Category Archives: Fun Music and Activities for Families

How things change quickly…. 10 things to do without power.

When I posted last Thursday about playing in the mud, I had no idea how challenging our coming weekend was going to be. Who could have imagined the gale force winds, trees falling over, extended power outages etc that occurred on Friday night. As I write this, I am very thankful for the crews that got our power working by middle of the night Sunday, and I pray for peace and comfort for those who are still waiting for their comforts to be returned.

I have seen many people post about how frustrated their children are by the lack of television. Fortunately, my children are much older and can understand why it won’t work. We are a family of readers so we all had a constant companion of a book while we were without power (I haven’t read that much for extended amounts of time in years – it was actually the most enjoyable part of the whole ordeal.)

While I am not an advocate of NO television, it gave me pause to realize just how much we rely on screens (video games, televisions, computers) to entertain us. I have to admit to charging my cell phone in my car a couple times a day so I could check the news websites and Facebook for updates.

So, this morning, since I had to cancel classes due to the challenges of no power, I thought I would generate a list of things to do when the power is out:

1. Make up your own story – even the youngest children, if verbal at all, can contribute to making up a story with the older children and adults in his life. Perhaps an adult could scribe it to save it for later review, or an older child could illustrate it.

2. Collect things – go outside – find rocks, leaves, sticks (there were plenty of these around). Arrange them by size or color. Count them. Group them. My sister and I used to color on rocks with crayons and then sit them in the sun to watch the crayon melt together (we always thought we could sell them but no one bought).

3. Clean out the toys – I bet by going through them you will discover ones that haven’t been played with in weeks, months, or years, that will present new novelty  - at least for a while.

4. lay on the floor quietly and just listen – make a list of what you hear after 2 minutes. What was the loudest sound, the quietest one? Can you reproduce that sound with mouth or body percussion?

5. SING – it doesn’t matter what you sing, it doesn’t matter what it sounds like or if you have all the right words. Make up new words to old tunes. Make up a sad song about not having t.v. Families singing together is an important heritage and one that isn’t encouraged or thought about in the rush of a normal day.

6. Play cards or a board game. Even preschoolers can play Memory with a regular deck of cards (match black numbers and red ones). Candyland, Chutes and Ladders etc.

7. Play active games – remember Simon Says and Mother May I? What about Red Light/Green Light? If you don’t know these games look them up (if you are reading this blog I know you have internet)

8. Catch fire flies.

9. Learn to catch and throw a ball. If you don’t have a ball, make one out of crumpled paper, or rubber bands, or duct tape.

10. Blow bubbles – it isn’t the greatest solution in the world, but my grandmother used to mix dish soap in some water. We would dip our fists in the solution and blow through our hands. This is a cool activity too – keep those hands and wrists cool and your body will be too.

One bonus – READ – read magazines, read the Bible, read the instructions off food packages in the pantry. Reading anything at all builds vocabulary. Have young children identify letters. Cut them out and arrange them in alphabetical order.

We will all survive this. And before long, everyone will go back to watching t.v., playing video games, and hanging out on Facebook. Just don’t forget – it can be fun to be unplugged once in a while.

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After having a fun day hanging out with my husband yesterday, I am in the office working, working, working today. So excited to be having our first ever Dino Drop Off Play Day at the studio on Monday. Parents will be dropping off their preschool/young school aged children to play, sing, dance, craft and hear stories about dinosaurs. I have so many ideas of things for us to do, that I thought maybe a blog post was in order as well. I know not everyone can attend on Monday but, maybe you can have your own dino day at home.

If you are on Pinterest, I have created a board. You can find it here. Dino Party Plans

Likewise, I would strongly suggest the CD “Most Amazing Dinosaur Songs” by Music for Little People. My sister bought me this CD a couple years ago, but this is the first time I have had an opportunity to use it. If you search for this CD on Google, there is also a link to the lyrics. So fun! I checked and this album is also available on iTunes.

