Monday, 20 June 2011


Things have been super busy around here as L's school has wound down for the summer.  This week is very exciting as on Thursday L and her Daddy leave for England!  They are going for his sister's wedding and then heading to Macedonia for a week to visit all of his relatives.

The reason I'm not going........I will be attending a two week Montessori Assistants course in Vancouver the exact same time they are gone.  Of course they only offer it once a year and it just happens to be the same time as the wedding.   After a lot of soul searching and discussions with hubby I decided to miss the wedding and go for the course.  This is something I really want to do and am very passionate about.
I am super excited and can't wait to soak it all up!  With L gone I won't be posting much for the next couple of weeks although I am bringing my computer with me so if there is something interesting in the course I want to share I can blog about it.

I'm also excited about being able to spend more time with L this summer.  I really miss our time doing activities and projects together and have lots planned for the rest of the summer.
Wishing all of you a happy and hot summer filled with family and friends.

Saturday, 18 June 2011

The Littlest Matryoshka

I just have to share this sweet little book that we've been reading called The Littlest Matryoshka.  It is about a set of six Matryoshka that have been lovingly crafted by a Russian doll maker and sent across the sea to a toy shop in America.  You can read more about the story and see some of the illustrations here.  This page also has some great thought provoking questions about the story.

L and I both love this story and have read it most nights before bed.  We found it at our local library and I would recommend it for all ages.

It has inspired her to get out her own set of Matryoshka to re-create the story and make up ones of her own.  I love how L plays on her own and really uses her imagination.  The other day my mom said she was playing in the sand box and chatting away when she got one of the small pails, brought it over to our dog Petra put it under her and then proceeded to pretend to milk her squirting noises and all!  My mom just about died of cuteness and the dog was a really good sport too!


Thursday, 9 June 2011

Driftwood Xylophone

Wee Folk Art recently posted this video on their Facebook page on how to make a driftwood xylophone.
It was a nobrainer that we HAD to try this out.
A few weekends ago L, Daddy and I went to the beach and tested out pieces of driftwood to see if they were resonant.  We collected them and lay them across two large logs.  Once we played them we sorted them out according to pitch putting the lowest at one end and the highest at the other.
Here is L rockin' out on our driftwood xylophone!  It sounded just like the one in the video!

I collected a few more pieces and we did this for music class this afternoon and made a huge xylophone with rolled up beach towels to go along with our study of African music.

Friday, 3 June 2011

World Music-Asia

 I've been teaching a Music Appreciation class at L's Montessori school this past year.  The children are ages 3 to 6.  Lately we have been studying music from the different continents.
For each "World Music Class" I ask one of the children to roll out a mat and another to place the colored globe on it.  I then ask another child to find the continent we are going to be studying on the globe.
I usually have three part cards prepared for the particular instruments from that continent or in this case country.  Since Asia is so big we have narrowed it down to the music of China for this year.
I presented instrument cards for the erhu, dizi, pipa, ruan and yang qin.  We talked about how they looked and their European counterparts.  We also listened to this gorgeous video which demonstrates all of the above instruments.  The children held up the appropriate card when they saw the instrument being played.
(photo from Google Images)

Years ago I was lucky enough to be given a dizi or Chinese flute from one of my students.  I was able to play a Chinese song on it for the children and then let them all try it out for themselves.

(photo from Google Images)

We also prepared for learning about music from Asia by first learning the notes of the major scale "do re mi fa sol la ti do".  The children are lucky enough to have a set of bells in the classroom so they are all familiar with the sound of the scale.  We also sang the song "Do a Deer".
 The pentatonic scale is made up of only five notes which are do re mi sol la.  This scale is used in folk music all over the world but when played you can really hear the distinct sounds used in Chinese and Asian music.  I first played the scale for the children on this little xylophone and then we sang it together. 

 I set up four work stations on different tables. The first was the xylophone with stars on the notes of the pentatonic scale.  The other two tables had five water glasses which had been pre-tuned to the pentatonic notes.  I drew little lines on the glasses with window crayons and the older children poured water to the lines.  We also had a station where we'd selected only the five bells from the pentatonic scale.  The children took turns at each station.  The collective sounds produced were beautiful and the head teacher (who was cleaning the washrooms at the time ) said it sounded like she was in China town. 
(hmm I've just noticed in this picture that someone has moved the stars around)
This was a simple and effective way for the children to hear and make the distinct sounds of the music from this continent.
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