"The hills are alive...with the sound of music!" Watching my toddlers race up the hill at the park I am certain that even music and movies can be explored through adventure.
I think field trips or adventures or whatever you choose to call them are an important part of any unit. That should come as no real surprise given the mission of Bambini Travel. I have to admit however, at the beginning of our Sound of Music project I was a little at a loss as to what field trips would fit.
When I sat back and worked on just listening to my children however, they were the ones full of field trip ideas. Below are three of our Music Unit field trips.
These started with my daughter's obsession with the Sound of Music, but this transitioned into a general interest in music that could be applicable to many situations.
The first place we went might seem silly, but it was probably the most meaningful to my children. If you haven't watched the Sound of Music as part of your Music Unit (completely understandable) then I am about to lose you and you should probably jump to field trip #2! For those of you still with me, this one is inspired by the opening number.
As a child, I am ashamed to admit, I often fast forwarded through the opening Sound of Music song. Horrible, I know. My young children loved this song and "climb every mountain" quickly became a theme of their play and conversations. They climbed the "mountain" in our backyard (a slight incline), they climbed a "mountain" of snow (okay that one was a little more impressive) and they believed that every hill we drove over was a "mountain" that Maria would surely love to climb.
When Spring finally came and we started venturing to our beloved Devil's Lake more frequently, climbing a mountain was all they could talk about. We did a little hiking in Devil's Lake but that didn't seem to satisfy them. I finally figured out that they couldn't spin around on top of something like Maria at Devil's Lake because it is so filled with trees. I remembered the sledding hill in our little town and we took a field trip to Climb the Mountain.
Let's be honest, it's not a mountain.
In their little almost three year old imaginations however it was the Alps and they were spinning and singing like Maria. They ran up the hill and down. They spun and sung their favorite songs over and over. They laughed and got dizzy. They ran up and down some more.
This one I share for two reasons.
One, because it is a favorite memory of mine and an important part of our unit for them.
Two, because I think it illustrates just how simple a field trip can be.
In the eyes of a toddler, this was an adventure. It was an idea they thought of and they were thrilled that I listened and helped them make it happen. It didn't cost hundreds of dollars or take hours of time. It cost nothing and took about an hour.
For little ones, simple is often best.
If you live in the Madison WI area, the Kids in the Rotunda programs at the Overture are amazing!
Every Saturday during the school year the Overture Center for the Arts puts on free shows for children and adults of all ages. They are widely diverse programs of musicians, storytellers, jugglers, dancers and more. Best of all, they are FREE! This is a wonderful way to expose your child to a wide range of performing arts in a simple, family friendly, free environment.
If you don't live in the Madison WI area, other performing arts centers are offering programs like these. We've been to ones at the Nashville Sympothy and heard that the Lincoln Center here in NYC has some awesome family events. (Let me know about one near you and I'll send them a shout out as well!)
1. Get there SUPER early. The more popular events fill up very quickly. We ended up watching these Trinity Irish Dancers from above because the seats were completely filled.
2. Bring some things to occupy your little ones while you wait.
3. Bathrooms are family friendly and do have changing tables if you're visiting the Overture, but also at most concert halls.
4. Put babies in a carrier or wrap. Stroller have to be parked upstairs in the lobby.
5. The Madison Public Library is across the street and usually offers free programming before and after the Kids in the Rotunda events.
6. Head to State Street to get some lunch. Noodles is an easy walk.
7. You can sign up on the bottom of their website to get free email updates with upcoming performances.
We've taken listening walks several times. They are a fun nature walk or neighborhood walk.
A big part of appreciating and enjoying music is listening. Like all others, listening is a skill that should be practiced.
We recently took another one to Listen for the Sounds of Spring.
*Make a list of what you might hear. Our twins thought it was fun to try to imagine and create those noises with their own voices.
*Discuss any walk rules. Stay on the path is my big one.
*It takes our twins a lot of effort to slow down and be quiet. Neither one of these are strengths in the two and three year old skill set. Don't worry if you only have a few minutes of listening.
*Take listening breaks. I like to take occassional stops to listen. They will start by walking (or running) and chatting or singing loudly. Then I will gather them together and we will listen quietly. I usually hold up my hand for a moment or two to signal quiet and then I ask them what they can hear. After we discuss it briefly they will scamper off and we repeat the process later.
*Try having them cover their eyes. This helps you focus a little more on the sense of hearing.
*Write down their thoughts.
*Again, don't stress if they are noisy and the listening is limited.
*Talk about what they heard. Can they make those sounds? What do they think it was they heard? Were the sounds quiet or loud? etc.
Once I started brainstorming there were endless possibilities.
My advice is to listen to your child's interests.
Are they interested in instruments? Try visiting a Music Shop or listening to an instrumental concert somewhere. Or maybe there is a parade coming to town where they can see musicians marching?
Do they like singing? Look for a family friendly concert. A lot of places have them outdoors during the summer. Or for older children, go to a musical.
Are they most interested in moving to music? Look for dancing performances. A lot of ballet companies put on shows for little kids. Try an ethnic festival to hear different music and see different kinds of dance. My kids were fascinated by the dancing at the Dragon Boat Festival.
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