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.

 

 

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!

Musicwithmar.com

Find Mar. on Facebook : Maryann Harman Musicwithmar

Follow brain facts on Facebook : Music with Mar., Inc.

Twitter Maryann Harman @musicwithmar

YouTube – Music with Mar

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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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Ellen Allard Music Meets the Stretchy Band

A few weeks ago I shared a blog post entitled “Better Together” which features a song written by Megan from Healing Sounds.

I keep thinking about this song and it just may become Bear Paw Creek’s theme song.  Do businesses have theme songs?

As I say often, I love these connections I keep making around music and movement and our props.

This time the connection is, Ellen Allard.  Hold on to your hats – you are in for a treat!

 

Connect a stretchy band and Ellen Allard Giveaway

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Introducing Ellen Allard

Who is Ellen?  A bit about her follows below and click here to head to her about page if you want to learn more.

She has been privileged since 1976 to perform children’s concerts and present teacher workshops/keynotes, seamlessly moving between both the Secular and the Jewish world of Early Childhood. She loves singing with kids. And she loves singing with kids and their grown-ups. Small groups, large groups, schools, synagogues, churches, festivals, libraries, community centers. From the moment Ellen begins her concerts, everyone is singing, dancing, moving and grooving.

How did we get connected?  I stumbled across this video of her showcasing how to use the stretchy band with the song “Bim, Bom”.

I sent her an email and then we caught up on the phone.  She has so much energy, enthusiasm, and willing to jump in and try anything. I also found our original connection was none other than…….. Carole Stephens from Macaroni Soup!

Below you will learn more about how and why she loves the stretchy and that we’ve teamed up for another great giveaway.

Stretchy Band: A Prop That Makes My Music Teaching Heart Soar

Ellen just published a post all about the stretchy band on her blog at EllenAllard.com. In it she shared some of her top reasons why she loves using the stretchy band to teach music.  Here they are.

  • Kids LOVE hands on activities. It keeps them focused. It gives them something to do that is movement-based.
  • The movement of the band, generated by the movement and direction of the kids’ hands, helps to reinforce the beat. Internalizing and being able to keep the beat is an important musical skill. As well, there is rhythm and beat in EVERYTHING from reading to math to walking. When you give kids an opportunity to experience the beat, it will definitely support rhythm in everything else they encounter.
  • Using the stretchy band in a group builds a sense of community and camaraderie. It helps children feel connected to others in the group.
  • Using the stretchy band in a group encourages cooperation. If one child doesn’t follow the directions being given for using the band, it will make it difficult if not impossible for the rest of the group to use the band accordingly. Conversely, it helps children feel connected when they cooperate with everyone in the group.

Here is another taste of her music from her YouTube Channel.  

So we’ve teamed up to bring another giveaway that will bring free music and movement into someone’s hands that other people will also benefit from. What’s not to love about that? 

You will be entered to win 4 connect-a-stretchy band (equals 1 XL stretchy band) and Ellen’s cd “Sing It! Say It! Stamp It! Sway It!” as a physical or digital copy.

Enter the giveaway by clicking and leave a comment on this post on how you would use the stretchy band and music!

Connect a stretchy band and Ellen Allard Giveaway

 

See…we really are all BETTER TOGETHER!

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Janet Stephens is the founder and creator behind Bear Paw Creek’s creative movement props and bags. She is passionate about learning and sharing along the way.

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Bear Paw Creek Stretchy Band in the Singapore News

Back in May of 2017, our Singapore distributor Our Music Classroom sent me an email showcasing the stretchy band being used in a new preschool.

Ms Thian Ai Ling, deputy general manager of MFS, said: “As we become increasingly interconnected in a changing world, it is important to continually invest in arts and culture to the benefit of more open, inclusive and imaginative societies. Through this… partnership, our teachers become more confident and skilful, and our children in turn can be nurtured to showcase their innovation and creativity.”

Get ready for some fantastic songs that will inspire your stretchy band time!

Stretchy Band in the Singapore News

Preschool Arts Program uses Stretchy Band

The newspaper article that was published on May 5, 2017, Pre-school Arts Education Programme Piloted at NTUC’s My First Skool, shares some wonderful quotes on the importance of arts in early childhood education.   It also show cases the stretchy band in use with engaging songs to teach and connect the students.  

Stretchy Band in the Singapore Newspaper

MFS said it initiated this partnership to advocate the impact and value of an arts education at pre-school level as it believes that quality arts experiences in the early years help to develop creative individuals from a young age.

