Monday, July 6, 2015

Hi! It's Carolyn from Kindergarten: Holding Hands and Sticking Together. Today I wanted to share a couple things I've been working on lately.  

First are these great activity cards Dr. Jean created. 
Dr. Jean wrote these wonderful activity cards and is sharing them with you FREE! There are 60 fabulous, fun learning activities to do with children that would be perfect for over the summer.  It's a way to really engage with your child and make some wonderful memories together!  You could send these to your new little students in your class for something to do over the summer, OR pin them and save them for next year to send home with your students at the end of the year as a gift. 

I added a little design and pictures to them for Dr. Jean, so if you would like them, just click on the picture or HERE to download them!  Have fun!

Mary Amoson from Sharing Kindergarten remade Dr. Jean's Cheer Cards.  

They are free HERE. These cheers are so much fun.  It's great to celebrate the children and for them to celebrate each other any chance you get!  I printed the cheer cards out and keep them on a ring hung up on my easel, so they're easy to access anytime.  You can teach a new cheer each week- or flip through and find one anytime you want something different.  The point is... go ahead and CHEER!

Speaking of Dr. Jean, I was lucky enough to be able to write a book with her this past year.  It just came out, and has been such an exciting time for me.  

Here are the activities that we included in the book.  Each activity has several variations, so that you can differentiate them to work best for your students.

Here is a sample of what one of the activity write-ups looks like:

I was so excited for the books to be published! First, these books for my little sweeties came to the house.  How exciting to see this box!  It seems like a dream to me to actually have the real, live books.  The whole experience working with Dr. Jean and SDE was something I will remember forever.  It was perfect.

I took the pictures of my students to use in the book, so they are the stars, and each of them got a book.

I signed each book, and then as the children sat on the rug, I went through each page to show them their fabulous pictures- and to talk about the activities on the pages that we had done over the year.

Then, they got a chance to look through their books.  They studied everything. It was so precious.  I carefully put each book in their folder afterward so I knew the books would get home safe and sound.

Hopefully, this will be something they can keep forever to remember kindergarten and some of the fun things that we did!

One of my students' mothers who teaches in another district took it to her school, and they ordered eleven for the district.  That made my day.

The book has  many practical, easy to implement ideas and variations for teaching literacy concepts. It is arranged so that you can easily find activities to go with whatever skill you want to work on with your class.

We each chose our favorites!  The activities work beautifully with any curriculum or your own curriculum, because they are just fun ideas that work, that teach and reinforce the standards,  and that both Dr. Jean and I have and do really use. Plus, the children really enjoy all of these activities and they help the students remember what they're learning.

Click on the picture below or HERE  if  you want to go to the link for the book!

We are working on a Math Recipes book now... I will keep you posted!

Have a wonderful summer and thank you for stopping by!

Wednesday, July 1, 2015

"Making Monday Matter" FREE Webinar with Debbie Clement

JULY! We're already into JULY!
July first is a milestone for me!
 I am launching my TWENTIETH year as a 'music-lady!'
My company, Rainbows Within Reach has entered year #20! 
Raise your cupcakes to the sky and shake your pompoms! 
I have a LOT to celebrate!

You may have the 'summer off'' from your day-to-day classroom responsibilities..... 
you may not. 

Are you planning to attend summer conferences to add to your professional development? I know that if you read here you are interested in providing the very best to the children in your life. 


Professional Development that you can attend in your bathing suit..... 

Need to attend in your PJs once the kids are asleep? 
The entire webinar will be archived for your ease in watching.  

Join me on July 23rd at 3:00 PM EST for:

"Making Monday Matter!" 

Early Childhool Learning Solutions Poster 1

I can not tell you what a complete thrill it is to be in the first dozen presenters of FrogStreet's sponsorship of this continuing education opportunity. 

To be listed with the premiere ECE authorities of our time is truly AMAZING! I am humbled, thrilled and standing in awe of the opportunity to gather under the cyber umbrella and share. 

You may get a jump on things and get registered here at and get your spot saved! 

A week after the webinar you will find me in person in Dallas at FrogStreet SPLASH! 

