A Walk with the Kids Fun? Absolutely!

Walk3

As I sit here, looking out the window at the falling snow on the second day of spring, a poem pops into my head:

Spring has sprung, the grass has ris
I wonders where the birdies is?

I have known this poem forever. I don’t know where I learned it, or why it popped into my head today of all days, but I thought I’d investigate further. It turns out the poem has more to it:

Spring has sprung, the grass has ris
I wonders where the birdies is?
They say the birds is on the wing
Ain’t that absurd?
I always thought the wing was on the bird.

The poem’s original author is unknown, but it reminds me of the style of one of my favourite poets, Ogden Nash, known for his short, funny and often nonsensical poems.

What does this have to do with anything? I promise, there is a point. As we finish this first week of spring (that is, of course, supposed to be filled with snow) and head into Easter and spring break, what types of activities can we do with our families? For those of you with young children, have a look at our previous blog for information on the Flit app. It’s filled with great activities for the 0-5 crowd.

For those with older kids, here are a few ideas inspired by the poem (see, there really is a connection)! Get outside to enjoy the snow or sun (whatever the case may be) and go for a walk. Try these activities:

  1. Create your own funny poem. Choose something you notice on your walk and see how many words you can think of, or make up, that rhyme with what you chose. When you get home, write the words down and arrange them into your own poem! For example:

I see a bee, right on that tree
Leave it alone, or maybe flee?
If I wave and dance, it may sting me
But flowers won’t grow if I hit she.

  1. Make your own spring walking game. Let your kids make up the rules, and how to start and end the game! Tell your kids you will follow their rules no matter what (as long as it’s not dangerous of course). It might be that every time you see a bird, you have to splash in a puddle or run around in a circle clucking like a chicken. Maybe the first person to spot a squirrel wins.
  1. Make up a story. See what you can find outside and take turns creating the story, line by line. For example, if you see a piece of fur in a tree, you can start the story by making up a reason why it’s there. Then your child can add to it.

One day, a tiny rabbit thought it would try to jump up into a tree. As it jumped, it caught it’s tail on a branch and a big piece of fur pulled out…

Have fun and enjoy your time together!

 

 

Extending Stories

The MittenHow often do we read through a children’s book and just put it down and leave it? In Learn Together Grow Together, we recently shared Jan Brett’s book The Mitten. In this winter tale, a little boy dropped his mitten in the snow and it became a space to crawl into for many forest creatures.

In order to take the story further, the program facilitators decided to add activities for the parents and children based on the story.

Find the Mittens:

We had a number of different coloured mittens hidden around the classroom. The parents worked together with their children to find all of the mittens.

Rhymes and Songs:

We sang some rhymes and songs about winter and mittens.

I’m a Little Snowman (to the tune of “I’m a Little Teapot”)

I’m a little snowman, short and fat 
Here are my buttons, here is my hat 
When the sun comes out, I cannot stay 
Cause I just slowly melt away!

Pet Snowball Song (to the tune of “I have a little bicycle”)
I made myself a snowball 
Just as perfect as could be. 
I thought I’d keep it as a pet 
And take it home with me. 
I gave it some pajamas 
And a pillow for its head. 
Then, last night it ran away, 
But first . . . . it wet the bed!

Snowey Pokey (to the tune of “Hokey Pokey”)
You put your right mitten in, you take your right mitten out, 
You put your right mitten in and you shake it all about. 
You do the Snowey pokey and you turn yourself around. 
That’s what it’s all about. 
Continue with additional verses:
You put your left mitten in 
You put your scarf in
You put your right boot in 
You put your left boot in
You put your hat in 
You put your snowself in
etc.

Gym Activities:

We had newspaper crunched up into balls and wrapped in packing tape. We pretended that the crunched up newspaper and tape were snowballs. The families practiced throwing their snowballs into baskets and played with them on a parachute.

For the Parents:

On 10-15 strips of paper, the parents wrote out and summarized the events of the story. We had parents whose first language is not English, so they wrote out their story summaries in other languages! By completing this activity, the parents were encouraged to use recall and comprehension skills (which is an activity the parents can do with their children with any story).

For the Parents and Children:

The children coloured in pictures of all the animals in The Mitten, and the parents helped their little ones cut out the pictures. There was also a paper cut-out of a mitten into which DSCN1033-cls-weball of the animals could go – just like in the story! The children were able to reenact the story, or make up a new one, with the animals.

These are just a few, simple ways in which a story was “extended,” and I’m sure there are many more ways to extend The Mitten. Next time you share a story with your children, try to find an activity or two to build on it. There are so many fun and interactive ways to bring a story to life!

