Who doesn’t love Raffi? He’s like the magic grandfather of children’s music.
Born in Cairo, Egypt, Raffi (Raffi Cavoukian) was making music for children long before there was a genre for that. And he did it with kindness, authenticity and a demonstrable love for the kids of the world.
Now, continuing his long string of music albums beloved by folks of all ages, there’s a new Raffi CD called Owl Singalong. And you can win a copy in our give-away right here!
This album is a wonderful blend of Raffi’s versions of classic kids songs such as “Somos El Barco” (We Are the Boat), The Garden Song (Inch By Inch, Row By Row) and The More We Sing Together (The Happier We’ll Be). Plus, there are his originals like Owl Singalong and Woo Hoo Could I Be? You guessed it, owl-themed musical fun. And every track gives you the sense that this multi-talented musician lives to share what he loves with children.
If you can’t wait to see if you’ve won the CD, the Amazon and Itunes purchase links are below. And please stay tuned. In an upcoming post we want to tell you more about Raffi’s advocacy for kids and his Covenent for Honouring Children. He has some wise and powerful things to say about kids, commercialism and changing the world to a more meaningful place for children – and all human beings too!
Children’s nursery rhymes are a wonderful way to bond with your child. They are perfect for sharing and encouraging a second language and also for parents who may feel shy about singing to their child.
We are excited to have this first guest post in our Children’s Rhymes From Around The World Series contributed by Linda Lopez-Stone. Her blog, Hispanic Mama, Empowering Through Heritage And Language, can be found at the links below.
My favorite time of the year in Ecuador is winter. This is the season when families visit the beach and kids spend more time playing outdoors since schools are closed. Because of the country’s location, winters in the coastal area of Ecuador are hot and rainy.
I remember how the rain felt as the perfect combination for those hot afternoons of outdoor play with the kids of the neighborhood. As soon as we started feeling the first drops of water, we would sing with joy: “¡ Que llueva! ¡ Que llueva!” (Let it rain! Let it rain!)
The rain was also very welcomed by the farmers. It meant that their cosechas (crops) were going to be lucrative. This was especially important for a country where a considerable portion of its economy was dependent on agriculture. I bet the farmers were also singing with excitement: “¡ Que llueva! ¡ Que llueva!”
Although I do not live in Ecuador anymore, I still get excited when I see the first signs of the rain. It symbolizes the joy of my childhood and reminds me of the hope of many people in Ecuador. The rain would always make me happy!
Que Llueva – Spanish Lyrics
¡ Que llueva! ¡ Que llueva!
El quetzal está en la cueva.
¡ Qué llueva! ¡ Qué llueva!
El quetzal está en la cueva.
Los pajaritos cantan
Las nubes se levantan.
Que sí, que no
Que caiga un chaparrón.
Let it Rain – English Lyrics
Let it rain! Let it rain!
The Quetzal is in the cave.
Let it rain! Let it rain!
The Quetzal is in the cave
The little birds are singing
The clouds rise up.
Oh yes, oh no
Let there be a downpour
Oh yes, oh no
Let there be a downpour
Here’s a version of Que Llueva that adds 5 extra verses. It starts with the quetzal bird in the cave and then adds verses with a condor, a turtle, a snake, a llama and a deer! The repetition is wonderful for learning the song and building vocabulary in Spanish.
- Linda López-Stone Linda is a Latina millennial mom and a bilingual writer sharing stories about bicultural and bilingual life in Raleigh, NC. Discover her blog at: http://hispanicmama.com/
Have you ever heard the song “Over In The Meadow”?
No one knows exactly where the song came from but the best guess is that this imaginative tale of different animal families came from the British Isles and has been teaching English-speaking children to count for at least several hundred years!
It’s a quiet, adorable song that counts from one to ten – originally with mommies and their babies. But while singing it at a local school, I found I needed to adapt it a bit. One of the children was a friend of my son and was being raised only by her father. She was saddened when people talked about their mommies and I wanted her to see a dad as a parent reflected in this song. Similarly, other families had grandparents as caregivers and I added them to the other verses. Since folksongs are adaptable, I wanted the song to reflect more of the different configurations of families so that no child would feel left out or that their home situation was any less of a family.
