Lullabies

According to Gina Perry in the January 21, 2013 edition of the BBC news magazine, lullabies have been around for over 4,000 years. Bambi Turner in How It Works health article points out that lullabies have been proven to be far more effective than the spoken word. For me, writing lullabies has been my deepest and most personal expression in my songwriting. I have to step back to realize that I am truly at one with my genre or children’s music. Lullabies come to me as easily as a movement song that makes little ones jump up and down.

I have written over the course of six years 11 lullabies that I finally compiled on my CD, Say Goodnight. I must confess that my lullabies are the songs that I have written that I personally love the most and take the most pride in. Moms and Dads will love the very personal expressions of love between parent and child expressed in many of my songs. I have sung many of these lullabies to babies in my babies class and watched them relax, fall asleep, start to fuss as they fight sleep so I know they work. I encourage you to listen to my lullabies on iTunes, Spotify, Google Play, YouTube, SoundCloud or a CD you decide to purchase. Add them to your sleep time play list. Look at my albums page to find the places they are available.

Meet My New Pippilo

I’m totally in love with this guy. I’ve been writing and singing about my Pippilo for almost five years now, but the last song I wrote demanded that my Pippilo join me in my act. I had to get him to stay on my shoulder in such a way that the children would be able to see him, and what I had was just not working. I had a link to a company that could make a stuffed animal to match a child’s drawing. This company, Budsies, was able to do the job, and how wonderful was the work they did!

After I received my Pippilo, I sewed Velcro on the bottom of him and now I attach him to the other part of the Velcro that is successfully stuck to a sturdy leather vest that I wear while I attach my Pippilo to me. I attached a hair elastic to his left hand so that I could attach his left hand to a pony tail that I have in my hair. Voila! He is successfully attached and sits perfectly on my right shoulder.

The children absolutely love being able to see this awesome little guy sitting on my shoulder. I have to personally thank Budsies for the wonderful work. Please check out my Pippilo songs on my CDs. I have written one song about the adventures of my Pippilo for each CD starting with Dance with Me. He is really a preschooler who gets in trouble doing things that preschoolers might be apt to do or does things that encourages the little ones to laugh. He is perfect for children who are four years old and older. And adults love him too!

https://itunes.apple.com/us/album/my-pippilo-named-fred-feat-sarah-waldron/835100662?i=835100669

Parents, Learn to Give Yourself a Break

I just read an article that said that being a mom is like working two and a half jobs! No wonder we are so tired. Being demanded upon by our children non stop is exhausting. We love them, but still fantasize about being alone and free. My children have gotten past that baby stage now, but my remembrance of the commitment and hard work that it involves is exactly one of the reasons I do exactly what I do.

I have watched many parents in the course of my job and very often have a combination of envy as I miss my babies being babies and sympathy as I truly remember how demanding and hard it was. How did I survive? That is the very question I just asked myself. And here are the answers that immediately came to me.

  1. Do something you love. I can’t say enough how important this is. So very often moms and dads make their children so much the center of their universe that they forget to take care of the things they themselves love. For me, my love was piano and music with my son and guitar with my daughter. Children will resist and push against you at times, but for the sake of your own sanity, do not give in. 90% of your life is very much wrapped up in them as it should be. Children often resent anything else taking your interest (such as a phone call) instead of them. I found that my children learned to respect me far more when I knew how to respect myself enough to do those things for myself that I needed to do.
  2. Maintain Clear and Consistent Boundaries. Children are much happier and are much easier to enjoy when they know what their boundaries are and they have learned to respect them. Do you realize that children feel safer when they have boundaries? Did you know that knowing what to expect instead of constantly being unsure of what is going on feels so much more pleasant? Many parents don’t realize that children actually respect us so much more when we create those safe boundaries. They see that we totally respect ourselves enough to create these boundaries, that we know how to establish order and that we care enough about them to create these rules that keep their world safe and peaceful. This takes seemingly a little more work, but in reality it is far less stressful to plan ahead then to constantly be putting out fires that are always coming up. That is far more stressful. Just as we plan our own personal schedules and spending, plan our children’s schedules and activities.
  3. Take physical breaks away from your children. This may be difficult for some parents as it is not always easy to find that other person to help watch your children for a couple of hours while you take a much needed break away from the constant demand of their presence. This was the hardest one for me to do as my parents were a thousand miles away and my husband was not that father who knew how to take over and watch little ones. When he was better with my daughter I can remember learning to take those breaks and how good it felt. Find friends who are willing to trade off times occasionally so that sometimes you can take the break while they watch your child and then you trade the favor and watch their children while they take that break. If your parents are available this is ideal. I envy anyone who is blessed to have this circumstance.
  4. Encourage naps and regular bedtimes. This is one of those organizational disciplines that seems hard but makes you and your child both so much happier. Your child will be so much happier when he or she gets the rest he needs and when he or she knows exactly what the routine is. As I said earlier, this makes children feel safer and it gives them much more respect for you that you are indeed the person in control who knows what you are doing. When your child sleeps, you can rest and this means that you are also benefiting,
  5. Get involved in other children’s groups with other parents of children the same age as yours. This is what I do. I am the lady who leads the group for parents to get together with their children. This is wonderful as parents are finding adult conversation. Parents of the same age children are all able to share stories and advice as you are all in the same situation. Your children will learn so much by socializing with other children, and as I always say, they will learn more about socializing by watching you socialize. This is a win win!

