Monday, May 2, 2011

For the Car (and Home) Music Library: A 28 Instant Songames Review

Singing Along while Finding Her Armpit
For economic reasons, as well as simply to maintain a good balance to the rhythm of life, I try to maintain a habit of having several car-free days for the kids and me.  That means on days when we do use the car, there are often a number of errands and appointments to attend to back-to-back.  Or, there are long drives to single destinations to be had.

Whether grouping a lot of smaller trips into one or taking one longer trip, I find that having a mini music-library in the car helps keep everyone happy, entertained and, yes, even moving, at times.  (Because, with my kids, balancing still quiet times with active moving ones is key to maintaining peace and Luke's sensory diet.)

Recently, I was lucky enough to review a copy of  28 Instant Songames, provided by Future Horizons, for OJTA (complete, detailed review here). What a great little CD this is!

Meant for music and movement at home or in the classroom, we accidentally found 28 Instant Songames is perfect for the car, too.  You see, in order to write the review for the CD, I gave it a first listen-through in the car.  The kids took to it immediately and, after that, often requested it in the car (and at home).  Truly, the CD became a staple in our mini-van!

When I pop the CD into our minivan's player, Nina joins in with song and playing right away, by singing out all of our names, as well as ones of friends and extended family members during the introductory songs.  Then, she and Luke enjoy finding their own body parts, and pointing to Jack's, during some of the early songs on the CD.  (I love that these songs include a variety of lesser-used body part vocabulary, instead of just the typical early ed song basics:  head, shoulders, knees, toes, hands, eyes, ears, mouth and nose.)  After that, by the time we get to Luke's favorite, "Pick an apple, pick an apple..." everyone is giggling, interacting and stretching -- well on our way to a decent drive

Of course, being constantly active and silly in the car isn't my idea of a perfect car ride.  I like some relative quiet, too.  And, I must say 28 Instant Songames provides that, too.  The kids often become quiet and intent when listening to the character voices on the CD that lead them through the CD's different realms:
  • The Horse Realm, where children develop awareness of their bodies while moving along to music that ignites rhythm and imagination.
  • The Dolphin Realm, where children explore their feelings, strengths and joys, increasing their vocabulary and emotional awareness as they play
  • The Eagle Realm, where children are encouraged to connect with others while discovering personal joy and acceptance of diversity.
  • The Frog Realm, where the magic of imaginative play is honored and where wishes and dreams are invited to be voiced.
These characters provide a “story” effect, where bits of narration from various fairies and creatures,  “Aunt Barbara” and two children, string the 28 songs on the CD together as a cohesive whole, making it even more enjoyable for the kids to listen to in the car.

From Tears to Apple Picking
In fact, it is just this story effect that has more than once saved the day, or at least decreased the stress level, in our mini van.

You see, lest you think all is ideal in the Stanger mini-van, let me be the first to admit it is not! I often have to struggle with one (or all three!) of our children to get them in the car.  These struggles carry over to whining and, sometimes screaming and tears, as the kids are buckled in.  Then, there are the residual kiddo complaints and nagging aimed at me and each other.  It can be very trying!

That's where 28 Instant Songames comes in.  For the time being, at least, it's story effect has a wonderful calming effect on the kids.  I pop the CD in and their concentration moves from being extraordinarily unpleasant to being engaged in music, song and storyline.  Ahhhh!  Peace!

With easy-to-follow songs and chants, various vocal qualities, rhythms, beats and sounds, plus the storyline to boot, 28 InstantSongames lives up to its name as an instant (and enduring!) hit in our minivan.  (We like to dance along to it in our living room, too.)

28 Instant Songames: Fun Filled Activities for Kids 3-8Some skills the CD keys into are:
  • listening
  • memory
  • fine motor
  • gross motor, and
  • language.

The songs and games as described in the CD's accompanying booklet, key into the following concepts in a fun and functional way:
  • body awareness,
  • self-esteem,
  • self-expression,
  • friendship, and
  • acceptance of others.
Catchy, easy-to-follow and able to engage, 28 Instant Songames is a resource we enjoy!

What are some of your calming car strategies?  Any favorite CD's for car trip, long and short?  Do share in a comment!


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