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The way you measure a society's soul is by the way that it treats its children.
Nelson Mandela

Kidz Newz no. 148 – 1st February 2016

Welcome to Kidz Newz, especially to all the new subscribers from the recent ANCOS Tutti conference in Hobart, Tasmania. It was great to have met you all. Welcome aboard! Kidz Newz is a regular newsletter with information and teaching tips for anyone involved with young children. You are receiving this because you have attended one of my workshops, purchased a book, or you have requested to be on the mailing list. Thank you. Please forward this to anyone you feel it may be of interest to. Feedback is welcome. Don't forget to stay in touch on our Facebook Page and watch out for our exclusive fan page competitions.

 

Movement and its Many Benefits

I had the privilege of presenting at the recent Tutti conference put on by ANCOS (Australian National Council of Orff Schulwerk) in Hobart. My sessions were on Scarf Magic and Multicultural Music and Movement. It was wonderful seeing so many committed people – presenters and delegates alike – demonstrating the wonderful world of music and movement in its myriad forms, so to a very large extent I was preaching to the converted. Despite this commitment, the national average in Australia for schools with a music specialist is 50%. I saw a recent statistic for NSW stating that 65% of their schools do NOT have a music specialist - all the more reason for the class teacher to step up to the plate. Sadly, this is often not the case. The average class teacher does not have a music background, feels intimidated by music specialists, and generally feels inadequate for the task. Result? No can do. So they don’t. I wonder if this is the case in other countries?

Of course, in my sessions I implored these music specialists to encourage their class teachers to do some simple activities that expose children to music on a daily basis. It doesn’t have to be at the level of the specialist. Simple is often best, especially where young children are concerned. It is important to remember that the creative and performing arts are the best bridges to learning. Furthermore, that music changes the way our brains function so that we can learn more effectively. There have been lots of papers written on this subject and yet translating this into practical terms to teachers is often difficult. It must be so because despite what I saw at Tutti, I know that many class teachers do not do any singing or music and movement with their classes, even in early childhood. Not every child can be an academic, sporting, artistic or musical genius but every child has the right to explore all of these areas. In music lessons, the way some children enjoy the experience most is through movement, whether a structured dance with specific steps or a free-form expression interpreting the music creatively which stimulates their imaginations. It might be story-telling through moving to the music. This experience leads naturally on to a lesson in art or writing. The children will want to do the activity as opposed to having to do it.

Remember that the younger the child the more kinaesthetic their learning style. When you think about it, even toddlers can’t stop themselves bopping to the music so why discourage this natural process? In fact, the younger the child the more important it is to have multi-sensory integration. How do we do this? With very simple music and movement techniques, such as those in the kidz-fiz-biz manuals, which were written with the class teacher in mind.

If you don’t have these books and your school is not in a position yet to purchase them, I’m sure your library would have some appropriate music for young learners. A very simple action song is perfect to start off with as the children are standing on the spot and performing the actions. If the children have not had exposure to music and movement then you know straight away they will get excited and perhaps over-excited. Anticipate this and keep it simple (remember the K.I.S.S principle? – Keep It Simple Sunshine!). Only bring in moving around the room or introduce equipment such as scarves or ribbon sticks when you know you have the control. I have had teachers say to me that they tried music and movement once and it was a shambles so they won’t try it again. Understandable and forgivable but tragic all the same.

Understanding how young children think is a key to success because you can take steps – baby steps – and ‘softly, softly catchee monkey’. Some classes are full of very boisterous boys so the concept of doing music and movement could be alarming at best, horrifying at worst. Do it anyway but remember the K.I.S.S. principle. Start with a finger-play. This introduces the concept of rhyme, sequential memory and patterning while also developing fine-motor co-ordination and concentration. Then put a melody to that finger-play which introduces an extra dimension and opens another part of the brain, which better facilitates learning. Get the children used to doing finger-plays, rhymes and songs on a regular basis before you introduce use of percussion instruments or equipment. When you introduce movement keep it in one space. Make sure the children have a ‘space bubble’ around them – with arms outstretched they cannot touch another child in any direction. When simple standing action songs are mastered, especially if they learn the words, then you can move onto the simplest of activities involving drama, dance and interpretive movement. From there you can introduce more complex activities according to the ability of your children. Some children simply need a few more years before they are really ready to do anything very complex.

