Thursday, April 29, 2010

The Tykes!

I have a bunch of books full of resources and they're way fun. I've made some note cards with this set of information on them: The year group I think they'd work best with, the name of the song, the book title and page number, the classroom extension activities that could happen, the resources needed (i.e., percussion or props), and the learning objectives.

Some people have recipe folders. I have this.

Anyhow- something I should keep in mind for next time- when choosing the songs for that weeks lesson, try to make sure that they aren't just different words to the same tune...

Fortunately I caught that mistake and dodged that bullet before the lessons actually began for the day. What we *Actually* ended up doing was this:

We warmed up with our basic body warm up (I start by clapping or drumming on my knees to A: get their attention aurally and then switch to other actions/sounds to B: have them all sync up and watch ME.) We then went into singing a C Major triad. I actually hadn't tried this before, for some reason assuming that it would be too difficult or something weird like that. We sang with hand motions (belly= Do, chest=Mi, eyes=Sol, and above the head= Do again) and not only were they excellent with the pitch matching, they also LOVED it. I mostly had them going straight up the triad but they went along with me when I mixed it up a bit and kept saying "again! again!" when I tried to stop. We're calling that one a winner.

So then we got out a pretend kitten. A very small kitten. One of the things that I'm meant to be addressing with the tykes is their own creative response to music. So this was an attempt at that- what sounds do small kittens make? What other pets do any of you have? A dog? Big or small? Small? How does it sound? What about a Great Big Dog now? Any other pets?

Then we sang our hello song (that was a vocal warm up, btw- lots of different ranges and different types of voices) Then we sang it with various animal voices. The BEST ones? That hadn't even occurred to me as being a useful thing to do? Any animal with a staccato sound like a crocodile: "snap!" because that meant I could hear if they were doing it in the same rhythm as the song or not- and mostly? They were. Neat, huh?

With the nursery tykes we started a song called "Copy Cats." Now here is where we run into problems- you know my initial warm up? The clapping or knee slapping followed by quick changes in actions that they all have to follow at the same time? Yeah. They're very well trained. They're excellent at it. You know what that means for 3 year olds though? That they cannot *repeat* after me. If I'm leading something they can't echo- they just do it at the exact same time. The concept of echoing me is one that I have efficiently and effectively drummed out of them. Oops.

On the plus side it turns out that they can echo each other- so we spent some time doing that and that worked relatively well. They can echo each other now, but they still don't know how the song fits together. Is it bad that I am leaving that for the classroom teachers to deal with? "Here's the CD, guys. Have them learn the song! See you next week!"

The Reception tykes had their own challenges and victories. They're studying "Transport" this term so I found this fun song to the tune of "My Bonnie Lies Over The Ocean." Sample lyric:
"Oh have you been out in a sailboat
to float on the ocean so blue
where octopus live underwater
and dolphins swim following you
Sailboat, sailboat, oh come on a sail boat with me, with me
sailboat, sailboat; so many new places to see!"

Following versus include tube train, space ship and (oddly) big wheel.

In the first of my three Reception classes we used an activity rug as the boat and had children stand in for the sail, octopus, and 3 dolphins. They then moved when they heard their character's name when the rest of the class sang the song. It was a great hit and one of the children responded with "It's like a play!" Darn tootin' it is!

The reception classes have always had very different personalities so it should come as no surprise that the next class didn't even get to the acting it out stage. As soon as I was done singing/introducing the written verses to the song- the immediately started in with their own. We had a car that went over a bridge and under a tunnel, a bus that went in a tunnel and then home, and finally a burrowing car that went to the centre of the earth while being chased my ghosts and then shooting diagonally off into space. Admittedly that one didn't really end up fitting the tune...

The *third* reception class, on the other hand? They are spazalicious. We learned the song, tried the acting it out thing, and then gave it up for a lost cause and spent the 7 minutes or so practicing making a circle.

One FINAL story to end this epic tykes post:

"Miss Casey! We had jelly for lunch!" (Jelly, by the way, means Jell-O) The tykes are roughly belly height and because this is garden time this means that I had about five tykes hanging off of me.
"Was it all wobbly like my belly?" I ask, because this allows me to shake off at least two of them.
"Miss Casey? My Mommy's belly is big like yours too!"

Yeah. I totally walked into that one.

Tuesday, April 20, 2010

Friedrich: The Grumpy Garden Gnome

One of the fun parts of being home is finding old school work. This was written during my first semester at Interlochen and though it doesn't have a date on it, it must have been written in either late 2001 or early 2002.

The pedestrians usually stayed across the street where there was one perfectly tended garden left to gaze at and compliment. But this pair was different. The small one grabbed the larger one's hand and rushed over to Friedrich.

They had placed him on a cement block in the corner of the garden, now overgrown with weeds, and had long since forgotten about him. He was the only lawn ornament save for the tire, which was nearly covered by the tall grasses.

