Enjoy a StoryWalk in Downtown Lakeland

Can you and your young children WALK and READ at the same time???  Of course you can, on a special StoryWalk™.   I’m setting one up in Downtown Lakeland for the month of June, for your family’s enjoyment.  Since it is in the store windows, it costs nothing, and you can even go when the stores aren’t even open.   Try some of the activity ideas on each page, then head to the next store.

Every month, since before my son was born, I read the Family Fun magazine cover to cover, and we are often inspired to create some family fun !  The May issue inspired me to create a StoryWalk™ for downtown Lakeland with one of my Kindermusik books.  

The original StoryWalk™ Project was created by Anne Ferguson of Montpelier, VT and developed in collaboration with the Vermont Bicycle & Pedestrian Coalition and the Kellogg-Hubbard Library.  Find out more at http://kellogghubbard.org/storywalk.html

The idea is that separate pages of a children’s book are posted along a path.  To promote a healthy exercise activity, and the fun of reading, families can accompany their young children along the path, walking and reading along. 

For the month of June, we will feature Pete and PJ, a fun story about a boy and his dog who get dirty playing in the mud, BUT are HAPPY to enjoy a bath to clean up.   Each page of the story ends with the fun phrase “Wishy Washy, Wishy Washy, Wishy Washy, Weee!”, and while chanting it, the readers swish their hands together to the beat, then raise their hands up in the air on Wheee!  There are also some fun activity ideas for the story part on each page that the readers can enjoy on the spot.

There are 8 pages of the book which are located at some fabulous downtown businesses.   The list below has them in order, and includes a link to their website (if they have one) and a brief point of fact.

Click HERE for a map of Downtown Lakeland.

Start at The General Store.  Go in and get a bookmark guide.  This bookmark will include ALL the locations, and some contact information.  Or copy and print the following information:

KI logo

    StoryWalk  featuring Pete & PJ

1)       The General Store,      125 S. Kentucky Ave.      Groceries, Sundries, and Memories.    Make sure and say HI to Ms. Terisa and Sparky when you get your bookmark !    IBC Cream Soda …  Mmmmm !

2)      Paint Along Studios,     123 S. Kentucky Ave.     Their  Kids Kamps this summer looks like a lot of fun !

3)      Tougie Baby  (NEW)     121 S. Kentucky Ave.      A new store featuring specialty clothes and items for your babies  (She’s only been open 3 weeks !)

4)      Nathan’s Men’s Store   221 E. Main Street         A classic traditional men’s (as well as the best local Cub Scout & Boy Scout) store

5)      Black and Brew              205 E. Main Street         Coffee House and Bistro  (I LOVE their Ginsing Peppermint Tea – ICED !)

6)      Main Street Creamery  128 E. Main Street         Old fashioned ice cream shop (a great lunch too).

7)      Explorations V                109 N. Kentucky Ave.     Three floors of hands-on Children’s Museum FUN.  I got an annual membership when I moved here 12 years ago, and have renewed every year since.  It is THAT worth it !

8)      Palace Pizza   (last page)   114 S. Kentucky Ave.         The best pizza in town (in my opinion) !       

If you are reading this posting before you go, you may want to bring a few things just to make it a more concrete experience(optional, of course), a washcloth, a bath towel, maybe a bubble jar, and possibly a stuffed (or real) pet dog.  Walk, read, talk, sing, pretend, move, and have a good time together. 

This book, “Pete and PJ” by Cindy Bousman and Susan James,  is featured in several of our upcoming Kindermusik programs.

  • a Kindermusik Playdate called Tub Tunes,
  • our Music and Art Family Classes called “Splash” this June,
  • and our Fall Semester of Our Time called “Wiggles and Giggles” includes the book in the home materials.

On each of the story pages posted in the store windows, there will be:

  • Which page it is, out of the total number of pages
  • Fun activities to enjoy while reading that page,
  • Creative ideas to make it musical !
  • Which store will have the next page, and a suggested way to move to get there. 