Here’s a list of the families in my version of the song, plus the last verse that I’ve added. You can watch the Youtube video of the entire song below.
1 Froggy Mom and her one little frog
2 Mother Cat at her two little kittens
3 Father Bird and his three little birds
4 Mother Worm and her 4 baby worms
5 Queen Bee and her five little bees
6 Grandfather dog and his 6 grandpuppies
7 Grandmother owl and her 7 owlets
8 Mother duck and her 8 ducklings
9 Father Mouse and his 9 baby mice
10 Mother Spider and her 10 baby spiders
No matter where you go, everyone you see
We all fit together in one big family
Although we may look different, our love is still the key
It’s the way we live together in peace and harmony
A Song For Teaching
As a mom, I loved songs that taught empathy and encouraged my children to understand the value and consciousness in all living creatures. For me, songs like this helped teach that all creatures have a story and that their lives are connected with our own and that they matter!
If you check out this song in my TeachersPayTeachers store you’ll find a wonderful activity list for using the song in homeschool or an early education classroom.
While you’re wrapping up one year and preparing for a new one, here’s our second post in a series of fun and easy noise-makers for enjoying New Year’s Eve with children.
I often call these “everything except the kitchen sink” rattles, because you get to use whatever supplies that are left over from the holidays or from craft projects during the year gone by.
Start With A Clear Container
Check your recycling bin for nice sturdy clear plastic containers, such as bottles from iced tea or liter sodas. Rinse them then set them up side down to dry. Meanwhile, go on a treasure hunt for rattle fillings.
Loud Rattles, Quiet Rattles
Here are some of our favorite supplies for making truly loud rattles: large dried pasta, dried beans, buttons, large beads, or pebbles. For quieter rattles, look for smaller objects such as birdseed, rice, Q-tips, cut-up straws, paper clips, small buttons or beads and tiny pasta such as acini de pepe.
Add Some Color And Bling!
If you have extra holiday supplies on hand you can add jingle bells, glitter, confetti or colorful paper shreds to give a festive look to your New Years Eve rattles. You can also reuse ribbon and wrapping for colorful handles.
Seal The Rattle
Always remember to be child-safe and seal the completed rattles with a sturdy tape such as electrical or washi tape. That way, they can be lots of fun without presenting a hazard from the smaller contents inside the rattle.
Stay Tuned For Monkey Drums And Stadium Horns!
Our next post will be a fun variation on the Chinese bolang gu or monkey drum, plus a DIY vuvuzela stadium horn.
It’s almost impossible to think of New Year’s Eve without some kind of noise-makers! Many adults have fond memories of banging on pots and pans, blowing toy horns and generally marking the arrival of a New Year with lots of sound and merriment!
Over the next few days, we’re sharing some simple, recycled crafts you can make with your children to ring in the New Year with joyful noise!
Crazy Octopus Rattles
These recycled rattles are easy to make and hold for even the youngest of children. They’re fun to shake without being overly loud. The supplies are found around any home and include wrapping paper (or toilet paper rolls), tape, colorful tape and ribbon or yarn.
How To Make It
Cut the wrapping paper rolls (or toilet paper rolls) into smalls sections. If you like, add stickers to the little sections or you can even paint them, if you have the extra time!
When the sections are ready, reserve two sections for the handle. Cut lengths of yarn or ribbon about 12 – 18” long, making each one slightly different in length. Then, the child can string each of the remaining sections onto a length of yarn or ribbon. The adult can help thread the yarn through one remaining section and tape it into place. Although this might look a bit messy during the process, it will be covered up by the handle when the project is complete.
When you’ve strung a number of sections (8 for an octopus) you can add the handle. Cut the last section and slip it over the section where the yarn or ribbon is taped to form a sturdy handle. Cover the handle with colorful electrical tape, fancy duct tape or washi tape to look more decorative for the New Year!
How To Play
Shake it up… shake it down. Shake it all around. Especially at midnight or the hour you’re marking as New Years Eve! Make several with different colors or materials. Add some extra jingle bells, if you like.
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.
Around May Day, dancers in parts of England are getting ready to welcome the Spring by morris dancing. They dress in colorful costumes and the bright and happy morris dance music is punctuated by the jingling and jangling of special bells worn on the legs.
