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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.

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!

 

Birthday Parties

Singing at a birthday party for little ones is one of my favorite things. The best birthday parties I do are for little ones who turn one year old.  Those little ones love the instruments that I bring. My music is most engaging and entertaining for these little ones. I am easily available in New Hampshire and Maine to personally do this. If you are not in one of these states I recommend a children’s musician who allows babies to play with instruments. Birthday party entertainment for little ones is one that frequently requires age appropriate interactive and engaging activities. I totally love doing birthday parties for this reason.

This particular party pictured is one for a little boy with special needs who turned five. I fell in love with him when I met him in one of my classes 3 years earlier. He loved the music, the instruments and the dancing. Such a special little boy.

Bumpity, Bumpity

Bumpity, Bumpity is a fun song that works very well as a bouncing song for babies. I wrote this song with the original intent to use with preschoolers to show slow and fast, and they love it!  I discovered when I started singing it for my babies that moms were enjoying bouncing their little ones to the slow to gradually speeding up tempos. It starts with my old brown dog who doesn’t walk too “fast” and gradually moves to my speckled grey horse, my little white rabbit and that pesky black flea who all move more quickly. Moms, babies and preschoolers are totally loving this song. The recording is really fun thanks to drummer, Eric Rollnick, who added really fun sounds.

You can listen to this fun song at iTunes. https://itunes.apple.com/us/album/bumpity-bumpity/1434357860?i=1434357870

I do have to add the fact that I wrote this in my sleep. It is the second song that happened this way. I woke up singing bumpity, bumpity, bumpity, bumpity, bumpity, bumpity, bump and hippity, hippity, hippity, hippity, hippity, hippity, hop. So as is the best way to remember the content of a dream I began writing while I was still under the spell of what I had written in my sleep and of course it fell out of my thoughts very quickly and easily. And here is the totally awesome product!

There’s a Gorilla in My Alphabet Soup

I am going to write about a song I have just recently written but have not yet recorded. I realized about a month ago that I had not written a song for the classroom about the alphabet. Now that’s a tough one for me because everyone knows and loves the traditional alphabet song. How can a children’s songwriter improve on that.

Well, I don’t know if the song I finally came up with is an improvement, but it is definitely a song that can be used for a teaching activity in my preschool and kindergarten classes that I visit or for my shows that I do for young children. This song was so fun because the moment I finished writing it I was amazed how perfect it is. It tells the children that there is a certain letter in my alphabet soup and then proceeds to tell them that there is an animal that starts with that same letter in my alphabet soup. I was so excited about how perfect this song is that I immediately invested in purchasing some letters to paint and some stickers to put on the letters that showed the children the animal that is in the alphabet soup. And the animal being there is so perfect as that reinforces to the children who may be unsure about what letter they have in their hand is that indeed they have that letter. If I say there’s an A in my alphabet soup that may not be enough to tell them what letter it is that they have in their hand. But once I sing that there is an alligator in my alphabet soup, they know that is the letter they are holding and they will put that letter in the alphabet soup.  I think this is a fantastic learning activity.

I can’t wait to record and release this song. I’m already seeing more than one kindergarten age child laughing when I sing it