Thursday, September 18, 2014

Educators Who Care, Share: Singers, Sites & Songs from the Heartland Part III: From the Midwest & Great Lakes Regions

Special Note: This is Part III in a series, dedicated to the mission of listening locally. Links to the first two posts, as well as my other Pre-K and K Sharing tomes, are listed at the bottom of this article. In a few months, I’ll turn my attention to the West Coast. Stay tuned!

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

This post takes up where my August 18, 2014 entry, Educators Who Care, Share: Singers, Sites & Songs – Part II: Midwest & Great Lakes, left off. Part III continues the mission of listening locally – and highlights musicians from the Midwest and Great Lakes region who write or perform for the EC population, though some also write for and work with older children. Many are teaching artists, conduct residencies, and present workshops. Some are published authors. All are musical treasures. I’m only including artist’s whose work I use consistently. Sound sample links are provided, if available. Please remember that this list is intended to be a gateway and is in no ways exhaustive.

Bruce O'Brien
Bruce O’Brien, WI
About: It’s fitting that I begin with Bruce O’Brien. A decade or so ago, I went to my first national CMN conference in Wisconsin, not knowing a soul.  Bruce, a big-hearted Wisconsin native, welcomed me warmly – and set the tone as I navigated the new terrain, meeting people from around the U.S., gathering a treasure trove of new songs, and raising my voice with the glorious gathering. 

Classroom Faves:
At that long ago conference, the song that made the most impact was Owl Moon, inspired by Jane Yolen’s book of a father and daughter going out “owling” – looking for owls – on a bright, cold, winter night. Bruce co-wrote the song with his five-year old daughter. Because it was so long ago, I’m not sure if Owl Moon was part of a Round Robin – where attendees share songs, one after another aural treasure spinning out into the night - or if the song spontaneously erupted - in eight part harmony - from the gathering. For a brief, enchanted spell, as the music swirled round us, I was… we all were… transported to a sacred, sonic landscape. It was so deeply affecting, that I reconsidered changing my negative

opinion of winter. Of course, that impulse passed swiftly, but I immediately purchased the book upon returning home. I have sung the song ever since with my kiddos – Pre-K, K and up through Third Grade, as well as my parent-child classes. ASL (signing) is a great addition. I must admit that I abridge the text slightly, and add the song in the appropriate places as the story progresses. Please don’t tell Jane Yolen. Authors can be fussy about that sort of thing. BTW, Ms.Yolen is a fan of the song.

Of Note:
Owl Moon, on Bruce’s CD One in the Middle, is hard to find these days – but it’s worth a try since it contains other memorable songs to sing along with and listen to. Luckily, musician and storyteller Jack Pearson has recorded the song on his fine CD, To All Purple Tree TrunksAnna Stange, below, also has recorded it on her CD: Miss Anna’s Music Class: Volume II.  

 Tom Pease. Stuart Stotts, WI 
Stuart Stotts (in purple) & Tom Pease (in blue)
About: How to start, and more to the point, how to do justice, separately and together to these two phenomenal talents and devoted friends? As individuals, their light shines brightly, but together, they’re a supernova, the perfect foil for each other’s quirks, deep thoughts and unique – and rollicking – senses of humor. Both are consummate musicians and songsmiths. It’s impossible to write about one without the other. Tom is the heart and Stuart, the soul. In preparation for this post, I wrote each of them, and asked them about their relationship as songwriters and friends. Their response: 

Tom: "Stuarts songs reflect how very well he listens to every child...nay, every person. The world is a kinder place with folks like him working with children. Is that okay?  Or this: Haiku de Stotts:
Encounter Stuart / Find ears wide open to all / Gathering the tunes"                                                                                                                                               
Stuart: "As for me and Tom, here's how I see it. Tom is the greatest kids performer I know, and I've seen a lot of them. I'm a good songwriter, a decent performer, and a very good professional development leader. I'm also an author. Tom and I do some residencies together, maybe 20 days a year. We write some songs together, particularly for young kids. Usually I write those and he helps finish them. I don't mean to minimize that. He has a great sense for the last 15 percent, which is where I'm weakest. I also write a lot of songs on my own….We have two recordings together.
We are incredibly close friends."

