Tuesday, March 26, 2013

Music for infants, toddlers, and preschoolers

When I have little ones playing in my child care room, I love to have music playing in the background. I find this more calming than having the TV on, or nothing in the background (silence). As I pay attention to the little ones, while they are playing freely with each other, I notice a difference in their social behaviors and their moods when there is music playing in the background. When the music stops, they usually try to get my attention saying, “music!” or pointing to my CD player. In their own words and gestures, they are telling me the music stopped, and they wish to listen to more music. Music not only helps calm the little ones, but encourages imagination, language, and motor development, as well. Infants love listening to soft music and this can even help them sleep better during their naps.

What kind of music is best for this age group? Any music that they could sing along with, follow along with (clapping and such), and isn’t too loud or vulgar. Keep in mind that the little one’s vocabulary is like a sponge, as they will repeat what they hear. I find age appropriate music at the local public library. Most libraries have a children’s section. You can ask the librarian if they have children’s music. They usually have shelves full of CD’s from different artists. 

Here are a few I’ve picked up at the library this week:

·         The Hollow Trees
·         Happy Toddler Loves to Dance
·         Hot Peas ‘n Butter (volume 2)
·         Get Moving with Ella Jenkins
·         The Imagination Generation by David Kisor
·         4 CDs Nursery Rhymes


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Sunday, March 17, 2013

Looking for a fun large motor activity?

Try a large motor or gross motor activity. Wonder what large motor or gross motor activities are? These are intended to help develop the abilities required in order to control the large muscles of the body for walking, running, sitting, crawling, and other activities.

Here is one of my favorites interacting activities:

“Rope Game” for ages: 1 year to 3 year old
Materials needed for this game: 1 long rope or jump rope around 15’ to 20’

If you have a couple of teens or adults to help, get each person to grab each ends of the rope. Pull the rope tight and on the floor. If you don’t have help, tie or tuck the ends under heavy furniture to keep it tight. Make sure there is plenty of room on each side of the rope for the little ones to run around.

The object of this game is to understand the concept of balance, over, under, across, sideways, and backwards. I make it fun by encouraging them to use their imagination.

I like to start off with the concept of balance by walking along the rope as if I’m walking a tight rope while I’m holding my arms out like an airplane. The little ones naturally follow me as I say, “I’m an airplane.” I do it several times as they learn how to place their feet and balance with their arms out simply by following me. Some fall over but I show them how my arms keep me from falling. I’ll go slow the first few times and then go faster a couple more times.

For the concept of over, I start jumping over the rope as I say, “I’m a bunny rabbit.” They usually follow me or go ahead of me. They really start giggling at this point. You could ask them what animal are they? Monkey? Kangaroo? Frog? Any animal that hops would work great. We hop over the rope and go back over the other way several times. Then I start jumping over the rope backwards. This is challenging for the little ones, but usually the three year olds or older figure it out. Then I start jumping sideways as if I’m playing jump rope but in slow motion. This too can be challenging, but it’s good for them to try.

For the concept of across, I ask them what animal they want to be? Cat? Dog? Lion? Bear? Any four legged animal would work great. We get down on our hands and knees and crawl across the rope making our animal sounds. We continue to go back over the other way several times. I end the idea of across by rolling across the floor and rope. Yes, I roll along with them. It wouldn’t be as fun if the adult isn’t being silly with them.

Next, to expand their imagination, I make it more fun by taking one end of the rope as I wiggle the rope to make waves. They can be small waves or large waves. I usually start off with small waves. I tell them we are at the beach. One side of the rope is sand and the other side of the rope is the ocean water. The rope turned into waves. Encourage them to jump over the waves. When they jump over they could pretend they are swimming in the water. Then they could jump into the sand side. While they are doing this, I’m making the sound of waves. When they start to lose interest, the rope could turn into a snake. (I’m still wiggling the rope but in a slower motion). Tell the little ones to try to step over or jump over without touching the snake. While they are doing this, I’m making the sound of a snake. Another idea is to turn the rope into an imaginary cave. Lift the one end of the rope up, and encourage them to see what is inside the cave. There could be a bear. Oh my! Once they crawl inside, I make a bear sound. Usually, they quickly crawl back out.

It’s all just fun and doesn’t have to be perfect. The main thing is they are learning something new while getting the physical exercise.  


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Thursday, March 7, 2013

Looking for children book ideas? Updated

Updated from original article 3 3 13

I’m always looking for books that spark interest with little ones. Children books can be found online and even at the local library. You are welcome to share some of your favorite children books by commenting on this article or send an e-mail at ivajd64@hotmail.com

Here is a large list of my favorite books I use for my child care program library:

Book reading time! How to keep little ones engaged

Do you find it challenging to keep your little one(s) engaged while reading to them?  Do they wonder off, find more interest in playing with their toys, make a bunch of noise, or climb up on you or another child while being read to? Don't fret, it's ok to let them wonder off if they start to lose interest. Little ones, particularly toddlers, have a limited attention span for about 5 to 10 minutes. 

So keep this in mind when you pick out a book to share with them and to keep their interest . . .

Find a book that . . . has colorful pictures and not so many pages. I would shy away from books that can seem too busy with too much to look at on the page. If it’s difficult for the little ones to focus, then in turn, they will lose interest. 

Don’t be concerned about books that have lots of words . . . as some of the books I read to the little ones, might have long paragraphs on each page. I usually read the first sentence and improvise the remaining “paragraph” with just a few added sentences of my own, to help them follow what is happening. Little ones are anxious to see the next page very quickly. It might help to read the book yourself, ahead of time, to see what the story is about, and think about the questions you’re going to ask.

Ask them to find the “cat” . . . or characters, or items on the page. They can engage by pointing to the character you are talking about. Sometimes, I’ll say excitedly, “Oh there is a cat on this page!” I’ll ask them to point to it if they see it. I’ll even add to their interest by mimicking the sound a cat makes. I might only point out one of two items for each page. I do this to keep their interest focused on the pages.

Be silly with them by mimicking sounds . . . when you are pointing to an animal, or a car, or the main character of that particular page. Encourage them to mimic your sound, or when you are naming an item like: truck, cat ,or flower. If someone is knocking on the door in the story, they can knock on the door as well. Add to the sound of a door knock, by knocking on the wall behind you. You can even take it a step further, if you have an older toddler or preschooler that is around age 2 or older. Ask questions like, “Why do you think Goldilocks ran away?” Any answer is a good answer. Then you can add, “Do you think she was scared?”  Or ask a question that brings the older ones back to the story like, “What do you think is going to happen next?” “Who’s in baby bear’s bed?” Again, any answer is a good answer. It encourages their imagination.

Use this opportunity to point out colors or to count . . . as sometimes there is a page showing a few items in a row. If you are introducing a certain color to your little one(s), point out and name that color when you see it in the book.

The general idea of engaging your little one(s) with book reading, is to encourage the love of books. By you making it fun and silly, this will create fond memories. The next few times you pull out a book to read, they will look forward to engaging with you. As they grow up, they will be inspired with the love of books, language, and imagination. *Iva

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