Since young children love to move and dance, making an easy version of this traditional “knee-pad” instrument can be a fun way to welcome a new season, to exercise and to explore world cultures.
Here are the supplies you need for a simple, homemade version of morris dancing bells.
Two short lengths of elastic of any width (about 10 – 14” long)
A handful of jingle bells
Any number of extra buttons, beads or similar jangles.
Assorted ribbons, yarns and embroidery thread
Needle and Thread
Start by cutting two pieces of elastic and making sure they can comfortably stretch around a child’s leg and sit just under the knee. Leave a bit of extra length for the elastic to overlap. This will be where you will sew or pin it in place.
Place your elastic “laid out straight” onto your work area. Since most elastic is white, you can use markers to color and decorate it before you add ribbons and bangles.
Create the hanging jingles by threading a jingle bell on a small ribbon or piece or embroidery thread. Tie it onto the end and then add on any other buttons, beads or jangles that you like. When you’ve reached the desired length, tie it in place onto your elastic. Add as many of these as you like.
Add some ribbons or yarn to the morris bells. Sew or tie them into place. They may not add to the sound of your instrument, but they will move as you dance and add to the overall beauty of what you’ve created.
Last, sew or safety pin your morris bells to the right size for fitting around the leg of your child.
Dancing With Bells!
You can use this craft to explore the music of morris dancing or the general music of the British Isles. Or you can dance to any of your favorite songs. If you get a chance to see actual morris dancers, you’ll notice that both boys and girls participate in this dance tradition.
Although there are many different traditions of morris dancing, some also involve waving handkerchiefs, dressing up in wild clothes or having a parade – all fun activities to do to welcome the Spring.
The guiro is a perfect “first instrument” to share with young children. It’s incredibly simple and versatile at the same time. In a matter of minutes, a child can be exploring the sounds created by the guiro and making rhythms by rubbing the rasp back and forth or up and down along the surface of the guiro.
What Is A Guiro?
Although you can find similar instruments all over the world, a guiro is an instrument with Latin American roots that was originally made from wood, bone or gourds carved to have a ridged surface. In the picture above you can see a bone guiro from Mexico, a wooden version and a homemade guiro made from a recycled plastic water bottle. Some modern guiros are made of plastic or metal as well.
Play A Guiro With A Rasp
To play a guiro you rub an object across the ridges on the surface of your instrument. Older guiros often have sharp metal rasps so it can be useful to substitute more child-safe choices. Here are some fun ways to create sound on a guiro. They include hair picks, plastic spoons/forks/sporks, chopsticks, an egg whisk or an unsharpened pencil. Each will create a slightly different sound when used to play the guiro.
Make A Simple Guiro
Since it’s unlikely that you have the perfect dried gourd or an old bone lying around your house, start this musical craft in your recycling bin. Sort through the plastic bottles to see if you have one that has ridges and is sturdy enough to use in this project.
Although your plastic bottle guiro is ready to play “as is”, you can also add some decoration inside the bottle and seal it up before you begin to play. You can look for things like confetti or colorful paper shreds. Or you can choose to add objects that will make the bottle work as a rattle as well. To make a guiro that doubles as a rattle, add a small amount of any on-hand material such as bird seed, beads, pebbles or dried beans, rice or pasta.
If you’ve add anything to the inside, it’s a good idea to seal the bottle with a strong tape; such as electrical tape, so the contents will stay inside and keep the bottle from being opened when played. You might even want to attach your rasp to the guiro with some colorful ribbon or yarn as in the example here
Play Your Guiro!
You’ve probably already figured this out! The guiro is played by scraping back and forth or up and down along the ridges. You can put on some of your favorite music and let your child experiment with what sounds good to them. Or you can learn some basic rhythms together with your child. Here are some fun ways to begin.
Try playing along with a whole song by just scraping down or by just scraping up.
Try playing along with a song by scraping: down/up, down/up, down/up.
Try playing along with a song by scraping:
down/up – down/up/down…, down/up – down/up/down…
Discover the patterns that sound good to your ear or write a new song to go along with a rhythm you’ve just discovered. If you start with this simple and clever little instrument, there’s no telling how much creative musical fun you can have!
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!