The neighborhood had deteriorated quickly once Friedrich had been placed on the cement brick. The once neatly tended houses, manicured gardens, and freshly painted white picket fences gave way to peeling paint, broken down cars jacked up on cinder blocks, and chain fences that kept the dogs in their own yards. Friedrich felt responsible for this, as though his own inadequacies had spread across the entire street.

He felt guilty, moped, and, with time, just became angry at himself, at the world, at anything that moved, at the weeds that at least were covered when the snows came, at anything that was purple, and most especially at all pedestrians. It wasn't the joggers that made him so angry; the ones that really got to Friedrich were the strollers. Those people who walked calmly and slowly, talking about the weather or spreading gossip. Yes, it was the people who walked that pained him.

It was usually late spring when the walkers began to emerge and take over the sidewalks in force; bundled up in warm jackets with racing stripes that matched their shoes, out of shape and breathing heavily from their winter with no physical activity.

This small one though, had a pink tutu coming out from underneath a purple coat and blue sweat pants, so that it orbited her like rings around a planet. She tugged her mother's hand, let go, and poked Friedrich's nose.

"I like this one, Mommy," she said, and squatted in front of Friedrich so that the back of the tutu sat in a muddy puddle on the sidewalk. "Can I have it? It can come play in my room with Rachel and Celery and Petunia and my other dolls and we could call him Marvin and have tea parties and chocolate and cookies?" The girl's mother looked at the boarded up windows and the "For Rent" sign. She took a moment to wrestle with the idea of taking an abandoned garden gnome, decided that it didn't hurt any of her principles, bent down and picked Friedrich up by the pointy hat.

Friedrich attempted to squirm out of her grasp, but realized that he was made from molded plastic and couldn't move. The tutu clad girl cradled Friedrich in her arms and walked with her mother back to their home where Friedrich was dropped onto a pile of clothing in a closet.

Friedrich took a moment to consider his new situation and then began to despair; it was only a matter of time until this closet too began to deteriorate. The fluffy stuffed animals would give way to boxes of makeup and nail polish, the framed finger paintings would move to make room for posters of rock bands and the pink tutu would be stuffed into a box, a box which Friedrich was almost certainly headed towards as well, and then the box would be given away and he would once again be placed on a cement block and watch his new neighborhood disfigure itself. Friedrich wondered if he was a negative gnome.

Saturday, April 17, 2010


There's this giant volcano in Iceland, I don't know if you've heard about it? In anycase, it's preventing all SORTS of flights from going anywhere. So I called the airlines this morning (yes, that was plural- don't you just love code shares?) and spent over an hour combined on hold for various different phone lines.

Right, point being- the next available flight (assuming the volcano has stopped blowing up) is on April 25th. So I'm signed up for that one. Woo!

Monday, April 12, 2010

Springtime in Seattle

The weather has been so very obliging since I've been here. Aside from a few random hail storms (what?) and the ubiquitous rain- there has been brilliant sunshine at times and the cherry trees are in full bloom and the moss is growing all over everything and there are banks filled with daffodils. I love spring. Especially in Seattle with all the lilac trees and people out on their bikes taking! advantage! of! the! SUN!

We're getting some good work done: Laine is moved out of her apartment and in LA currently and my folk's basement is starting to look different and like there is real progress being made. I've made four or five trips to Goodwill with my van completely packed. We've done one recycling trip to the dump, a bunch of trips to the storage units, and we have a *system* in place- which makes all of the process geeks in my family happy.

Something about this whole project has made me very spacially unaware though- I've managed to seriously bang up my head multiple times. On Thursday I smacked a piece of wood into my temple, hit my head seven times on my sister's dining room lamp, and then banged the back of my head on the headboard of her bed. On Friday I cut my hand on a picture frame. On Saturday I amassed a bunch of random bruises all over my body, and today cut my ankle on a bookshelf and dropped a typewriter on my foot.

Safety first, Miss Casey. Safety first.

Thursday, April 8, 2010

Easter et al

I know Easter was nearly a week ago, but I'm still excited about the flurry of cooking that went along with it- so in order to brag about tasty food- I'm just going to write about it here. Hmmph.

I spent Easter weekend at my friend Gwen's house where her flatmate Hanna was moving out and Gwen was moving into Hanna's old room. So in addition to the flurry of cooking we also did quite a lot of packing and lifting and moving and whatnot. It was good times.

When Gwen and I get together we tend to make elaborate meals followed by elaborate deserts. I am confident and happy to experiment and just play with cooking, but baking freaks me out. Gwen is, happily, opposite. So she helps me with the cakes, and I help her with the dinners.

On Friday we made pizza. Originally we were going to make the dough and everything but technology (read: the internet) got in the way so instead we just made tasty toppings. On one pizza: sauteed onions, peppers, mushrooms, and fresh mozerrella. On the other pizza: carmelized red onions, mushrooms, spinach, and goat's cheese. Cake: red velvet with cream cheese frosting (Also, shockingly, an entire bottle of red food was...bright).