It may look silly as you enjoy the activities, but your children will LOVE it, and may want to do this repeatedly.  The cool part is that the stores don’t have to be open to enjoy this StoryWalk, it is ALL in the windows.  It’s like a literary treasure hunt.

To enhance THIS StoryWalk with music, go to www.play.kindermusik.com  and download the song called “Wishy Washy Wee!” off of the Bake, Build, Sing and Scrub album.  It is a fun song to sing along with the repetitive phrase in the book .  You may also want to download “Sailor Scrub”, which is perfect music for marching, or gliding, or stomping, to the next location.  If you are new to this site, you get 10 free credits to use, making these FREE downloads !

Upon completing the StoryWalk, contact us at InTune Studios and you will receive a coupon for a FREE music, art, or Kindermusik class.

We are loaded with fun, creative ways to enjoy your family time.  Check out our Music and Art Summer Camps and Workshops.  Some are for families, some are for big kids.   Our #1 focus is to provide such a quality experiences that the creative juices just START to flow, letting open the flood gates, and you will see your children riding the tide long after classes are over.

Once you’ve enjoyed the STORYWALK, please share your thoughts!   Do you like it downtown?  Do you have other suggested locations?  Is it the right distance for walking with your family?   Are you enjoying the book and activities?   I’m here listening, to my comments here, on Facebook, and on Twitter.  I look forward to hearing from you.

Bunny Rabbits – Funny Habits


Hiding in the grass

 Bunnies just look soooo cuddly that it is a natural  impulse to want to pick them up and hug them.  Luckily we have a lot of stuffed animals for little children to do just that.   Wild rabbits are actually very timid creatures (some children can really relate to them), and it is fun to explore their unique habits through a variety of rhymes, songs, stories, and activities.  (It may also share with some children how timid and shy creatures still live very happy lives.)  These are some of my favorites offered by a variety of authors and sources, including Kindermusik, and a few of my own.

Personally, my favorite Easter icon is the egg  (see my eggcellent egg post).  But, this is the semester we move like, sound like, act like, and celebrate ANIMALS, and the animal of the day is the BUNNY RABBIT!Enjoy the activities that work best for your family.  AND SHARE with me some of YOUR Favorites too.   I do hope you have a wonderful Easter !

                                                DESCRIBE the BUNNY

 I’m a Little Bunny   by Jan Brennen
(Sung to “I’m a Little Teapot”)   Take time for the actions with your child.

I’m a Little Bunny, in a field I lie,               (curl up on the floor like a rabbit)
Here is my nose, and here are my eyes.   (point to body parts)
Here’s a bushy tail that likes to wiggle,     (wiggle tail area)
Tickle me and I might giggle.                         (… just do it !)

I’m a Little Bunny, soft and sweet,              ( front “paws” pet each other)
Here are my ears, and here are my feet.   (touch body parts)
When I’m in the garden, I look for treats,     (hop around and look)
And nibble on all I like to eat.                         (pretend to nibble on food)

***  This is also fun to with a little baby as “the bunny”.  Make eye contact, use an expressive voice, and adapt the actions to be “ON” the baby.

*** Older children may like to use a stuffed rabbit, or rabbit puppet, to make the motions, with this, or any of these rhymes or songs.)

It might be good to find a book that describe the true habits of rabbits.


Outside Fun

 This Kindermusik song (an old folk song) is perfect to explore so much of HOW a rabbit may move or act.    

What Shall We Do when we all go out, All go out, all go out.
What shall we do when we all go out, All go out to play?

Let’s all hop like a rabbit, A rabbit, a rabbit,

Let’s all hop like a rabbit, When we go look for food.

  • Twitch your nose like a rabbit . . .   – So we can smell the food.
  • Let’s all munch on a carrot . . .         – Crunch, crunch, crunch…
  • In the dirt, we’ll dig a hole . . .          – And that will be our home.
  • Listen carefully with my long ears . . .   – So danger we can hear
  • Hide in a hole when there’s danger . . .  – Until we know it’s safe.

*** Perhaps you can tell that this is sort of a story within a song.  Follow the pattern consistently and talk about the story, and the children will pick up on the pattern, and begin to tell the story themselves.


