I am not very musical. I never played a musical instrument and can't carry a tune in a bucket although I enjoy listening and making up my own words.
Yet, I know music has so many benefits for children. Music teaches us about our own culture and links us to the cultures of others. It's a wonderful means of self-expression. And children who are exposed to a variety of music tend to do better in school. I was thinking about music and how to incorporate it into our home education while I was looking through the A Toy Garden website.
A Toy Garden has a wonderful selection of musical instruments, CD's and songbooks in the "Music with Children"section. The Owl Gourd Shaker ($5.50) is handmade in Peru and just beautiful, and I think there will be one in my bird-loving Arielle's stocking this year.
And, I love this gorgeous set of Peruvian musical instruments ($39.95). It reminds me of the woman who does a monthly preschool music program at our public library. She has a collection of musical instruments from all over the world and the children each choose one and line up and have a parade. I love seeing their faces as they explore and experiment with the unfamiliar instruments and the sounds they make.
But, this is a review about a song book. A really cool songbook.
This Is The Way We Wash A Day by Mary Thienes-Schunemann ($24.95)
This is The Way We Wash a Day is a collection of songs that are meant to be sung while going about the days routine. As Arielle knows, princesses always sing while they work. Work songs are the traditional way of making chores move along, and this collection has both traditional work (folk) songs and songs by the author that are specific to different tasks. There is a sweeping song called "Sweeping Song" and a dusting song and even a song that's perfect for washing wooly diaper covers. It's helped make chore time into more of a fun time. A fun time AND a learning time.
The 59 songs in the book are organized into chapters: Traditional Work Songs, In The Garden, In The Kitchen, Taking Care of Yourself, Activity Songs, and Special Times. The illustrations are lovely and there are historical notes and anecdotes about how the author uses these songs in her own home. Our very favorite song is a Taking Care of Yourself Song, "Mouse Nests."
Arielle has such long hair and Linnea's is thick and curly. Brushing and detangling it in the morning is a chore. It used to involve a lot of screaming and not a lot of cooperation. Then I started singing "Little mouse nests in your hair, Tangled mouse nests everywhere, Little mousies making mischief! Brushing your nests out hurts! Ouch!" They laughed. Now they line up to have their mouse nests removed each morning.
The tooth brushing song was not as successful. It's hard to brush and sing.
The book includes a CD to help teach the music. Mary Thienes Schunemann has a lovely voice (it made me feel slightly inadequate), and it was easy to follow along and learn the songs.
Yesterday, Linnea was brushing her stuffed doggies hair and singing in toddlerese "Little mouse nests in the hair, tangles get you out! Brush! Brush!" Very cute.
And lately, she's been making up her own songs for all sorts of activities. I really recommend this book.
Yes, it is easier to do the chores yourself. If you hand your child a little broom or a dusting cloth, it might take an extra five minutes. But that five minutes gives your child the feeling that she is really helping out. It helps her feel proud and grown-up and independent. Five minutes turns into a life time of not being afraid of a little work and maybe a bit of bonding time. In the end, five extra minutes is well worth it.
The book is printed in the USA.