Our activities on Monday are going to include doing a dinosaur dig – finding little dino trinkets after excavating through sand, making individual volcanos on paper plates which we will then use for finger painting, playing some color matching games and shape sorting, having dino egg races, creating dino dioramas that the children will then be allowed to take home and recreate over and over again, play dough play, dinosaur stomp dancing, bubble play, and parachute play. With all this activity, I know some down time has to be worked in (and we only have three hours), so each child will bring snack, and we will interject our high activity moments with some stories.

There are TONS of books – both fiction and non-fiction written on this subject for 4-8 year olds. Here is a very non-comprehensive book list, but these are written by some of my favorite children’s authors, or are ones I own (denoted by *).

*How Do Dinosaurs… (series of books) by Jane Yolen

*Dinosaurs Galore – Andreae Giles

*Mine-O-Saur – by Sudipta

*Dinosaurumpus – by Tony Mitton

*Dinosaur Roar – by Paul and Henrietta Stickland

*Saturday Night at the Dinosaur Stomp – by Carol Diggory Shields

*Dinosaurs Love Underpants – By Claire Freedman

Dinosaurs by Gail Gibbons

Kids Can Draw Dinosaurs – by Philippe Legendre

Dinosaurs Don’t Dinosaurs Do – by Steve Bjorkman

Dinosaurs Dinosaurs by Byron Barton

Dancing with the Dinosaurs by Jane Clarke

Dinosaur Roar Butterflies Soar by Bob Barner

Dizzy Dinosaurs: Silly Dino Poems by Lee Bennett Hopkins

Too Many Dinosaurs by Mercer Meyer

ABC Dinosaurs by Jan Pienkowski

Flapdoodle Dinosaurs: A Colorful Pop-Up Book

If The Dinosaurs Came Back by Bernard Most

My Visit to the Dinosaurs by Aliki

Ten Terrible Dinosaurs by Paul Stickland

Oh My Oh My Oh Dinosaurs by Sandra Boynton

Good Night Dinosaurs by Judy Sierra

There are just two spots left for our Dino Day Drop Off. If you are interested in the details and want to to sign up, see our website

**Please note – the Family Time playdate listed on the same page is closed! We will plan another soon.

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June 23, 2012 · 2:06 pm

T-15 Days to Christmas – MUSIC!

Okay – so before I write today’s post – I need to share that I have changed the day count. When I started this, I was counting today and Christmas Day. That would still make today T-16 – but as the holiday approaches the math doesn’t work in my brain. Today is 10 and Christmas is 25 so it should be 15. My blog – my prerogative to change my mind. Now that this cleared up….
Let’s talk about probably my most favorite thing about the holidays. The MUSIC! (Is anyone really surprised?) I currently have 14 hours, 35 minutes and 12 seconds of Christmas music in my iTunes. It may be more than that, because I just searched for the word Christmas. With the discovery of Pandora radio this year for me, I have even more Christmas music for my listening pleasure.
In addition to listening to Christmas music (almost exclusively during this time of the year), I love to play it on the piano and sing along.
So what is my favorite Christmas music you asked? Here are my top 25 favorite songs and I have given up on putting them in order:
1. Do You Hear What I Hear?
2. Silver Bells
3. Winter Wonderland
4. Oh Holy Night
5. O Come All Ye Faithful
6. I’ll Be Home for Christmas
7. C-H-R-I-S-T-M-A-S
8. I Want a Hippopatamus for Christmas
9. We Need a Little Christmas
10. It Must Have Been The Mistletoe (this is a Barbara Mandrell song I love to sing along with)
11. Let It Snow
12. 12 Days of Christmas (My uncle Gary singing 5 Golden Rings as the family members divide up the days is my favorite way to sing this, but Straight No Chaser’s version is my favorite for listening)
13. Jingle Bell Rock
14. The Nutcracker – the entire ballet – love to see it and to listen to it.
15. Rocking Around the Christmas Tree
16. Winter Wonderland
17. I’ll Be Home for Christmas
18. The Friendly Beasts
19. Away in a Manger
20. Feliz Navidad (don’t tease – I’ll always remember the 4th graders at Zaleski elementary doing this with me when I was a brand new teacher)
21. O Come O Come Emmanuel
22. Silent Night
23. Marvelous Toy (not technically a Christmas song but I love it)
24. One Night a Year (Barbara Mandrell)
25. Nuttin For Christmas

There are so many more – I could probably come up with a list of 100. But, each of these on this list, has a special story behind it. Aren’t you glad there aren’t more days to Christmas or I may just expound on each.

