What’s Happening in “Our Time” Classes!

February 2014:

What we’re doing and why we do it!

AWAY WE GO

Conversation Skills

The echoing in vocal play begins as imitation, but can develop through improvisation on the part of the teacher or the children.  The exchange, whether imitative or improvised, allows children to experience the give and take of conversation.  This is vital to the development of conversation skills, which is an important element of social development.

Sense of Balance

As you rock from center to one side then the other or forward and backward, there is an experience of alternating between being on-balance and off-balance.  This gentle motion stimulates the vestibular system, helping children develop an improved sense of balance.

Sound and Silence

Music is both sound and silence. Silence allows the child to wait, listen, and try to anticipate and predict what will come next.  The expectations are either confirmed or contradicted.  Walk and Stop is a good activity to listen to both music and silence, and practice attentive listening, which will help your child in school in the future.

Blowing

Toddlers enjoy blowing as they practice blowing they strengthen mouth muscles and develop awareness of their breathing, which will help their language development.  Blowing also helps children become aware of the fact that they can use breath to make a variety of sounds, move things, blow out candles, or create a cooling breeze.

All Fall Down

Has it ever been so much fun to fall down? In “All Fall Down,” we all knew when to fall, just by hearing the music. So often we rely on words to tell us what to do, but musical cues, or letting the melody “tell” us what to do can be just as clear. By listening and letting our bodies respond, we know when to fall down, how long to wait, and when to get up. Listening to musical cues is an important skill if your child ever belongs to a musical ensemble, and being a good listener is essential for whatever he chooses in life.

As young toddlers have the physical experience of falling down and then getting back up, a significant emotional even occurs as well. They are encountering and overcoming a fear of imbalance, and are developing confidence in their physical skills.

Bodily movements often carry strong psychological meaning. With young children in particular, motion conveys emotion more powerfully than words. In the second and third years of life, motion is centered on the achievement of balance, and the risk of losing this balance becomes a central concern. Physical balance stands as a symbol for emotional balance, in child play as well as in adult imagery.

Fine Motor Movements (Tommy Thumbs)

During the first part of life, gross motor activities dominate the child’s repertoire of movement with the major objective being the mastery of walking.  Now the child can focus on activities that encourage the development of fine muscles.  Fine motor movements allow the child to increase skills that require finger and hand movements such as putting together a simple puzzle, painting with a paintbrush, turning a page of a book or stringing beads.  Round the Racetrack finger play is a fun one to practice the fine motor skills.

Pictures and Words (Giddy Up!)

Describing the pictures in books to your child will expose her to vocabulary that’s not used in everyday speech, while letting her connect the spoken words to recognizable images.

By moving our bodies, arms, and fingers up and down, listening to music with up and down melodies, and exploring our voices as they glide up and down, we not only hear the words, we can feel what these words mean, both in music and motion. Doing this, we’re learning in a multi-sensory way. People learn best in so many different ways. Experiencing and experimenting with our senses and how we learn best by using them means your child can discover the way she learns best.

Musical Modes (Soaring)

Hearing and singing music in a variety of modes benefits children because it presents the brain with new patterns to interpret, or new food for thought.

Singing and Speaking (Zoom E Oh circle Song)

Young children often cannot distinguish between their speaking and singing voices and thus, sing in a kind of speaking drone. Children should be encouraged from an early age to explore the upper, or head voice (upper adjustment) and to employ their voice for singing tasks as much as possible.

Turning and Twirling

With its focus on transportation, Away We Go! Includes many opportunities for going around and around like a wheel turning. In addition to being enjoyable, all the turning and twirling in Away We Go! is helping children develop:

  • balance
  • coordination
  • directional awareness (especially if you emphasize turning one way, stopping, then turning the other way), and
  • spatial awareness

Home Activity Suggestions:

  • Enjoy playing the movement game Dance and Stop!  p. 26
  • Harmonica History and Games, p. 1
  • Round and Round the Racetrack, p. 18
  • Twirl and Tickle, p. 18
  • Read Giddy-Up! togetherCare Tips, p. 17
  • Serenade Your Child, p. 17

By moving our bodies, arms, and fingers up and down, listening to music with up and down melodies, and exploring our voices as they glide up and down, we not only hear the words, we can feel what these words mean, both in music and motion.

Doing this, we’re learning in a multi-sensory way. People learn best in so many different ways. Experiencing and experimenting with our senses and how we learn best by using them means your child can discover the way she learns best.

Musical Modes (Soaring)

Hearing and singing music in a variety of modes benefits children because it presents the brain with new patterns to interpret, or new food for thought.

Giving Choices (instrument exploration)

Despite appearances to the contrary, toddlers have very little power.  Allowing them to make decisions in the course of the day’s events helps them feel independent, proud, and in control.  Whenever possible, give choices – but not open-ended ones…  [for example, ask “Would you like this or that?  Peanut butter and jelly or macaroni?  The sticks or the bells?”]…  You’ll sharpen decision-making skills and avoid minor battles of will.  How to Talk to a Toddler, by Christina Frank, Parenting, April 1999

Singing and Speaking (Zoom E Oh circle Song)

Young children often cannot distinguish between their speaking and singing voices and thus, sing in a kind of speaking drone.  Children should be encouraged from an early age to explore the upper, or head voice (upper adjustment) and to employ their voice for singing tasks as much as possible.

Turning and Twirling

With its focus on transportation, Away We Go! Includes many opportunities for going around and around like a wheel turning.  In addition to being enjoyable, all the turning and twirling in Away We Go! is helping children develop:

  • balance
  • coordination
  • directional awareness (especially if you emphasize turning one way, stopping, then turning the other way), and
  • spatial awareness

Turn Taking

Sharing and taking turns doesn’t always come so easily. One of the best ways he can learn to share is in a supportive place like our classroom. As you explore the different instruments together, your toddler sees that when he gives something up, he will get to try another.

Learning to share is difficult, especially on a day when everything is “mine!”  Yet you will see improvement. And if you feel like your toddler has more trouble than anyone else, look around you…we’ve all been there, and we all understand!

Fine Motor Movement

Allow the child to increase skills that require finger and hand movements such as putting together a simple puzzle, painting with a paintbrush, turning a page of a book or stringing beads.

The Importance of Doing Nothing

Rocking time has many benefits, with vestibular stimulation, bonding, and listening to music being at the top of the list.  Equally valuable is the opportunity during this time to just do nothing.  Children need time to be stimulated and engaged, and they need time to be at leisure.  This down time is physically necessary for the brain to process the learning that occurs during structured activities and interaction.

Direction in Movement

It is essential to the learning process allow a child to experience all aspects of direction in movement (up, down, in, out, around, etc.).  Neural pathways develop through experience, stimulation and interaction.   Varied experiences increase the number of neural pathways.

Home Activity Suggestions:

Books bring us closer together. Books can be a powerful expression of language and experience. In the Away We Go! Home Activity Book, adults and children are invited to make a book about wheels. On p. 20 suggestions are given for ways to construct the book as well as possible topics for its content. Decorate p. 21 as the book cover.

  • Track Art, p. 20
  • Care Tips, p. 17
  • Serenade Your Child, p. 17
  • Do Re Me Fa So La Ti Do, p. 17