Ernestine is bringing the energy, week after week! It’s so great to see the enthusiasm for the program amongst kids and grown-ups alike. Not only do the kids remember the songs from previous weeks (and request them!), but they seem to be able to learn lyrics and actions for the new songs in record time. Sometimes the energy can take them around the room and onto the surrounding couches, but today the Cabasa was able to rein them in for Instrument of the Week. One of the kids kept repeating the name, “Cabasaaaaa, Cabaaaaaaasa”, well into the jam. What a fun group!
I couldn’t have asked for a better reception from the kids and grown-ups for my return to Ernestine. Though it was a whole new batch of kids, they were jumping for joy and so excited to sing before I had even set up! Likewise, the grown-ups were full of enthusiasm, singing along to most songs by the second verse, as if they had known them for years. The kids were great with sharing the instruments, and once we were done, one of them yelled out, “It’s over already??” Only till next week, when I’m sure we’ll have just as much fun!
We had our last class of 2018 under the warm light of the Christmas tree in the living room at Ernestine. This room has made such a difference in the feeling and energy of the classes this session, and it was nice to have cozy vibes to ring out the year. Though we started off with a slightly smaller group of three, we were shortly joined by the rest of our regular group, plus one older sibling who was excited to join. The difference in numbers not only made a huge difference in energy, but also focus! Everybody was into it, and though the kids at Ernestine weren't quite as amazed at the Vibraslap as the kids at the Plaza, they had no issues with an extra long jam session, topped off with Jingle Bells. We said goodbye with a Happy Birthday parachute song for two birthdays in the room and plenty of high fives.
Today was a bit strange. We started late because there was a meeting going on with some of the moms, and the staff member who normally sits in on the classes was caught up with another pressing matter at the shelter. Because we started late, some of the kids were pretty tired and ready for bed for a chunk of the class, but a couple of things brought the energy up. The first was that after several weeks of one of the kids requesting a particular song about a fish that she couldn’t remember – and me trying every fish song I could think of – it turned out to be Baby Shark! The second thing that brought the energy up was, undoubtedly, the instruments for jam time, and a smiling rendition of Jingle Bells.
Today’s class started off a bit smaller while some of the kids had their dinner, which made the flow of things a bit strange. However, it’s always nice to be joined in the middle of a song by kids who know the words and can bring a fresh energy to the class. The post-dessert participation also meant that there was a lot of bouncing to be had (helped by a sugar rush, no doubt), followed by a sugar-crash that made for a very accurate Sleeping Bunnies. Things perked up again for the jam, and I didn’t have to remind anyone not to hit the drums with maracas this time, even among the very little ones!
Perhaps it’s the early winter sunsets, but everyone was a bit sleepy when I arrived at Ernestine. Jakey, one of the most enthusiastic kids, was out like a light until about halfway through the class. Though it took a bit of time to get everyone into the energy, the frog songs and wooden frog (Instrument of the Week) brought everybody’s focus back in. The kids shared the frog around the circle very well, and enjoyed making funny frog faces along with it.
Some of the kids from last week were out with their mom this week, but we still had an enthusiastic group of 4-5 year olds, plus one newborn. The kids were freshly energized from their dinner, so I made sure to include all the bouncy songs I could think of. The best part of the class was Little Green Frog, which I slowed down in the intro, giving the kids the chance to really milk it with their funny faces, and make each other laugh. Unfortunately we didn’t have quite enough space for a parachute this week, but that was made up for with the shell shaker, which I brought as a special instrument, and the kids shared it without any fuss. Everyone sang along during the jam, and finished off with big high fives and big smiles.
It was so wonderful to be back at Ernestine singing for some familiar faces and families! In the time since our last session, a newborn baby has appeared! The class was a great mix of 4-6 year olds and babies; the older kids were stepping into their sibling roles and helping the younger ones along. Not only did the kids remember me from last time, but they remembered their favourite songs as well! The big request was the Little Green Frog, so we sang and made funny faces and the kids got into near-theatrics. They listened patiently as I introduced the instruments in our instrument bag, and mostly remembered to keep the hand drums for hands and maracas for shaking. I can't believe how quickly the class went by, and I can't wait till the next one!
Between last week and this week, a couple of the kids who have been in the program all session had moved out of Ernestine. Though I wish I could have said a proper goodbye, I know they’ll be singing these songs wherever they are. Meanwhile, the kids at Ernestine still love the music, and some of the ones who were babies at the beginning of the session are already walking during the movement songs, and clapping along throughout. The big hit today was the vibraslap, which I love to bring out toward the end of a session, because it’s just silly and plain fun. The kids loved it, and we had a great last jam and parachute, with one of the best versions of Shake It Baby Shake It we’ve had all session. I’ll miss this group very much!
A number of families who have participated throughout the session have moved out from Ernestine. Though it’s always sad to see old friends go, it was a treat to welcome a new group of enthusiastic kids into the circle. I made sure to include lots of songs that I knew the new kids would be familiar with, and they needed no encouragement to participate –they were present and excited! The big hit of today was Listen to the Water. It seemed like we couldn’t possibly run out of animal sounds to make! We finished with a great parachute version of Twist and Shout, and even some older siblings stopped by to join the fun.