I'm so excited to return and share.
Will I be seeing you there? 
We are using the hashtag #FSsplash15 to find each other. 

Saturday, June 27, 2015

Free Setting the Scene Preschool Activity Printable

Free Setting the Scene Preschool Activity Printable

This post has a free setting the scene preschool activity printable for a center at school, homeschools, or at home. It helps the children be more aware of their surroundings and will allow them to experience success. It will help young children practice what they know about the world around them, and help them name familiar objects and people. They can orally describe or tell about the pictures they assemble.

Free Setting the Scene Preschool Activity Printable PDF
This printable has several familiar scenes children experience often such as a living room, dining room kitchen, bedroom, front of the house, and also an outside scene. The children are to fill the circles with images of people and objects that are included. I cute and glued these pictures onto milk caps to provide a more manipulative experience, but that is not required.

To engage the children and make it more fun and interesting, instead of using the provided images photos of classmates or family and friends could be used.

kitchen scene with pictures familiar to children real photos of family

The materials may be placed on a tray Montessori-inspired style. I recently took a class from Deb Chitwood of Living Montessori Now (who writes for this blog) about using Montessori materials at home. The course begins with a free hour session and is entitled Montesori Crash Course. This link is to the free training session. She teamed up with Jo Ebisujima from My Organized Chaos, and they co teach the class. It was so interesting as Deb lives in the USA and Jo lives in Japan. It seems anything is possible online. Please note, this printable is "Montessori inspired" only.
simple set up for home learning Montessori inspired activities photo
This is a view of the materials using milk caps as manipulatives. Alternatively, the picture circles could be printed on card stock. 
free printable for setting the scene preschool activity
This student is becoming the teacher and giving a little educational lecture to her mom!
setting the scene preschool toddler activity mother and child

Thank you for reading, 
Carolyn Wilhelm
MS Gifted Education
MA K-12 Curriculum and Instruction

Thursday, June 25, 2015

Working with Toddlers -TODDally Different

Teachers have noticed it’s harder to get / hold younger children's attention.  "What do you do to hold their attention?" they ask.  The main point is the children being inquired about are much younger than the age teachers used to work with.  Parents put children (who haven’t learned how to sit still yet – and shouldn’t be expected to) into programs.  Often there are situations they aren’t ready for.  Teaching to this group is different than teaching to children who are 4.  And, teaching to a 5 yr old is different than teaching to a 4 yr old.   Each group has a different attention span and needs a different plan. 
A toddler has just learned to move and likes it.  Then, he’s in a situation where he’s expected to sit still.  How is that supposed to happen?  Use songs that help teach how to sit still and pay attention. Some won’t be doing exactly what you ask, but they’re listening.  Toddlers love fingerplays and songs where they move their fingers.  “My Fingers Are Startingto Wiggle” is a song by Carole Stephens - Macaroni Soup.  (She's fun!)  My song, "Shake it! Shake it!", is a song that teaches focus on body parts and control.  This age group also loves any kind of freeze dance because they get to work on that moving and stopping they love so much!   Here is a link to  infant/toddler CDs.

When I teach the Music with Mar. program in preschools, I only go to their classrooms for 15 minutes.  The ability of a 1, 2 or 3 year old to sit in circle time is minimal.  One or two songs is what they can be expected to sit for. Some will argue they work with 2-year-olds and it’s possible.  Yes.  It is, but it's a lot of work and not necessarily age appropriate. Rather than a special person appearing to teach 'music', the classroom teacher / caregiver should integrate music into what they are already doing.  My philosophy  is “You aren't teaching music; you are using music to teach.”

When you work with this age, be sure to mix up. Use a lot of props (books, puppets, instruments and their own bodies).  Move first, then sit.   Get them back up.  Sit them back down for a quiet song.  I love Miss Jackie’s “The Touch Game”. It's great for focusing them and settling them.  Click on her link for volumes of information about working with Infant/Toddlers.  

You may also like 
"Learn Every Day: Infant / Toddler Curriculum" by Kaplan.  (Oh, and, I did the music for this program.  Such fun!)