Classroom Faves: The CD I primarily draw from is Everybody Started Out Small. To this day, my college student daughter and I spontaneously break into 8 Hugs a Day when we’re hugging each other. We’re Gonna Shine is a beautiful affirmation, and a lovely way to end the day or a class.  The chorus lends itself to echoing. Their version Tue Tue, from Ghana, is clear and easily learned. Movin’ On To First Grade, a delightful, celebratory Kindergarten song, can be easily customized. My K students relish this song. So Many Ways to Be Smart, a very smart song, should be adopted as the theme song for both the American Federation of Teachers (AFT) and the National Education Association (NEA).

Of Note: Both Tom and Stuart are generous and approachable. They also write scores of new verses to their songs during their school residencies - great fun! Lyrics are on their websites. I would be remiss if I didn’t mention they both have solo recordings. Stuart has written several books and is a Kennedy Center artist. Read more on his website. A final note:  Stuart’s blog posts are a pure pleasure to read. He often debuts new songs that are a perfect fit for the EC classroom. His latest post is about –wait for it! – Tom Pease!

 Gari Stein, MI
Gari Stein
About:Gari Stein is a musician, teacher, writer and thinker who has synthesized her degree(s) in Psychology/Child Development and Dance with music research from diverse modalities to create beneficial and holistic early childhood programs. She also is the founder and director of Music for Little Folks. Her commitment to the field of early childhood music and development are evidenced by the rich resources she provides through her website, including Research, Articles and Activities, Michigan Read! Resource Guide, which… “is chock full of information on Early Childhood Literacy, The Role Music Plays in Promoting Early Childhood Literacy and Connecting with Literacy – Birth to 2nd Grade,” and a series of articles authored by Stein, starting with 
Nurturing Baby & You: More Than the Music. Her book, The More We Get Together. Nurturing Relationships Through Music, Play, Books and Art, includes “over 300 resources and activities, photographs and FREE travel CD with 53 songs for Tots to 8s.” It’s a treasure – and received the 2009 Children’s Activity award from USA Book News National Best Books.

Of Note: In addition to the great resources she provides, Gari Stein has  many delightful YouTube videos. They will make you happy – and your kiddos will be delighted as well!

Anna Stange
Anna Stange, IL
About: You might find Anna Stange teaching a parent-child class, in a school making instruments out of recycled materials, hiking on the Appalachian Trail, or giving a concert at a local folk festival or at the 
far corners of the world collecting songs. She’s a unique and energetic force in folk music, and luckily has made a number of engaging recordings for the early childhood classroom, accompanied by guitar, banjo, dulcimer and autoharp. Her wide repertoire is made up of American heritage, composed and multicultural songs. 
Classroom Faves: One can never have too many good compilations of children’s music, and Anna has made two I recommend: MISS ANNA'S MUSIC CLASS: a pre-primer for little folkies (such a great name!) and Miss Anna’s Music Class: Volume II. Both have 28 tracks, with many early childhood standards to enliven your classroom or home.

Of Note: Keep an eye out for Anna at your library, school or folk festival! Her schedule features not only what she’s doing and where she’s going, but  local, regional and even international music events!

Barb Tilsen
About: If deep, golden, honey could sing, it would sound like the voice of Barb Tilsen. There’s nothing like the warm, enveloping hug of her voice. Her CD, Make a Circle Like the Sun, is an aural feast, full of gorgeous harmonies and instrumentation, and a expressive voice like no other.

Classroom Faves: Perennial favorites Rhyming Time and Make a Circle Like the Sun, a circle dance embellished by flittering violin, are both written by Tilsen. But wait, there’s more - including Patty Gille’s jazzy confection, Red Yellow Orange and Brown, perfect for dancing to with scarves, and Bill Wellington’s deliciously funny and much requested There’s a Dog in School!  Dave Orleans Save Some Trees is on my 2014-15 “to do” list. It’s a great echo song– and the message is important without being preachy.

