Sense of Wonder
Last week I had the chance to visit my child's class at school and discover with a small group of children what it feels like to hold a worm and let it crawl all over you. I couldn't remember the last time I had even touched a worm, let alone taken the time to observe it closely. So often we are searching for activities for our children when there are worms in the garden or the park that could occupy them for hours!
As naturalist Rachel Carson says in "A Sense of Wonder,"
"[Let your children] share [your] enjoyment of things people ordinarily deny children because they are inconvenient, interfering with bedtime, or involving wet clothing that has to be changed or mud that has to be cleaned off the rug."
As adults we often get uptight about things like schedules, learning outcomes, cleanliness, or safety. These things are all important, but let's not let them eclipse our children's childhood. Let them be children, let them retain their sense of wonder. And perhaps as we stop and see the world through their eyes we can reclaim our sense of wonder with their help.
Last week in the Cycle of Seasons class I loved acting out "Five Little Pumpkins" with your children. This week we will sing the poem and add some instruments to the story, using the activity to practice steady beat and ensemble skills.
Five Little Pumpkins
Five little pumpkins sitting on a gate,
The first one said, "Oh my, it's getting late."
The second one said, "There are witches in the air."
The third one said, "But we don't care."
The fourth one said, "Let's run and run and run!"
The fifth one said, "I'm ready for some fun."
Ooooooooo went the wind,
And out went the light,
And five little pumpkins rolled out of sight.
Try finding five or six people in our household to act this one out! Here's a pumpkin coloring page to print and color at home.
I recognize that our Halloween "Five Little Pumpkins" poem is a decidedly Western, as is much of the Musikgarten curriculum. Should any of you have songs, poetry, or music you would like to recommend from India, elsewhere in the East, or from your home country, I would be delighted to work them into our classes.
With Diwali starting this week, here are some links to some interesting sites to help you and your family learn about and celebrate the holiday:
Wikipedia's Informative Article on Diwali
I didn't realize until reading this article that each of the five days of Diwali (21-25 October this year) has a special significance and special activities reserved for that day.
The Hindustan Times 2006 Diwali Special
This comprehensive site includes recipes, historical background, stories, and earth-friendly "e-crackers."
In our Music Makers class last week we enjoyed pretending we were sleepers, creepers, stalkers, and scamperers while we sang "The Old Grey Cat." Each child got a chance to choose and play an instrument for each role, and one child played an accompaniment on the resonator bars. Each of your little musicians is doing so well learning to keep a steady beat and match pitch!
We are working on building our ensemble skills and thinking about the mood of the instruments we listen to and play. This week we will do a more advanced ensemble piece with "The Tree in the Wood." We will also prepare to write musical notes by drawing a "snail shell." You can prepare your child for these activities by listening to and singing "The Tree in the Wood" and talking about the different instruments you hear in the song and what instrument you might use for each verse.
You may also want to check out this link about tree homes to get your child thinking about the animals we will sing about that live in a tree.
|Participating in Music Class Freely
As we are getting more involved in this year of music making, let me just point out a few things about your child’s participation in class.
A child needs to feel comfortable in order to learn. The single most important factor in establishing comfort for a child is a sense of familiarity and safety. In order to become familiar (and ultimately comfortable) a child needs to be given time and space in which s/he can explore, observe, absorb, and then assimilate all that is surrounding him or her. Each child approaches this task differently and does it at his/her own pace. For the younger ones, some need to remain in the comfort of a parent’s lap, while other will be cruising around the room in an attempt to investigate (and therefore get to know) every person and every inch of the room. Older children might quietly observe without participating while other older children will jump right in and want to do everything all at once. Some children who seemed completely engaged last year may be quiet and reserved this year. Still others will jump right into whatever activity I suggest as though they’ve been doing this forever.
The wonderful (and sometimes frustrating) thing about children is that they are constantly changing. They are “works in progress” and as such, their reactions to things may be hard to predict. The best approach is to check your expectations and comparisons at the door. There is no “right” way to respond to these musical experiences. Children who quietly observe are as actively engaged as those who physically participate. Even those who are exploring the room are getting the benefit of being in a musical environment. The best thing you can do for your child is to participate freely in the activities yourself, thereby modeling for your child the joy that comes from making music. If you are a parent of a Music Makers student, but sure that you attend the last few minutes of class and participate fully so they see that you enjoy this and find it valuabe.
Finally, remember that we learn music the same way we learn language. When we keep that in mind, we are reminded that being in a musical environment, regardless of the child’s outward behavior, is crucial to his/her musical development and to his/her overall development. After all, we would never stop talking to our children just because they didn’t respond the way we had hoped.