Fun HOPPING  Activity Ideas

  • Hop from the squatting position
  • Have a hopping race to a finish line
  • Play hopping tag
  • Listen for sounds, then find the source.
  • A person can hide with a specific sound, then others can listen and find them.


My Bunny Hops All Through the Garden

(Sung to “My Bonnie Lies Over the Ocean”)  To sing while playing tag!

My bunny hops all through the garden,  My bunny hops all through the yard:
I like to play tag with my bunny,  But trying to catch him is hard.
Come back, come back, Oh, come back, my bunny to me, to me.
Come back, come back, Oh, come back my bunny to me. 


“Danger Training”

This Kindermusik rhyme focuses on one of the most unique characteristics of rabbits, HIDING when there is danger.  

Of course, it can be fun in many ways, such as enjoying  finger play where the fingers hop about and finally into the hole made by a criss crossed lap.

Here’s a Bunny with Ears So Funny

And here’s a hole in the ground,

At the first sound he hears (make noise)

He pricks up his ears,

And hops right into the ground.

This is a great opportunity to teach your child what to do when there is danger.  Talk about dangers that may occur, and what you want your children to do in those instances.  Agree upon cue words to start the hiding process, such as “Danger, hide inside.”  Agree upon a specific safe hiding spot, and practice playing “Rabbit danger”.  The children should wait quietly until “mother bunny” comes get them. 

After one spot is learned, try other safe hiding spots in the home and yard, so they don’t panic if they can’t get to that one.  Hopefully, it will always be a game.  But if there’s ever a need, you’re child will have the skills to handle it and is less likely to panic.

Book Recommendation: “The Runaway Bunny” Margaret Wise Brown

Although the little bunny is in NO danger, When he wants to run away from home, his mother assures him that she will run after him and find him because she loves him.  This is a reassuring message that fills a child’s heart and mind with connection, hope, and love.


Eating Time Fun

 Try this as a finger play when your child is sitting in their high chair (like This Little Piggy)


This Little Bunny

likes food that’s GREEN.
This little bunny thinks carrots are keen.
This little bunny likes food that’s yellow
This little bunny is a hungry fellow.
This little bunny nibbles away
At apples and celery every day!

  • Touch each of five fingers while reciting.
  • Recite during food time when eating “rabbit food” (veggies) and replace the underlined words with foods on the table.

 ***  Rabbits love to eat raw plants of all colors:

Green:  lettuce, celery, broccoli, cabbage, sugar snap peas

Orange: carrots, sweet potato, cantalope

Yellow:  yellow squash, corn, pears

Red:  apples, papaya, tomatoes

Lay out a garden spread for your little bunny with various things to spread on it or dip it in, such as:  honey, peanut butter, dressing, caramel, cheese, cream cheese, etc.

For fun, here are directions on how to make a bunny pear salad.

My son’s favorite quote while eating carrots:


What’s up, doc ?”


What kind of bunny fun is hopping around YOUR house?

Stopping, Trading, Taking Turns, and Waiting

Does your child have the ability to stop on cue?  How about the ability to wait patiently to take a turn with a desired toy or object?  How about the ability to see ONE marshmallow in front of them, and wait awhile WITHOUT eating it, in order to get TWO marshmallows upon your return? 

I can wait. They won't be late. For I am GREAT... at WAITING !


Your child’s ability to successfully master these inhibitory control tasks are a significant factor in their future success, in some ways even more of an indicator of their future success than their academic abilities. 

These are skills that a child can gain through positive practice, and is one of the most fundamental ways that parents can set their children up for future success, in whatever they choose to do.   Start young, and it will be a natural part of their personality.  But whatever the age, start !

Let’s examine several aspects of Inhibitory Control, and see how the Marshmallow Test is an indicator of the ability for Delayed Gratification, as skill necessary for success in life.

Inhibitory Control is the ability to control your own actions.  It is the “ability to resist a strong inclination to do one thing and instead to do what is most appropriate or needed. Instead of reacting with what is on the mind at that moment, the child has to stop or inhibit that inclination and enact something else.”  (Metropolitan State College of Denver – see article.)

