Just in time for Halloween, here’s a cute kid’s version of the African-American spiritual song, Dry Bones (or Dem Bones). It’s really fun for this time of year plus a great way to learn or quiz the bones in the human body.
And, don’t you just love when you can dance around, make music and learn something new all at the same time?
LYRICS TO THE SKELETON BONES SONG
Them Bones, them skeleton dry bones Them Bones, them skeleton dry bones Them Bones, them skeleton dry bones Let’s shake them skelton bones
The toe bone’s connected to the foot bone The foot bone’s connected to the ankle bone The ankle bone’s connected to the leg bone Let’s shake them skeleton bones
The leg bone’s connected to the knee bone The knee bone’s connected to the thigh bone The thigh bone bone’s connected to the hip bone Let’s shake them skeleton bones
The hip bone’s connected to the back bone The back bone’s connected to the neck bone The neck bone bone’s connected to the head bone And… shake them skeleton bones
Them Bones, them skeleton dry bones Them Bones, them skeleton dry bones Them Bones, them skeleton dry bones Let’s shake them skeleton bones
Then backwards…From the head bone to the toe bone
Who Wrote The Dry Bones Song?
Do you remember the actual Dry Bones or Dem Bones song? Here’s more about the actual song that’s being parodied here.
Although no one likes to be cooped up in a car for long periods of time, family road trips – short or long – can create some wonderful memories. Music is a great way to pass the time, share songs from your past, or even write some new ones.
Here are some handy ways to add music to a family outing or a vacation get-away.
What To Pack
Does your child have a favorite cd? Bring that along. Is there a new cd you’ve been wanting to listen to with your kids? Add that one for novelty. Don’t forget a playlist for sleepytime as that can help create a car naptime on a long journey or be a welcome nighttime ritual if you’re away from home or in unfamiliar surroundings.
A road trip can be a great place to share special memories from your own past through music. What songs did you love during your childhood? School days? Did you go to a summer camp or participate in a girl scout or boy scout troop? What songs made you laugh or smile back then and still bring up happy memories now?
You can share these songs by singing them aloud, teaching them to your child or look for cd’s/digital versions you can play on your car stereo. What a great way for your child to connect with your roots and feel a sense of continuity with the past!
Don’t Forget The Classics
Even if you’re not camping out and singing around a campfire, there are some classic summertime songs. What about “Kumbayah” and Woody Guthrie’s “This Land Is Your Land”? Around 4th of July you may want to sing “Grand Old Flag” or enjoy some Americana tunes such as “Liza Jane” or “Oh Susannah”. Do you remember John, Jacob Jingleheimer Schmidt or a song about a hole in the bottom of the sea? What songs are your childhood “classics”?
Make It Interactive!
Remember the many great ways to make music interactive. You can carry a small basket of quiet instruments along with you, encourage your child to tap or clap quietly to the beat or learn and sing the chorus of any song together. Get creative! For instance, pick an easy song like “Baa, Baa Black Sheep” and have your child give your different colors to add to the song (Baa, Baa Green Sheep, Polka-Dotted Sheep?).
We’ll write more about “homemade songs” soon, but for the time being – make any road trip more fun by adding music!
This simple, sandy beach rattle makes a great musical craft whether you live near the ocean or are just dreaming of warmer weather and seaside play!
Clear recycled bottle – any size or shape.
A small amount of sand, salt or sugar. (You can also substitute rice, couscous or tiny pasta for the same effect)
Small shells, pebbles or tiny treasures for inside the rattle
Colorful silk or artificial flowers
Electrical tape (to seal rattle)
(Optional) glitter, colored sand, colored rice
Make Your Own Rattle
This craft couldn’t be easier.
Save, clean and dry a variety of clear recycled containers and assemble sand, salt or sugar along with a funnel, sturdy tape and other decorative goodies you might want to add to this project.
Using the funnel, fill the container with a small amount of sand, salt or sugar. Put the lid on and listen to what the rattle sounds like. Adjust (with more or less sand) until you find the sound that’s most pleasing.
Here’s a hint. Less sand, salt or sugar sounds and looks better, but feel free to experiment and see what you can create. When you’re done, seal the rattle up with sturdy tape (such as electrical tape) to keep the project completely child-safe.