Those little sponges hear everything you say.  They’re just moving and processing.  Some leave the circle and walk off.  Yet, still sing what you are singing.  What’s important than them 'listening' to you is that you’re there, exposing them to activities that help them learn.  Let go of the music teacher you are with older children.  What you do here is just as meaningful, just on another level. They probably aren't going to do it the way you planned it anyway.  (That's why they’re called 'lesson plans'.)  What they know is, you’re there, paying attention. That's what’s important.  Remember, children spell love T I M E
Keep it simple. Watch their faces and sing, sing, sing!
Sometimes music is the only thing that brings a smile to a child’s lips. 
                                                                       Julie Pollman 

Please visit this page for daily brain facts about music.

Founder of Music with Mar., Inc.

Tuesday, June 23, 2015

Roll and Build

It's Scott from Brick by Brick. I love to repurpose materials—use materials in ways different from their intended purpose. 

This activity is another "straight from the dumpster" activity - using something that would otherwise be trashed.

Newspaper Rolls (Brick by Brick)

Take newspapers. Roll a few sheets together. Tape closed. Build.

Build with Newspaper Rolls (Brick by Brick)

Encourage kids to experiment with different ways to build.

Newspaper Rolls Building (Brick by Brick)

Newspaper Rolls Stacked (Brick by Brick)

Suggest they solve any problems they encounter.

"What could we do to help the rolls stand up?"

Build with Newspaper (Brick by Brick)

"The ends are rolling out. What could we do to stop that?"

Newspaper Rolls and Blocks (Brick by Brick)

To make more stable and permanent structures, use tape to attach the rolls together.

Newspaper Rolls Piled Up (Brick by Brick)

You could use pages from a old atlas or magazines instead of newspaper pages.

Or roll the newspaper on a diagonal to make longer rolls with tapered edges.

We love to build and we love to reuse materials. This activity is perfect!

(Check out my Dollar Store and Dumpster Pinterest Board for more repurpose/reuse ideas!)

Thursday, June 18, 2015


c.2015. Elsa Sreenivasam. Detail
Songs, Resources and Apps

Ms. Brigid here, from Merit School of Music  in Chicago, IL sharing summer songs and a great resource for quintessential camp songs – Green Ghoulie. I stumbled upon this site several years ago, and was instantly charmed with both the collection and the endearingly goofy presentation by the two main perpetrators, Pete Vingeant and Bryan (with no last name). Check out Baby Shark to see a hilarious progression of song styling and and hairdos! I've included one of the two videos below. On the site, all videos appear above song lyrics.

Summer is a time for reflection, renewal and collaboration. Which songs were sure fire hits and worthy of carrying forward? How can connections to classroom themes or curriucula be deepened? What extensions can be put in place, e.g., movement, instruments, dramatizations, partnering with a story?, etc.  I’m grateful that several times a year our Merit EC and General Music teachers come together to discuss these issues. The following are a few of the songs from our end–of–the–year sharing.
Sally Go Round the Sun
Sally go round the sun,
Sally go round the moon,
Sally go round the chimney pot
Every afternoon. Boom!

Hold hands and walk in a circle. On “boom,” change direction of circle. Practice the “boom” change of direction separately before you start the dance – and walk lightly with feet to the beat. There’s nothing like plodding to make one feel they’re in music prison!

c.2013. Brigid Finucane

This song is also useful to reinforce days of the week. After the “boom,” we freeze as I rhythmically chant, “Sunday and Monday.” The kiddos echo, “Sunday and Monday.” We sing the song again, moving in a circle. After each “boom”, I pause again, adding another day: “Sunday, Monday, Tuesday,”  until we cycle through the days of the week. On the last repetition, we walk four steps in and out of the circle – on the beat - and jump in place on the “boom.” It’s fun to repeat it, getting softer until it’s barely heard….from mp to p to pp.

After children are confident with the succession, add two or more days at a time. Try learning the days of the week in another language.  Esperanto, anyone?
There are so many fun ways to approach Sally Go Round the Sun (of which there are MANY versions). Some prefer to sing chimney top(s) rather than chimney pot – an archaic term that has fallen out of use. Although I prefer the archaic in all things, sing what comes naturally to you!