STOP ON CUE:  In Kindermusik classes, children even as young as one year old, are exposed to activities where we move for awhile, then STOP on cue.  With babies, they are simply in mom’s arms when they first experience it.  They like it, and come to anticipate it.    As they get older, we also teach children to use sign language for STOP when they stop (it really helps).  I’ve seen children as young as 16 months old effectively SIGN and STOP at the appropriately time in the activity – right on CUE !  We practice this regularly throughout our core curriculum (0-7 yrs) in lots of different ways, with our bodies, using instruments, using props such as scarves, or even with balls (one of the hardest).

Being able to THINK BEFORE YOU ACT:  Young babies often grab toys from each other even without a reaction.  But once they start to grasp the concept of MINE (because I am holding it), they get upset if it is taken away.  In Kindermusik, one of the strategies we start teaching is the concept of trading.  In order to get one object, the person should offer another object in exchange, an example of one of the more socially acceptable ways of getting something that is desired.  Of course, this is an abstract concept for babies, so we just help them go through the movements to experience it, and they can see it does help with the interactions with other babies (less crying).  As they get older, with enough practice, they cognitively start to realize the need to consider others reactions before they act. 

TURN TAKING:  It is soooo hard to wait for a turn to handle a desired object.  One of the best ways to get a child to want to play with something is to pick it up and start playing with it yourself.  (This is a parenting trick which plays on their natural reactions.)   Starting at around 18 months, we start offering opportunities to WAIT PATIENTLY for a turn to handle a desired object.  It is best to use activities that have a specified limit on the time for each turn, such as a song.  When the song is over, it is the next person’s turn.

Here’s an example, in the Our Time class, we use a set of resonator bars to play along with a song “Sweetly Sings the Donkey”.  Only one set of resonator bars is presented.  It is hard enough to wait while the teacher plays an example.   The children are instructed to sit on their parents lap in order to get a turn to play the instruments.  Parents are provided ideas on how to get their child engaged with the activity in their own way as they WAIT for their turn.  In this manner, parents are helping their child practice skills that can help them wait. 

At first, it requires parent assistance, and working with a child to find strategies that work best for each child specifically.  Hopefully at some point, they will start to be able to use the same skills themselves in situations where an adult is not present.   

This leads to success in what is called DELAYED GRATIFICATION, the ability to forgo an immediate pleasure or reward in order to gain a more substantial one later.  The ability to do this effectively increases as children get older.  Having the opportunity to practice effective waiting strategies regularly will increase this ability even more.  As will a child’s ability to focus on the FUTURE, more than on the PRESENT.  The ability to delay gratification is often a sign of emotional and social maturity.

The MARSHMALLOW TEST is a classic study that tests a child’s ability to delay gratification.  It studies the strategies that helped children wait, and follows them through to adulthood and measures their success as young adults.  Not surprisingly, those who were more successful with this delayed gratification test ended up more successful in life.  (The New Yorker Article  “Don’t !  The secret to self control” is a LONG but FASCINATING article presenting the details of this study in depth.)

In this test, children were placed by themselves in a room with a table, a chair, and a marshmallow on a plate in front of them.  They were told they could eat the marshmallow if they wanted to, but if they waited until the researcher returned, they would get TWO marshmallows.  Through prestudies, they found that children 3 years old and younger had little ability to wait.  But starting around 4 years old, there were some who could.  So the initial test, by Stanford psychology professor Walter Mischel 40 years ago, involved only 4 year olds.  Two out of three children were not able to wait.  But 1/3 of them did.  The videos capturing their reactions while alone are priceless !     

Get the basics of the study, and global implications, in this video of a wonderful short lecture by Joachim de Posada:

For some belly laughs, watch the Mature Marshmallow Test with adults. 

How would YOUR child fare in this test?  This fun article tells How to Give the Marshmallow Test.      (This is recommended for children over 4 years old and older.)  PLEASE read the directions fully and NOTE that the results of your child’s test is not an indicator of future success, but rather an observation of their current skill level with these abilities.