Of Note: Barb is not only close to my heart because she is Barb and a Minnesotan (as am I, though displaced), but also because she sings books. She has shared many of her favorites with members of The Children's Music Network. In fact Barb, Mike Eppley, (a musician extraordinaire and children’s librarian from northern California, who, with wife, Anjaline, does a magical weekly storytime), and I compiled a Music & Literacy in the Early Elementary & Pre-K Classroom Booklist, which can be found on the members' pages. At the 2012 CMN International Conference, she wowed attendees with her musical version of Mem Fox’s Where is the Green Sheep? I hope a second CD will be made in the near future with that recording on it! (Barb?)

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
          Staccato & Legato/ pt. 1
          Staccato & Legato/ pt. 2                             
         Garden/ Teaching & Typographic Art Apps
         Midwest & Ontario - Listening Locally

          Midwest & Great Lakes – Listening Locally / pt.2

Tuesday, September 16, 2014

Apples and Pumpkins and Leaves - OH MY!

  Autumn has arrived here in Chicago – it’s in the 50’s and I had to get up in the night and add a blanket!  A chilly hello from Miss Carole of Macaroni Soup to those of you in the Southwest where it’s in the high 90’s and hotter, and everyone in between!  Perhaps it’s time to break out the apple songs – and you know that when that happens, the pumpkins and falling leaves can’t be far behind!  Today I give you one of each!


    You’ll find this song on my “HUM: Highly Usable Music!” recording or you can give it a listen on my website’s Song of the Month page for September 2004.  
    I use a flannelboard visual – a leafy tree I painted on flannel and felt apples for each child to stick on the tree before we start to sing.  For instructions on how to make an inexpensive flannelboard go to my May2014 blog.
    The only “tricky” part to this song is putting 2 smiling apples onto the board without the children seeing you do it.  I wait until all the apples are passed out and sneak my 2 apples (smiling faces down) onto the treetop as the last few children are putting their apples on the tree.  Haven’t been caught in 15 years!  You can do it, too!
    Tell the children, “Sometimes, in the Autumn, the apples get so happy that they start to smile!  Yes, SMILE!  Do you think WE have any smiling apples?”  Then we turn several over to see if any smile – of course, I finally pick one that I added.  They are amazed!
 “Is it high or low on the tree?  It’s high, so point way up high!”

Way up high in the apple tree
One little apple smiled at me
I shook that tree as hard as I could –
Down came the apple – mmm it sure looked good!
Line 1:  Point way up high!
Line 2:  Put pointer fingers at each side of your smiling mouth! 
LIne 3:  Clasp hands together in front of body and shake like crazy!
Line 4:  Drop one hand from overhead to floor
  Repeat again – with the other apple.  Then count how many apples are UNDER the tree – two!  Sing:
Two little apples under the tree
One for you, and one for me!
Two little apples, crunch, crunch, crunch!
Two little apples – let’s eat them for our lunch, YUM!

    Then you might do any of the wonderful apple activities in Deb Chitwood’s jam-packed blog of Montessori-Inspired AppleActivities – posted just yesterday on PreKandKSharing!


    This chant will tickle the funny-bone of your children – even if they’ve never heard of Mother Nature.  They just love the sneeze part!  

    Keep a nice steady rhythm for first two lines – we tap the beat on our legs, moving hands to the floor for “crinkled on the ground.”  Throw hands high and make big swirls of falling leaves.  For the final line turn your hands palms-up questioningly – and end with a big sneeze into your elbow!  

    Check out even more instructions on my October 2011 SOTM page.

    No tune – just speak it clearly and dramatically.  It’ll be on my new cd, “Polka Dots!”  Watch for a November release date!

Red leaves, yellow leaves, orange leaves, brown

Big leaves, little leaves, crinkled on the ground

Everywhere are falling leaves –

Mother Nature, did you sneeze?   AH-CHOO!

   You can also do this one with a flannelboard tree and felt leaves for visuals!

A VERY FINE DAY!  By Carole Stephens c.2014
    This new song celebrates both apples and pumpkins.  We put one hand to our forehead for the “looking” verse, then go walking around the room for the “come on down…” verse.  Then pantomime the action, reaching up high, then bending low to pick apples, or reaching low to snip a stem and put a heavy pumpkin in a wagon.  It’s such fun!
     The tune?  Only for PreKandKSharing followers, you get a sneak preview of this song on my new “Polka Dots” recording (scheduled for November 2014 release) for FREE!  
Reach up high!

