Bean Bags and Music with Mar

Guest post by Maryann Harman of Music with Mar

Bean bags are one of the many things in early childhood that are thought of as ‘toys’ and yet they are so much more than that.  

It’s almost as if ‘toy’ is a bad word, like there is no time for toys in early childhood.  We must get ready for school!  Toys are the tools of childhood.  It is with toys that many skills are developed because it is through play we learn how to navigate the world.  Bean bags are fun toys.  

Let’s break down the things that are learned when playing with bean bags.

 

Music with Mar using bean bags teaches skills

Playing with Bean Bags and Learning

The first aspect is tactile.  Children are feeling them.  Squishing them.  Poking them. This helps to develop the FINE MOTOR SKILLS of the fingers.  When they push down on the beans in the middlle and they move, that’s SCIENCE!  They are learning displacement. When they toss a bean bag up in the air and it comes down, that’s gravity.  None of these concepts need to be named.  They can just happen while children’s brains get wired for understanding the concept when the time comes.

There are many songs using bean bags.  I, myself, have composed a few.  The combination of music with the bean bag activities intensifies the learning experience.  Music helps the children utilize the bean bags in a constructive way while making it easier to understand.  Because of music, they will retain what they’ve learned a bit longer as well.

The song “I’ve Got a Bean Bag” encourages children to try different motor skills. It’s simple and children can be successful.

I’ve got a bean bag. Yes. I’ve got a bean bag

I throw it up. And, catch it when it comes down

I’ve got a bean bag. Yes. I’ve got a bean bag

I throw it to my friend and catch it when she throws it back

I’ve got a bean bag. Yes. I’ve got a bean bag

Put it on my foot and kick it up. Catch it when it comes down

I’ve got a bean bag. Yes. I’ve got a bean bag

I throw it up and catch it when it comes down.

 

 

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Another fun thing to do with bean bags is walk and balance with one on your head or shoulder. This is important for VESTIBULAR strengthening.  By taking the bean bag and placing it on different parts of the body, children are learning body parts – LANGUAGE

Music with Mar Bean Bags vocabulary balance directions

When using bean bags with children, I encourage them to ‘try what I’m doing’ and ‘show me what you’re doing’.  This allows for you to show them ideas and acknowledges they, too, can think of things to do.  CREATIVE THINKING as well as CONFIDENCE.  I also ask them to share with a friend and trade bean bags.  SOCIAL INTERACTION

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I am teaming up with Bear Paw Creek and we are doing a giveaway for  a set of bean bags and my cd, “Froggy Fitness”.

Win Bean Bags and Music

If you haven’t used bean bags in a while, it is time to revisit them.  If you are using bean bags, YEAH!   Get out those bean bags and have fun.  Bear Paw Creek sells 4″ square and textured bean bags – check them out!

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Maryann “Mar.” Harman is a music educator with a Bachelor’s Degree in Music and a Master’s in Education, with an emphasis in Early Childhood and is certified in Level I Orff. These degrees contribute to her ability to write songs that are musically and educationally sound for children as well as fun and easy to use for teachers and parents. She is the founder of the internationally-enjoyed Music with Mar. Brain Research Based program, Music with Mar. International (Beijing, China) and hosted BAM! Radio Music and Learning Channel. “My passion is tying together the effectiveness of music in overall development with the current research and creating music / music activities to help parents / teachers put it in action.”

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Summer Activities for Kids

A few ideas for when life slows down a bit.

 

 

A few great things to do away and at home with your kids… for when they ask to get on the computer, iPads, WII, Xbox… Well, you know…

Nothing wrong with extra time to enjoy their electronics during the summer, but here’s a list of alternatives to “gaming” their summer away.

The ebb and flow of summertime.

This morning, I enjoyed coffee with my dad as we chatted with my six-year-old.

We listened to her account of a nightmare about spiders, followed by ther dream of giant pink bugs. We speculated on the relative scariness of bugs that are huge, even if they are a shade of pink… It was good to just sit and talk and laugh a little with the morning cheer shining through the window.

Just two and a half weeks into June and we’ve already enjoyed: 1) A family reunion, 2. Two summer camps, 3. Family visiting in our home, and 4. A wedding weekend out of town. For the next few days, we’ve got the pleasure of having my dad here. Then we’ll finish out with another summer camp (for my younger kids this time). What a fun whirlwind – talk about a full month with many precious memories made!

The remainder of my calendar for this summer looks pretty empty, with enough time to be a bit more leisurely. There’s plenty of space to enjoy more coffee and conversation in the morning. I’ll have room in my days for contemplation. We won’t have places to rush off to and  I’ll have no piles of post-camp-laundry to catch up on. Our pace will slow down.

