Back-to-school time is certainly on our minds... even in the United States Congress!
In an effort to promote better nutrition for our children, the U.S. Senate recently passed a bill increasing school lunch budgets by $4.5 billion. This piece of legislation is the first increase of its kind since 1973.
Along with an overhaul of school lunch menus, school vending machine contents will also get a make-over. The goal is to increase the quality of all foods offered at school. With one in three children in the United States now considered overweight or obese, readily available healthy food in schools will benefit our children.
Let's hope that Mystery Meat Mondays will become a thing of the past. Packed lunches are often the healthier route, but only if the food that’s packed is healthy and it doesn’t get traded for junk food. (We all did it!) Fruits and veggies seem to taste a lot better when one is involved in the preparation. Spend some time with your child cutting and packing produce or baking healthy treats. Everybody wins!
Our Food and Nutrition Songs offer an excellent springboard for teaching about healthy foods.
Listen to a short clip from Tickle Tune Typhoon's Vega Boogie in the audio player below.Play Audio:
The animal kingdom is so complex, there really isn’t a limit to the educational opportunities it has to offer. Animals are the perfect way to introduce children to biology, ecology, even sociology!
Sure, The Fox doesn’t seem like a gateway song, but it talks about the food chain, habitats, and how humans have viewed foxes in the past.
Songs about animals offer great ways to get children asking questions. Go ahead and talk about the animals in the song and what you know about them.
- What are the differences between foxes and dogs?
- What would you like to know more about these animals?
- Is there a fox at the local zoo?
- How are foxes (ducks, geese...) represented in literature?
If your child has a particular fondness of a certain animal or environment, use it in as many subjects as possible. Animals aren’t limited to science by any means.
A day at the zoo will make all of the animals seen in books and on TV real. Elephants are huge in person! It takes seeing one up close to realize how big an elephant is. Books like Curious George Visits the Zoo, An A to Z Walk In the Park, and Good Night, Gorilla are fun to read before a zoo outing.
Research projects for older children also gain meaning when they can see animals in person.
You don't have to look very far for wildlife. Playgrounds and backyards have their own little ecosystems, too. Chickadees may not be as exciting as Scarlet Macaws but they are still appealing to children. Let's not forget that every animal has a place in this world.
You never know; something as simple as a folk song could inspire a lifelong love for the animal kingdom. See our Animal Songs collection for a little inspiration.
Pack your bags and grab your favorite harmonica, it’s camping season!
The best part of camping is making s’mores, of course, but the second best part of camping is singing campfire songs.
Douse yourself in bug spray and take a deep breath of that crisp clean forest air. Imagine the earthy smell of campfire smoke wafting under your nose and feel the cool grass beneath your toes. The stars have just woken up and the sky is still has a pink afterglow. Dodge the marshmallow your little sister threw at you. Crickets are singing their nightly chorus and the spring peepers join in. This moment right here, this is summer.
Now that you’re in your happy place and I have your attention, please grab an acoustic guitar (or a musical friend) and learn these songs for your next camping trip. These songs are even great in the car on the way to a camping trip.
The great thing about camp songs is that they are often sung in rounds, have interactive parts, hand motions, and silly lyrics so even those reluctant to participate will crack a smile after a few minutes.
Maybe you’re like me and completely, utterly, hopelessly a lost cause when it comes to singing. No worries! Campfire songs are not known for their difficulty and many can be lyrically spoken like “Going on a Bear Hunt.” No excuses. Everyone can enjoy a little Kumbayah or Down by the Riverside.
Don’t forget the scary stories either. Songs, stories, and s’mores are the essentials of every camping trip.
We've prepared a Free Downloadable Lyrics Book with Campfire Songs you can print out for summer singing fun.
A Patriotic Flower Pot
Materials: An unglazed small or medium terra cotta flower pot; red white and blue tempera paint; small flat dishes; sponges; scissors; a small paint bush; paper towels.
Method: Paint the entire pot white and let it dry. You may need another coat to completely cover it. Cut the sponges into star shapes if possible or into small pieces. Place red and blue paints into flat dishes. Dip sponge into one color, blot on paper towel, then dab sponge lightly around the pot's surface. Repeat with the other color, letting some of the white pot show through. Plant with a red, white, or blue flower; even all three!