 

NAC’s support is in providing the pre-school teachers with skills and knowledge in planning and delivering quality arts-based lessons, working with artists as co-teachers to facilitate and guide children in class on various art forms, and engaging parents on the impact and value of arts education in their child’s learning.

Meanwhile, children are exposed to various art genres appropriate for their age groups – such as singing, dancing, storytelling, art and music-making – while they explore various curriculum themes and academic subjects. Teachers and artists co-teach children and get them to experience the arts as part of their daily routine and classroom activities. So far, 150 children from the centre have benefited from the programme.

 

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I hope you enjoyed this as much as I did. I love the teachers enthusiasm and energy and her being in the center of the circle for the kids/parents to see as well.

Hope this sparks a new idea for you to use with the stretchy band!

Janet Stephens is the founder and creator behind Bear Paw Creek’s creative movement props and bags. She is passionate about learning and sharing along the way.

Better Together Stretchy Band Song

 

The past Friday Megan Martin, MA, MT-BC of Healing Sounds Music Therapy messaged me about a new song she wrote to use with the stretchy band.  I am always excited about new music to share and the story behind this is pretty special. 

Her song “Better Together” is pretty special and is a great reminder that we all are truly better together!

 

 

Better Together song by Megan Martin for the stretchy band

Why Are We “Better Together”?

You can read the post and see the full video on their blog at Healing Sounds. 

But here is a quote by Megan, “I began to write “Better Together” a month ago, after the violence of Charlottesville, not too far from our office in Midlothian. I held my children a little tighter that day. I was saddened watching people tear each other a part. I wanted to help. The words, “better together”, resonated in a big way after that day. We are better together. I want my children to know, without a doubt, that my love will always surround them. With those sentiments, I put together a song about love for each other, as well as directional concepts, fine and gross motor movements, and tactile sensory integration. We sit together, in a circle, connected by a colorful band that cannot be broken. My love with always hold us together.” 

She also said she would be willing to share the sheet music.  You can email her here if you are interested: [email protected]

Below you will find the snippet of the video with the song.

“Better Together” also sums up what I love about building an online Tribe.   Here we create and sew up the stretchy band that inspires creative movement and song writing – which then can by used by others to reach even more.  Connected together through a prop and music around the world!

We can all learn from this song, we ARE “Better Together”! 

Janet Stephens is the founder and creator behind Bear Paw Creek’s creative movement props and bags. She is passionate about learning and sharing along the way.

Promoting Social Interactions through Sensorimotor Play

Written by: Alyssa Wilkins, MT-BC, owner and founder Dynamic Lynks Alyssa is a passionate Autism provider, Board Certified Music Therapist, music educator and adaptive yoga instructor.

I work with a lot of young children and children on the autism spectrum. Often this means that cooperative play and typical social interactions are challenging. Activities where we need to play as a group or hold hands are difficult, but sensorimotor props make learning these play skills much easier!

In this post I will share a few ways I use the stretchy band and ribbons to accomplish this goal.

Using the Stretchy Band

I have written several posts: A Stretchy Band for Every Skill and 5 Ways to Use the Stretchy Band about how I like to use the stretchy band, but one way it has been coming into my sessions recently is for classic childhood games!  Something like Red Rover or Ring around the Rosie now becomes a piece of cake for children who struggle with spatial awareness or peer relations.

  • Ring around the Rosie
    • I assign each child to a color and sing the classic rhyme.
    • When it comes to “we all fall down”, I have the children drop the stretchy band to the ground since it can be difficult to get some of my kiddos back to standing.
    • I sing the song several times and always change the ending so instead of “we all fall down” it becomes “we all jump up” or “we all stomp”.

 

  • Red Rover
    • I start with 1 child holding the stretchy band on each end, keeping it taught.
    • We chant the Red Rover song and call one child’s name to run over into the stretchy band.
    • They run as fast they can into the band and get flung backwards by the pressure.
    • That child then helps hold the band and we call another friend over.
    • We repeat this until everyone has had a turn running into the band.

Row Your Boat Stretchy Band

 

  •  Storytelling
    • For fall, I particularly like “Way Up High in the Apple Tree”. I do the story chant-style, but the Learning Station also has a version for those who are unfamiliar with the song.
    • I chant the song while we are all holding the stretchy band in a circle. The kids have to follow my movements with the stretchy band throughout the whole story.
    • There is fun shaking, stretching, climbing in the story so you can get creative with how you all move the band together.
    • Once the children know the chant well, I assign different leaders to chant the song and create their own versions of the movements that we all have to follow.