This YouTube shows dancing in concentric circles and singing the song in a round. Though three part rounds are waaaaaaayyyy out of the realm of our K and Pre-K kiddos, two concentric circles are fun to try. I often use a double circle for space reasons – so that we can move rather than plod (the grownups plod a bit in this video – just sayin’).

BRIGIE TIP for making a double circle lickity split: Make a large circle. Drop hands. Count the children – aloud: 1 – 2 – 3 – 4,  1 – 2 – 3- 4, etc. Every fourth child goes into the center and makes a second, smaller circle. The ratio works.

Frogs in the Meadow
Sound Touch icon
Before singing the song, introduce your kiddos to the wonder and variety of frogs – and the sounds they make – through these  two marvelous iPad apps: Sound Touch and Video Touch Animals – made by the same developer. Frogs do not say “ribbit”!
Sound Touch Lite (FREE). 180 sounds and images great for auditory discrimination. 
SoundTouch ($4.99) offers 360 sounds and images. There are 6 high quality photos of different frog species in Sound Touch. Each is accompanied by the sound the frog makes.
Video Touch - Animals (1.99 – prices fluctuate) has48 fascinating video clips of animals, including four of different frog species My kiddos are mesmerized!

Frogs in the meadow.
Can’t get them out.                                    (Shake finger on beat)
Take a little stick                                         (Mime holding stick.
And stir them about.                                    Stir in wide circle with full body.)
Leap! Leap! Leap!                                      (Leap three times)

c.2015 Elsa Sreenivasam. Detail
·      Sing the song while class listens.  Pat the beat on knees while singing (I like to hold a beanie frog in my hand and bounce it on my knee). Jump your frog forward (on floor) while chanting “Leap! Leap! Leap!” Ask – “How many ‘leaps” did my frog take?” (three) Invite kiddos to sing, using their fists for frogs.

·      Stand up. Sing the song with suggested motions, or what you determine is best. Jump in place the first time, then model leaping into the circle the second time.
·      Line up kiddos, 4 at a time (mas o menos) and have a leaping contest.
o   Speed version: Stand on the perimeter of your classroom rug. Designate 4 sides of square and choose which side will leap first (one side at a time). Proceed to next side, until everyone has a turn.

·      With parachute. Place beanie frogs on parachute. Ask participants to sway side to side while singing song (move parachute side to side. On each “Leap” – bounce parachute so the frogs go flying up into the air. Retrieve frogs from the floor, and do again. Many options: Sitting, standing, children under parachute or not, etc. Using comparative voices and movements is also fun.
NOTE: There are many versions of this song, and many melodies. I even found a chase game – for lack of a better word – that I’ll try next year with older kiddos. For now, I’ll use this version that has been a sure-fire hit ever since I learned it from Ms. Stephanie at Ronald Knox Montessori School twenty years ago!

Thanks for reading! I hope you’ll join me next month for more summer songs.
Until then, happy singing!
c. Brigid Finucane
Call Me For Your Professional Development!
I’d love to help your school or community blossom musically!  My specialty is music and literacy teacher training (with a dose of technology), singing games and dances from around the world, and more! If you’re local (Chicago), I’m Gateways registered and IAC approved – at least for the next three years! See my contact info below.  Please look for my workshops through Illinois Children’s Home and Aid.

Merit School of Music, Chicago
…Call on Merit School of Music! Our onsite school is in the West Loop. We work in the schools throughout the area providing band, orchestra, percussion, choir, early childhood, and general music instruction with project based units including Recorder, Music and Storytelling and Songwriting. We do great work! YoYo Ma is a supporter!

Chicago Families
Please come to Merit’s Storytime sessions – the 2nd and 4th Mondays of the month. It’s free, fun, and facilitated by singers and storytellers Amy Lowe, Irica Baurer & me. Stories and songs start at 11am, and we end with instrument exploration and family networking.  Breaking news: Storytime will continue through the summer months, so come on down!
The next session is June 22.

