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Musical Instruments

Permalink by Tikal, Categories: Learning Play, Make Believe, Kids Activities , Tags: instruments, music, recycle

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All children love making a noise so why not encourage them to make their own instruments made from things at home. Here are some ideas:

Yogurt Pot shakers: take used yogurt pots and fill with lentils.  Cover with paper and then tape down to secure.  Decorate with stickers or pictures taped round the pot.

Crisps tube long shaker: put a handful or large pasta shapes into the tube and pop on the lid.  Tape down to secure.

Ice cream tub drum: put some dried bean or peas into a used ice cream tub and bang to hear them shake around inside.

Tubey shake: Take along wrapping paper tube and pop in a round ball or bell. Turn upside down to hear it roll down.

Trumpet: take a kitchen roll tube and decorate.  Add some tassels on the end and ribbons to make it look great  Simply toot down the tube!

Tin drum: take a biscuit tin and add some metal bottle tops or little metal spoons.  Shake for a or bang for a metal sound.

Marble rolling: pop some marbles in a small metal tin swirl them to make a metal rolling sound.

Plate tambourine: Use a paper plate and punch hole round the outside.  Take some nuts and bolts and metal items and tie them round with string or wool.  Shake to hear them clang together.

Now, just put on some music and have a jamming session!

Let's Listen To Music

Permalink by Tikal, Categories: Learning Play, Child Development, Kids Activities , Tags: music, noise, singing

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Kids instinctively love music, whether it's nursery rhymes, pop music, lift music or classical they do tend to stop and listen when they hear music being played.

All children, it seems, also like to make loud noises. Whether it's shouting, singing, blowing a trumpet, or just banging around they love to be heard. But what are the benefits of introducing music to children from a young age?

Why instruments are good for children

  • Hand eye co-ordination. To hold a spoon and bang a saucepan lid takes aim, and action to make the noise happen effectively.
  • Singing and learning new songs is good for children as it helps them learn new words and announciate words properly that they already know.
  • Singing may also improve their understanding of words and encourage them to branch out with their vocabulary.
  • Listening is greatly helped by music. Getting children to listen to the sounds of the music, beat out a rhythm and imitate the noise they hear is good for their listening skills and can even benefit their mathematical skills.
  • Even if you can't sing or play an instrument, you can encourage your child to enjoy music. Play them lots of different types of music and listen to them together.
  • Have a dance and try to hear whether the music is fast or slow. Good exercise!
  • The children don't care if you can sing or not... as far as they are concerned you are playing and interacting with them so they are happy, so don't be discouraged if you don't sing pitch perfect! And, if they see you having a go... they will too!
  • Make your own instruments by putting beans or pasta or lentils in a bottle to make a shaker or banging some tins with a wooden spoon.
  • Do clapping and slapping games. Clap a few times and see if your child can copy. Then clap a rhythm and see if they can copy.
  • Sing songs and nursery rhymes together. Sing loudly, softly, fast and slow.
  • Try making music with your own body... slap (gently!) your cheek with a finger, or clap your thigh, flick and click your fingers, clap hands together.
  • Do action songs... I'm A Little Teapot, Row Row etc.


Why Bother with Ballet?

Permalink by Tikal, Categories: Health, Kids Activities , Tags: ballet, dancing, exercise, fun, healthy, music

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Watching your little one skip and prance around a church hall wearing a sweet ballet skirt and pretty little ballet shoes is undeniably cute. However, why should we bother introducing ballet or any kind of dance into the lives of pre-schoolers?

  • Ballet is fun: The children's dance routines and exercises are made to be fun.  So they all enjoy the dance and stories that are told by the ballet teacher.
  • Exercise: It is great exercise!
  • Musicality: Listening to and dancing in time with music helps withtheir musicality.  If they may learn an instrument one day, being aware of music and timing when dancing will be fo great help.
  • Strength: It is physically demanding so therefore a great way to build strength and fitness and indeed flexibility.
  • Posture: They learn how to stand and walk correctly, which is a great lesson to learn early with regards posture and avoiding back pains from poor posture.  They also learn co-ordination and how to use their bodies.
  • Balance: They learn all about balance and how to correct themselves when unbalanced.  This is a great skill to have for dance but also for other sports and physical activities.
  • Mentally challenged: Those who find school difficult often excel in ballet because they feel they can express themselves more freely and easily when moving than when sitting still in class.  They are mentally challenged in a ballet class, but in a different way.
  • Social Skills: Ballet is a great chance to make new friends and to have fun with other children in a like minded environment.  They communicate about different things and work together as a team.
  • When to start?: Children can start as soon as they want to  and if there are classes available from as young as three, then enrol them!  They may not display much balletic prowess at this age, but they will begin to watch and learn from others.

