Holiday Thank You Cards as a Family Ritual

Gratitude is a gift you give back lovingly, not a chore to be forced.   SO, how can we, as parents, set this up for success for our children to take on this task with pride and wholeness of heart?   We make it into a full family ritual, complete with sounds, smells, tastes, and a Thank You Card (or Method) that incorporates their personality and their abilities.  Make sure to do it each year the week after Christmas, or the Hanukka events, or whatever holiday you celebrate, and it will be a cherished memory, and a lifelong tradition they can share with their children.  When done with love, it helps them embrace an important life skill: an attitude of gratitude.

Although it will take some prep time on your part (see below), when your family sits down to complete the task, make it special, and give it plenty of time.  

  • SOUND:  Put on some enjoyable Winter Music, or some of your favorite children’s Christmas songs, or music specific to your holiday.  Our family’s favorite is the Charlie Brown Christmas album (LOVE that JAZZ).  Or the Winter Wonderland album.   NOTE:  The title song is a FREE DOWNLOAD during December, a special gift from Kindermusik International.
  • TASTE:  Serve hot chocolate, or spiced cider, and a few nibbler treats to munch on (choose to serve before, during, or after, based on what works best for your family.)  Many times, we are still working on finishing off our Gingerbread houses.  
  • SMELL:  Add a delightful aroma with some of your favorite candles or essential oils of the season.  This year, a special family gave me a “Twisted Peppermint” candle – a perfect addition to our tradition.
  • TOUCH:  Set up the table with all the things you need to make this successful and free of stress.

First, consider the best method that YOUR child will enjoy to make MULTIPLE  Thank You cards.  Take into account their ability level, and their personality.   Each one of these activities allows the child to share a bit of themselves in a way that makes them feel special for “giving back”, without overwhelming them with the task.  Combine the ideas, and make them your own.  If you have any of your own, please add them in the comment section.

PICTURES:  For a baby or any child who is not yet able to write, take a photograph of the child with the objects given to them by each specific person/family.  They may be wearing the new outfit, or playing with the toy, or even sleeping with it under their arm.  This can be emailed with a quick note, or printed and sent by mail with a handwritten note below the picture, or on the back.  IF gifts are given personally, it is an awesome memory to take a picture of the giver, the child, and the gift while they are together.  For your child, when they are ready, it is a great idea to have a picture of each family and friend in a photo album that is easy for them to use.   Review these family photos, and talk about which person gave them which gift, and maybe help them remember some details of that family member.   These pictures can be looked at again and again, with stories weaved in to make the family tapestry strong.  BOTH my children repeatedly sought out and  lingered over family pictures in their baby books – mesmerized as young children are with faces.  As they got older, we had to call each one… even if just to listen to the other family member talk.

Thank You stampINK STAMPS:   There is an amazing array of stamps on the market now because of Scrapbooking.   For children able to use stamps (but not write well), get a STAMP with their NAME on it.  For the very young, you may use a self inking stamp (to avoid patches of ink everywhere), but the regular stamps offer more of a variety with children just a bit older.   Ink pads come in a variety of colors, so get a few of their favorites, and let them choose which color to use.  Or, of course, you can have them use their markers to color the stamp any way they want, and then stamp it on the paper.  You may even take them to the store, to choose a few stamps that reflect their interests, ie. trains, animals, or royal accessories.   Cut a sheet of card stock into four postcards and let them decorate both sides with their “personality stamps” and their NAME stamp on ONE side at the BOTTOM, and let dry.  Parents can write the address on one side, and on the side with the name, a quick note commenting on how their child reacted to the gift.   If they are starting to write, you may have them write just the NAME of the person it is for.  Help them “picture” the person in their head by showing pictures, or telling stories of fun times they had together.

COPY ART / SIMPLE THANK YOU:  Maybe your child can trace or write THANK YOU ! and their NAME, and add their own art work to a sheet of paper.  This page can be color copied, as many as you need, full size, or even half size on the top of a full sheet of paper, allowing the parents to add a few handwritten details at the bottom. 