Once you’ve found the perfect amount of “faux sand”, drop in your favorite tiny shells, pebbles or tiny treasures. As you play the rattle and turn it from side to side, the small objects will appear and disappear in the sand.
Although this doesn’t change the sound of the rattle, it’s fun to add a bit of tropical color to the rattle. Look for silk or artificial flowers from a craft bin or take apart an artificial Hawaiian lei for perfect addition to the fun musical craft.
A Very Quiet Rattle
This rattle makes a soft whooshing sound so it is perfect for children with noise sensitivity. Several music therapists have commented that these “seaside” rattles are especially enjoyable to the kids who are on the autistic spectrum.
Don’t be fooled by how simple this little instrument looks. There are lots of ways to play a rattle – this type of rattle or any other one you might create or find in your musical bag of tricks!
Try some of these suggestions or make up your own ways to play.
Rattle back and forth
Rattle up and down
“Swoosh” the rattle – move the contents around in a circular motion.
Hold in one hand and tap against the other.
Switch hands and try the above.
Hold the rattle at the top and tap the bottom on a desk or on your knees.
Hold the rattle at the top and tap the rattle sideways on a desk or on your knees.
Shake the rattle while dancing or moving.
Play it along while singing a favorite song.
Play it along while listening to a favorite song on a cd player or media device.
Make up your own “rattle moves”.
A Call And Response Rattle Game
This is a great game to play with kids. It teaches listening skills, enhances motor skills and is just plain fun. Best of all it can be done several different ways. Try it “one-on-one”, with a parent and child, special education student and aide or teacher and student. It also works really well in a group, such as a teacher and a classroom, parent and preschoolers or homeschoolers and siblings.
The leader plays a pattern and the other (or other) must play that pattern back to them. Start simple and get more complex. Trade off and let the student or child make up patterns that the teacher or others must imitate.
Here are three simple patterns to get you started:
Shake the rattle up high twice,
Down low twice
Swoosh it around once.
Shake the rattle twice in your right hand.
Swoosh it in twice in your right hand
Tap it twice on the desk while holding it in your right hand
Then change hands and repeat the pattern with the left hand
Tap it on the desk loudly.
Tap it on the desk softly.
Swoosh the rattle around.
Shake the rattle three times in your right hand.
Shake the rattle three times in your left hand.
And stop – or do it backwards!
During the month of February 2014, we’re doing a feature on Hawaiian music and giving away a real ukulele as well as Hawaiian pu’illi rhythm sticks. You can see that related feature here: http://www.dariamusic.com/monthly_song.php
There’s a reason you find rattles in almost every culture around the globe.
They are amazingly simple and very powerful at the same time. A child playing a rattle becomes aware of how his or her movements change the sound they are making. They realize how the sound they create can “fit” with a beat and most studies of young children show that they are keenly aware of rhythmic patterns. Making and playing several varieties of homemade rattles can be a great way to explore music and have fun with a young child at the same time.
Recycled Rattles for Home or Classroom Play
Rattles made from gourds, seeds, feathers and a donkey’s jawbone
Most early rattles were made of materials such as dried gourds, seashells, clay, coconuts, bark and a variety of other natural objects. In Africa, caxixi rattles are made from woven fiber. In India, special rattles are made from colorful palm fronds woven together in clever patterns. On the coast of Peru there’s even a rattle made from the jawbone of a donkey. In short, people make instruments from materials that they have found available near their home. We are going to take that same approach to creating recycled rattles!
Clean and dry a variety of small plastic containers (water bottles, juice containers, etc.) and assemble some objects that can serve as the contents of the rattles. Here’s a list of common materials that work well and the type of sound they create:
Quiet rattles: sand, salt, sugar, confetti, cotton balls, craft puff balls, paper bits, Q-tips, tiny pasta (such as pastina or acine de pepe).
Medium Rattles: paper clips, small pebbles, birdseed, small beads, small dried beans, rice, smaller buttons.
Loud Rattles: dried macaroni/pasta, large pebbles, large beads, coins, large dried beans, larger buttons.
