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 ISSUE 09   •   10 SEPTEMBER 2006  
   This week's theme: music


1. Editorial: Kids and music
2. MAKE: an easy shaker
3. MAKE: a happy/sad noise maker
4. MAKE: jingle bell bracelets/anklets
5. MAKE: a simple marching drum
6. More music ideas
7. This week's featured subscriber's blog

1. Editorial: Kids and music

When Ella was about two years old she and I were enjoying an afternoon stroll when we chanced upon a small festival taking place in a local park. We decided to take a quick look and before long Ella was heading to the grandstand where there was a salsa band playing. I was then given the unforgettable thrill of watching my daughter experience live music for the first time.

I watched her swaying to the slow songs, jumping along to the fast songs, interacting with the band and copying other people dancing.  I will never forget the irrepressible joy that she experienced that day, by accident, from such simple things like learning to clap after each song had finished.

There are many good reasons why kids should be encouraged to listen to music – amongst other things it helps them develop good communication skills, assists in concentration and improves their emotional development – but most importantly, it's great fun!

Here are some simple ways to enjoy music with young kids:

• Sing nursery rhymes and simple songs together
Move to music together (jump, sway, twirl and march)
Find music for different moods (happy, sad, funny, sleepy)
Sit quietly and listen to music together
Go and see a live band
Introduce different musical instruments and sounds
Play musical games such as 'freeze' (where you freeze when the music  stops) or 'pass a rhythm' (where one person claps out a rythm and the other has to try and imitate them.

For more ideas, you might want to take a look at this article about preschoolers and musical development. For a heavier read you can explore this great list of resources about the impact of music on the developing brain.

Happy crafting, shaking, banging and jingling and I'll see you next week!

Amber Carvan

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2. MAKE: an easy shaker

Any container can become a musical instrument simply by filling it with uncooked rice and giving it a good shake. Experiment with combinations of different materials such as barley, beans, lentils, sand, beads or small rocks to get a unique sound. For very young children this activity can be simplified further by using stickers instead of cutting and sticking your own shapes.

You will need

• a plastic container with a lid
different colours of paper or cellophane
clear sticky contact or sticky tape
scissors or novelty paper punches
shaking material (such as beans, barley or rice)
• glue or tape for sealing

1. Cut small pieces of cellophane or coloured paper or use a novelty paper punch to make small shapes. Then stick them onto your container using squares of clear sticky contact, or sticky tape.

2. Put rice or beans into container. Put on lid start shaking.

3. Watch in horror as beans and pasta fly across the room. Clean up mess and re-apply lid, this time sealing it closed with glue or sticky tape!

3. MAKE: a happy/sad noise maker

Until you have made the happy/sad noise maker you will not believe that a drink bottle can have so much personality or produce such a loud noise. It's highly likely that this project will make your shaker-wielding child extremely happy and the rest of the household rather sad. If nothing else, it's a good opportunity to talk about feelings :)

You will need

• a plastic drink bottle with a lid
sharp knife
pieces of elastic
four beads
four small bells
scrap of faux fur/wool
clear sticky contact (or sticky tape)
red cellophane or paper for mouth
round stickers for eyes
shaking material (such as beans, barley or rice)
• glue or tape for sealing

1. Use a sharp knife to pierce four holes in the bottom of the container – one in each corner. Thread through a long piece of elastic till it comes all the way out the hole at the top of the container.

2. Thread a bead onto the elastic and tie it on. Then pull the elastic back so the bead stops the elastic from coming out the hole, then snip the elastic so that it's about three inches long, and tie a small bell to the end.

3. Repeat until you have elastic, beads and bells in all four of the holes.

4. Make a happy face on the side of the bottle using stickers, red paper and a piece of sticky tape or contact to hold the mouth in place. Then, make a sad face on the opposite side of the container.

5. Cut a scrap of furry fabric and glue it to the head.

6. Fill with beans or rice, put the lid back on and seal it closed with tape or glue.

4. MAKE: jingle bell bracelets/anklets

My 16 month old son is at that stage where he's constantly wandering off and getting into mischief. Ella came up with the idea of making him a jingly anklet so that we'd be able to hear which direction he's walking. It was a terrific idea but at the end of the day she decided that she loved the bracelets/anklets far too much to part with any them!

You will need

• small bells with loops for threading (available from good craft shops)
• some beads
• elastic

1. Thread bells and beads onto a length of elastic.

2. Tie off when it's long enough to form a bracelet or anklet.

3. Repeat steps one and two until you can barely hold your arm up with the sheer weight of them!

5. MAKE: a simple marching drum

This week's 'most popular with the kids' award went to the humble marching drum. Both my little ones loved experimenting with the sounds they could make by using different hitting implements and Ella was won over by the fact that she could make this drum without any help from her meddling mother.

You will need

• a cake tin
baking paper
large rubber band
paintbrushes or sticks for banging

1. Stretch a piece of baking paper over the top of a cake tin and fasten with a rubber band. Trim excess baking paper if necessary.

2. Tape a length of ribbon to each end side of the tin.

3. Put ribbon around your neck and start banging, swishing and marching.

4. When you've had enough, remove rubber band, slide baking paper into the tin and make a cake!

6. More music ideas

•  Ding a spoon along a line of glasses filled with different amounts of water
•  Make a wind chime from household objects
•  Listen for the sound of the sea in a shell
•  Hold a family disco
•  And my favourite, make a banging wall!

For more ideas read my article on how to get great mileage from a weekly theme.

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7. This week's featured subscriber's blog

An Irish craftworker's good life

"The purpose of this blog is to follow my daily sources of inspiration for my craft work so that you can see them from the first seed of thought, through to sketches, work in progress and then the final product. Understand that this seemingly romantic and unflawed process is actually performed amidst the total chaos of my life which I love and would not change.

To have your blog featured in this section just send in your web address!


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