FORM LETTERS:   For those children who are able to write a bit, but get bogged down in the repetitiveness of the Thank You note, appreciate having a Form letter with many of the words already written.   This can easily be done on the computer by the parent, or even better, the parent and child working together to design it.  A normal Word document with expanded margins, with two columns, on a horizontal page can fit FOUR “postcards”.  See, or even USE my sample.

Dear _________________,                                                                                            December 2011

Single Snowflake

 

Like a single snowflake, you are unique,

and you have brightened my world with

the gift of your friendship.

I especially want to thank you for

_____________________________

_____________________________

_____________________________

The world is a more beautiful place because of you !

May your new year be filled with beautiful unique adventures!

                                                                                  __________________,      ___________

Cora (almost 8 years old) wanted a snowflake this year, so we found a good image online and we worked on the words together.  She can, and would be willing to write this ONCE, but would fight tooth and nail if she had to write it multiple times.  Once printed and cut into postcards, she can personalize each one by just writing the NAME of the person, and the gift received, as well as a short comment about her reaction to it.  Then she can decide how to end it, and add her name.   Actually, she is choosing to cut each postcard a little smaller and send each one in an envelope this year, along with a paper snowflake that she has cut out herself (a good use for all the snowflakes that seem to be multiplying at my house.)

Even my 16 year old son, James, likes using the Form Letter format.  He just types in the information instead of leaving blanks.  This is only for the family and friends who don’t use text messaging… the current means of ANY communication for a teenager.  Handwriting, as I am told, is no longer used to communicate.  Except, as I tell him, for those few family members who consider his handwriting a treasure of their own.

SHORT & SWEET VIDEO:  For all the drama kings and queens out there, especially those with parents who have access and knowledge of video taking and sharing, there is ALWAYS the personal Thank You video.  Cora got one of her wishes fulfilled when Grammy sent her matching outfits for her and her American Girl doll.  Within the hour, She had to put the outfits on both her and her doll, then pose for pictures, and showcase her gift and her appreciation via a short video taken on my smartphone and texted to Grammy.   Then we called her to make sure she got it, and they had a grand discussion.  YES, she will still be sending a Thank You card in the mail because these things mean a lot to Grammy.  But the immediate nature of communication these days offers a LOT of options ! 

Whereas, my teenage son won’t even let me take a picture of him.  What is up with that ??!!

PLEASE share your ideas for Holiday Thank You Methods with me as well !

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Top 5 Gifts of Music

“I LOVE Music !” your child says, whether with words, or with their body when music is playing and when enjoying an instrument,  or with their facial expressions when you are singing with them.  If they could, they might tell you their top 5 gifts of music like this.

Baby FamilyI love to listen in the car, and sing along with the fun songs.  I love to make music with my instruments, and anything else I can bang on or shake ! Most of all, I love it when my family and I enjoy music activities together:

 
lap bounces with daddy like “Giddy Up A-Horsie”, dancing with scarves with mommy, and circle dances like “Ring Around the Rosie”… 
 
More, please.  Let’s do it again !
 
boy interacts with musicResearch shows that music activates my whole brain, enhancing ALL my learning right now,  and building a strong foundation for all my future learning.    My brain is always searching for patterns that help the world make sense, and music is full of patterns.  My brain learns best when comparing opposite concepts, and music is full of contrasts.  My brain learns best when NEW things catch my interest, and is followed by many repetitions to help keep strong what I have learned.   
 
More, please.  Let’s do it again !
 
girls eyesIf I could, I would tell you that the gift that would mean most to me,
the one that will fill more of each of my days with fun and learning,
the one that will last the longest, and make marvalous memories,
….
is the Gift of Music !

 
…………

 

My TOP 5 Gifts of Music
 
Classes - girl#1 – Kindermusik makes it fun and easy for me and my family to learn new songs and music activities, and gives us all the materials to keep the fun and learning going at home, and in the car !   And it makes me feel so good because Mrs. Debbie thinks I’m so unique and wonderful, and helps me learn in my own way.  
 