Say "Uncle", Uncle Sam, That Is - Playground Game
The child who is Uncle Sam stands in the middle of a playground with others lined up opposite him. The object is to get past him to the other side. Players lined up say, "Uncle Sam, can we cross your river dam?" He answers, "Yes you may, if you're wearing red today." Everyone wearing red tries to run past him. If he tags a child then he must help catch the next group of colors called until everyone is caught but one, the next Uncle Sam.
Pigella's Yankee Fruitle Doodle
Ingredients: strawberries, blueberries, vanilla yogurt or pudding, and a clear plastic cup.
Place one scoop of blueberries in the bottom of the cup. Next place 2 scoops of yogurt and one scoop of sliced strawberries in the cup. Top with another scoop of yogurt. Admire your red, white and blue creation as we celebrate the birth of our nation!
Miss Pennypack's Safe 4th of July
Play it smart on the fourth of July
Don't get any sparks in your eye.
Keep sparklers and fireworks away
You can still celebrate this day.
Decorate your bike, have a parade,
Enjoy a picnic, games and lemonade.
Fun Fingerplays - 5 Hungry Ants
FIVE hungry ants marching in a line
(march in a line)
They came to a picnic where they could dine
They marched into the salad
They marched into the cake
They marched into the pepper
Uh oh, that was a mistake. AAAchooo!
Feeling a part of something bigger than ourselves is an important part of life. We accomplish this through family, friends, church, community and country.
When children feel that they "belong," it helps to define a purpose in life. Studies have shown that children who feel connected are less disconnected when they reach the teen years.
During this time of year, instill patriotism in children, a pride in their country. Patriotism helps us feel connected to other Americans. This connection is important during times of need, such as those we face now with the floods, tornadoes and the oil spill. When we see other Americans as part of our extended "family," we care enough then to reach out and help.
There are many cute, patriotic songs children can sing. It isn’t important that they understand completely, but it is important to put the concept there.
People learn better when they move. If this is true for adults, it is even truer for children. Why is this so?
When you move, concepts are learned even down to the muscular level. Combining sound, with visuals and movement can make learning easier.
In a recent trial of multiplication drills using music and movement on mats by the GEO Motion Group in Orlando, Florida, second grade students not only caught up to where they were supposed to be performing, but they surpassed that level.
They even asked if they could stay in for recess and do math!!! Wow!
Get your children up and moving. Not only does it enhance learning, but it makes it fun – for you and the children!
Maryann "Mar." Harman offers you a FREE DOWNLOAD of
Multiply and March by Two
Be the Beat, the American Heart Association’s new online cardiac arrest awareness campaign, teaches 12- to 15-year-olds fun ways to learn the basics of cardiopulmonary resuscitation (CPR) and how to use an automated external defibrillator (AED).
Video games, interactive quizzes and 100-beat-per-minute songs can help teach teens and tweens what to do if someone collapses in sudden cardiac arrest.
At BetheBeat.heart.org, users will find:
§ The Basics: Three instructional videos that demonstrate conventional CPR with breaths, Hands-OnlyTM CPR and how to use an AED.
§ The Heart Trek Experience: Virtual tour through a 3-D animated version of the heart in which participants earn points by playing video games and taking interactive quizzes.
§ The World of Hearts: Users create unique avatars, track and compare their scores in the Heart Track Experience with other users and view profiles and testimonies of other participants.
§ Music Playlist: A downloadable playlist of 100-beat-per-minute songs (100 beats per minute is the correct rate for chest compressions during CPR).
§ Stuff: Free printable stickers, T-shirt decals and stationery, and free downloadable widgets and wallpapers.
The Web site also features a section for teachers and administrators who want to implement a CPR/AED education program in their schools. Free downloadable lesson plans and templates for creating and sustaining an in-school emergency response plan are included in the teacher/administrator portion of the site, BetheBeat.heart.org/schools.