The Inside of the Rattle
Choose the objects you’d like to add to the rattle to create the sound and also consider including some decorative elements. Since plastic containers are transparent, you can easily add confetti, glitter, colorful ribbon, pipe-cleaners or similar items. They won’t alter the sound but they will add color, beauty and interest when the rattle is being played.
The Outside of the Rattle
If you like, you can decorate the outside of the rattle with stickers, markers or add a handle made from pipe-cleaner, yarn or ribbon. Feel free to get creative. When you’re done, it’s time to seal it with some sturdy tape, such as electrical tape. This helps keep the contents inside and generally makes it more child-safe around young music-makers.
Now you’re ready to have fun with your rattle!
Time To Play!
Shake along while you sing one of your favorite songs. Try playing slowly and shaking your rattle to the beat. Then speed up the song. Can you keep up and keep in time? Play along with recorded music. Listen to different types of music and see how your rattle fits in with the music being played.
An Easy Rattle Game For Young Children
If everyone in a class or a small group has made a rattle, you try this easy game.
Ask the children to play a certain way until the music stops. For instance, the teacher can say: “Shake your rattle softly until the music stops”. The teacher stops the recorded music (like in a game of musical chairs) at an unexpected place and sees if all the students were able to stop at the same time. Next, change the directions to other simple ways to play, such as:
Shake your rattle back and forth until the music stops.
Shake your rattle up and down until the music stops.
Shake your rattle round and round until the music stops.
Shake your rattle very softly until the music stops.
Shake your rattle loudly until the music stops.
Shake your rattle down low until the music stops.
Shake your rattle up high until the music stops.
Shake your rattle quickly until the music stops.
Shake your rattle slowly until the music stops.
Aside from this one game, there are lots of other ways you can make music and have fun with a rattle while you are learning, playing and recycling – all at the same time!
Although you usually find articles on music for young children here, I wanted to give a quick shout out to anyone wearing a sweater today in honor of one of my heroes, Mr. Rogers. When I was growing up, Mr. Rogers was a quiet, gentle voice that truly listened to kids – a person anyone would want to have live in their neighborhood!
Looking back, I realize how many lessons I have learned from this kind and caring man. He was never afraid to be himself. He cared about children before it was “cool” to do so. He never seemed to feel the need to play the superstar, although he certainly held that place in many hearts. He was happy doing the wonderful job given to him with dedication and determination as well as a smile and a song.
When I began my career in music, I knew several people who had the honor of being guests on his show. They came back from their time with Mr. Rogers saying he was “the real thing”. His t.v. personality and his real life persona were the same kind of grown-up that inspired others and left a lasting impression.
As I move into my career performing multicultural music and creating a television program for children, I am also moved by the fact that Mr. Rogers always seemed true to his original vision and never turned his program into the “next, hot trend”. Although he continued to address timely topics up to his last season of shows, every episode with Mr. Rogers had that same original magic of being quality time with a caring adult that made this series a mainstay of children’s programming.
So, if you remember Mr. Rogers today, take a moment to think about his legacy and how easy it can be to share the qualities he expressed in his t.v. work. Add a dash of patience, imagination, caring and creativity to anything you do. Grab a comfortable cardigan.
Thanks to this gentle giant of kids media, it’s going to be a beautiful day in your neighborhood.
Mr. Roger’s Neighborhood appeared on PBS and was one of the first shows of it’s kind for kids. Since that time, PBS has gone on to offer amazing programming for children throughout the years. You can find out more about this wide variety of programs for children at the PBS Parents website. Check it out at: http://www.pbs.org/parents/
One of my favorite children’s songs – Over In The Meadow – combines cute creatures and learning the skill of counting to ten. I first heard the song from a friend of mine who was a folksinger in Appalachia, but later found out that this popular rhyme may date back as far as the 1600’s in England. So it seems that some things are universal. Parents love to teach their children with music and no one can resist a baby animal!
The songs starts in a pond in the sun with one mother frog and her “little froggy one”. Then there are kittens, birds, worms, bees, dogs, owls, ducks, mice, and even ten spiders. And, best of all, each of the animal babies know how to listen to their elders! Since the song has an easy-to-follow formula, even the youngest kids get the idea of counting up one number each time and can easily follow or sing along.