Choose a class that is fun focused and that it is an accredited school either the Royal Academy of Dancing (RAD) or Imperial Society of Teachers of Dancing (ISTD).

Making Music!

Permalink by Tikal, Categories: Learning Play, Kids Art and Craft, Kids Activities , Tags: instruments, make, music, noise

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Musical instruments are great fun for making a bit of noise and banging, drumming or tapping in time with songs and music.  Even more fun is making instruments yourselves and having a go at using your own creations.  It's simple, and it's cheap and it's a great activity to do together.  Here's how to make a few different instruments to play at home with the little ones:-

Maracas: half fill empty plastic bottles of all shapes and sizes with different sorts of dried beans and pulses.  Pasta, dried peas, lentils, rice etc all make a great noise.  Screw the top tightly so none come out and secure with tape too.

Drums: put some dried pasta into closed and sealed margarine tubs or yogurt pots with lids.  Tape closed and drum with a wooden spoon.  You will hear the beans jump around inside along with the drumming noise as they bang.

Trumpets: decorate kitchen roll tubes with stickers and streamers and simply blow and toot into them!  Couldn't be easier and great to accompany a nursery rhyme.

Rhythm sticks: tie ribbons or streamers to wooden spoons and bang together in time with the music.  Ideal!

Saucepans drums: an old favourite and super fun if you really don't mind a big, metallic noise!  Set up some saucepans, upside down on the floor and give them a bang!  Use wooden spoons or pasty brush for a more muted sound!

Cymbals: Clang two lids together or hit one with a wooden spoon.  Don't use glass lids and be careful of dents!

Percussion: try jingling keys, tapping metal cutlery together, rubbing 2 scrubbing brushes together or even two pencils for a more gentle noise!

Babysitting A Baby Is Boring!

Permalink by Tikal, Categories: Babies, Parenting , Tags: babysit, babysitting, bonding, ideas, massage, music, nap, reading, singing, television, walk

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Whether a Grandparent or Aunty, or even a parent, babysitting a new born baby can be boring!  Here are a few tips to make it fun for both of you!

  • Cuddle up with a good book:  It could be a kiddie book and you can read in a nice, quiet voice to the little bundle and enjoy a nice cuddle. It could be your own novel!  Try reading aloud and seeing how happy baby is just to be warm and safe and listening to your voice.
  • Watch TV together and chat about what you see.  They will love the moving pictures, the sound and comfort of your voice and the attention!  A little bit of television is fine!
  • Have a gentle massage.  Lie them down safely and tickle their toes, stroke their hands and gently give a massage.
  • Count fingers and toes and get their hands moving.  Sing Round And Round the Garden and watch their delight!
  • Have a sing: singing, and music, are a great comfort to a baby.  Listen to all sorts of music together, it needn't just be soft, baby music - as longs as it's not too loud.
  • Get down on the floor and encourage crawling or playing depending on the age.  They will love the attention and to have someone new spending time with them.
  • Carry on as usual: you can still get on with your regular tasks and jobs when babysitting.  If you make sure the baby is safe, you can leave their side.  Perhaps chatter as you do things  and talk through what you are doing.
  • Go for a stroll: it's nice to get some fresh air even in winter, so wrap up baby and go for a walk whenever you can to get you out.  As long as baby is warm you will be fine!
  • Have a nap: babies do get tired, so if you think they are getting sleepy, put them down for a nap.  Watching them when they sleep is just magical!

Mozart Babies Gain More Weight!

Permalink by Tikal, Categories: Babies, Health , Tags: classical music, mozart, music, premature babies, weight gain

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It has been suggested that playing Mozart's classical music to underweight babies can help them gain weight whereas playing Bach or Beethoven does not seem to have the same effect!  It has been surmised that because there are less repetitive phrases and melodies in other music, it seems not to work as well, according to researchers.

Scientists played exerts of music to babies who were underweight and born before their due date and assessed how much energy was used compared to when the babies were not listening to the music.  The music usually lasted about 30 minutes.  They were testing whether babies used less energy listening to calming music compared with when they were simply at rest.