“Be the Beat is helping to create the next generation of lifesavers by empowering teens and tweens to act when they see someone suddenly collapse,” said Michael Sayre, M.D., chair of the American Heart Association’s Emergency Cardiovascular Care Committee. “Sadly, far too many people are dying from cardiac arrest – we want this campaign to inspire people to help save lives.”
For more information on the youth awareness campaign, visit BetheBeat.heart.org.
® American Heart Association. All rights reserved.
Musical Seeds to Shake
Materials: Empty cans with lids like coffee, snack cans or soup cans; or make lids by covering tops with plastic wrap securing with a rubber band; construction paper, crayons; markers; tempura paint; tape; scissors; and seeds.
Method: Leader cuts out paper to fit around each can. Children can draw a flower or vegetable on the paper. Tape the decorated paper around the can, and have children place a handful of seeds into the can. Replace the lid or make one. Use cans as rhythm instruments and shake to music.
Pigella's Seedy Snack Mix
Mix the following ingredients together:
2 cups dried banana chips, dried apples, dried apricots quartered
1 cup oat, rice, corn, or bran cereal
1 cup peanuts
1/2 cup pumpkin or sunflower seeds
Combine all in a plastic bag, close and shake well. Store in an airtight container for up to one month. Makes about 4 cups.
Miss Pennypack's Plantings
Tools and Supplies: Egg carton bottom; potting soil; easy to grow vegetable, flower or herb seeds.
Take an egg carton and some dirt
(Don't worry this won't be much work!)
Poke a small hole in the bottom of each cup
Fill with soil, three quarters way up.
In each little cup you plant a seed
Now water and sun is what you need.
Give your seeds a drink when they're dry,
Watch them grow, reaching for the sky.
Fun Fingerplays - Eat an Apple
Eat an apple
(right hand to mouth)
Save the core
(close hand to make fist)
Plant the seeds
(dig at the ground)
And grow some more
(extend both arms)
Excerpted, with permission from Karen Rupprecht & Pam Minor's
Months of Music: Music and Activities for the Year-Round
Listen to Feathered Friends in the audio player, below.Play Audio:
Transitioning a group of kids from one activity to another can be stressful for the students... and hence the teacher as well. Some kids really need advance notification that the thing they are doing will change. They may become anxious, fearful, or angry when they have to stop doing one thing and go with the flow to the next activity.
We sometimes tell our students that they’ll clean up
... in three minutes,
... then in two,
... then in one
... and then we go for it!
Other children do well with pictures of the parts of their day displayed on a large board. As the class moves from event to event we remove the pictures thereof. This is a significant help to children who feel anxious, need a lot of structure, and/or are on the spectrum.
Singing is a great way to initiate a transition. Singing gets a child’s attention, and the familiar words help them focus and become the first part of the transition. Either way, just a spoonful of singing makes the transitions go down much better. Here are two of my favorites:
Clean Up Time
(Tune: Miss Lucy had a baby, she named him tiny Tim….)
It’s clean up time everybody.
It’s clean up time right now.
If I help you and you help me,
Then we’ll get ready for _______.
Circle Time is Almost Done!
(Tune: Buffalo girls, won’t you come out tonight...)
Circle time is almost done,
Almost done, almost done.
Circle time is almost done,
Then we’re going to ______.
Of course, you can make up your own songs, but that’s another blog!
Margie La Bella is a music therapist with over 24 years experience working with pre-school and school aged children. Her Move! and Mixing It UP albums are full of inviting and appealing songs developed to facilitate learning through active movement to music.
Trains and kids have always gone together!
Railroads were one of the biggest inventions in the 1800's and revolutionized transportation and shipping in America. National Train Day on May 8, 2010, marks 141 years of connecting travelers coast to coast and commemorates the day the first transcontinental railroad was created.
On May 10, 1869, in Promontory Summit, Utah, the "golden spike" was driven into the final tie that joined 1,776 miles of the Central Pacific and Union Pacific railways, transforming America by creating the nation‘s first transcontinental railroad.
Many wonderful transportation lessons on the available for teachers on the web:
Listen to James Coffey's Casey Jones in the audio player, below.