Where, oh where do apples grow?
Where, oh where do apples grow?
Where, oh where do apples grow?
Way down yonder on the apple trees.

Come on down to the apple orchard!  (3x)
It’s a very fine day!

Reach up high then put it in a basket!  (3x)
It’s a very fine day!

Where, oh where do pumpkins grow?  (3x)
Way down yonder on the pumpkin vines!

Come on down to the pumpkin patch!  (3x)
Come on down!
It’s a very fine day!

Snip the stem and put it in a wagon!  (3x)
It’s a very fine day!

It’s a very fine day for being outside
A very fine day to take a ride
To a pumpkin patch or an orchard wide
It’s just a very fine day!

    OK – you are now armed and ready for autumn songs.  Need more?  Check out the Song of the Month Archive on my Macaroni Soup website. 

Or check my posts on this blog:

September 2012 Season Sings!  Leaves, Bats, Pumpkins!
October 2012 Making BOO Fun!
October 2013 -  Blow the Wind!

    I would love to know some of YOUR favorite songs for Fall/Autumn!  Come on - SHARE! 

NAEYC 2014 ALERT:  I will be presenting a workshop at the NAEYC conference in Dallas in November AND sharing a booth with 2 incredibly talented children's music educators: Ellen Allard and Music With Mar's Maryann Harman!  Check out our FB page: Musicians at NAEYC!

Yours for an Autumn Song!
"Miss Carole" Stephens

Monday, September 15, 2014

Montessori-Inspired Apple Activities Using Free Printables

Free Apple Printables and Montessori-Inspired Apple ActivitiesBy Deb Chitwood from Living Montessori Now  

Apples make a great learning theme from the beginning of the school year through October. Check out my calendar observances posts to see a number of apple-related calendar observances in the early fall. 

Today, I've created some apple activities using free printables for preschoolers through first graders. There are so many great free apple printables available online that it was difficult to decide which ones to use for my post. I really appreciate all the printable designers who so generously share their creations. 

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. 

 Apple Color Sorting Activity

  Apple Color Sorting Activity 
For the apple color sorting activity, I used the free Candy Apple Math Game from No Time for Flash Cards. Instead of using candy apples, I used red, yellow, and green miniature pom poms from a craft store. 

I used a large plastic tray from Montessori Services and 3 miniature buckets with color-coding dots placed in the bottom to help with the color sorting. I added Montessori Services quick sticks to the tray to include a practical life transferring activity.  

Aa is for Apple Tray 

  Aa Is for Apple Tray 
For this activity, I used the free Aa is for Apple Lacing and Puzzle from 1+1+1=1. . I used one of the 5-piece wooden trays from Multicraft.

I added an inexpensive letter "a" sandpaper letter to the tray. You can use ideas from "Inexpensive and DIY Sandpaper Letters" to buy or make sandpaper letters. You'll also find ideas for presenting letter sounds. You could either say, "/ă/" as you trace the letter or “The letter ‘a’ makes the sound /ă/."

Aa Is for Apple Playdough Tray

  Aa Is for Apple Playdough Tray 
This activity uses the Aa is for Apple Page from 1+1+1=1. You can use homemade or purchased playdough, or use modeling clay if you'd like the modeling material to stay soft and moldable. 

I added a pair of scissors to the tray so children can get practice cutting their rolled playdough strips into the correct sizes to fit the letters.

Follow the a Path Tray 

Follow the a Path Tray  

For this activity, I used the free Follow the a Path (in Apple Pack part 2) from 3 Dinosaurs. I added a practical life activity to this language tray by using a strawberry huller to add glass gems to the path. A sugar tong works very well, too. 

Amazon has a variety of glass gems, which I used for this and often use for Montessori-inspired activities. I especially like glass gems for these types of activities because the letters can be seen and magnified through the glass gems. 
Add the Apples Activity 

Add the Apples Tray

This activity uses the Add the Apples (in Apple Pack part 2) from 3 Dinosaurs. (Note: There are also printables in the pack for subtraction and greater than/less than.) I used red and green apples from acrylic fall fillers I found at Michaels craft store.

