prairie fame. I was always a fan of the Laura Ingalls Wilder book series and loved studying about that time in history. I enjoyed sharing the Laura Ingalls Wilder books and activities with my own children. Today, I want to share some ideas for Montessori-inspired pioneer activities that can be used in the classroom or at home. 

    I shared a list of free pioneer printables in my post today at Living Montessori Now. Here, I'm sharing some Montessori-inspired pioneer activities using free printables for preschoolers through first graders. 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. 

    Covered Wagon Lacing Covered Wagon Lacing

    Free Printable: Covered Wagon Lacing from Wild West Mega Pack at 123 Homeschool 4 Me 

    The tray is a Multicraft tray. This activity just requires printing out, laminating, and cutting out the covered wagon; punching holes around the wagon; and using tape to create an end on the yarn for lacing. Older children could use yarn threaded through a needle. 

    Pioneer Counting and Skip Counting Puzzles Pioneer Counting and Skip Counting Puzzles Free Printable: Pioneer Counting and Skip Counting Puzzles from Pioneer Pack, Part 1 from 3 Dinosaurs 

    I printed out, laminated, and cut out the puzzle pieces. You can choose a pioneer puzzle with simple linear counting or with skip counting. For younger children, I would just use one puzzle per box. For older children, you could add all four puzzles to a box for extra difficulty. I used a Really Useful Pencil Box. You could also use a zippered pencil pouch to create an activity bag with the puzzles for traveling or waiting rooms. 

    Pioneer Counting and Addition Roll and Cover Games Pioneer Counting and Addition Roll and Cover Games

    Free Printable: Wagon Roll and Cover and Cabin Roll and Cover from Pioneer Pack, Part 4 from 3 Dinosaurs   

    I added two activities/papers to this tray for children at different levels. The covered wagon is a simple counting activity. The cabin in the page below it has an addition activity using two dice. I used clear glass gems as markers so children could see the numbers through the gems. I also used a sugar tong from Montessori Services to add an activity for fine-motor development. 

    Pioneer Town-Store Money Activity    Pioneer Town Store Money Activity

    Free Printable: Pioneer Town-Store Money Activity from Little House in the Big Woods and Pioneer Unit at Every Star Is Different 

    I really like this activity for giving a high-interest way to help children become comfortable dealing with coins. If you have a children's cash register, that could be used to make the activity even more meaningful. 

    Younger children could match the coins to the card. I placed only the coins in the dish that are needed to complete the activity for a control of error. You could use 4, 8, or 12 cards. Older children could match the actual money amount to the coin cards. 

    Pioneer Beginning Sounds Clip Cards Pioneer Beginning Sounds Clip Cards

    Free Printable: Pioneer Beginning Sounds Clip Cards from Jump in to Summer Learning: Pioneers (Day 5, Kindergarten) at Royal Baloo 

    The basket is a Montessori Services basket. I used mini clothespins to add both difficulty and interest. I also added control dots to the back to identify the correct answer when the child turns the card over after clipping on the clothespin. 

    Pioneer Girl and Boy Paper Doll Cutting Activity Pioneer Girl and Boy Paper Doll Cutting Activity 

    Free Printable: Pioneer Girl and Pioneer Boy Paper Doll Printables from Little House on the Prairie 

    This is an advanced cutting activity and fun craft that would be of interest to kindergarteners through elementary-level children. I used Fiskar kids' scissors.

    Here's the link to my favorite laminator ... inexpensive and great for almost any activity that needs to be laminated!

    More Free Pioneer  Printables and Montessori-Inspired Pioneer Activities

    Go to my post at Living Montessori Now for links to pioneer freebies from around the blogosphere: Free Pioneer Printables and Montessori-Inspired Pioneer Activities.

    You'll find more pioneer activities and ideas in these Living Montessori Now  posts: Little House on the Prairie Unit Study

    Little House on the Prairie Unit Study

    Laura Ingalls Wilder and Montessori Washboard Activity

    Laura Ingalls Wilder and Montessori Washboard Activity Frontier Life Unit Study Pinterest Board
    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. I'm also one of the coauthors of the book Learn with Play – 150+ Activities for Year-round Fun & Learning!

    Have a great rest of the summer!

    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 40 years (and lives in the city where her kids, kids-in-law, and toddler granddaughter live). She blogs at Living Montessori Now.
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