Musical activities are an excellent way for a child to learn self control, and to occupy themselves while waiting, through finger plays, singing songs or rhymes, creative movement, and imaginative storytelling.  Parents can help their child gain these skills by practicing these activities during WAITING times, like in line at the grocery store.   What strategies would your child use to WAIT for a 2nd marshmallow?

If you choose to implement this test with your child, PLEASE post your comments here !  If possible, include a video of your child while they are waiting.

Sleigh Rides and Bell Horses

There are TWO fabulous classic folk songs about jingle bell horses and their fun sleigh rides.  While singing or listening to these fun songs, have some fun with different ways to make this song come alive for your child.

Over the River and Through the Woods”  is a Thanksgiving classic.  My FAVORITE book featuring this song is a Scholastic book by the same name, illustrated by John Steven Gurney. (It also comes with a recording of the song.)  After reading/singing it through once, we always go back through and talk about all the fun winter activities that are going on in the beautifully illustrated winter scenes.   Since we live in Florida, it helps to have a good reference into this mysterious world.

Jingle Bells” is simply a song about the same activity – sleigh rides with jingle horses.  It was originally written for a Thanksgiving program, but was so popular, it was revisited at Christmas and instantly became a favorite classic.

These are some fun ideas I’ve introduced in my Kindermusik classes.  For more information, see my website.

Sleigh ride fun while singing these song:

  • Use fingers to trot around on your child or on the floor while making a jingling sound.
  • Place them on your lap, and keep a steady beat bounce.  At the end of the song, make lots of fun HORSE sounds.  Let them hold some jingle bells while bouncing.  (Make sure the bells are safe for the child –  typical jingle bells may cut child’s tongue if mouthed). 

  • Use a blanket or towel and pull your child around  –  let them play with some safe jingle bells.  Enjoy making horse sounds.
  • Have the child use a blanket to pull their favorite stuffed characters around.

  • Use a long scarf as reigns for your little horse.  Wrap the scarf around the front of their body and under their armpits, with the long ends trailing in the back for you to hold onto.  Let them hold, or wear, bells if you have them.  Have your horse lead you around the room, or even the yard.
  • TRADE – the adult becomes the horse, and the child becomes the sleigh driver


I PROMISE these activities will leave lasting memories of the fun times that you and your child share, as well as provide them with the knowledge of the songs of our culture, and of our history. 

For more blog posts on Thanksgiving themes, click here.

I’d LOVE to hear if you know of additional songs about bell horses and sleigh rides – OR, if you have any additional ideas for interactive sleigh ride activities.

A Parent’s Guide to the Stages of Pretend Play

Experience…  Imitate…  Recognize…  Connect… Pretend… Engage… Solve problems… Expand mental images… Create…

I see these as the developmental stages, and concurrent developmental benefits, of pretend play.  Although the progression is from younger to older, from simple to complex, they may occur at any age, and at differing levels for different subject matter.  Observation will help determine where your child’s stage may be, and the examples show good ways to help them benefit from that stage fully – which is necessary before they move to the next stage.

This is a brain storm that has been brewing in my head for weeks, esp. as I watched children expanding on pretend ideas in their costumes, and is finally drizzling its way out into words at midnight, and is somewhat based on research over time, and is somewhat limited to my own brain’s way of synthesizing things.  This is for PARENTS enjoying and supporting their child’s growing abilities.  It is NOT a precise summary based on specific research.   So please feel free to add, or correct, or comment.  I’d love to know your perspective. 

Experience:  The ability to interact with the original REAL OBJECT.

A young baby feels a real tree, and crunches the leaves with his feet and hands, while Mommy uses words to describe what is seen, heard, and felt, and sings a song about leaves.  “Autumn leaves are falling down, falling, falling, falling down…”   Mommy and baby will throw the leaves in the air and watch them fall.  These CONCRETE (REAL to the TOUCH) experiences are CRITICAL for a child to develop of BASE of knowledge, building a foundation of neural connections in the brain from which all continued development will come.  So, Parents, give your baby EVERY OPPORTUNITY to experience as much of what is REAL as possible.  Learning from books and video representations have their place, but nothing can replace the learning gained from touching and exploring what is REAL.