Because I used two different colors of apples, I placed the apples below the page rather than right on the tree. I included the apples and numbers for 9 of each color apple. You could just let the child choose the number of apples of each color and then count (add) them to find the sum.

Add the Apples Layout

Apple Fractions Activity 

  Apple Fractions Activity 
This uses the Apple Fractions Math Game from Itsy Bitsy Fun. It was easy to prepare and could be used for a simpler fraction matching activity or more advanced game. 

Apple Hundred Chart Art 

Apple Hundred Chart Art

I love hundred chart art. It's a great extension for the Montessori hundred board. This uses the Apple Hundred Chart Art (in Apple Pack part 2) from 3 Dinosaurs. 

Older children could follow the directions to create the apple on the blank hundred chart. Younger children could simply match the colors on the control chart to create the apple. I use small glass gems so they'll fit on the hundred chart spaces.

Hundred Chart Game: Apple Picking Time

Hundred Chart Game - Apple Picking Time 

For this hundred chart activity, I used the Hundred Chart Games: Apple Picking Time from Primary Inspiration. There are simple directions for assembling the spinners along with ideas for children who aren't comfortable with place value. 

More Free Apple Printables 

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

More Montessori-Inspired Apple Activities

I have a roundup post at Living Montessori Now with a Montessori-Inspired Apple Unit.

For September calendar observances and activities, check out my September Themed Activities for Kids at Living Montessori Now.

Have a happy Johnny Appleseed Day on September 26!

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.
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.

Saturday, September 13, 2014

Do You Accept These Gifts as a Teacher, or Reject Them?

On parent night at my child’s school, I overheard someone compliment a teacher on the way her classroom was decorated. The teacher's response to the compliment was a remark that it was nothing special and that she had used the theme once before.

Have you ever given someone a compliment, only to have the other person tell you that she got it off the clearance rack at a local clothing store? How did her reply make you feel in that moment? Did you feel energized to provide more or did you feel a sudden let down that your compliment was a waste of time and not accepted?

As a teacher, how often do you compliment your paraprofessional or your director? What about your own children or your significant other? Sometimes it seems like we give more compliments to others than we do to our own family. And what about you; what do you say when someone compliments you, something you did to your classroom, or your outfit? Have you noticed that you too provide a response that minimizes the gift you just received?

I think we do this because something in our subconscious takes over to reduce the attention we are suddenly getting, or it may even reveal how we really feel about our outfit or our classroom at the moment. But I ask you to consider what the other person may be feeling, the person who just gave you a gift.

What about when someone gives you an idea for your classroom? Do you immediately think of the stress it will cause, the work it will take, what won't get done if you take this on, the money it will take to do it, the time it will take away from other things, and on and on and on? Do you then tell the idea-giver why it won’t work or why you can’t take another thing on? Are you an idea-generator and find yourself thinking up and offering ideas to others? How does it make you feel when the idea you've given the other person is rejected?  

I don't blame those who reject compliments or ideas, as I use to feel the same things when others gave them to me. But I learned to adapt to the fact that when someone gives me a compliment, they are taking the time to give me a gift. And if it’s an idea, they are just giving me information that I can choose on my own to take action on or ignore. It’s all up to me; it’s just information.

When someone gives you a gift, you might immediately think about the fact that you really don't like it. But I ask you to consider being gracious and say thank you and look like we are thankful. I do my best to do the same thing with ideas; see them as gifts. I've learned to remain quiet, listen, and then say “Isn't that interesting, thanks for the idea.” I often times write down these ideas because I may think differently about them at a later time.

Remember, whether someone gives you a compliment, an idea or feedback, it’s all just information that you are free to do anything you want with. But smile and say “Thank You” for the gift you just received.

Bill Corbett has a degree in clinical psychology and is the author of the award winning book “Love, Limits, & Lessons: A Parent’s Guide to Raising Cooperative Kids,” in English and in Spanish.  He is happily married with three grown children, two grandchildren, three step children, and lives in Connecticut.  You can visit his Web site for further information and parenting advice.

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