The Power of Music

Our last class at ARISE last night was very special. I could tell the moms and the children were sad to hear that it was coming to an end. I tried out some new tunes last night that the group adored, such as What Are You Wearing?, Shut the Door, and Tingalayo. Furthermore, the instrument of the week, the Ting Shaw Bells, was received with awe and curiosity! In discussion with the co-ordinator after the program, I found out that two new children who attended the class yesterday had only just arrived at the shelter the night before. They were scared and shy when they arrived yesterday, but they opened up and really relaxed during the music class. This was so meaningful to hear!! This shelter has a wonderful community and I really hope to be able to continue here in the future. The co-ordinator spoke very highly of the program, saying it's the best program she's seen to date, and that it made everyone happy and open up! What a gift to be able to be a part of this :)

A Lively Group!

This week’s class we had a smaller group but it was lively as always. Two of the children who normally attend were absent. The group enjoyed singing and learning the signs for Mister Sun and Listen to the Water, as well as jamming to All the Babies Love Bananas, during which the moms drummed along with enthusiasm! The children also enjoyed Sleeping Bunnies with the parachute, and dancing to Celebrate by Kool and the Gang. When I mentioned that we only have one class left the mothers seemed sad to hear this and said that it’s gone by so fast. It’s become a very well-loved program (on my end as well!)

Dancing Up a Storm!

This week’s class started off a little slow as parents were still arriving to the shelter and another parent had a previous commitment. We started about 25 minutes after we were slated to start. However, when the class got going it was full of energy! We got up on our feet to Shake Your Sillies Out and The Hokey Pokey, and one mother in particular was dancing up a storm and encouraging her daughter to join in. Her daughter, who has special needs, spoke out loud in the class for the first time as well. Some other highlights: the chime bars as our Instrument of the Week, sticking our tongues out during The Little Green Frog, and the parachute.

Parachute Party!

This week's class started with only two mothers and their little babies (and they loved it!), but as the class progressed other families joined in. They loved Wake Up, as well as more familiar songs such as Row Row Row Your Boat and Down by the Station. They also loved the instrument jam and one mother was quite the pro at the tambourine. The parachute was also a huge hit and we had a big parachute dance party to Can't Stop The Feeling, with a couple bigger kids joining in on the fun. One child with special needs particularly loves the class, and it's nice to hear the shelter co-ordinator say that this child totally opens up when she hears music!

All the Feels For Our Last Class

Wow! We had a very special last class at the Redwood last night. After a three-week hiatus due to renovations, staff training and illness, everyone seemed happy and excited to resume the program. The children were calmer than I'd seen them in weeks, and they seemed eager to suggest songs when I announced that I'd be taking requests. Song suggestions included Shut the Door ("Can we do the spooky song??"), Old MacDonald and Sticky Sticky Bubblegum. I also made sure to add all their favourite movement songs, such as Shake Your Sillies OutThe Hokey PokeyZoom Zoom Zoom (We're Going to the Moon) and Walk and Stop. We also enjoyed a quieter/more pensive moment when we brought out the Ting Shaw bells as the Instrument of the Week. It was nice to see the calming effect it had on the group and they shared the instrument with each other very well! 

At the end of the class the staff and I gave out participation certificates and instruments as prizes, and we applauded each child when they received them. This felt very significant as I'm not sure how often they get to feel celebrated. After the presentation we also ended up having an impromptu dance party while Ngasseu gave out popsicles. One of the most special and heart-warming moments of the night, however, came when a mother in the class (who has four children) thanked me for giving out the certificates. She said (referring to the certificates), "These are so thoughtful. We have other programs that come here but you are the only one that gives these out. I'm going to keep this as a memory for my children. Do you know if I can get them laminated? I loved the program." She said this with such gratitude and authenticity. One of the volunteers also told me that the class was one of the highlights of her week. Though our time at the Redwood was sometimes chaotic, I'm grateful that I got to see the deep impact the program had on the children and community. It was an honour to teach there this winter. :)

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From Monkeys to Dragons

We had lots of fun with animal songs this week! Some highlights included Listen to the Water, where the kids got up on their feet pretending to be the animals we were singing about, and Five Little Monkeys. One enthusiastic boy insisted we do a Five Little Dragons afterwards, as dragons are his favourite animal. They also enjoyed Sticky Bubblegum, The Great BIG Spider, and pretending to ride bicycles and stop and go in I Have a Little Bicycle. The Redwood director came in towards the end of the class as well and introduced herself to me. It was nice to meet her, and she shared her appreciation for our classes.

Instrument of the Week For the Win!

This week at the Redwood was energetic as always and the kids were particularly enthusiastic. I overheard them asking, "When is the program going to start??" Some highlights included Jelly Fish, which they had a lot of fun with, as well as the Instrument of the Week, which was the Kalimba or "thumb piano." We passed the Kalimba around for every child to play with and, as each child had their turn, most of the other kids sat patiently and listened. I have never seen them so focused before! The Instrument of the Week is such a great tool with this group. They also really enjoyed Circle Scales, in which we held hands and marched into the middle of the circle saying "Hello/Goodbye," counting to 8, and then walking in a circle to Shoo Fly. We had never done such an exercise before and I think it really captured their attention. It also fostered a real sense of togetherness!

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Elephants Don't Have Wrinkles on Their Teeth! That's Ridiculous!

The Redwood was full of energy and enthusiasm this week. The kids loved the songs on their feet, such as I Can't Fly and Five Little Monkeys. We also did Elephants Have Wrinkles, and when I sang, "On their teeth... no! They don't have wrinkles on their teeth!" a little girl got really into it and said, "That's ridiculous!" which totally charmed all of the adults and made for a great laugh.

Huge Turnout!

Wow! Huge turnout at the Redwood this week! We had seven mothers present, which is our best parent turnout yet! According to the Redwood staff, this was due to a Black History Month event happening right before our class, and the staff were able to bring everyone directly to our class afterwards. I received a request for some drumming this week, so we incorporated African drums into the jam and had lots of (loud) fun!