Ten Little Pigs in a Pen

This is a song that teaches little ones how to count, how to subtract, how to take turns, how to listen to directions and how to listen to the words and instructions in a song being sung to them. That is a lot of things isn’t it? Yet the song is so simple.

You will see from my photo that I was lucky enough to find a lot of little pigs for a very good price. I have them in a little crate or a pen. That pen sitting on my table for a week is what inspired me to write this song. I just had to figure out what I was going to put in this pen, and when I found these cute little pigs I knew.

I wrote this song in a very soothing lullaby style which allows the children to relax, slow down and listen as I am singing. This was quite different from my normally very energetic songs. I instruct the children to listen to the part in the song where I say, “one ran away” before they can remove a little pig. One child at a time passes the crate around until all of the pigs are gone.

I used the number ten for the song. I can personally sing any number when I do it live with the children. There are other ways to illustrate and interact. You could create a felt activity where the children one at a time come up to remove a little pig.

This song is on my CD, How Do You Walk Like a Dinosaur? and on my lullaby CD as well. With the little stuffed pigs the little ones adore this activity. This is a great counting activity for little ones.

Mama Dinosaur

This is an activity song that I wrote for toddlers and young preschoolers to teach them colors. I tell them about how mama dinosaur when she has babies lays eggs. She then digs a hole in the ground and puts her eggs in there to keep them safe. I tell them that you are going to put the colored egg that I sing about when I sing about it in the nest which is a basket that I have found. This activity is wonderful for toddlers because it is very simple and easy to follow. As with all of my activity songs, this is a great song for teaching listening skills, following directions, waiting your turn, and learning colors.

I originally tried to use the plastic Easter eggs, but I learned very quickly that that was not going to work as little ones spent too much time taking them apart. Painted wooden eggs were the only way to make this work. I order unpainted wooden eggs from a craft store and then painted them with acrylic paints. If you can find eggs that don’t come apart that are already colored that would be even better.

This song is on my CD, When I’m Happy.

How Do You Walk Like a Dinosaur?

This is a favorite for those who buy my music.  This song is so useful in preschool classrooms 

Little ones love this song.  All I have to do is ask them, “How do you walk like a dinosaur? We have to walk really heavy.” They love it! I then continue the song with other animals that they have to copy me do: a frog, a bird, a cat, an elephant, a monkey and then we go back to the dinosaur. This song works well for toddlers, preschoolers and kindergarten children.  As  is true with many of my songs, this song is valuable for teaching little ones to follow directions, a skill that is invaluable for little ones as it totally prepares them for skills they will need for the rest of their lives in order to succeed. Sounds kind of serious, but for them it is just fun. It allows them to move and to act like their favorite animal.

Here is the link to the YouTube video https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ZMPtlTcqJTE

This song is available on most streaming sites and in CD form also at CD Baby and Amazon. Check out the albums page and the CD, How Do You Walk Like a Dinosaur?

A Christmas Show for Young Children

Every year I do at least one big Christmas show for little ones. This is a big production. I have Santa Claus and my friend, Dennis the dinosaur, join me. I prepare bags which I give out to each child so they can use the objects in the bag to help them with the activities I include in my show. 

Doing a show with little ones requires that they be able to move and get involved in the show. I always incorporate kazoos and bubbles into my show. I have a jingle bell for the song jingle bells and if you look closely you will see felt items. These are used to place on Dennis’s shirt and Cooper Caterpillar. I have also added an apple with a number to be placed in a basket to as I sing my number song.  Little ones’ love being involved.

Now I have to balance my songs. I start with a couple of movement songs. I sprinkle in a few favorite Christmas songs like Rudolf the Red Nosed Reindeer. Then there are the felt or learning activities. In the last ten minutes Santa is invited to join us. The moment he enters, Dennis and I are no longer the stars.  This show is an awesome show for little ones.  It grows every year as parents realize just how fun it is for their children.  

And look! In the end children get to visit with Santa Claus!

Using Kazoos

Kazoos are such an awesome addition to teaching music and singing with children. They love them.  Even if they don’t get a chance to play them they love hearing them. I love watching a group of children with whom I am singing break into laughter the moment they watch me and hear me play the kazoo. A true moment of delight as I know I have connected with them in a very special way. Making preschoolers laugh is a talent that doesn’t come without understanding and experience. Once I know I have tickled their little funny bones, I know I have connected with them.