Although the song was originally written with each animal and their mommy, I’ve added dads, grandmas and grandpas to the verses in my version. In my travels I had met many kids that did not always have traditional families or a mom at home as a caregiver, so I changed the song a bit to help these children feel that their family was special and important, too.
You can see my version of Over In The Meadow here:
Groundhog’s Day is on its way and it’s a great time to encourage being silly with your little ones! Do you remember tongue-twisters from when you were a child? Did you ever say “She sells seashells by the seashore” or wonder how many pecks of pickled peppers that peter piper could pick? Or collapse in giggles because it was really hard to say “rubber baby buggy bumpers” three times fast without totally messing it up?
Although it may not seem very serious, any time you speak or sing to your baby or child you’re increasing their intelligence and helping them develop language skills. As they listen and enjoy the sound of your voice they are developing their sense of what sounds right, even if they haven’t begun to speak on their own.
And, best if all, you are bonding. Although a tiny baby can’t pop up out of her crib and say “Gee mom, thanks, that really made me laugh!”. Or her toddler brother won’t declare: “Wow, that increased my vocabulary!”, children know when you are speaking to them and sense your delight in playing with words or in singing a simple song or a set of silly syllables! It stimulates their mind and the attention makes them feel wanted, included and loved.
So, if you’re stuck inside in the cold, you might want to pass the time by trying some tongue-twisters with your kids. Or you might want to try your hand at the Groundhog’s Day song. It asks the timeless question:
“How much wood could a woodchuck chuck if a woodchuck chuck could chuck wood?” and
“How much ground could a groundhog hog if a groundhog could hog ground?” and even
“How much sap could a sapsucker suck if a sapsucker could suck sap?”
If you master any of the groundhog’s day tongue-twisters, you might want to reenact Groundhog’s day in your own living room. Below is a link to an easy pop-up puppet activity. Color your own puppet and the woodchuck or groundhog will pop out of the cup to see its shadow – or not!
So whether you’re waiting for Spring or not concerned about the weather at all, take the time to speak or sing a silly rhyme with your child. Or try not to trip over a tongue-twister with them! Chances are good, they will love and remember the fun you’ve had with them for a long time to come!
Almost every parent has had the experience of giving their child a special present and finding that they were more excited about playing with the box. So, why fight it? With the holidays bringing so many different size and shape packages to your doorstep, it’s a great time to have a little musical fun by creating instruments called rattle boxes. If you add textured fabric or paper as you decorate them, it becomes a musical and sensory experience as well!
This flexible craft is also a great way to recycle bits and pieces of other craft projects that you might have on hand. Take a look at these basic supplies: any size cardboard container or mailing tube, any variety of paper, fabric or bric-brac, plain glue, hot glue or any type of tape. For the inside, you can use anything from extra jingle bells to pebbles, dried macaroni, bird seed or even Q-tips or paper clips. The list below offers some ideas for quiet, medium and loud rattling boxes.
Make Your Box Rattle!
Before you seal the box or tube and decorate the outside, choose a filling. Try it out and see if you like the sound it makes when you shake it around. Some things like Q-tips make a wonderful quiet sound and objects such as buttons, beads or pebbles made for louder noise when played.
Seal it Up!
Although you’ll be decorating the outside of the container, it’s a good idea to take packing tape and seal up the edges or other places where the contents might escape to contain any objects that might present a choking hazard.
Decorate The Outside
Here’s where you can get creative. Wrap the box in fabric or different papers. Create a simple design or go crazy with a patchwork effect. Some fabrics you might use are wonderful to touch such as felt, velvet, velour, suede or gauze. Scrapbooking papers often have nice textures that can add to the sensory experience of this project as well. Add fabric swatches or trim and glue or hot glue in place.
Shake, Rattle and Roll Away!
Now it’s time to play. Put on some of your favorite music and rock out! You can shake back and forth, up and down, fast or slow. You can play quietly or loudly. I encourage parents to make a few of these and play along with their child or make some for siblings to hear how the sound is different as you play. Although this is a simple and fun activity, it also is a great way of developing listening skills and for exploring the world through touch. As you’re having fun with your child you might say: “Let’s play the quiet soft box with this song”, “Let’s switch to the loud fuzzy box for this one!” or “What sounds good to you? “Which one would you pick?”