As my kids adjust to having greater ammounts of free time, I want to make sure those days aren’t all filled up with screen time . I’ve been strategizing about mostly “unplugged” activities we can enjoy. When my kids are asking to be on the computer all day, I’ll be ready with these ideas.

[Tweet “Here’s a list of alternatives to “gaming” their summer away.”]

A list of activities to enjoy with kids this summer:

Berry picking and peach harvesting.

We have so many orchards and berry farms around us. I missed the strawberry picking season (busy!), but this week is the perfect time for picking blueberries around here. For information about farms and orchards near you, go to this website: pickyourown.org.

To extend the fun, you can also read the classic, Blueberries for Sal, by Robert McCloskey while you eat your fresh berries over ice cream.

Journaling to inspire the love of writing and build confidence.

My husband and I sell used books on Amazon and occasionally I snag one from the “sell” pile if I fall in love with it.

The book, In the Company of Children, by Joanne Hindley, falls into that category. This is a warm, friendly book which helps you and your reluctant writer get past the paralysis of the blank page. It is not only a “how-to” book on journaling but also a “why” for motivation. She’s encouraging and injects a sense of community into the writing process.

I’m looking forward to bringing this into our family and seeing what it does for our family. I can see the influence of this book reaching into the adult years of my children, enhancing their grasp of good communication and their enjoyment of it as well.

Planning for when it’s too hot or rainy outside:

Watching this series on YouTube

Last year I studied Geography with my kids and about three months ago we stumbled across this channel Geography Now, created by Paul Barbato, pretty much from the first video we were hooked. He uses humor, and great visuals to make all the countries you’re a bit unclear about memorable. I want my kids to have a working knowledge of the world and it’s people. That’s a pretty tall order but this channel is a great starting point for both. For an overview, take a look at this:

Create a cooking lesson for your kids.

Whether you create your own (using favorite recipes) or use a monthly kit like Radishkids.com, summertime has the best opportunities to find pockets of time for cooking with your kids.

I know it’s kind of scary for some of us, but it really is worth the time and the mess to do this with your kids. The key is: Don’t do try cooking lessons with your kids when you’re in a hurry. Seriously, a four-hour block of time will make you much more relaxed about the process and cleanup! Maybe you only do this a couple of times this summer, but that’s okay!

Resources from Bear Paw Creek

Bean Bags.

I’ve got a set of bean bags from Bear Paw Creek, which my kids love. They are great for tossing inside (or outside) into bowls, knocking over empty bottles, for practicing juggling (Yeah, still working on that one.) and with an oversized checkerboard (squares painted or drawn on a sheet or fabric).

We use them at church as a way to get busy bodies moving before or after the lesson. Every Sunday (I’m not exaggerating. EVERY Sunday!) the kids ask to get the bean bags out. These are a great tool for every parent to have in their Summertime Boredom Toolbox.

Stretchy Bands in Circle Time.

Another great tool to pull out when you prefer to be inside is the Connect-a-Stretchy Band. These stretchy bands can be used for Circle Time each morning.

What is Circle Time you ask? Here’s an example from a mom at home: Creating a Circle Time in Your Home, by Jamie Martin on Simple Homeschool gives an overview and links to her vlog so you can see them in action.

Below is an example of a singing and movement Circle Time using a stretchy band from Bear Paw Creek (with plenty of giggles included):

If you want more tips and ideas on doing Circle Time take a look at this recent post by Carol Stephens of Macaroni Soup. She gives very practical tips and has great songs to use on her website.

If you want to know the “why” of using the stretchy band during Circle time, take a look at this post, by Allysa Wilkins of Dynamic Lynks, to understand the benefits the stretchy with your kids.

Summer Snowball Fight!

Have you heard of the Instant Snowball Fight? 

It’s great for winter fun when you live somewhere that doesn’t get snow and it’s great for the summer! This is an activity you can do inside, outside, in the pool, at a lake, really, anywhere. 

Snowball Movement Prop Set+ Kids = Indoor Snowball Fight

Don’t even get me started on the scarves and ribbons!

 

Have you seen what kids do when you get dancing scarves and ribbons in their hands? Whether dancing on the lawn, or in your front room, your kids will have a blast! Take a look at the resources I have listed in Ribbons Dancing and Scarves, Oh My!

I hope your summer is filled with fun. That it has a good ebb and flow of activities and rest.

Be sure to check out all of the movement props that Bear Paw Creek carries. Be prepared with these low-tech, high-fun ways for your kids to interact and play. Be prepared when your child says, “Can I play on the computer?” for the 50th time in a row. 😉

 

Jenette is a freelance writer of web content, blogs, and podcast show notes. She is also a wife and imperfect mother, whose family mean the world to her. She’s looking forward to July, when you’ll find her carving out time for all of this fun stuff and more. Jenette’s business website is at www.mywordsforhire.com.

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