There are so many programs, for infants up to 7 years old, available in the Spring Semester starting in Feb.  But we don’t have to wait, let’s visit a class in January.  Check out the details on Kindermusik Gift Certificates, and about the Kindermusik Payment Plans
 
 
#2 – It is so much fun to unwrap and explore new  musical Instruments !
Mrs. Debbie recommends these shopping places:
  • The ONLINE Kindermusik Store has LOTS of great music, instruments, scarves, and even sets (best prices!).  Please “tell” them that Mrs. Debbie sent you by entering her educator code, #15788, at checkout.
  • At the studio, Mrs. Debbie has a limited supply of integrated music sets (that means CDs, books, instruments, props and more that ALL connect on a specific theme that kids LOVE.)  Click the yellow link, or contact Debbie for more details.
  • Boomwacker girlMusic for Little People has the best, most expansive collection of musical stuff for our young children.  Mrs. Debbie could get in a LOT of trouble here! 
  • Locally, there are several great music stores.  Did you know Brooke Potteryalso has a nice small selection?
  • Mrs. Debbie’s Advice: choose instruments your child can be successful with.   Some instruments, like a violin or guitar, are best considered with recommendations for the right size and quality, as well as lessons from a music educator.
#3 – I would LOVE to learn songs about things I am interested in !!!
SweetPea3On play.kindermusik.com, there are hundreds of songs , stories, and music to choose from.  AND, there is a way to SEARCH for songs about the things I like most, like TRAINS, CARS, ANIMALS, Princesses, or growing a garden.      It is easy to download these songs, and the first 10 credits are free when you log in.   Families enrolled in a Kindermusik class not only get the CDs, but they can dowload all the music from the class for FREE, along with MORE fun activities that are part of the semester. 
 
 Need something that is easy, durable, and safe for me to use to listen? Check out this cool SweetPea3 MP3 player
 
#4 –  I think I’m READY for music lessons! 
Am I ready to sit down one-on-one with a teacher for a specific instrument? 
Or will I learn best how to read and write music, and play instruments, through singing, moving, and playing games, which will get me READY for more formal lessons?   
Better talk to Mrs. Debbie and Mrs. Tiffany, to see what is best for me at this time. 
  • Kindermusik for the Young Child (ages 5 – 7) with Mrs. Debbie
  •  InTune Studios offers: Private lessons on the piano, violin, flute, guitar, or voice
    •  Art’Sing – unique program with group voice, acting, dance, and art
      • there is an Afterschool version that can include Martial Arts ! 
    • ART classes are available for toddlers, preschoolers, and elementary ages 
 #5 – The Greatest Gift is Musical TIME with YOU and ME

I really like to hear you sing to me, teach me the songs you grew up with, tell me rhymes while I bounce on your knees, pull out the pots and pans and tell me what beautiful music I am making, help me make homemade music instruments, dance with me with music that’s got a groove, and rock me to sleep with the most soothing lullabies.   It’s a gift you can give everyday, and it doesn’t cost a thing, except your time. 

More music, please.  Let’s do it Again !

What GIFT of music are you giving YOUR child or family this year?  Please share !

Local Treasures – Holiday Events for 2011

It is hard to find a good listing of ALL the wonderful local holiday events for Lakeland, FL, in one place.  It has actually taken a good bit of research and even some phone calls to compile this list of what I consider “must-do” holiday events coming up in Lakeland or nearby.  I WISH I could do all of them, but I will have to CHOOSE wisely !  Oh, decisions… decisions… 

PLEASE ADD your favorites as well in the comments so others can be aware.  That’s how I found out about two of these the last time I did this.  Click on the blue links for more information and pictures.  I’d add pictures, but then it’d be too long.  This way you can copy, paste, print, and hang it on the fridge !

I hope your holidays are filled with joy and special moments with your family …  and maybe even with our local treasures. 

Featured Events with Music Connections & InTune Studios

Winter Wonderland Kindermusik Playdate – Sat., Dec. 3rd,  9  OR  10 am

        at the Bay Street Bistro, where we will enjoy a Wonderful Waffle Bar  Breakfast

“As cold winds blow and bring us snow…”  Our musical adventures include snowy fun: snowflakes fall,  snow balls abound, snowmen are created and come to life, jingle bells ring, and the room turns into an ice skating rink. 