Imitate:  The ability to copy what another is doing.

A baby must first fully observe – carefully and repeatedly watch and listen, in order to create the same sound, or movement of another person.    Babies and great actors are masters at this.   A baby watches a leaf fall gently from a tree, then mommy raises her hand and pretends to let it float down, while saying “swishy-swish, ooooh.”  After watching MANY repetitions, a baby may start to imitate these sounds and actions.  They are trying to understand the world around them, and how it works – through another’s eyes, and through trying to recreate it. 

Recognize:   The ability to see something as something else.

At home, Mommy cuts up pieces of colorful paper, and lets them float down to her baby, singing the same song.  (We do this in the Village class!)   At first Baby imitates without understanding, but through repetition with both real and substitute objects, a baby begins to recognize that one object can substitute for another object.  This is the beginning of pretend play.   It is also the beginning of understanding language – how a word can mean an object or an action.

Connect:  The ability to see relationships between objects or ideas.

At some point, the child begins to see that the tree and the leaf belong together, even if they are not attached.   They may pick up a leaf and try to put it back on the tree, and may be confused why it won’t stay there.   They are happy to have a few torn pieces of colorful paper to “attach” to a tree trunk drawn on a piece of paper.  Then letting them all fall off, and starting again.  The brain THRIVES on making connections such as these, expanding and expanding on their knowledge based on concrete (real to the touch) experiences.

Mom can also start the process with an apple – fully experiencing a real apple, showing how it comes from a tree, and providing red circles to add to our pretend tree and leaves.   “Shake, shake the apple tree; apples red and juicy.  One for you… One for me.  Shake, shake the apple tree.”

Pretend:  The ability to create actions based on a mental image of something that is not currently present.

It is fascinating to see when imitations occur spontaneously – when an adult is not actively engaged.  They are starting to generate the mental image of when mom did it, and to imitate when their brain chooses to, rather than when someone else is encouraging them to.  I was so delighted when I saw my son pretending to sleep and snore for the first time.  I KNOW what a great leap this is in development. 

It is often fun to “BE” the object when this begins to occur.  At first, the mental image is just of the tree and a few objects connected to it.  The child loves to stand still and hold a ball in each hand, pretending to be the tree, and to have Dad “shake the tree” while singing, then pick up the apples, sharing one for each, and pretending to eat the apples.  Pretend play at this stage is based in reality, and involves props that can be held.

A few years ago, a wonderful mom was spurred by the emergence of her daughter’s ability to pretend, and who wanted to BE an APPLE TREE.  So mom designed a Tree Trunk costume for her to wear, with leaves and apples that were attached to the tree.   These kind of props lead to extended pretend play, and to further levels of pretend play.

There are LOTS of stages in this particular process, from these first stages of spontaneous imitation, to full mental images of a tree and the space in which it grows as well as objects and characters that are connected to it.  I won’t be presenting all the levels in order, but the following are extensions of pretend play.

Engage:  The ability to include others in creating abstract scenarios.

The first time a child offers Mom, or a doll, a spoonful of applesauce that is not actually on the spoon, the pretend play is expanding outside themselves.  Whoop !  Now you are in trouble – they want to play with you ALL the time.  Parents that take the time to let go of the rest of life for a few moments, and immerse themselves in this pretend play offer their child and themselves extensive benefits of expansion, cooperation, and connection.   The child recognizes their ideas are worth your time, and parents can lead the child into new levels of play. 

Parents can actually lead them into more independent play by expanding on the steps involved, and in developing more character roles.   Use their dolls and/or stuffed animals as friends they can be included in their play.  “Benny the giraffe can shake the apples on the top of the tree, while Sammy, the squirrel, gathers them, and Edda, the elephant helps squish the apples into applesauce.”  Don’t you wish you had that much help?  This may also help them identify the “properties” of the different characters, to recognize their strengths and how to use them wisely.  Eventually, a parent can encourage them to continue the play with their host of characters, take a bit of a break, then return later to see how the play is coming along.

