Saturday, May 29, 2010

Step Three: Music and Movement Area Creative Curriculum® for the Home

Creative Curriculum®. Charlotte Mason. Montessori.  You name the young children’s educational philosophy, and somewhere in it you are sure to find thoughts on a vital and enriching part of early childhood development: Music and Movement. 

Although I am anything but musically gifted, I certainly desire to immerse my children in the wonder, beauty and fun of music. In fact, I had them listening to classical music (something I only gained appreciation for later in life) in utero and have focused on filling a portion of each week since with rhythmic rhymes, meaningful lyrics, soothing melodies and interesting compositions.  Likewise, I have collected an array of instruments for the kids to explore with a not-so-secret hope that they will one day learn to read and play music, as I always wished to, but have yet to do. 

And Movement?  While not trained in this area, I am adept at it.  Indeed, for this Drama Mama, creative movement, silly dancing, beginning yoga and the like all are natural joys to share with children.  Thus, it seems only fitting that the Music and Movement Interest Area in our home became the first one we got to work on when tuning up things as part of our Creative Curriculum® (CC) for the home endeavor.

The chapter on Music and Movement in CC is rich with ideas not only for creating an environment for music and movement, but for recognizing how the interest connects to literacy, mathematics, science, social studies, the arts and technology.  It also offers ideas on the teacher’s role in music, including thoughts on how to engage children in music and movement and how to respond to children and assess things as they do.  Truly, CC is rich in basic information to extrapolate upon as you create your own Music and Movement program at home. 

However, for the purposes of my focus on Home(schooling) Organization, I am focusing only on the environment portion of the chapter here:

CC states that “music and movement involves children in listening activities, joining in group experiences and experimenting with materials on their own.”  Thus, the environment should include:
  • a specific location to store musical instruments:  This might be a pegboard  with silhouettes of musical instruments showing where instruments should be hung, a labeled shelf or a labeled box.
  • storage space for tapes and CD’s that is labeled for easy selection of music:  CD’s may be labeled with pictures of children sleeping, dancing or marching; colors or symbols to identify the type of music, etc.  Selections should include songs that are “fast or slow and soothing; diverse in style and tradition... representative of children’s backgrounds”.
  • an open area with carpeting if possible and tumbling mats:  However, any open space a (inside or out!) will do fine.
  • an easy to operate music player with headphones
  • props in or on picture-and-and word labeled storage:  These might include streamers, scarves, fabric pieces, hats, feathers, cultural costumes, pom-poms, etc.
  • rhythm instruments in easy reach of children: These might include drums, tambourines, kazoos, rhythm sticks, bells, triangles, cymbals, xylophones, melody bells, maracas, shakers, rattles – homemade or purchased.
Bearing these suggestions in mind and reflecting on the Music and Movement space we have re-organized, here is my quick assessment of our area:
  • Are instruments and props clearly labeled and accessible to children?  Yep!  Although, admittedly, they do take up a relatively large area of space in our small home.  So, eventually I might condense them.  I truly think a couple of bags on hooks or a well-organize basket or bin would do the trick nicely.  Right now, though, our current arrangement works for us.
  • Is there an easy-to-operate CD player for children to use, with headphones, if possible?  Ah, no.  Our family room record/CD/tape player has seen better working days and the kids personal CD player skips.  So, a new CD player is on our wish list.  Freecycle has yet to come through for us, so perhaps a birthday or holiday will...
  • Are there a variety of instruments, a variety of dance props (streamers, scarves, etc.) and a variety of CD’s, representing diverse cultural and musical styles?  Yes, yes and somewhat.  We have a wide variety of rhythm instruments, even if most are of the plastic, homemade and found-for-free kind, rather than the beautiful wooden fine materials and  cultural ones I would love.  We also have scarves in a labeled drawer ready for play and imagination, and, sometimes, bring out other props as well.  And, our CD collection, though currently heavy on the Bible, lullaby and silly songs side, with a smattering of classical, culture-specific and jazz thrown in, can, thankfully, be augmented by our local library to fill obvious holes without breaking our budget.  Now, I just have to get on finding re-purposed or freecycled storage to better house our owned-and-borrowed CD collection.  Ideally, I am looking for something that is easy to access, yet protects CD’s from getting scratched by being “too easy” to access.  Ideas for pre-k friendly CD storade are appreciated!
  • Are there books with words to songs and rhymes?  Indeed! Not only do we  have a few of these out in our Music and Movement area, along with some Montessori-inspired yoga cards, thanks to Meg at Montessori by Hand, and a changing basket of movement cards especially for SPD breaks (currently these wonderful ABC Exercise Cards and soon our Alerting Activity ABC cards), but we also have a collection of music, rhyme and movement books in our larger family library collection that we rotate with the kids’ interests.  And, as we continue on our homeschool journey, we hope to add some Charlotte Mason inspired composer study photos, books and music selections to the area, as well as some Montessori-inspired three-part cards and our growing notebook of Yoga Kids Poses of the Week.
How is your Music and Movement space shaping up?  Is it organized, accessible and fun to use?  That is key.  Not the size of it!  Truly, please do not think you have to have a sizable area dedicated to Music and Movement.  For, as mentioned, although we currently dedicate a fair portion of our living room to our Music and Movement area, in all honesty, a simple labeled basket of instruments, next to a CD player with a sleeve of CD’s, in an area where you can push a few things aside for movement space would do just as well.  It’s not the size of the space that counts, but the quality of materials in it, and, even more so, the time spent exploring music and movement that counts!

To help us as we explore our area, if you have some favorite composers, musical artists, CD titles or instrument resources, please share them in a comment!  We are always looking to improve our selection.  And, if you are interested in joining a group to discuss Montessori-inspired Music Ideas, please consider joining the Montessori Music Collaborative, a YahooGroup I began in hopes of getting like-minded folks together to collaborate on lesson ideas, resource lists and other related information for conducting music lessons with our children (and their friends!) As a group, we hope to come up with a basic "music lesson" template/plan.  Then, combining our knowledge and experience, we seek to put together a Montessori-inspired set of Music and Movement lesson ideas.  Of late, progress is slow with all this, but, hopefully, it will pick up as the ebb and flow of all the members’ lives allow. Until then, free exploration is just as fun and useful and I'd love to share ideas for it through comments below!

In closing, now that our Music and Movement area is established anew, as I dream about equipment and organizational items I still want for it, I cannot help but to pause for another thinking cap moment in my journey through Theory Jungle.  As such, I am asking myself if such wants are truly needs and if they are even helpful.  Thus, next up in this Creative Curriculum for the Home expedition will be Step Four: Materials Madness  -- Basic Principles for Equipping Interest Areas.  Check back within the next few days to a week for it, when I hope to have reading done and thoughts on that step ready to share.

In This Series:

Please note: As I have mentioned before, if you would like to join me on this CC journey, please leave comments.  Grab a copy of the book yourself to review and let me know what you're getting from it.  Or, use my summaries and posts as a starting point for thought.  Or, if you want to read what CC says, verbatim, about how Music and Movement promotes development, what an educator’s role in  Music and Movement is, and how to create an environment for Music and Movement, please check out this link at Teaching Strategies.  Likewise, for a one page synopsis of CC Music and Movement ideas see this Sample Letter to Families About Music and Movement.  And, of course, please share with me how you're moving from theory to practice in your own home learning environment.  Cheer me on or give me constructive criticism.  Or, simply jot down whatever comes to mind.  Deep conversation or silly banter --  I appreciate them all.  Thanks! 


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