Check out the music on the Winter Wonderland Album.  As soon as you register, you’ll recieve a code to download the music  right away, and a Kindermusik jingle bell awaits your attendance.  Then after class, you can head to the downtown Snowfest.

 

A Whoville Christmas  –  Sun.,  Dec. 11,   5:30 – 6:30 pm

Dixieland Village is being transformed into Whoville, full of Whopeople, Whoscenes, Whostuff, and  delightful Whoville Christmas entertainment.  Our Art’Sing students are eager to share their set designs, costumes, and performance of “A Whoville Christmas”.  Other holiday musical gems will be performed by the InTune Studios students.  You can also catch the “Whoville”  performance (without the set)  at the downtown Holiday Walkabout on Nov. 29th.

Treasured Annual Lakeland Events

Public Ice Skating   Nov. 18 – Dec. 19  (see times)    –  The Lakeland Center

Get in the winter mood with some chilly fun.  Good Luck, and Be Careful !

Holiday Walk-a-bout  – Nov. 29 ,  6 – 9 pm                – Downtown Lakeland

Downtown Lakeland celebrates the holidays with shopping, dining, music,  horse-drawn wagon rides and more!  Holiday music from many area schools and churches create a festive atmosphere.  Visit Santa at Tougie Baby on South Kentucky Avenue.  PLEASE COME SEE Our Young Voices students from InTune Studios performing “Whoville Christmas”.   

Christmas Parade – Thursday, Dec. 1st   – 7 pm           – Downtown Lakeland

Get your seat early as the parade consisting of about 100 floats will set off from the Lakeland Center and wind through Downtown.  Roads will begin closing at 5:30.  Fireworks over Lake Mirror at 7:00 to start the parade.

Cookies & Carols  at First Friday, Dec. 2,  6 – 9 pm     –  Downtown Lakeland

Downtown continues the holiday festivities with holiday music and entertainment, visits with Santa and so much more.

Lights of Lakeland – Dec 2 – 4 & 9 – 11 – 6:30 – 9 pm   –  Highland Park Church

Lakeland’s largest lighted Christmas event boasts of 9 Scenes, including a walk through Bethlehem with live animals, and even SNOW in Florida !

Snowfest – Saturday, Dec. 3    10:00 am – 2 pm.        – Lake Mirror Promenade

A Holiday Event for the Entire Family featuring Snow Mountain, a rock climbing wall, photos with Santa, live entertainment and more!  The festival is open to all.  The cost for admittance onto Snow Mountain for a few minutes play is a can of tuna for the food bank (or $1), and other activities may include a ticket price.  This is totally lacking online info, but I called to make sure !

Colonial Christmas – Sat., Dec. 3,  6  pm    –  Kingscliff – Lake Hollingsworth

Geneva Classical Academy Event:  Experience the Holiday Celebrations of America’s Founding Fathers at a Lake Hollingsworth mansion.  90 minutes of interactive 18th century dancing, tavern fare, theatre and games.  Phone: (863) 644-1408

Santa’s Calling  –  Tuesday, Dec. 6   5:30 pm

Arrange for your child to receive a special telephone call from Santa!!  Print Santa’s Calling Form, then return the completed form to a city Parks & Rec. location (mail, fax, or deliver) by Dec. 5.  The questions are interesting.

Sounds of the SeasonsDec. 9 – 11 (check times)  

Lakeland Community Theatre at the Lake Mirror Complex:    A musical family event to celebrate the Holiday Season featuring 12-piece pit orchestra, as well as talented singers and dancers.  Call:  863-603-7529

Treasured Nearby Weekend Events

Cannonball Christmas ExpressSat & Sun in Nov & Dec        – Tavares, FL

Get into the holiday spirit on board the Orange Blossom Cannonball Christmas Express for a magical trip to the North Pole.   Take a real train ride in vintage coaches pulled by our 1907 steam locomotive as we travel to our destination singing Christmas songs and enjoying a cup of hot chocolate and cookies. Santa will board the train at the North Pole to visit with kids of all ages and present each child with a gift.