But there is something even move magical than that. It is more fun for preschoolers and kindergarten children (and even older children) to be able to play the kazoo. I regularly make kazoos a part of my preschool and kindergarten curriculum. It is not easy to get little ones to sing with you, but if they have a kazoo, they will hum into that kazoo.  The first step is to make sure that the children know just how to do that. You will find that most of them figure it out pretty quickly, but there is often one or two children that will find the skill to be a challenge. It is important to teach them not to blow into the kazoo but rather to hum into  the kazoos. I will hum and immediately put the kazoo in my mouth to suddenly create that kazoo sound and then I will remove and repeat that action. Most often they finally get it. If for some reason they don’t I tell them to hold their kazoo and keep trying and maybe they can work on it with their teacher later. I have them start by humming into the kazoo a familiar song, Twinkle, Twinkle Little Star. I have them hum in their kazoos along with me.  Then I move to a song that I have written called “I Lost My Kazoo.”  I tell them that they have to put their kazoos in front of them as they will be copying me with some different sounds. What good discipline and how wonderful that they are learning to follow me. And they love every minute of it. “I Lost My Kazoo” is a wonderful song for teaching young children.

Kazoos are in Montessori curriculum for teaching young children and I can see why. I will give you SoundCloud links here but these songs are available on any of your favorite streaming sites as you can see from my album page and also Google Play which will soon be added to my album page.   https://soundcloud.com/sharon-novak/i-lost-my-kazoo    https://soundcloud.com/sharon-novak/i-have-a-kazoo   https://soundcloud.com/sharon-novak/kazoo-therapy  You can also find these songs on a physical CD which is available at CD Baby or Amazon.

 

The Car Song

This is a favorite! Children love the car song activity when they get to drive the cars on the road and into the garage. Children listen to the song while they have a different color car in their hand. When I sing about the color of the car that they have in their hand they drive it on the road and into the garage.  Are they learning anything? Well, of course they are.  They are learning colors. They are learning to take turns. They are learning to time how long the verse of the song takes to allow them to enjoy driving their car into the garage. Most importantly, however, they are having fun! And this means that they are learning all the more.

This activity is so easy to make.  All you need to find is different color cars.  You could use cars as small as hot wheels or you may be able to acquire larger cars. I will point out that when I started doing this activity that I used a road that was not straight from one of the pre-manufactured mats. Because the road was not straight it offered too many options.  A straight road that takes the cars directly into the garage is best. It help keep little ones focused. The garage is very important and it is easy to make. Just use a box and cut off the bottom. Create an opening and voila you have a garage. I recommend keeping it simple for little ones as you have to keep them moving through the song. That they are staying within the time of the song is great as they are learning to pace themselves.  You will find some kids take their time while others will move along quickly and get the job done. Always watch children and help them with time issues if they need that help. Some love “their moment” and have a tough time quitting so just help them move along if you have a class. For one or two children this is even easier. It is also good to know that this song works best for 3-5 year old children as younger ones still are working on mastering their colors and focus issues. But don’t hesitate to try it if you have one super bright and focused toddler.

You can find this song on my CD, Clap Your Hands. I will provide an iTunes and Spotify link here or simply check out the album page for other options. https://itunes.apple.com/us/album/the-car-song/1434357860?i=1434357872 and it is at Spotify, https://open.spotify.com/track/2ErCnrgfH5BBVTHU8R5o1b?si=O9jmPwK-Rai2DlsWuU_X9Q   I will point out that I’m also at Google Play and YouTube and many other favorite streaming sites.  Just look me up!

 

Color Song

This is one of the first songs I would sing with children when I started singing with them. I have adapted this song from another that I’ve heard and sing it to the tune of Skip to My Lou. The children absolutely love it. I recorded it on my first CD with a couple of other songs. The YouTube link that I will provide will provide you with the links to this song. I tell the children look at their pants, shirts, shoes and when I sing the color that they are wearing they will stand up and          

turn around.

I have carefully recorded it so that it is very useful in the classroom as I make it my goal to record my movement songs in real time. This video pictured is on YouTube.  https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=niyKoN23xqI      You can also find this song at iTunes https://itunes.apple.com/us/album/color-song/1434357860?i=1434357864    and on Spotify  https://open.spotify.com/track/6YusqE4e8v2iwOhXANHuAt?si=2ecSFqYSTke9AvyP3_iYwA and at CD Baby. https://store.cdbaby.com/cd/sharonnovak32    This is a fantastic song for teaching colors, self awareness, and waiting your turn. Your children will love it if you help them see the colors that they are wearing when they hear the color sung.