Our first class at ARISE was very well received by everyone! They were singing along instantly and got up several times to dance, moms included. One mom also brought a small keyboard to jam along with me and played along during some songs. Highlights included Ring around the Rosy which was a group request, jamming to Twist and Shout, and the parachute.
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 Out, The Hokey Pokey, Zoom 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. :)
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.
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!
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.
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!
This week was a real success in connecting to some of the older children who are in the Redwood class. About half the class is over six years old, and I tried to really engage them this week with questions and participation. For example, I asked them to explain to me why the cowbell (our "instrument of the week") is called a cowbell. They were stumped until one very bright girl explained it perfectly! It was a wonderful moment that let her intellect shine. We also got creative in Down By the Bay when I asked them to come up with funny rhymes, and the older kids kept making rhymes about "T-rexs" and giggling. A mom even chimed in with one as well, saying "Have you ever seen a T-rex, driving a car?" It was a big hit and such a step forward having a mother participate in this way! It made me feel super happy that she felt comfortable to join in/speak up. Another sweet moment in the class came when a child who is usually quite distracted and likes to do his own thing got really into dancing in the Hello song, and then encouraged another shy child to stand up and turn around. Woohoo!
What a fun class we had on Valentine’s Day at the Redwood!! The energy was high and spirits were up. People were feeling festive (and dressed the part in pinks and reds), and it was also one boy's 6th birthday! The moms in the class were more energetic than I've seen in the past, and it was a real pleasure to witness. One mom danced throughout the whole jam with her daughter and one of the Redwood staff, and another mom joined her children under the parachute by lying down next to them on the floor. We also finished off by singing Happy Birthday to the 6 year-old in several different languages. What a great class!!
This week at the Redwood we had the most moms present for a class so far! And although they were sometimes in and out of the room, it was definitely an improvement from the previous weeks. The moms who did come all have multiple children, so the parent to child ratio was well represented. Another highlight of this week’s class was bringing in a song for Black History Month, at the suggestion of the volunteer coordinator. We sang Follow the Drinking Gourd and I researched and spoke a bit about its meaning in relation to the Underground Railroad, as well as why we celebrate Black History Month. Other favourites were Sleeping Bunnies (they request it every week!) and singing about different zoo animals in Going to the Zoo.
It was fun as usual at the Redwood last night! The children enjoyed singing Button It Up and pretending to put on their winter coats, snow pants and hats. Some children were distracted and wanting to play with the other toys in the room, so I decided to pull out Sleeping Bunnies as it was requested when I arrived, and it definitely got their attention and was a big crowd pleaser! They also enjoyed moving around like frogs, dinosaurs and sharks in Johnny Didn't Have Any Breakfast. We had less parent representation again this week unfortunately, but I know that the staff were trying their best to get them to join. The moms who were there however definitely had a great time!