Tea with Mrs. SantaSaturdays throughout Dec.                – Auburndale, FL

Make arrangements with friends to enjoy a Christmas Tea Party in Auburndale.  Mrs. Clause is there to read stories and take pictures with your little ones.  Upstairs there is a place for decorating Gingerbread houses (graham crackers).  Limited seating means no overcrowding.  Magnolia Tea Room.  CALL for reservations:  (863) 965-1684

Christmas Notes – Sat, Dec. 17,   5 – 8 pm.    –  Homeland Heritage Park, FL

Polk County Parks & Recreation invites you to the annual Christmas Notes. Join us for a Frontier Christmas and explore the historic Homeland Heritage Park.  Activities include cookie decorating, photos with Santa, a caroling hayride, live music and entertainment, inflatable bounce houses, refreshments, and food vendors.  Most activities will be free to the public.   Phone: (863) 534-3766.  At the website, look for contest coloring page & festival info. to download  in pdf format.

Christmas at Bok Tower Gardens – ongoing                            – Lake Wales, FL

Coordinate your Guided Winter Walk with one of the Holiday Film Series for children, and the Seasonal Carillon Music concerts.    Make it on Sat, Dec. 17,  1 – 4 pm, and get the chance to “decorate a tree with naturally tasty garlands and gifts for our feathered friends.”, and hear the George Jenkins HS Golden Harmony Show Choir.

Grateful for Local Treasures

As I look around this holiday season, I am looking with a new perspective.  Looking past the glitter and hype, I am extremely GRATEFUL to find myself surrounded by so much personal talent, passionate interests, and dedicated hard-working people in my community.   Looking past the mass produced objects, and chain services, I find my neighbors putting their hearts and all their energy in their creations or services.

I LOVE walking around the local produce stands, or the downtown market, gathering fresh local produce, and getting to know the stories of those who live close to the land.  It is fascinating to hear how the weather has affected certain crops, or to taste the difference between varieties of local honeys: Orange Blossom, Wildflower, Tupelo, Florida Clover, etc.  

I enjoy catching the enthusiasm of my friends as they passionately share stories about their unique services: a community art teacher and vocal instructor who pair up to create a weekly experience that includes group voice, artistic set designs, costumes, choreography, acting and more;  a mother who loves to make unique hair bands and bows for her baby and delights in developing new styles to sell to other families;  a private restaurant owner who truly listens to his customers, and continues to make changes that reflect their preferences.

In this gift giving season, I have been struck by a new focus:   When we purchase objects and services that are created and offered by local people, they become treasured thoughtful gifts for our loved ones, as well the gift of support in our own little piece of the world.  I would go so far as to say that the economy of the USA depends upon recognizing the value of the contributions of our local talent.  So when purchasing gifts this holiday season, I am making sure to consider gifts that capture the bounty offered by those who are nearby.   

Ask about Gift Certificates

I have found that some of my favorite local service providers offer gift certificates when asked:  hair stylist, massage therapist, car detail shop, local golf course (my hubby will like that one).  My mom would LOVE the services of a local cleaning lady for a day.

Grandparents often are grateful to hear suggested “gifts” that will last over time, like gift certificates for weekly lessons from a dedicated community educator in areas like music, art, martial arts, etc.   AND, it is fun to pair that with an instrument, or supplies to enjoy unwrapping, that can be found through these educators, or they might recommend items from local shops.  (And yes, I do offer personalized gift certificates for Kindermusik semesters, as well as some unique gift sets this year.)

Wherever I go, I seek out unique owner-run restaurants.  I am fascinated to see exactly what I will get when I order a chili relleno – same name and general idea, yet sooo many ways to prepare it.  I LOVE finding little places that serve the BEST food, with the BEST attitude.  The gift certificates may not be displayed for all to see, but are usually available when requested.