If you have tried extending a story before, what activities did you use? We would love to hear what they were!

More about Learn Together – Grow Together or to register for the program

hashtag: #LT_GT

Easing into the Season of Festivities

(with little ones in tow!)

Sing

With all of the rush at this time of year, it is easy to forget what this looks like to the little ones around us. They don’t understand why adults need to hustle and bustle. At a time when we are busy checking off items on our lists, running from here to there, having more visitors (or doing more visiting), we need to remember to adjust our pace and our expectations of our small children.

It is helpful to remember that all of the changes to our little one’s schedule can result in behavioural changes such as mood swings or shorter attention spans; they can also be extra clingy to parents amidst so many new people. Add in that it is cold and flu season thanks to our increased social schedules and change in sleeping and eating habits. (More sweets than usual can cause irritability too). Mix all of these changes together and we have a recipe for a tantrum – for any toddler (older ones too)!

There are a few easy things anyone can do to help the situation, any place, with no equipment, toys or tools required.

  • Count to 3 – yes you, not them!
  • Take a few deep breaths when you feel that tantrum building up (theirs or yours)
  • Try a rhyme, or two or three! You can so easily redirect a mood by singing a song!

You can still complete your task and check off that list – just take time to breathe and be silly and have fun with your child!

Many holiday songs are directed to children. If you cannot remember the words and you only recall the tune, make up your own verses. Older children will enjoy helping twist common songs and rhymes into your own family treasures!

Here’s a twist on a familiar tune. Hum a few notes from “Jingle Bells” and you will be ready to sing this one:

Snowflakes falling, snowflakes falling
One fell on my nose
Snowflakes falling, snowflakes falling
One fell on my toes
Snowflakes falling snowflakes falling
One fell on my head
Snowflakes falling, snowflakes falling
Now its time to sled!

Snowflakes falling, snowflakes falling
One fell on my knee
Snowflakes falling, snowflakes falling
All around me-e
Snowflakes falling, snowflakes falling
This I’m going to dread
Snowflakes falling, snowflakes falling
Dad says time for bed!

Come and join us for some fun at one of the Rhymes that Bind programs throughout the city. Find more information about Rhymes that Bind and our Edmonton program schedule here

hashtag: #RTB_Edm

3,2,1, Fun! Blasts Off the Fall Session

Elementary Pupil Counting With Teacher In Classroom

3,2,1, Fun! is back for the fall session. As always, our programs are free. We are now located at Brander Gardens School on Tuesday afternoons, from 1:00 pm to 2:30 pm. We are excited to see the return of some of our families from previous sessions, and are eager to meet some new families from the Brander Gardens area.

Some things that you can look forward to this fall from 3,2,1, Fun!:

Books we will be sharing:

  • A Perfectly Messed up Story by Patrick McDonnell
  • The Day the Crayons Quit by Drew Daywalt
  • Room on the Broom by Julia Donaldson
  • The Way Back Home by Oliver Jeffers
  • The Mitten by Jan Brett

Songs and Rhymes that we be sharing:

  • Zoom, Zoom, Zoom
  • 5 Little Pumpkins
  • The Color Song
  • Mix and Stir
  • If You Are a Ghost

Activities and Games we will explore:

  • Creating a Story Board to bring our favourite stories to life
  • Constructing our own game of BLAST OFF! using items you already have at home
  • Baking and decorating delicious cookies in all shapes, sizes, and colours
  • Creating our own puzzles and matching games using calendars and our imaginations
  • Exploring the colours, smells, and textures of Fall through a scavenger hunt and a hide and seek game

This is just the start of the fun and learning that is set to happen Tuesday afternoons at Brander Gardens School! Please join our community of learners as we explore numeracy through songs, stories and play!

Visit our website for more information about the 3,2,1, Fun! program.

hashtag: #321Fun

 

Lullabies

Lullabies belong to the instinctive nature of motherhood

– Richard Dubrill

Mom & BabyLullabies have been sung to children for centuries. Wherever you travel, women all over the world use the same tones, the same kind of pattern for singing to their babies. The sound of the lullaby mimics movement in the womb. It is a very basic song with a few words being repeated over and over.

The sound is meant to be sleep inducing and is rooted in love, tenderness and caring.

One of the earliest lullabies recorded chastises a baby for waking the house with its crying and threatens the baby with being eaten by a demon if it does not shut up right now.

An African lullaby sung in Western Africa begins with Rock, Rock, Rock and warns the baby that if it cries it could be eaten by a hyena. It is hard to believe that a lullaby with such dark undertones could be soothing to a baby.