After they heard the music, the babies seemed to use less energy which meant they gained weight faster.  Doctors do not know necessarily how or why there is a link, but it seems the link exists.

They agree the music makes the babies calmer and more settled.  It has been suggested that the repetition in Mozart's music may affect the babies' brain's cortex but they agreed that more research is required to explain this scientifically.


National Childminding Week

Permalink by Tikal, Categories: Child Development, Childminders and Childminding , Tags: dance, music, nannies, national childmiding week, national childminding association, ncma

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12th -19th June 2010 will be this year's National Childminding Week and registered childminders and nannies all over the country will be doing events and activities to celebrate!   They aim to promote home-based childcare and hope to spread the word about the services they offer.  The event has been organised by the National Childminding Association and this year's theme is "Reaching the right notes".  The focus will be music and singing and there is even a special song: Ode To Childminding.

Childminders are registered professional child care providers and thousands of children throughout the country rely on the caring environment of a childminder's home.

Music is an integral and vital part of learning and can help children with vocabulary, speech, confidence building and simply having fun!

Scientific research shows that the neurological and developmental effects of music on children can be significant.  It has fascinated scientists for years and they are yet to be completely in agreement.  Compared to the long history of research on language, music is relatively un-researched and much less understood.  It doesn't have to be classical music: all music can be beneficial from pop, to tunes on a child's toy, to the music at the ballet lesson.  All music can be fun and encourage a child's physical, emotional and educational development.

Does music make children clever?

It does because whether they are learning a tune, a song a dance they are learning and using their body and mind to do something.  Music helps spatial-temporal reasoning (which is vital for learning and understanding maths) and moving to music helps physical movement and develops the gross motor skills needed for moving and running.  Fun is an important part of music too and is probably what toddlers and children are most interested in!

So, put on some music, have fun, and let's celebrate National Childminding Week in style!

Music To Your Ears!

Permalink by Tikal, Categories: Babies, Child Development, Kids Activities , Tags: actions, babies, music, relax, sing

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Music is an important part of a baby's development but at different stages in their early life it can be used in different ways.

Newborns love music played softly.  Prepare a nice warm room, cuddle up with your baby and put on some lovely relaxing music.  Rock slightly to the rhythm and enjoy some quiet, peaceful time together.

3-6 month old babies love looking at you and your face so this is a great time to introduce singing to your little one.  They will enjoy hearing your voice (no matter how good or bad you are at singing!) and will love to be near your face as you sing.  Perhaps tap the beat of the music gently on their feet too!

6-9 month old babies are looking for a little more stimulation so this is a good time to introduce actions to your songs and rhymes.  Gently hold their hands and guide their arms through the songs.  Bounce them on your knee in time with the music and perhaps introduce puppets or teddies that dance along to the music too!

9-12 month old babies will be able to hold rattles and instruments when they are doing their 'singing'.  Get hold of some nice bells or wooden rattles and shake in time with the music.  See if baby can copy the sounds you make when you sing or the sounds the instruments make. Don't forget to have a dance around together to music.  Sway, bounce, and even jig if you feel like it!

12-18 month olds will enjoy moving around a little more to music.  Play all sorts of music - not just kiddie songs.  Put on your favourite tracks and see how your little ones like it.  Do some fast dancing, or slow dancing too.  And, don't forget to have some relaxing time together too.  Listen to the music in a comfy chair and have some down time.

Have fun and enjoy yourselves!


Learning A Musical Instrument - When Is It The Right Time?

Permalink by Tikal, Categories: Parenting, Child Development, Kids Activities , Tags: instrument, music, notes, piano, recorder, violin

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According to many music teachers, starting formal music lessons too early is a sure way to put a child off learning to play, but how do you know when your child is ready to learn something?  It seems the overriding answer is that it should be child-led.  If they show an aptitude, an interest or ask for lessons, then it may be time to consider it.

However, before they start they need to be able to recognise numbers and understand the alphabet from A-G.  They also need to be physically able to hold an instrument or press hard enough to close valves etc.  In addition, they need to be mature enough to be able to concentrate during a lesson.

What to start with:

Recorder - a common and popular first instrument.  Its a great springboard to other wind instruments and children can start as soon as they have long enough fingers to cover the holes.  It's light, easy to carry around and can make some nice noises!

Piano - as soon as your little one can reach the keys, they can start playing the piano.  Groups lessons can be great fun and rewarding to young children.

String instruments - these come in various sizes to suit children.  A violin sized 1/8 is suitable for a child aged 4 - 6 years, the ideal age to start learning violin is six.

