Category Archives: Extension ideas for home

Tomorrow is Play In The Mud Day!

Tomorrow is International Mud Day! This is a day to celebrate getting dirty, enjoying digging and messing in the mud and having fun while learning. According to mud play benefits children in the following ways:

Mud play benefits children in three crucial ways:

  1. Squish, squirt, squash: Mud play offers unique tactile, sensory experiences that are vital to a child’s developing brain.
  2. As children run mud through fingers, scoop mud from containers, and create mud pies, they develop their hand-eye coordination and learn about cause and effect.
  3. Hold the hand sanitizer: Research shows that kids who play in dirt (including very wet dirt) develop stronger immune systems that can pave the way for better health throughout their adult lives.
  4. It’s Fun! 
For some practical mud play suggestions and tips, check out the Play-Based Classroom blog. These teachers have some great ideas.
Now I know in Southeastern Ohio it is supposed to be excruciatingly hot tomorrow. I say we take a lesson from the pigs and do some mud wallowing. According to, pigs roll in the mud to stay cool. Humans sweat to stay cool, but pigs don’t have very many sweat glands. Did you know that children do not sweat as much as adults and can get overheated because of that fact? They also choose mud because it protects from sunburn and bugs. AND, water in mud evaporates much more slowly than straight up water so it cools for longer. So, to enjoy some outdoor play, why not make a mud hole and have some fun? I do suggest still using sunscreen just to be safe.
After all your mud play is over, and everyone is squeaky clean again, how about a muddy meal for lunch or dinner. Try refried beans spread on corn tortillas (plant a “garden” by sprinkling on some lettuce and tomatoes – perhaps it could “rain” cheese), carrot stick shovels digging through hummus, and for dessert, chocolate pudding finger paint. Serve chocolate pudding on a plate and squish in it before licking it off fingers and palms. If you are really creative, and have lots of time make a dirt cake for dad or mom to enjoy when they return home from a long, boring day at work.
We won’t be able to play in the mud in class tomorrow – I don’t think the dance studio would like that much, but I hope to get dirty by weeding my flower beds after work.
Until next time – have fun!

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Filed under Extension ideas for home, Fun for adults, Parent-itis


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

October is Family Health Month

In addition to being Breast Cancer Awareness Month (super important – don’t forget your self-exams and regular mammograms!), it is also Family Health Month. This is a time to focus on the health and lifestyle of everyone in the family, even the smallest children. When the family can focus on health together, it becomes a great habit and not a source of contention and stress.

Sparkpeople, a health, fitness and weight loss site I use posted a calendar of thirty-one ways to be healthier as a family and work together this month. October Family Health Calendar Link (this is a .pdf so you will need Adobe Acrobat Reader to view it.) I have printed one for our family and am posting it on the refrigerator.

In addition, many of the things we do in Kindermusik benefit not only the child’s health and well-being, but the the parent’s as well. Here are some of my favorites:

1. Quiet Time/Rocking Time – 2-5 minutes a day spent sitting quietly and breathing deeply with no distractions can help with relaxation, reduction in stress, and improve mental focus. All of our home CDs provide excellent “quiet time” music to give a definitive time limit to the rest.

2. Dancing – physical activity of any kind is great. In fact, it has been proven that children who are more physically active do much better in school (see article here ). Dancing together as a family gets everyone up and moving. Not only are your moving, but I bet you will be smiling, touching each other, and enjoying one another’s company which also will increase your positive emotional and mental health as well. When singing songs such as If You’re Happy and You Know It, Ha Ha This Away or Jing Jang, you are also working on your child’s language and cognitive abilities while labeling motions and body parts. Again, the home CDs provide ample and varied musical selections for dancing.

3. Reading Together – Watch this video for great information about the importance of reading. The principles discussed are absolutely in line with what we know at Kindermusik as well. The books included with our home materials are colorful, repetitious and engaging which will attract the interest of the child over and over again.

There are so many other benefits to what we do. The great news is – it is not too late to enroll this semester and take advantage of the health benefits of Kindermusik. Why not sign up now? Mention this blog post and that you want to use Kindermusik as part of your commitment to Family Health and receive a free gift in addition to your home materials.

As always, if you are unsure – come to a free preview class first. Just comment on this blog post or email Miss Christa at or call 740 854 4011.

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Filed under Extension ideas for home, interesting news

Sunshine – one way or another

Wow – I cannot believe how much it has rained this spring. I don’t remember this many dark days during the months of April and May in a long time – if ever. It is easy, no matter your disposition to begin to feel a little dampened down by the inability to get outside and soak up some rays. It can be even more frustrating as the parent of a small child who needs to burn some energy, is tired, and cranky.

Here are some ideas to bring everyone some sunshiny days – even if it is raining outside:

1. Listen to Sunshine songs – There are lots of them for download at – the Mister Sun album is fantastic. Or, log into Pandora and create your own sunshine channel by adding song titles including sun words in the titles.