The most popular lullaby, Rock a bye Baby, also tells of how the baby and cradle will drop from the bough of a tree. There are a couple of claims as to how the song began:

In American history, it is said that a young pilgrim boy saw a Native Indian mother suspend her baby from the branch of a tree. The wind was able to rock the cradle and put baby to sleep. The rhyme was known as “Hush a bye baby!”

In English history, a family with eight children, who lived in a massive Yew Tree that was 2000 years old, carved out a tree bough that was used as a cradle for their children.

Lullabies that are sung to a baby are a natural and effective way to bond and develop the human connection. It can be done through eye contact, loving touches and cuddling. Lullabies calm, comfort and help babies and their mothers feel secure.

The lullabies that are sung at Rhymes that Bind have changed from the traditional “Hush a bye Baby.”

Rock a Bye Baby

Rock a bye baby on the treetop,
When the wind blows the cradle will rock,
When the bough breaks the cradle will fall,
And Daddy or Mommy will catch you, cradle and all.

Another popular song is to the tune of Michael Row your Boat Ashore:

Let’s Be Quiet

Now it’s time for us to rest
Let’s be quiet
Now it’s time for us to rest
Let’s be quiet

You’ve been busy all day long
Let’s be quiet
You’ve been busy all day long
Let’s be quiet

Close your eyes for just awhile
Let’s be quiet
Close your eyes for just awhile
Let’s be quiet

(hum a verse )

Twinkle, twinkle little star

Twinkle, twinkle little star
How I wonder what you are
Up above the world so high
Like a diamond in the sky
Twinkle, twinkle little star
How I wonder what are

ABCs

ABCDEFGHIJKLMNOPQRSTUVWXYZ
Now I know my ABC’s next time won’t you count with me?
Cat’s and dogs and baby sheep
When I count I fall asleep

 

Come and join us for some lullabies at one of the Rhymes that Bind programs throughout the city. Find more information about Rhymes that Bind and our Edmonton program schedule here

hashtag: #RTB_Edm

 

 

Rhymes that Bind is . . .

Rhymes that Bind is Engaging

Multicultural Rhymes programs build community; one small community happens on Thursday mornings in Edmonton at the Africa Centre, 13160 -127th Street, Early Learning Room between 11:00 am and 12:00 pm. The group comes together once a week for ten weeks.

(Other Rhymes that Bind programs happen throughout the city. You’ll find the link to our website and the program schedule at the end of this blog.)

Music has a strong cultural component; songs and rhymes are passed down from  generation to generation. We also integrate our regular songs, and rhymes of action, body parts, tickle, and lullabies, with Arabic and French songs.

An Urdu children’s song that we are learning is about an eggplant and a potato! It is a humorous song that the boys in the video below know well and enjoy teaching to the rest of us. It makes them very proud. They have great facial expressions and gestures to accompany the song.

 

We are also learning the French version of Heads, Shoulders, Knees and Toes.

Rhymes that Bind is Socialization

The program creates a bond between the parents and their children. The children learn the songs together and develop the confidence to take a favourite song home to share with a family member or friend. This allows them to express their independence, and they are so proud of their accomplishment!

Rhymes that Bind is Physical

Children love movement, they delight in it and require it for their well-being. Rhymes that Bind songs involve lots of movement which encourages the growth of fine and gross motor skills.

The all-time favourite is Zoom, Zoom, Zoom! I had a 14-month old little person requesting it on Monday at the Castle Down’s Library location! She comes to the program with her grandmother who is thrilled that her grandchild can make the hand motions.

Zoom, Zoom , Zoom

Zoom, Zoom, Zoom
We are going to the moon,
Zoom, Zoom we are going to the moon.
If you want to take a trip,
Climb aboard my rocket ship
Zoom, Zoom, Zoom we are going to the moon.

(lift your child up in the air like they are taking a trip to the moon)

Rhymes that Bind is Emotional

Rhymes that Bind lullabies are soothing and calming for parents, caregivers and grandparents alike. Lullabies have existed throughout human history and can be a way of promoting a child’s ability to self soothe.

Here is a favourite that uses “I Love You” in different languages.

I Love You!

I love you, I love you
All day long, I sing this little song to you.
I love you, I love you,
Darling I love you!
You can insert, Je ‘taime, Yo Te Amo

Rhymes that Bind is Language

Children are orientated to learning language and Rhymes that Bind is one of the best ways for them to learn it.

Listening skills are developed and strengthened through song. Songs are aural (hearing). Ears are one of the first body parts to fully mature before birth.