Solve Problems:   The ability to mentally go through a series of solutions to come up with a suitable solution.

Siblings and friends are excellent companions for pretend play, and can help expand their perceptions of a scenario – perhaps they like oranges and orange juice better.  When peers are involved, opinions and feelings may differ, which offers the opportunity to cooperate and solve problems.  “I like apples, but Sally likes oranges.  What can we do to make this play work for everyone?”

Friends or parents, or the child themselves, may also bring up new ideas for play that require problem solving.  For example, pretending to climb up into the tree, “How are we going to get UP there?” – engage them in a conversation of possibilities and how they think each one would work.  Go outside and try a few.  Are the branches easy to reach?  Is it as easy to climb a rope as once thought?  What would make it easier?   These concrete experiences can later help them visualize these solutions and apply them to other situations.  

Of course, some of their solutions may be a bit fantastic and unrealistic, and mentally imagining all sorts of solutions is encouraged.  There are many things real now that were never considered an option before, and that is because the mental images for some folks expanded beyond what they could see as “realistic” solutions.

Expand mental imaging:  The ability to mentally SEE more of the scene of the object and/or idea.

Their abilities to expand their mental images can be enhance by adding new dimensions to the play, like pretending to climb a tree and explore what can be seen (or heard)  IN the tree, and AROUND the tree.  There is a great Kindermusik song for the preschoolers for this kind of play, “I like to climb up in my treehouse… to see what I can see.”   This is fun to do with several children, because they will learn from each other, and expand on each other’s ideas, and help each other solve problems,  “I SEE… a spider – I’m scared!  What should I do?”    Whereas,  “I SEE… a nest ” – opens up all kinds of conversations, and further mental images. 

Create:  The ability to use a variety of objects and/or ideas in creative ways to develop something unique.

When a child has built a strong foundation of understanding an object or idea in soooo many ways, they may then be able to synthesize all of their explorations into more complex scenarios, and sequenced story play.  A child may collect pretend (or real) materials to “build a treehouse”, invite his friends (real or stuffed) to play and explore, and to protect the nest of eggs until they are hatched and the little baby birds learn to fly.   An older child may actually take a branch from a real tree, design and build a “treehouse” in it, and use objects to represent herself and household objects while creating a variety of scenarios and stories of what it would be like to actually LIVE in a tree.

Children who have been surrounded by music and songs up to this point will often make up their own songs that relate to their pretend play.  Parents can invite and encourage this addition.  This is expanding their ability to create –words into sentences about their play, and to create a melody that matches the words and is pleasing to them.  It doesn’t have to be on pitch, or even make sense, just enjoy the wonder of their processing.


Isn’t the process fascinating ?!  Specialists in child development are probably going through this and thinking of all the things I left out.  As a matter of fact, after I wrote this, I looked up some better resources online and found an excellent article that gets into actual research and description about the stages of pretend play – Different stages of pretend play and how they relate to language development , very interesting and well written, but not necessarily consolidated succinctly for parents.

 I hope this overview of mine (certainly not original ideas, but maybe just the way it is presented) helps parents be able to easily see and recognize where their child IS in their PRETEND PLAY development, and how to interact with their child to help build their abilities at each stage. 

 I recommend regular scaffolding procedures (like we use in Kindermusik class), adapted to pretend play situations:

OBSERVE, using words to identify what is observed:  Watch your child to see evidence of pretend play (initiated on their own), and at what stage they may be.  Specifically describe what you see, and ask them to describe it if they can.  “That apple just fell off your tree, and you picked it up and tasted it to see how juicy it was.  Tell me more…”  

IMITATE:  With or without words, make the same motions as the child, bringing yourself into their world, accepting their world as an OK place to be.

ENHANCE:  Ask open ended questions to encourage their ability to come up with NEW ways to explore or play.  “What else can you see up in the tree?”  “Who else do you think might live in the tree?”   “An apple grows on a tree.  What else grows on a tree?  What can we do with that?”  After exploring some of their responses, then parents can make one or two more suggestions they hadn’t thought of yet, and expand on those ideas.  Next time you play, recognize if they bring up these new topics on their own.