Of course, I have always LOVED listening to live music, and I enjoy many types of concerts.  But this year, I have come to fully appreciate listening to local musicians in a toned down atmosphere, like the wine bar nights offered at local restaurants.  Just this weekend, we enjoyed “Billy Needs a Beard” at the Bay Street Bistro.  On other nights, we have truly enjoyed the unique versions of songs played by Brian Sutherland and his group (I love it when they bring out the cello and stand up bass), and the original music by Derik Thomas – a 17 year old Harrison student with talent in abundance.  This is an easy gift for my friends… “Meet me for a bottle of wine and some fabulous music…”  Their gift for me is simply their company.  And we leave a good tip for our musician and restaurant friends.

For those folks on my holiday list that live far away, I find it fun to send them something that is uniquely local, like the honey I was talking about earlier, alligator jerky, a box of oranges, or a piece of art gathered locally at art or music festivals.  I’m always astonished at what can be found.   

Just a few weeks ago, at the River Hawk Music Festival, it was so much fun to explore the unique creations of Florida artisans.   A Naples man was selling seashells that he makes into musical instruments.  What I loved was the story of his discovery.  From the shore, he saw some dolphins in the gulf, and wanted them to come closer.  Already familiar with how to make a whistling sound with an acorn cap, he found a shell on the beach, and adapted the technique to whistle through the shell to call out to the dolphin as he waded into the water.  It worked, and the dolphins were curious enough to come close enough for him to touch.  Ever since then, he has passionately explored the sounds that can be derived from making and playing Seashell Music.    Yes, my husband found them first, and was smart enough to buy a set of them as gifts for me !  But he’s not really good about keeping secrets, and knew that part of the gift is the story, and made sure to introduce me to the artist.

No matter where you are, THESE KINDS OF PEOPLE are in abundance.  This is the heart of our community.   Seek them out!  Talk to them!  Become a part of the pulse in your little piece of the world, and the benefits will come back around in ways we can’t imagine.

Sometimes, though, they are hard to find.  Most of the time, we simply hear about them from local folks who have stumbled across them, and found a true treasure.  So PLEASE SHARE !  I would love to see a wealth of sharing of the unique treasures that can be found in Lakeland, FL, Polk County, and surrounding areas.

Hands On Play with Pumpkins

At the beginning of October, I set out to find just the right real Pumpkins for my annual Pumpkin Party !   This year, I had a new goal, to find a variety of sizes, from very small to very large.  I was led, in part by a desire to demonstrate a growing pumpkin in the field as I read “The Biggest Pumpkin Ever” by Stephen Kroll.   And, as I, and my students, continued to explore the opportunities of playing with real pumpkins, there was so much more that we learned with these unique vegetables.

I LOVE the book, “The Biggest Pumpkin Ever” by Stephen Kroll because of the story line, AND how easy it is to make the book come alive.  I love the story of two separate characters who work hard, over time, to make their hopes come true.  It is an excellent example of the work and persistence needed to grow something in a garden.  And I LOVE how they handle the conflict when they discover that someone else is involved with the SAME pumpkin.   The book often switches between day and night, and it adds a fun visual element, when reading it, to turn the light on and off in coordination with these changes.  This year, I opted for storytelling instead of reading.   The class was divided, one half was invited to be the country mice, and the other half to be the country mice, and each side had their turn to come up to the pumpkin and pull weeds, water it, etc.   And, yes, it was fun to switch out a smaller pumpkin for a slightly larger one along with each change in the book.  The best part was watching the looks on their faces as I rolled out the BIGGEST PUMPKIN EVER  (at least the biggest pumpkin I could find in town).  WOW !

Then I brought out ALL the pumpkins, from small to large, and we had fun rolling them all around our circle of friends.  “Roll that Pumpkin round the Town”.   Pumpkins offer a variety of sizes, of texture, and of weight that is not offered with typical ball play.  The children were challenged to use their muscles differently with each size pumpkin; gently for the smaller ones, up to a LOT of effort for the BIG ones.  It was fascinating to see them tackle this challenge.  And I marveled at the science they were learning through these hands on explorations. 

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During the next three weeks of  our regular classes, we put out Ms. Debbie’s Pumpkin Patch for gathering time in each of my Kindermusik classes (ages range from infants up to 7 years old).  This basket was filled with small and medium pumpkins, as well as hand sized bells in the shape of pumpkins, and our round wooden clackers.  The bigger pumpkins were rolled out separately.   ALL could be rolled between family,  and friends, instigating some fun social interactions.  This variety gave them the opportunity to figure out which ones made sounds, and which didn’t; which ones they could pick up, which ones just had to be rolled, and which were just too heavy to move. 