No matter whether you perform music, listen to it, sing it, enjoy it or not. You cannot go through the Christmas season without it.

If you are looking for an opportunity for your family to experience a life performance of music this season, the Communiversity Band and Athens Children’s Chorus will be presenting their annual Christmas concert at Templeton-Blackburn Memorial Auditorium tomorrow afternoon (December 11) at 4:00 p.m. I believe Sarah is going to play in the flute section and I will be there – maybe with bells on!

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T-21 Days to Christmas – Homemade Ornaments

I love homemade gifts and ornaments. I have made many for others through the years. For the longest time, I had a tree that consisted of only homemade ornaments. Last year, we decided to go with theme trees in different rooms so I sacrificed my homemade collection for the Kitchen themed tree. I’m thinking next year, I need one more tree in the house so I can go back to the homemade one too. There are tons of ideas out there of things to do with your children.

I want to share two recipes with you that my sister has used in the past to have her church group or her own children make ornaments for others. These ornaments have proven to be extremely durable so I asked her to share the recipes/websites with me so I could share with you.

Here is a picture of the ones I have from her and my niece and nephew:

Salt Dough and Cinnamon Dough Ornaments.

With both of these recipes, I believe the reason they have endured through the years is that Beth didn’t roll them too thin. They are about 1/4 – 1/2 inch thick.

Beth’s Salt Dough Ornament Recipe (origin unknown)

The painted ornaments are made of Salt Dough and then baked. They allowed the children to paint them. On the back they personalized them with their names and the date in permanent fine tipped marker.

Here is the recipe:
2 Cups Flour
1 Cup Salt
1 Cup Water

Sift together flour and salt.
Add 1/2 of water and mix
Slowly add the rest of the water.
Knead on lightly floured surface until dough is smooth (about 10 minutes).

Add food coloring at this point if you want colored dough.

Roll out & cut using cookie cutters (metal ones work best). Don’t roll too thin (we shot for 1/4″-1/2″)

Use a drinking straw to make a ribbon hole if using for and ornament.

Bake at 325 for 1-1 1/2 hours.

Completely cool before painting (we let ours cool at least overnight!).

We might have sprayed them with a matte sealant – I can’t remember. But do this after the paint has dried for at least 24 hours.

Beth’s Cinnamon Ornament Dough Recipe origin The Nourishing Gourmet
Homemade Cinnamon Ornaments

1/2 cup of powered cinnamon
2 teaspoon powdered cloves
6 tablespoons of applesauce
1 tablespoon of white glue
White flour
1. Combine the above ingredients, stirring until stiff, then kneading a bit with your hands.

2. On a well dusted surface, roll out 1/4 inch thick. Cut with cookie cutters. Place on a cooling rack until completely dry (2-3 days). If you are planning on hanging the ornaments, make sure you poke a hole somewhere before you dry.

Take some time this season to do some “unplugged” activities such as crafting or reading with your children. You will all be glad you did. I would love to see pictures or receive homemade ornaments that you made if you are looking for a recipient.

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AHA Museum – Rainy Day Fun!

My sister, her husband and their two children have been visiting the Columbus Ohio area this week. We arranged for Hannah and I to meet them at Ash Cave in Hocking Hills State Park today for a pack lunch and some hiking  - let the kids play and visit.

That was a great plan until we all woke up to thunder, lightning, rain. Yea, well, not going to the Hocking Hills area in that. I had heard about the AHA Children’s Museum in Lancaster, Ohio from many of our Kindermusik families but had not been there. We decided to try it out instead of just scrapping our plans all together.