2. Now that you have your music – have a dance party. Nothing will perk you up and get you feeling better than some boogie-ing down around the house. Children LOVE to dance with their parents – so don’t just sit and watch – get up and move.

3. Make sunshine pictures. You can find many sunshine coloring by googling Sunshine Coloring pages. Or take a paper plate, color it bright yellow and draw on a face. Take it one step further, cut out eyes, nose and mouth to make a sunshine mask. Now you can sing “You Are My Sunshine” to each other.

4. Play Mr. Sun hide and seek – preschoolers love this game. Hide (or help your child hide) and then sing (or play a recording of the song) Mr. Sun as you are sought (or seek). Your child will be able to find you by listening for your voice (active listening skills are important to develop) and you can encourage their independent singing skills when he is the one who is hidden.

5. End the day with a sunshine dinner – some sunny food suggestions include: scrambled eggs (I don’t do sunny-side up ICK), yellow bell peppers, bananas, oranges, lemon jello, pineapple, grilled cheese (cheese is orange) etc.

6. Tuck in time – talk about fun things to do when it is really sunny outside and find out what your child is looking forward to being able to do. This will give you some great ideas – the sun has to come back sometime – right?

7. Join a Kindermusik class – we are having lots of fun in all our classes and the smiles and giggles are sure to brighten everyone’s day.

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Spring Is Coming – Use your senses!

As we approach spring, we anticipate new beginnings, new growth and new fresh starts. For me, the beginnings of longer days and flowers blooming is almost more a chance of starting over and refreshing than New Year’s Day in January. Maybe I just need lots of ‘restarting’ because I also feel this way about the start of a new school year as well.

Each season and time of the year offers some special for parents to do with their children. For many this has been a long winter of not being able to get outside, too much illness, cold, snow, ice and BLECH! As we start to have intermittent promises of nice days to come. Seize every opportunity to get outside – encourage your child to use all of his senses. Even the smallest babies can have their attention called to the bright sun, the blue sky, the green grass, smell the rain, the dirt, the flowers, listen to the birds, the wind, the rustle of the leaves, touch a raindrop, a new leaf, the warm (or cold) sidewalk. Many communities have farmer’s markets (I know Athens and Parkersburg do) check out what fresh produce is available in your area and taste the new produce as it is in season locally.

After these experiences, we know there are still going to be days of rain, cold, chill. Why not reproduce your outdoor experiences through reading books, pretend play, art work, or cooking?

I have found the more sensory experiences and interactions I have with children, the more I appreciate and see something new in the world as an adult. Use those senses and experience your own spring of renewal and regeneration!

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Filed under Extension ideas for home, Parent-itis, Personal Thoughts

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

Dance Party for learning and mood lifting

Movement is the key to learning. Our brains fully develop through movement activities such as crawling, rolling, turning, walking, skipping, reaching, swinging and much more. The brain has a plan for development that involves specific and intensive motor activities to make full use of our complicated nervous systems. If you want your child to learn a skill, create a way for them to move while doing it. Our daughter, Hannah, has spelling words every week. One way she likes to practice them is by bouncing a ball back and forth with one of us while saying a letter on each bounce.

Many parents will apologize to me in class that their toddler or preschooler will not sit down, sit still, just listen. That is fine with me. Just because I child is moving around through the room, doesn’t mean he isn’t listening, learning or observing. Many of these same parents have commented that the child then does something at home that we did in class, and they didn’t even think he was paying attention.

When I taught public school, we had a little boy in seventh grade who paid much better attention and was in far less trouble when given a stress ball to manipulate during classes such as English and math.

There is much research about the connection between moving and learning. A book I am currently reading is Smart Moves – Why Learning Isn’t All In Your Head by Carla Hannaford. Not only does moving help children learn, but it can also help concentration, behavior and mood. Is anyone surprised? I would say it isn’t just children that need to move but everyone.

I know where we live we have had a long winter of many snow days, bitterly cold days, days where the family is cooped up inside together. The temptation and tendency is to allow lots of television/movie watching, board game playing, book reading etc. None of these activities is bad – I’m not saying that at all. But, the less we move, the more irritable, bored and grumpy we get. Time to turn on the music and get us moving. It takes some coaxing – especially of the teenager – but it is so worth it. Getting the blood circulating, hearing some upbeat, lively music, and using our bodies as well as our brains soon gets everyone in better spirits, less bored and feeling better all around.

Here are some of my favorite family dance tunes:

Don’t Worry Be Happy, Surfin USA, If You’re Happy and You Know It, I’m a Believer.

If you need music for dancing, or ideas for new songs, why not check out for family friendly tunes. You can search by many different categories.

Just dance!

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Filed under Extension ideas for home, Parent-itis, Personal Thoughts