ENJOY the process of pretend play as it develops in your child.  If you’d like ongoing ideas and songs to help in this process at each age and stage, get ideas from Kindermusik International, and/or get involved in a class (see website).  If you already are, YEA ! – you are taking steps everyday to make your child’s play as enriching as possible.  Kindermusik is NOT required to enhance your child’s development through music, but it SURE makes it  EASY and FUN !

Got questions?  Please ask.  

                Got a story?  Please tell. 

                             Beg to differ?  Let’s hear it.      

                                           I LOVE a good conversation !  Here or on FB.

Can’t decide whether to enroll in Kindermusik?

enrollment video pic


Watch this Video


It’s TRUE, everyone participates in their OWN way in Kindermusik. 


Amazingly, the process of music helps to bring out the best in all of us.  As the weeks progress, both children and parents feel more comfortable and familiar with the songs and the routines, providing for a perfect learning environment – surrounded by friends who are all learning too – (even the teacher).


Fall Semester classes start Sept. 9 – 10th.  Enroll now to save your place in class.  Click on the Lakeland Tab above for more details.  Or enroll directly online at http://musiconnx.yourvirtuoso.com .

Can anyone share a good story of how your child may have been different than you expected in Kindermusik, or how they might have changed their participation over a few weeks in Kindermusik?

Homemade Liberty bells RING for Independence Day

For Independence day, encourage your child to make their OWN “Liberty” bell and make their OWN noise to celebrate the freedoms we have in this country !!!   That includes a LOT of freedoms for young musicians!  (Make sure to check out my bell makers at the bottom.)

Making an instrument with your child can be an amazing  journey into your their thought processes, especially when you FOLLOW the child. 

Here’s some ideas to get you started, but there are NO specific directions.  WHY? (say many of you who FEEL creatively challenged).  Because it’s not about following instructions (someone else’s way of doing things). 

  • It’s about a child’s freedom of choice. 
  • It’s about a child’s ability to plan out their own solutions to a unique task, and work toward their plan. 
  • It’s about supporting a child in their efforts to bring a creative vision to life. 
  • It’s about pride in sharing their creation with others, and using it for fun!

Liberty BellThe task:  Let’s make a Liberty Bell to celebrate our Independence !

Talk about what a bell looks like, the parts of it, and how it makes a sound.  You may even show pictures of, and learn about the Liberty Bell.

Have your child help you gather about 3 – 5 options for each of the following parts:  (less options for younger, more options for older)

Bell – flower pot, water bottle, cup, metal kitchen bowl…

Striker (helps to have hole in it, easier to attach) – keys, nuts & washers, metal rings, keychain…  Make sure to have something to attach it with, offer options like string, ribbon, pipe cleaners, rubber bands, etc.

HandleWooden dowels are great – can use screw to attach from the bottom, which can also hold the string that holds the striker.  Ribbons or rope can also be used, as long as there is a hole to pass it through, and a way to keep it from falling out (in or out).

Items to help decorate your project – paint, star or flag stickers, ribbons /beads to glue on, markers to draw with – whatever works for the type of bell that is chosen.   (This Liberty Bell doesn’t HAVE to have a crack.)

With the choices in front of them, guide them in the process of planning and making their bell.  Bring their choices to the front, and support their efforts to make the bell, allowing them to try out different sounds before making the final choice.  It will be important for adults to make the holes, tie the knots, etc.  Just keep asking questions:  What shall we use for…?  What will it sound like if we use…?  How will we attach…?  What do you want it to look like?  Oh, no – it seems to have a problem – what shall we do? 

In our recent Kindermusik Imagine That ! program, our students excelled at designing their own bells (with JUST enough support from parents to see their designs come to fruition.)  These aren’t decorated for Independence Day, but it might give you some ideas.  And you might enjoy singing along with Yankee Doodle !

Click to play this Smilebox slideshow: Bells - Spring 09
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