This session at the Plaza ended as happily as it began. I’ve enjoyed seeing the abundant energy and enthusiasm of some of the kids throughout the session, but it was particularly gratifying to see some of the shy kids come further out of their shells than they were at the beginning, now participating without much prompting. Though some of the grown-ups were still a bit shy in singing (which is understandable, given the language barrier), they were nevertheless quite engaged in all of the actions and movements, especially when it came time to dance. We had an extra long jam, and one of the staff members at the Plaza made our ABC song even better by accompanying it with the full ASL alphabet. The kids loved the clappers at the end, and it was definitely a good call to give them all the same instrument at the end of the session. Both staff members said they hope that their program gets extended, and if it does, I would love to return!
I was amazed at how quickly everyone got into a circle once I entered the room. Everyone was so well behaved and attentive, but the number of parents was a bit low at first. Within the first few minutes, more parents started to join the group, but that also took some focus away from our songs. Though our first few a capella songs and warm-ups went very smoothly, some kids started to get a bit restless. So, I got us up on our feet for nearly half the class, which seemed to be exactly what the kids wanted as they quite literally screamed for joy once I started the strumming for 5 Little Monkeys. After getting some of those jitters out they loved seeing the Vibraslap as our instrument of the week, grooving and dancing to the song I was playing, and sharing quite well. Some of the kids love dancing so much that they'll even dance when I'm not playing!
The snow outside made for a cozy class at the Plaza, with lots of winter songs like Snowflakes All Around and Button it Up. The kids loved the signs and actions of all the songs, and the parents were getting into it without any prompting! One of the best things about these classes is seeing parents get a bit silly with things. It always brings up the energy in the room. However, the energy may have been too much for some kids, because after Sleeping Bunnies, some of them actually fell asleep! While they took a nap on the mats off to the side, the rest of us had a great jam and parachute, with smiles all around.
This class felt seamless, as the kids were focused and engaged and encouraged by an attentive group of grown-ups. The parents seem to be getting more involved the more they remember the songs. It’s still a bit difficult to get everybody making hand signs for songs like Mr. Sun and Bath Time, but when it comes to identifying body parts and clapping, the kids respond immediately. Sharing was a breeze, and we followed the colour of the bean bag with some colour identifying around the room for What Are You Wearing, with lots of calling out and enthusiasm from the kids. Looking forward to the next one!
This was a great session at the Plaza, with a good amount of engagement from the grown-ups. I find that the more I can get the group on their feet, the more the parents engage with the directions of the songs as they try to get the kids to organize themselves in a circle and move around the room. Elephants Marching was particularly good for that this week. Though it took a bit of time to get everybody back in a circle on the carpet, we still had time for a serious jam. The kids love bringing out the instruments so much that I don’t even have to help them anymore!
After last week’s cancelled class, I was excited to see all the kids again. This week we were in a new room, which actually had a nicer and more open feel to it. The kids were very well-behaved for the most part, but a couple chatterboxes made it difficult to focus for the first few songs. Since they were a bit older, I asked them to come to where I was sitting and demonstrate the hand movements for the little ones, which helped keep things moving along. Baby Shark really snapped their attention in, and from there the class was a breeze. We all got up in a circle in record time, and there was a lot of laughter for Walk and Stop. Jam time was LOUD, but everybody listened without fuss when it was time to stop, so it’s clear they’ve been taking in the directions of the songs. A very happy class all around!
It was great to return to the Plaza Hotel for another session with some very gregarious kids! One of them couldn’t help but yell “Yay” at any spare moment. Some of the newer faces took a bit of time to connect with the material, so I made sure to go slow so that all the kids could follow along with the words and actions. I also made a point to solicit more engagement from the parents as well, and highlight their importance in the class. It helped! I found that the more the parents sang actively, the more they appeared to enjoy the material. It really is a family affair!
The final class of the session at the Plaza started smoothly, with all the kids rushing to sit in a circle as soon as I stepped in the door. We sang all the favourites, like Roly Poly, Sticky Sticky Bubblegum, and Little Green Frog. However, the big favourite of the day was the Vibraslap, which we shared around the circle for Instrument of the Week. I played a groovy guitar line, and everyone started bobbing along as everyone added a bit of pizzazz with the Vibraslap. One snag was that I had to urge the grown-ups to grab onto the parachute, but hopefully by next session they'll need a bit less encouragement. The kids loved their maracas, and especially the recorders, and I'm looking forward to seeing everyone again in the New Year!
Today was another big group, with big energy. During Hands Together, one of the kids was doing a bouncy sitting dance that I could only describe as "groovin'". With the larger group, I took a bit more time introducing songs to make sure I could refocus everybody, as it was easy for some kids to get distracted. It was a bit difficult to get some of the kids on their feet for Walk and Stop, but once they were up we were able to run through a few more movement songs to keep them going.
We had a smaller group today, but it was also more intimate and connected after the past few weeks of gigantic groups. We started off with lots of hands-focused songs, and after last week’s Hokey Pokey the kids were great at finding their lefts and rights. However, it was the stomping that really got them going, and we did an extra long version of I Have a Little Bicycle, with lots of stops and starts. The kids mimed ringing the bell on the bicycle, which is something I’m definitely going to incorporate into future versions of that song. When we got up on our feet, I brought out Walking, I’m Just Walking Along for the first time, and everybody took to it instantly and delighted in the changes of activity within the song. Even though the group was smaller, it was no less dynamic!