You Can Make Your Box Rattle With:
A Quiet Rattle Box:
sand, salt, sugar, confetti, cotton balls, craft puff balls, paper bits, Q-tips, tiny pasta (such as pastina or acine de pepe).
A Medium Rattle Box:
paper clips, small pebbles, birdseed, small beads, small dried beans, rice, smaller buttons.
A Loud Rattle Box:
dried macaroni/pasta, large pebbles, large beads, coins, large dried beans, larger buttons.
And, if you can find all the materials you need to make a new musical toy or rattle for your child around your kitchen or craft area – all the better! In this simple instrument, you get to reuse an empty egg carton and create a funny musical face at the same time.
This simple musical craft is based on one of my favorite rattles that come from Peru. It’s called a quijada and it’s actually made from the jawbone of a donkey. You hold it in one hand and tap with the other hand or fist and the teeth rattle around in the sockets. Although the egg carton rattle has no real teeth, you can tap the side for a similar sound as well as shake it back and forth, up and down or let your child tap the top like a drum.
What do you use to fill the rattle? Practically anything that will fit in the space for the eggs. Look for 12 items that can fit into the carton just like teeth. Jingle bells sound great – they jangle as you hit them. You can also use pebbles, marbles, macaroni or bottle caps. Each one will sound a bit different when placed inside the rattle.
And, we’ve given you some fun designs to so each rattle can have a personality of it’s own. Pick silly or scary, choose a full color monster or print out the black and white version and color it on your own. Or design your own face and send us a picture. We’d love to see the wonderful things that you can do when you combine being creative, silly and musical at the same time!
Here’s the detailed instructions as a pdf, coloring pages for the faces and some other related activities and crafts:
Egg Carton Monster Rattle pdf from TeachersPayTeachers ($1.99)
(including funny faces coloring pages in black + white and color )
Sometimes parents feel a bit intimidated about singing to their young child. This wonderful post from music therapist, JoAnn Jordan emphasizes that you don’t have to “be perfect” but can focus on having fun with your child in simple ways that encourage both creativity and learning!
Across the United States many communities will host special events April 22-28, 2012 as part of Week of the Young Child™. The National Association for the Education of Young Children has set this year’s theme as ”Early Years are Learning Years.” Parents and other adults in regular contact with a child are their first teachers. Through caring, supportive relationships with adults providing face-to-face interactions the basic skills for learning are developed.
A 1998 position paper by the International Reading Association and the National Association for the Education of Young Children indicates infants and toddler benefit from:
1. Simple language paired with eye contact along with responses to a child’s vocalizations and physical responses.
2. Frequent opportunities for play and song.
3. Regular exposure to reading and books.
Music is one way you can support this development. Singing familiar songs easily supports simple language. Daria has a great collection of songs you can use. Once you have learned a song, sing without the recording. This allows you to change the speed (tempo), add opportunities for child to start a word or sound, and to change the lyrics.
Play can also be found in songs. Songs like “Ring Around the Rosie”, “Pop Goes the Weasel” and “The Holey Pokey” are just a few examples of game songs. For babies and toddlers there are games like peek-a-boo to which a song can be added. For example, the words to “Where is Thumbkin?” could easily be changed to:
Where is (insert child’s name)?
Where is (insert child’s name)?
There you are. There you are. (Remove the cover as you sing.)
I’m glad I found you. I’m glad I found you.
My dear child. My dear child.
There are many books based upon song lyrics such as “Itsy Bitsy Spider” and “Fiddle-I-Fee”. In addition, there are many books that can be sung. Lists of these books can be found on many sights including this post on Music Sparks.
Remember, perfection in singing is not required for your child to benefit for music. Rather, it is the face-to-face interaction that is key. Go ahead and add a little music to your speaking, playing and reading with your child. Music in these early learning years is fun.
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JoAnn Jordan is a board certified music therapist with over 25 years of experience. She specializes in working with preschoolers and older adults. Her passion is bringing these two age groups together with music experiences. To learn more about music therapy and to see some of JoAnn’s resources visit her site www.music2spark.com .