I was conducting an in-service at a school in WA a few years ago and on the final day the teachers were to demonstrate to me that they felt comfortable teaching simple music and movement techniques. One teacher had had a family crisis the night before and told me she couldn’t do the lesson because she hadn’t had time to prepare. This is called life. Life happens when you are busy making other plans, as the saying goes. I wasn’t going to let her ‘cop out’ because you can’t let life defeat you. You just have to have a plan B. I asked her what she had originally thought of doing. When she said she had wanted to do the Dinosaurs section from my kidz-fiz-biz 2nd edition, I told her to go ahead and I would support her. ‘Just put the CD on and take it from there.’ She was initially anxious but knowing I was there as back-up, she willingly proceeded. Off she went, quite masterfully, for a full 45 minutes with the children totally engrossed the whole time. Had I not been there, she would have assumed she couldn’t do it, which is what she told me, but worse still, she may never have had the confidence to have a go.

So, whether you are the music specialist or the class teacher, I implore you to incorporate music AND movement every day in your classes. The kinaesthetic learners will enjoy their music lesson much more but above all, they will actually be able to take it in and benefit from it. They get tired of being ticked off for being unable to sit still and concentrate. Movement involves co-ordination of right and left sides of the brain – essential when we want them concentrating in class. Movement gets rid of some pent-up energy and it directs that energy instead of having it flying around the room. Movement involves creativity and stimulation of the imagination, it gets the endorphins stimulated (the ‘feel good’ hormones) and above all, is FUN! (Just don’t tell them it’s good for them!)

Busy class teachers think they don’t have time for music. Well, that’s true. What they need to do is layer their lessons so there are multiple outcomes from a single lesson. Add music to underscore that lesson and the children will learn better. Instead of doing endless, repetitive and boring exercises in maths and language, incorporate these into the music lessons. You will find you will not need to do as many of these exercises but surprisingly, the children will achieve as well as or probably better than they would have otherwise, by the end of the year. The difference will be they will have enjoyed the process.

 

ANCOS – TUTTI – Winner!

Congratulations to Rachelle Blick who was the winner of the Scarf Magic Pack at the recent Tutti conference. Enjoy!

ANCOS – TUTTI – Winner!

 

Quotes of the Week

If you have knowledge, let others light their candles with it.
- source unknown

Never doubt that a small group of committed people can change the world. Indeed it is the only thing that ever has.
- Margaret Mead

Those who danced were thought to be quite insane by those who could not hear the music.
- Angela Monet

I would teach the children music, physics and philosophy, but the most important is music, for in the patterns of the arts are the keys to all learning.
- Plato

Music is never music alone but forms a unity with movement, dance and speech.
- Carl Orff

 

Testimonials

Some comments from the recent Tutti conference: What was the most useful thing you learned today?

New multicultural songs – and those ribbon sticks!
Ways of ‘playing with’ multicultural music.
Body control, improvise beat, sequence and movement.
Motivation for using more movement!
That multicultural awareness/music is achievable for me.
Songs in other languages.

 

Entertainment

Have some funny signs around your office or home to remind you to lighten up. For example:

Never wrestle with a pig - you both get dirty and the pig likes it.

If and when a store clerk, restaurant server or flight attendant asks matter-of-factly "How are you today?" try replies such as, "Well medicated. And you?"

A nun in a convent goes up to the Mother Superior. “Mother Superior, we have a case of syphilis in the Rectory!”

The Mother Superior replies, “Thank goodness! I’ve gotten tired of the Merlot.”

Thanks to Allen Klein for the above. Allen Klein is the world’s only “Jollytologist”, a professional speaker and author. www.allenklein.com

 

About The Author

Marlene Rattigan B.A., Dip. Ed. (ECS), CELTA

Marlene Rattigan is an Early Childhood teacher, a teacher of English as a Second Language, and from 1987-2000 was a nationally accredited fitness leader. Her background is in music education. A keen interest in motor development in children led to the creation of Kidz-Fiz-Biz which she taught successfully for 13 years. Marlene also conducts workshops for children, teachers and parents at schools, in the community and at festivals. She has produced teaching manuals complete with audio CDs which are an extension of her ‘Kidz-Fiz-Biz’ program.

Kidz-Fiz-Biz
PO Box 6894, East Perth WA 6892, Australia
T: +61 8 9355 4890 M: +61 (0) 410 64 2781 E: info@kidzfizbiz.com

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Until next time … continue being a legend in your classroom.

Marlene Rattigan, Editor
Kidz Newz

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