Hannah is 11, she said on the way home “that was a good way to spend $5.00.”. While I don’t think she would have had great fun if we had just gone there without some younger children with whom to play, she had a great time digging in sand, playing in the water table, climbing through the honeycomb, and dressing up to play on stage. For children 0 – 7 this is an amazing play area.

As someone who works with small children in a hand’s on environment, I was impressed with the space  - lots of room for children to move without sharp edges to bump into or things to trip over. They also asked each of us to use some hand sanitizer as we entered, and I observed the workers continually cleaning up the areas and sanitizing toys that were being handled or mouthed.

I have attached a slideshow of our children playing so you can see just how much fun they had.

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The museum is open from 10:00 – 4:00 Monday through Saturday and costs $5.00 per person. I brought some fliers back to share in the studio. Here is their website

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Free Kid Friendly Concerts for the Summer

I am a huge advocate of taking children to concerts at an early age. Children do not learn how to listen, behave or enjoy live music, if we never take them where they can experience it. However, as a mom, I know that it is can be scary and nerve wracking to take  a child to the concert hall for the first few times. The fear of my child causing a disruption is enough to keep me from enjoying the concert at all.

In Athens (as in many communities – if you don’t live here look for these types of events in your own town), we are fortunate to have Ohio University’s “Under the Elms” Summer Concert Schedule. These concerts are informal, held outside and a great way to introduce children to the concert experience. You bring your own lawn chairs, blankets etc to sit upon, you can bring dinner and snacks, even books or quiet toys for the children. The children will observe people listening quietly, live musicians performing, and when it is appropriate to clap. But, will not be glared at for dancing, wiggling, whispering, even crying. These comfortable situations can give them the beginning skills that will then help you transition to more formal concert situations in the future.

The summer Under the Elms Schedule for 2011 is:

Every Wednesday evening from June 22 – July 20 at 7:00 p.m. on the College Green on the Athens campus of Ohio University.

There are three special concerts as well:

Saturday July 2 – Ohio National Guard 122nd Army Band

Saturday July 16 – Mountain State Brass Band

Wednesday August 10 – Mozart on the Green Chamber Music concert


These concerts are free to the public and, if the weather would be foul, will be held indoors at the Templeton Blackburn Memorial Auditorium (snacks and dinner not allowed in the auditorium obviously).

For more information

Hopefully, I will see you there. I know I will be there this week! Come say hello.


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Saw this craft idea on Facebook

I saw this link on Facebook. Looks like a fun family project for the weekend.

The book recommended at the end of the article (The Windy Day) is a wonderful read.

Homemade Windchimes





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Happy Valentine’s Day – Videos for Families

Yesterday I had the privilege of playing with close to 20 families for a Let Me Call You Sweetheart Playdate that featured Kindermusik Family Time activities. We had so much fun dancing, singing, and celebrating the love of families. The feedback has been amazing and all I can say is I had more fun than all of you! – Seriously!! Anyway, I thought it would be fun to put together a blog post of some of my favorite family friendly Valentine songs that I have found on YouTube.

The first two are by Suzi Shelton. Suzi is one of the best providers of childrens’ pop music today – if you ask me. This first video – Valentine Song – is a great one to get your children (and you) up and moving together.

This one is also Suzi and it is, by far, my all-time favorite love song for a parent to sing to a child. I can’t help getting a little lump in my throat when I hear it and think, primarily, of my own daughters, but also all the beautiful children I am blessed with in my classes. I know this says it is a Father’s Day video, but trust me, you are going to love it for Valentine’s Day too.

This one is from PBS Kids – Great nutrition video and fun!

Here’s one in Sign Language  for our Sign and Sing friends!

And finally one from Kindermusik

Enjoy the love of your family and all the children around you this Valentine’s Day. I love you too!

Me with many of my 'loves' from Parkersburg Spring 2010.

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Another snow day – but it’s MARDI GRAS

So, I have once again had to cancel classes due to massive amounts of snow and dangerous road conditions. But, I realized this morning it is MARDI GRAS. So here are some ideas to CELEBRATE being stuck at home again today.