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Using Ribbons

Ribbons are so versatile, and Janet makes many versions perfect for children of all ages and abilities. The thing I like most about ribbons is that they are visually engaging and give an easy way to track another peer’s movements so you can have extended interactions without many distractions.

  • Shake Your Ribbons
    • This is one of my original songs that I use often in my early childhood sessions. The song instructs children to move their ribbons in different ways.
    • In the song, the children go “fishing” with their ribbons and have to share what they caught with the group.
    • You can use the same chords of the song and ask different children to choose a movement, and all the other children have to follow and copy that movement for the duration of a verse.

 

  • Ribbon Walk
    • Some of my children really struggle with staying in a line or keeping appropriate personal space. I like to use a Ribbon Walk to work on this skill.
    • The children stand in a line and are each given a ribbon. The person 2nd in line has to hold the end of person number 1’s ribbon and keep it straight and tight the whole time they are walking. They have to stand a “ribbons-length” away from their friend in front of them.
    • I put on, or play, one of the group’s favorite songs and they have to follow-the-leader and walk around the room, keeping a ribbons-length of space between them and each friend.

 

  • Mirror my Ribbon
    • For children who are working on engaging in prolonged social interactions, this is one of my favorites!
    • I pair 2 children up and the goal is for them to be perfect mirror images of each other, copying each other’s movements. Often this is done with the children touching hands, but that can be difficult for my little ones.
    • The children instead have to hold each end of a ribbon and use that as a guide to complete the movement of the leader.
    • The leader switches about every minute, so they always have to be ready to lead and follow!
    • I play slow, simple music patterns in the background to guide slow, clear movements.

Ribbon Wrist Streamers

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I hope you can use some of these ideas in your next class or session! I find that sensorimotor props are the most effective way to engage an entire group and get them working on social skills that are usually very challenging. For more songs to use in session, you can check out my latest CD, Mini Musical Minds. I also have an entire curriculum dedicated to social and emotional developmental for children of all ages and abilities!

Dynamic Lynks Logo

 

 

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Yoga Dots for Music and Movement

Yoga Dots and Yoga Pretzels

 

 

Last spring Rosemary from Creative Kids Yoga  ordered some streamers for one of her workshops.  We had a lovely conversation via email and she ended up sending me some Yoga Dots.

After I signed up to be a Barefoot Books Ambassador and received my starter kit (completely worth signing up to be an Ambassador) I found the box of Yoga Pretzels tucked inside my box.

Both these products are part of giveaway for this month!

Keep reading to learn how these two products are adding movement and fun to our lives.

 

 

 

 

Yoga Dots -Who Knew?

After our Yoga Dots arrived the first thing the little ones did was to arrange them in different spots and play follow the leader.

Yoga Dots for Circle Time Yoga Dots for Follow the Leader

I also started using them for our circle/story time.  The kids enjoy picking out their color and helps them keep to themselves and the proverbial – I can’t see – as they move around.

Rosemary shares how they help with Self and Personal Space in the video below.

After I received my starter kit as an Ambassador with Barefoot Books (I highly recommend this – contact me if you want to learn more), the Yoga Pretzel added a new way to use them.  I have personally never done yoga, so I am sure our attempts our laughable, but we are enjoying the process.

From their site:

Yoga Pretzels

50 Fun Yoga Activities for Kids & Grownups

Calm the mind and body, improve patience and boost confidence with yoga! These cards include forward bends, back bends, partner poses and balance poses.
 

Barefoot Books Yoga Pretzels

We are giving a set away in our giveaway for this month or order your own set directly from Barefoot Books.

 

 

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Something Exciting is in the Works

After Rosemary agreed to send the Yoga Dots for our giveaway she let me know she was creating her own Yoga cards with pictures of children doing the poses.

I can’t wait to see them and her other new product she just announced!  Be sure to look for them soon.

I also am very excited about 2 new products, which I have just created and are “hot off the press”. You will be the first to use them! Creative Kids Yoga Cards® and the Creative Kids Yoga Body Spinner Game®. The Yoga Cards have 4 postures, in each of the 6 categories, to use when you have a desired outcome you wish to achieve with kids. The categories are: Strengthening, Stretching, Focusing, Calming, Energizing, Stabilizing.

Janet Stephens is the founder and creator behind Bear Paw Creek’s creative movement props and bags. She is passionate about learning and sharing along the way.
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