Repetition supports brain development; a child’s brain is especially active and wired to receive large amounts of new stimulation. The more often it is repeated the more likely it will be retained. It is natural for a child to go through a developmental phase where they request their favourite song, reciting or singing it over and over without getting bored.

Rhymes that Bind allows children to play with sounds and words while increasing their vocabulary.

Rhyme and rhythm are powerful tools for developing language skills. Rhymes that Bind has it!

Please join us at a Rhymes that Bind program in your community. More information about Rhymes that Bind and our Edmonton program schedule here

hashtag: #RTB_Edm

Making Sense of Babbling

Baby-babble

Playing with language is something that babies from all cultures, and from all languages, experiment with naturally. Many of the little rhymes we sing to children, remembered from our own childhoods or learned new, don’t appear to make sense. They can sound like baby babble.

Although the actual words may not make sense, using different muscles while forming new sounds is all very important to building early language skills. Understanding communication between people is also happening regardless of the noise the baby makes. When you say something to your baby, and your body language reflects an open, caring and loving feeling, your baby will respond by trying to mimic your sounds and also your body language.

Here is a rhyme that always reminds me exactly of babies babbling:

Ah ram sam sam, ah ram sam sam
Goolie goolie goolie goolie goolie
Ram sam sam

Ah ram sam sam, ah ram sam sam
Goolie goolie goolie goolie goolie
Ram sam sam

Ah raffie, ah raffie
Goolie goolie goolie goolie goolie
Ram sam sam

For actions to this rhyme, you can try patting your hands on your lap for each ram sam sam, making circle motions with your hands moving around each other for each goolie goolie, and raising your hands in the air for raffie raffie.

Those are all simple motions for small ones to copy. You can make your own movements for any rhyme, just be consistent – your baby will be following along with you.

As a Rhymes that Bind program facilitator, it is very rewarding to see children and their parents building this relationship through the earliest stages of communication. The parents not only experience it first hand, but also by witnessing the other parents and babies in the room who are enjoying the experience.

Building language is powerful and hard work. The next time you hear your baby babbling, take a moment to listen to the different sounds they are trying to recreate. Those are sounds they hear throughout the day. When your child is facing you and you are speaking to them, keep in mind the more animated you look and sound, the longer you will keep their attention. Your child adores you as much as you adore them. They love the sound of the voices they recognize most. Take the opportunity to be silly and play with sounds with your baby. Congratulate yourself for supporting and encouraging your babies’ first sounds that will eventually become their first words!

 

Find more information about Rhymes that Bind and our Edmonton program schedule here

hashtag: #RTB_Edm

 

 

 

2 Easter Egg-tivities, a Song and a Book

“See the bunnies sleeping, ‘til it’s nearly noon
Shall we awake them with a merry tune
Oh so still. Are the bunnies ill? Shhhhhhhhhhhhhhhh,
Wake up little bunnies, hop, hop, hop!
Wake up little bunnies, hop, hop, hop!
Wake up little bunnies, hop, hop, hop and GO!”

Usually we end this song with “stop” so our little bunnies will pretend to go back to sleep for another round of the song. For Easter, it’s only fitting that we use this song as is to start the morning or the egg hunt. If your kids are anything like mine at Easter, you probably don’t have to wake them up!

Easter for us means a family get-together, good food, and many different activities. Colouring eggs is a big part of our traditions, but we like to try something new each year – sometimes it doesn’t even involve dye!

“Mod Podge Egg” was a hit last year, providing many opportunities to talk about colours and shapes, and to just have fun.

mod-podge

Mod Podge Egg

You need:

  • Egg (boiled, or blown out if you want to keep it)
  • Tissue paper (many colours)
  • Mod Podge (a sealer – like glue, but it hardens and keeps the egg strong)
  • Paint brush

 What to do:

  1. Tear or cut up the tissue paper into different shapes and sizes.
  2. Spread Mod Podge on the egg and put tissue paper all over.
  3. Spread another layer of Mod Podge over the tissue paper on the egg, and add more tissue paper until you’re happy.
  4. Add one last layer of Mod Podge to seal it completely.

Another Easter favourite for our family is the great Easter Egg hunt. It gets more complicated every year, and sometimes we like to add a little variety to what the Easter Bunny brings.

One year we made “goldfish carrots.” The kids had so much fun pulling them out of our pretend garden.

carrots

Goldfish Carrots

You need:

  • Goldfish crackers (or something else orange)
  • Clear disposable icing bags (not cut)
  • Green ribbon

What to do:

  1. Fill the icing bag with the goldfish so the pointy end is down.
  2. Tie the ribbon around the top of the bag when you get the size of carrot you want.
  3. Hide them in a houseplant or make your own “garden”.