It was fun to watch each child reveal their preferences, whether they enjoyed the sound makers, or the small pumpkin rolling activities, or if they liked the challenge of the BIG pumpkins.  For some, the challenge was finding a way to sit on it, some wanted to see how much they could stack on it, some just HAD to make it MOVE, or learn the easiest way to roll it to a friend.  Some just wanted to pose for pictures !  I hope you enjoy the slide show as much as I do !

My Pumpkin Patch Basket also included some pumpkin accessories, a set of pumpkin glasses, large felt pumpkins with Peek-a-Boo holes, some pumpkin shaped cookie cutters, and a pumpkin decorated popper (a round rubber toy that you set up on the ground and let it pop up.)   This offered a wider variety of explorations to meet the needs of each child where they were at that time.  Some enjoyed peek-a-boo games.  Older children had fun BEing the pumpkin !  Some just liked playing with the basket.

In the distant past, my perspective of pumpkin fun, the actual USE of pumpkins, was limited to decorating the outside of it, decorating WITH them, or enjoying the gooey pleasure of cutting it, emptying it, and carving a design in it.  (I’m not a fan of pumpkin foods.)  Making a real Jack-o-Lantern is fun, and young children can help with some aspects, but it is not really an appropriate activity for very young children.  And they can’t play with it afterwards.    

"push..."

Although, I must admit, each year I am highly humored at some of the unique works created by pumpkin artists.  My favorite this year was this “pumpkin birth”.  It came across my Facebook feed, and I just had to share.  Now that’s creative !

I did not fully plan, or expect, where the unique explorations of our pumpkin patch would lead us.  Each year that I have held a musical Pumpkin Party, I have learned NEW and fun ways to explore pumpkins and the themes that surround them.   This year, the fun of playing with real pumpkins, uncut, has really burst out of the box.  I LOVE the way children help me expand my perspective.   I look forward to seeing what I will learn next year !

Please SHARE your unique brand of pumpkin fun with us !

Party with the Pumpkins – Fourth year

WOW !  Pumpkins have such a wide variety of possibilities !  I’m SURE the first person to find a pumpkin never imagined how much fun they could be.    This is our FOURTH year to Party with the Pumpkins and Mrs. Debbie !    With a review of my blog postings of the past, I have found a treasure trove of fun pumpkin play for everyone.  But for my special Pumpkin Parties,  I love to keep things fresh, and I have a lot of new material to add to the mixture of music, activities and crafts to share.  

First, enjoy some pumpkin fun, and get pump-ed up for the season’s best by reviewing the music, activities, and links on my previous posts:  Pumpkins aren’t just for Halloween

pumpkin patch

Then, Enroll right away for our pumpkin event.  Plan to Plump up with your favorite pumpkin wear (even if it is just a pair of pumpkin decorated socks), and join us for:

The Annual Pumpkin Party, on Saturday Oct. 8th

at InTune Studios, 1037 S. Florida Ave. Suite 125, in Lakeland

9:30 am. – For BABIES up to 2 years old 

10:30 am.  For FAMILIES with children from 1 – 7 years old (age flexible, just ask)

I am so excited to add the new “pumpkin party” just for babies.  I have not had them separate before, and the typical family party is not BEST suited for the little ones.  I’ve been having so much fun developing a curriculum with songs, activities, and crafts that will make this a special celebration of the season for families with babies – during the class, and for many weeks to follow.

AND, the Pumpkin Party for families is getting totally re-plumped with new material.  Kindermusik’s music download site, play.kindermusik.com, has been inspiring.  There are not necessarily a lot of songs specifically about pumpkins, but Mrs. Debbie’s brain just starts buzzing with ideas as I pour over the wealth of music found there !  The songs we use will be fun with the themes I have planned for our pumpkin play, and the music will outlive the pumpkin phase, offering fun and memories with the ever evolving themes of childhood.  The crafts will be a fun addition to your season’s decorations, and will become props for continued play at home.