And in the End
My posts are historically archived below. Click a link to read about Chinese New Year, Pete Seeger, Music and Literacy, Listening Locally to Musicians from the Midwest, Great Lakes and Ontario! Then Pass It On!

I am continually inspired by The Children’s Music Network (CMN) community. an international group of socially conscious musicians, educators, librarians, families, songwriters and good people, who “celebrate the positive power of music in the lives of children by sharing songs, exchanging ideas, and creating community.” Please visit CMN, and find a gathering in your region.

©2015 Brigid Finucane  * 847-213-0713 *

Apr.  Staccato & Legato/ pt.2                             
Aug.  Midwest & Great Lakes – Listening Locally / pt.2
Sept.  Midwest & Great Lakes - Listening Locally / pt.3
Jan.2015. Multicultural Children’s Book Day - The Lions of Gir
Feb.2015. Chinese New Year – Looking for Year of the Sheep & A Good Friend
Apr.2015. I.Crescendo -And Sites to Sigh For: edWeb & CMN
May 2015. II. Crescendo! Chants & Games for Music Foundation

Tuesday, June 16, 2015

“Roll the Ball” – Deceptively Easy, Delightfully Fun!

   Miss Carole from Macaroni Soup here in Chicago.  By the time this post goes live, the Blackhawks will have either won the Stanley Cup or subjected me to a Game 7 – I am hoping for my sanity that it is cup-kissing time at The United Center!
Roll the ball to me!

   However, not to leave you in the lurch for a monthly musical activity for indoors or out, I am dusting off one of my student’s favorites: “Roll the Ball”.  I’m not sure where I learned it – anyone out there know who wrote it, or what 78 rpm record it was on during my childhood in Massachusetts?  Or did my mother make it up and play it with me?  Who knows?
   “Ball” was one of my daughter’s first words – and in 26 years of teaching I’ve yet to find a child who didn’t enjoy playing with one!

   “Roll the Ball” can be done with very young children – either playing with another child, or with an adult.  Partners sit facing each other, legs extended (V-seat.)  Toddlers and Preschoolers sit with feet touching their partner’s, while K’s can sit a little further apart if space allows.

Bounce the ball. Bounce the ball!

Roll the ball. Roll the ball. 
Roll the ball to me. 
Roll it, roll it. 
Roll the ball to me.

Bounce the ball. Bounce the ball.
Bounce the ball to me. 
Bounce it. Bounce it. 
Bounce the ball to me.

You lose it - go get it!

Toss the ball. Toss the ball.  Toss the ball to me. 
Toss it. Toss it. 
Toss the ball to me.
Hear it here.  
    Demonstrate what rolling (keeping the ball on the floor) looks like by sitting with a partner and pushing the ball gently back and forth while singing.  Note that the ball stays on the floor.  For the second verse, give the ball a gentle bounce toward your partner – keeping it a gentle bounce, not over your partner’s head!  If the ball scoots away, children must retrieve their own ball.
    Now you are ready for everyone to find a partner and sit facing them, legs extended.  
Give one ball to each couple.  I use tennis balls, but small beach balls work well, too.  Begin singing. With 3 year olds and younger, I then return to rolling to end the session.
With PreK 4’s and K’s, I add the third verse: “Toss the ball!”  Demonstrate that it is not a throw – it is an underhand toss into your partner’s waiting hands.  I encourage the catching child to make “cup hands” for a target.  Repeat the verse 3-4 times, as this is a skill that takes practice. As above, for your final verse return to rolling – get that ball down on the floor again to bring the excitement level down.
When we have done our final “roll the ball verse” I say, “FREEZE!  Whoever is has the ball right now may bring it to the ball bin.”  This makes it so that there isn’t a fight for who puts the ball away.
Great Big Ball!

   There you have it – simple, skill-based and fun!  Children work on gross motor coordination, cooperation, teamwork, communication, vocabulary and singing while moving …and they think it’s just an enjoyable game!

   For another excellent singing game with a ball, check out my September 2013 blog: Great Big Ball.  It’s another favorite!

Yours for a Ball Song!

"Miss Carole" Peterson Stephens

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