Music has always been a constant in our house. I like singing and silly dancing with the girls, so this seemed like a natural theme for us. When my friend (who teaches music classes for kids) offered to let us borrow some instruments, I started to get super excited about it. This theme had a lot of field trips, and I loved every one!
The set-up in the house was mainly a lot of instruments, but I added a music themed shower curtain, lots of sing-a-long picture books and a karaoke machine. I also left a lot of open space for dancing.
(From my Theme Week post, here are our theme categories:)
- Field Trips: The Uncle Gerry Concert – We have brought the girls to Music Together class on and off since Ava was about 4 months old. It is one of my favorite activities to do with the girls and I honestly see their musical skills expand as a direct result. So what better way to kick off Music Week than to take them to a Music Together concert?? Uncle Gerry is a recording artist on all of the class CDs so is basically a rock star to the kids. Since we’ve been going so long, Ava knew a lot of kids in attendance too, so it must’ve felt like a huge party to her. Both kids spent the time dancing and drumming and singing and it just made my heart happy.
- Field Trips: Music Together Class- I love love our Music Together classes. Teacher Stephanie starts by singing the “hello song” with her ukulele, and my kids are hooked. I love watching their faces – I swear Mabel just stares and smiles and then starts bouncing. The class includes lots of chances for movement and dancing, instrument playing, listening to harmonies, and learning rhythms. The kids are allowed to learn and participate in whatever way works for them – some, like Mabel, will sit and observe and some, like Ava, will run/dance around the room for part of class and then sit and participate when they are ready. It’s perfect for us.
- Field Trips: The MIM – Phoenix has an amazing Musical Instrument Museum. I’ve been before with Dan, but hadn’t really brought the kids. We had a lot of fun, but I’m a little mixed on bringing small kids (since Ava is almost 3 and Mabel is only 15 months). Other than the Experience Gallery (where you can play a bunch of interesting instruments), the displays require headsets to listen to the different music. Ava actually loved this part – and if you ask, there’s kid-sized headsets too!
- Pros: Admission for the kids was free, since they are 3 and under. The Experience Gallery (see above) was incredible. We also loved watching the giant self-playing organ play songs (it’s part of the Mechanical Music Gallery). There’s lots to look at – I feel like I could easily spend a full day there if I was by myself.
- Cons: This is one museum where if there’s a field trip group there, your experience can be affected. Especially in the Experience Gallery. It’s a giant room filled with instruments, so if it’s full of kids playing, it gets very noisy (which isn’t great for toddlers/babies). I will say the staff was amazing and tried to work with us to tell us time estimates so we could try to play the instruments in-between groups (and avoid the noise) but that limited how much time we could spend there.
- Sensory Table – At first I wasn’t sure I was going to have a sensory table for this unit, since there were so many instruments around the rest of the house, but then I had an idea. I just filled the table with metal bowls and kitchen utensils so that they could experiment with sounds. What makes louder sounds – the wooden spoon or the metal ladle? What happens when you tap a bowl with your finger tips or bang on the top? The kids have had a blast exploring it – and actually used it more than I expected.
- Themed Books – There is a whole picture book series called “Raffi Songs to Read” that I just love. It’s songs you know, like Wheels on the Bus or Baby Beluga, only paired with beautiful illustrations. It’s a great way to sing together. I also love the book The Maestro Plays by Bill Martin Jr. It’s a story told almost entirely with adverbs and the result is a song in itself when you read it out loud – words like “flowingly, glowingly, knowingly, showingly, goingly” etc. My absolute favorite, however, is The Remarkable Farkle McBride by John Lithgow. It introduces the various sections of an orchestra via Farkle McBride, a young musical prodigy. I love the illustrations and the use of onomatopoeia. See the author read it here.
- Themed Music – So, of course, ANY song could fit here, I love the classic Do-Re-Mi song from Sound of Music. I also broke out our Song Cards so that the girls could choose what song they wanted to sing together. Plus, we brought out the karaoke machine. We only have a Frozen karaoke CD, so we hooked it up to the TV and then could sing any Disney karaoke song I could find on YouTube.
- Themed TV show or movie – For classic toddler songs, Little Baby Bum on Netflix is good, although for me can get old quickly. I prefer watching musicals or Disney movies with music in it. We actually watched The Music Man with Ava for the first time the week, and she loved it. At the end, when the band is marching down the street, Ava picked up her drum and we made our own parade in the house.
- Art projects – There are lots of fun art projects to go with this theme, such as homemade rice shakers and decorating oatmeal containers and using them as drums, but with all the field trips we didn’t get to it. Next time! 🙂
- Food (optional) – None this week.
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