Wind and brass instruments - these need to be tackled by older children once their second set of teeth are through.  The pressure put on the teeth can cause damage.  They also need to be old enough to hold the instrument and blow.  Puff is essential!

Before you sign up for any lessons, chat to the teacher about it at length and, just as important, chat to other parents.  Make sure your child is serious but even so consider hiring an instrument rather than buying just in case!  Music is a vital part of our lives and our culture and can be an inspirational source of delight for children.  We need, however, to be careful how much we encourage (or 'push') our children when they are little.  Having fun with music, singing together, saying rhymes and just enjoying music itself is more important than being the first child in school to be playing a violin.  It could put off a potentially talented young musician.


Introducing Toddlers to Music

Permalink by Tikal, Categories: Toddlers, Learning Play, Toys and Games, Kids Activities , Tags: counting songs, music, percussion, rhymes, singing, toddler music groups

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Toddlers enjoy actively listening to music; who knows, forging a healthy interest may nurture the pop stars of the future!  From an early age toddlers will enjoy banging or rattling along to music.  Give them a wooden spoon and a saucepan, or make a rattle out of a tube!   Tape a double layer of greaseproof paper over one end of a toilet or kitchen roll tube, pour in some dry lentils or pasta, and seal the other end with greaseproof paper too.  Watch and listen to your toddlers make noise along with a song they know - they'll quickly pick up surprisingly good tempo and rhythm!

Singing with Toddlers is also a lot of fun and imparts a wide range of benefit.  Many children's songs teach counting and the ABC song helps to teach the alphabet.  All songs simply help to grow memory and creativity as children absorb and learn them very quickly.  You'll find that they can sing a song and make it sound pretty accurate even before they can speak or understand the words!  As their vocabulary and understanding grows, so the words fall into place.  You too can make up new verses to simple rhymes - make up songs about your child and include their name and you'll quickly have them in uncontrollable laughter!

You'll probably find toddler music groups in your local area.  These are not aimed at teaching musical instruments but an introduction to sound and movement.  Toddler music groups are a lot of fun - if you don't have one locally, why not start one and introduce simple movement and banging and rattling improvised percussion?

Music Madness

Permalink by Tikal, Categories: Toddlers, Family, Days out, Kids Activities , Tags: dancing, listening, music

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Nursery rhymes have their place, but don't forget to also introduce your children to the music you like to listen to!  If your thing is classical music, then get them listening to Mozart.  If you prefer ABBA, then have a dance to Mamma Mia!  Get up and have a boogy too -  especially if no one is looking!

Music can have a calming effect.  Babies respond to music in the womb, even before they are born and even more so when they are newborn.  Play something soothing and sit comfortably to listen together.  When baby is trying to sleep, some nice quiet music can help to set the mood.

And, if your little ones get to like the music you like, it means when you're on a long journey you'll be able to listen to your musical choices and not endure endless hours of "Old McDonald Had A Farm", "Wheels On The Bus" and other classic, but nonetheless tiresome, nursery rhymes as you drive.  Instead, you'll be singing along to music you all like!



Musical Movement

Permalink by Tikal, Categories: Toddlers, Babies, Learning Play, Child Development, Kids Activities , Tags: clapping, music, rhythm

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Playing music to your babies and toddlers encourages listening and movement - play whatever music they seem to enjoy. Many studies claim that playing music encourages learning and creates more intelligent children - although evidence may not yet prove that, there are no downsides to playing music to babies or toddlers. Toddlers can be given implements to bang together, or be encouraged simply to clap, to help them establish rhythm - this in turn plays an important role in the development of language. Encourage your children to express themselves as they wish through music - even if their dancing is terrible, it will certainly entertain you!

The Sounds of Music

Permalink by Tikal, Categories: Learning Play, Child Development, Kids Activities , Tags: language development, music, rhyhtm

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Play music to babies and toddlers to help them pick up the rhythm of music and language. As your child develops language, you will hear them singing along to songs that they hear repetitively, not singing the words but mimicking the sounds of the words. As their understanding grows, more and more of the sounds will become the proper words as they begin to distinguish the words and as their vocabulary extends. Later on you can use songs to help your toddlers learn counting, the alphabet, colours, the sounds that animals make and so on.


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Hi! I'm Tikal the Toucan, the mascot for ToucanLearn. Follow my blog to find out interesting things relating to babies, toddlers and preschool children!

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