The themes planned for this year’s Pumpkin Party include:

  • Planting and Growing Pumpkins
  • Pumpkin Patch Creatures
  • Pumpkin Play
  • Dancing Pumpkins
  • Pumpkins in the Kitchen, from carving, baking seeds, and making pumpkin pie
  • Pumpkin Head Scarecrows
  • Decorating Pumpkins
  • The beautiful glow of pumpkins at night

Of course, I always plan too much for our limited time, but our party evolves according to the people who come to play.  Whoooo will come and join me???

Enroll right away so I can prepare effectively for our fun event.  PLUS, as soon as you enroll, I will send an email with a Playlist, and a download code, so you can start listening to the music right away.  You and your children can become familiar with the songs by the time the class starts, making the event ever so much more engaging. 

Enroll ONLINE for the Pumpkin Party for Babies, just $20.   While there, you might also take advantage of the discounts for an extra class, and enroll for the November Winter Wonderland as well.

Enroll ONLINE for the Pumpkin Party for Families.   $20 for first child,  $10 for each sibling 1-5 yrs.  includes craft items.  Again, while there you might take advantage of the discounts for an extra class, and enroll for one or more of the upcoming events:  November’s Winter Wonderland (snow and holiday play); or December’s GingerBread Party.

You can also enroll by contacting Debbie at musiconnx@att.net

How does YOUR FAMILY  have fun with pumpkins during this season ???  Please share !

The Old Woman in a Shoe gets a Mommy Makeover

There Was an Old WomanA nice short sweet note for you for Mother’s Day. 

Enjoy this loving revision of  There Was an Old Woman Who Lived in a Shoe (by Becky Bailey) with your child.  

Look directly into your child’s eyes, use your most expressive voice with your young child as they sit on your lap, or lay in bed.  Lovingly, hold their hand and enjoy this finger play.

A wonderful woman who lived in a shoe,   (place your child’s hand between your two hands)
She had so many children she knew exactly what to do.  (with one hand wiggle each finger individually on the child’s hand)
She held them. She rocked them, and tucked them in bed.  (hold & rock the hand, bring to your chest)
“I love you, I love you” is what she said.       (speak directly to the child, then snuggle)

You may even hold the hand against the heart and ask the child if they can feel the heart beat.  Then have them feel their own.  A child’s heartbeat is a little faster than an adult’s, can they tell the difference?    If you HUM a familiar lullaby right now, the child can feel the vibration in your chest.

This quiet activity allows the child to be bathed in a full sensory experience: they HEAR these sweet words, they SEE your adoring eyes, they FEEL your sensitive touch on their hands, they hear and feel the deep underlying rhythms of the poem, and of the heart, and deep in their heart, their EMOTIONS absorb the love.  In their brain, natural chemicals are released that allow the stress of the day to melt away, and different chemicals set the stage for new connections, strong connections of language, of love, and of the comfort of a safe place to be.

“Again… Again, mommy?”  Say yes.  Repetition makes the connections stronger.  Strong enough to make them feel comfortable even in a strange place when you recite the rhyme.  With enough repetition, the child may, at some point, replay the scenario in their minds, even when you are not there, to help them reach that sense of calm when they need it most.

A mother’s love extends far beyond their physical being.  It extends into the heart – forever.

***  For more such rhymes and loving rituals with your child, please order the book (and maybe even the CDs) called “I Love You Rituals” by Becky Bailey.  I LOVE her perspective… so will you.

PS.  Of course, Kindermusik is FULL of these types of magical musical moments, which you learn in class, with other loving parents, and build your “musical and literary” mommy library, so you can use them in your daily routines with your family.  Repetition is good for the child, but the mommy brain LOVES new material to work with. 

Check out a Kindermusik program near you.

Wow!  While looking around, I found an amazing website based on this rhyme.  New verses, coloring pages, games, even recipies.  Ha !  What fun !  When you get a chance, check out Alphabet Soup.    Then you can submit your own fun ideas !

PLEASE share the song or rhyme that you use with your child to connect, calm, and thrive.