According to the internet, “music and movement is the use of rhythmic song and dance, thought of as beneficial for childhood development¹”. Kids can lean important school readiness skills from being exposed to music and physical movement at an early age. In a time of schools getting restrictive budget cuts to the arts and often spending more towards meeting standardized testing goals, the library can be a place to fill this necessary part in child’s education. In a study from 2008, it was noted that “the arts can train children’s attention, which in turn improves cognition²”.
But really, I just wanted to boogie with a room full of toddlers.
and so, I set off to create a music & movement program for my community. I’ve read great things from other librarians that have done something similar so I was very excited to start it here. So, I got the word out. I told a bunch of parents I thought may be interested. It was in our fall newsletter. It was in the town newsletter. It was on our sign out front. I put signs at the adult circ desk. I set up registration to have a max of 25.
I figured, “oh, I’ve got this… just pick some songs… some stretches… I’ll be golden”
So I did that. I had an outline and songs ready to go on the smart board. I researched some good stretches to do with kids and figured out how I was going to introduce this new class. Mostly, I did keep to my outline but also improvised a bunch, and we ended up jumping around a lot more than I had planned for (or dressed for). So without further ado, my plan:
Music & Movement!
“Music and movement is supposed to be noisy and a little bit crazy! Parents, you are encouraged to participate with your young one to model the importance of active play. We hope to learn some new concepts including following directions, rhyme and rhythm, and creative play!” (side note: while I would have loved more parent participation it was a full room and we were very active so I understand)
Then we worked on trying to keep a beat by singing our ABC’s, counting to 10 forwards and backwards while also clapping, and marching in place.
Before being too active we of course have to stretch… and work on controlling our breathing!
Straddle, reach hands up and forwards and to each side
Lay on our bellies and fly
Lift up with our arms
Cat, Cow stretch
Lay on our backs, leg lift
Jump 5 times on command
5 Jumping Jacks
Then we moved onto actually getting up and dancing… I had these two songs up on the smartboard for us to dance to:
Then I attempted to create a circle and we were going to do some circle songs but that 0% worked. So, instead I passed out some egg shakers and we shook our eggs all over the place (on our heads, bellies, etc..) and then danced to Icky Sticky Bubble Gum by David Landau– which is a HUGE hit with the storytime kids as well and worked great here.
Since we practiced our marching at the beginning I had them do some more marching exercises… We marched to The Grand Ol’ Duke of York and The Ants Go Marching.
And then, Miss Meg was exhausted. I was sweating. So, we ended about 20 minutes early and just did some cool down stretches. By this point we had been jumping, moving, dancing, and singing for 40 minutes. AND, in the future I will have someone else in the room with me but she was gone this first week.
I also have egg shakers, a parachute, scarves, and wrist ribbons for the future!
SO NOW, HOW CAN YOU LEARN FROM ME?!
My class went pretty well… As long as you are willing to adapt and have backup songs and activities you will be fine. And if you’ve been doing storytime’s for awhile you probably already have tricks up your sleeves and go-to songs and activities.
You will also want to wear comfy clothes. Bring a backup to change into afterwards. If you have a class like mine where the parents aren’t being active you really need to be a good role model in being active and doing what you’re asking the kids to do. If it’s winter make sure you bring a t-shirt to change into because you will be sweaty and hot.
Sometimes I need to dress professionally at work and sometimes I need to dress like I’m going to spend my morning stretching, dancing, and jumping with a room full of toddlers. #childrenslibrarian #librarianwardrobe #reallife #ilovemyjob
Have water in the room with you and easily accessible.
Bring extra deodorant. Or go a step closer and just always have extra deodorant.
If you’re feeling extra exhausted and need to cool down do some breathing exercises with the kids!
Don’t make any assumptions. Maybe you have a kid in class who isn’t moving and dancing at all. I had one little girl like this in my class and her nanny let me know beforehand that they were mostly just there to be social because the little girl can’t really move around on her own yet due to a genetic disorder. That’s okay! The great thing about the library is we accept everyone!
And, if you’re female… the most important thing to remember:
.@theemegnificent and my #1 music & movement lesson: always wear a bra made for jumping. Because the girls want to be free!
— Angie Manfredi (@misskubelik) October 8, 2014
¹ and by ‘internet’ I of course mean wikipedia. “Music & Movement” (page last modified on 6 June 2014)
² Arts and Smarts: Test Scores and Cognitive Development. http://sharpbrains.com/blog/2009/04/16/arts-and-smarts-test-scores-and-cognitive-development/