Finally, what is Easter without a good book? For some bunny-themed books, scroll down to Darren Hinger’s blog, “Babies Touching Books… with Bunnies.” A great Easter themed book is Duck and Goose: Here comes the Easter Bunny by Tad Hill. It’s about two little birds trying to find a hiding place so they can see the Easter Bunny. It’s perfect for bedtime the night before the big day.

There are many fun Easter activities. Does your family have Easter traditions you would like to share? We would love to hear about them!

 

“Stuck” on the C.O.W. Bus

The C.O.W. Bus is ready for Spring! We have new puzzles and literacy activities as we do at the start of every month.

To celebrate the big thaw, we are reading some great stories. Wiggle Waggle by Jonathan London is a fun favourite. Everyone can jump up and dance along with camels, horses, and kangaroos in their lively animal parade.

We use great characters made of felt to help tell the story Stuck by Oliver Jeffers. Delightful chaos ensues when a young boy gets his kite stuck in a tree. He throws up his shoe to shift it, but that gets stuck too. So he throws up his other shoe and that gets stuck, along with…a ladder, a pot of paint, the kitchen sink, an orangutan and a whale, among other things! This is a hilarious book with a wonderful surprise ending.

For Easter we will have some fun stories to share about this bright and “hoppy” holiday.  To help you celebrate here are some quick tricks for dying eggs. http://www.kidspot.com.au/Easter-Crafts-Quick-tricks-to-dye-eggs-for-Easter+4566+162+article.htm

Peanut Butter and Jelly will be everyone’s favourite song (and sandwich) when we sing this sweet little ditty on the bus. Below is a link to this catchy tune. http://youtu.be/EpPRpSi8Czk

 

Check our website for the bus schedule and more information

Watch a video of a program on the bus

hashtag: #edm_cow

Beat the Cold! Bring the Outdoors In with Learn Together – Grow Together!

This last month has been a snowy, blowy and cold one. However the team at Learn Together – Grow Together has found a way to beat the cold! When it is too cold for our families to go outdoors, we simply bring the outdoors in!

 

Books that we read:

  • 10 on a Sled by Kim Norman
  • All You Need for a Snowman by Alice Schertle
  • Snowballs by Lois Ehlert
  • The Mitten by Jan Brett

 

Activities we did:

  • After reading the storybook The Mitten, each family spent the afternoon creating their own storysack. Each storysack contained the characters from the story as well as a large white mitten. These storysacks provided families with a fun, unique and memorable way to read and share the story at home.
  • Using recycled newspaper and packing tape, we made a big basket full of “snowballs”. We then headed to the gymnasium for a variety of snowball throw and toss games, ending with a big group snowball fight!
  • After reading All You Need for a Snowman, we brought in a huge plastic bin of snow from outside. Then, wearing mittens, the children and their families spent the afternoon creating their own snowmen and snow castles!
  • Using plastic containers of varying sizes we froze “treasures” in water. Once frozen, we took the ice blocks out of the containers and the children spent the afternoon exploring methods to melt and chip the treasures from the ice. The children used a variety of methods including: warm water, hand held tools, salt etc. to extract their treasures. In order to keep this activity literacy based, our treasures included letters from the alphabet that corresponded with other items in the ice block. For instance, when a child extracted a letter “Y” from the ice, they would then begin to look for the items in the ice that corresponded with that letter, such as a yellow yo yo.

 

Snacks we shared:

banana-snowmen

Banana Snowmen
Ingredients: bananas, chocolate chips, butterscotch chips, and pretzels.

 

bear-pretzel

Pretzel Polar Bears
Ingredients: pretzel sticks, peanut butter, coconut and black icing.

 

Songs and Rhymes we shared:

I’m a Little Snowman (to the tune of I’m a Little Tea Pot)
I’m a little snowman, short and fat.
Here are my buttons and here is my hat.
When the sun comes out, I cannot play.
I just slowly melt away.

Five Little Snowmen
Five little snowmen all made of snow,
five little snowmen standing in a row.
Out came the sun and stayed all day,
and one little snowman melted away.

(count down to 0)

Zero little snowmen all made of snow,
zero little snowmen standing in a row.
Down came the snow that fell all day,
and five little snowmen came back to play.

To go along with these rhymes, our families constructed five popsicle stick snowmen and one popsicle stick sun to use while they recited the rhyme. These props were a fun activity for the families and they really brought the rhyme to life!!

With a little creativity and our families’ eager participation, Learn Together – Grow Together has succeeded in bringing the outdoors in and now you can too!!

More about the Learn Together – Grow Together program

hashtag: #LT_GT