1. Make Masks – there are lots and lots of websites on the web giving ideas about how to make masks. But, it can be as simple as cutting some eyes out of a paper plate and letting your child draw on the rest of the face. You can staple some yarn or elastic and fasten the mask around the head or – even simpler- put on a wooden spoon or tongue depressor and hold it up. Another super easy mask is to take a pair of old sunglasses and decorate the rims and the arms. We have made some great bird masks this way.

2. String beads. No beads and you’re snowed in you say? Anything with a hole in the middle can be a bead. Try dry macaroni, buttons, cheerios (or other cereal), washers, lock nuts etc. A shoe string, ribbon, piece of string or thread can be the lanyard. This is an excellent fine motor skill developer for you child.

3. Make and eat PANCAKES! Mardi Gras is translated Fat Tuesday and traditionally people cooked up all the “good” stuff in their houses and gorged themselves before entering the solemn season of Lent (leading up to Easter). During Lent, there is much fasting and giving up of pleasures. You can even say a Pancake Poem while you are cooking

Great A Little a  - this is pancake day

Flip em high, flip em low let all that come after sing heigh ho

Heigh ho heigh ho this is pancake day!

4. Bake A King’s Cake  -

5. Have a parade – if it isn’t too cold – go outside in the snow and parade around the yard – see what neat patterns you can make in the snow with your feet! If it is too cold, parade around the house – don’t forget to crawl under the table and go around chairs etc. – up and down stairs is good too!

6. Play dress up – many people dress up in all types of costumes for the parades in New Orleans. Playing dress up fosters your child’s imagination – and can be lots of fun for you too!!

For more craft ideas, history of Mardi Gras and things to do visit these two websites!

Mardi Gras on the Net – history, facts, ideas, recipes, pictures etc.

DLTK Kids’ on Mardi Gras – there is a fun concentration game you can play online, and some coloring sheets to print at this site.

Here’s a video to enjoy of street musicians in New Orleans playing When the Saints Go Marching In – enjoy!

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Filed under Extension ideas for home, Fun Music and Activities for Families, Fun Videos/Songs, Parent-itis

Ahhhhh, God has given the wonderful gift of a snowed in Saturday. I should have been busy from early this morning accompanying high school students at the District XVII Solo and Ensemble Contest but, it was canceled due to our beautiful winter storm.

I have had a leisurely day of waffling back and forth between working and lazing on the couch reading a book under a quilt. There isn’t quite enough snow and ice for me to blow the entire day off because I know tomorrow we have to be back on schedule.

One of the things I have been working on is adding a couple of Valentine activities to the classes this week. I have pulled my books and appropriated which one is best for which class and am setting up play lists. As I was going through the books, I came across one of my very favorites. I believe every mother should own the book LOVE YOU FOREVER by Robert Munsch. However, I can promise you that I will never read this book aloud in class because I cannot get through it without tearing up and sniffling.

I also have found some great Valentine songs and activities at Kididdles . This website has printables, lyric sheets and sound files for many different themes and activities. It is a great resource for parents who need activities to do at home, homeschooling families, and teachers. The link can be found in the column to the right of this post.

Hannah is working on her Valentine Box for school this week. She also is doing homemade Valentines since we don’t really want to have to run to town today. We cut a sponge into a heart shape and she has stamped posterboard with paint made with the following recipe. She stamped one heart for each child in the class. As soon as they are dry she will cut them apart and print her name on the back of them.

Homemade Fingerpaints:

1 cup flour

2 TBLS Salt

1 1/2 cups cold water

1 1/4 cups hot water

food coloring

Put flour and salt into a saucepan. Add cold water and beat with whisk or eggbeater until smooth.

Add hot water and boil until mixture is thick.

Beat again until smooth.

Color as desired with food coloring. Cool to be able to touch (especially if using as finger paint). Spread or paint on posterboard or fingerpaint paper (the shiny backside of freezer paper works) and enjoy. Leftovers should be stored in the refrigerator. This recipe makes a lot – so you can divide it for multiple color choices.

I have updated the suggested book list to the right to reflect some of my favorite Valentine’s day choices. Enjoy!

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