Funny Song

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No doubt your toddler has firm opinions about favorite songs; Veronika certainly does! It’s amazing how quickly kids pick up on lyrics, not just when they are correct, but also when they are slightly off. One great trick for brain development is to sing a familiar song, but make one or two words different and silly. Then see if your child notices!

So today we didn’t have wheels on the bus. We had wheels on the… plane? This got giggles. Definitely use props for added laughs. For example, “Sun, sun go away” was silly to sing when she had the rain umbrella out.

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Did Old MacDonald have a farm… or a castle?

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Did the farmer have a dog named Bingo… or a cat instead?

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Veronika enjoyed most of the silly verses, but sometimes she wanted a song to stay true to the original. Twinkle twinkle little… cookie?

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This actually earned Veronika’s grumpy face! She loves stars so much that she wasn’t ready to hear a change to the lyrics. So we quickly went back to the original.

Coffee Can Games, Two Ways

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I had an empty coffee can in the house, and knew better than to recycle it; it would make a perfect prop for Veronika’s play. To wit, we found two great ways to use it today.

First up was a combination of art and musical play. To decorate the coffee can, I wrapped a piece of contact paper around it, sticky side out. I gave Veronika pieces of old gift wrap and old postcards so she could adorn the outside.

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Once it was decorated perfectly according to her toddler standards, I wrapped a second piece of contact paper on top, sticky side in, to seal her design.

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I then put small jingle bells inside the coffee can and secured the lid.

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Shake shake shake! We sang along (admittedly to unseasonable songs like Jingle Bells!) and she had a huge grin on her face.

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Then she discovered that she could roll the can along the floor and make it jingle. She chased it all around the house this way.

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The drawback to this game was that she wanted to open the lid and get at the bells inside, but I worried about them as a choking hazard. So we repurposed the coffee can! I cut a slit in the top with an X-acto knife and then rounded the corners slightly so she wouldn’t cut her fingers.

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Now she could post (a.k.a. push) pom poms through. “Where did green go?” I asked, popping down the first one as a demonstration.

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She mimicked my words perfectly and talked her way through the entire pile, mostly getting her colors right. “Where did blue go?” “Where did yellow go?”

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When they were all inside, we opened the lid for the big reveal and dumped them out. And then she wanted to do it again! What a great way to keep busy.

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What would you do with an empty coffee can? Please share in the comments!

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Row, Row, Row Your Boat

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Row Your Boat is currently one of Veronika’s favorite songs, and I’ve always been partial to it myself. Part nursery rhyme and part song, it extends itself easily to movement play and more.

To start, I simply sang the song. If you need a reminder, here are the simple lyrics:

Row, row, row your boat,

Gently down the stream.

Merrily merrily merrily merrily.

Life is but a dream.

After singing, we added actions!

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I sat so that Veronika and I were facing each other and took her hands. As we sang, first I pulled her forward, then I leaned toward her so she leaned back. It was magical to watch the siblings giggle and row together!

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To reinforce the concept of a “boat” (which is not something we see daily around here!) I pulled out a few floating toys. Veronika loved playing with them in a shallow basin.

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You can always check out animated versions of the song online, too. You’ll likely encounter silly verses. An elephant wearing jeans? A lion eating green beans? Then see if you can make up your own, which is guaranteed to make your toddler laugh!

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I Hear Thunder

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We’ve had crazy weather lately, including unseasonable May snow today. It had me thinking about weather songs to sing with Veronika, and this one has always been a favorite.

First, I simply sang the words for Veronika:

I hear thunder. I hear thunder.

Hear it roar. Hear it roar.

Pitter patter raindrops,

Pitter patter raindrops.

I’m all wet. I’m all wet.

The second time through, we added actions. You can just use your body at first: stomp feet on the floor for thunder, flutter your fingers through the air for rain, and give a big shiver at the end.

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The shiver in particular made Veronika laugh every time!

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Then we added props. Drums made the perfect thunder of course.

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And shaky instruments like maracas and rain sticks were great for raindrops.

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Veronika chimed in (literally!) on the triangle.

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This all made for fun musical play on a windy cold morning.

Strumming Fun

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For some musical fun today, I made Veronika the easiest guitar ever: just a piece of corrugated cardboard ripped from a recent delivery box (thanks, Amazon Prime!) and a few plastic spoons.

I showed her how she could scrape the spoon along the cardboard to make “music”, humming a favorite tune all the while.

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It took her a few minutes to figure out which way she needed to orient the spoon (concave side down) in order to produce the right sound, but she looked so proud when she had it correct.

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Big brother Travis pointed out that the sound was a bit like a duck quacking. So this led to lots of silly quacking fun.

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Because I’d left out extra plastic spoons, she alternated between strumming or tapping two spoons together, adding a percussion element to her one-girl band. When it came time for her online toddler sing-along, she could strum her own “ukelele” alongside the teacher.

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I loved how simple this was for her to use, and how busy it kept her!

Kitchen Instruments

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Travis and I plan to make a few “musical meals” soon thanks to his latest Raddish Kids, so this morning we made some simple instruments with kitchen objects to kick off the fun!

The most complicated was a Pop Stick Kazoo. You’ll need two leftover Popsicle sticks (or craft sticks) for this instrument. First, wrap one stick with a thick rubber band lengthwise.

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Cut 2 (1-inch) pieces of drinking straw and slip under the rubber band. Secure a second Popsicle stick on top using two thin rubber bands. Blow for a kazoo-like sound!

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Next we made Cereal Box Guitars: Cut a circle in the middle of an empty cereal box and stretch long rubber bands over the box for the strings. We made a smaller version using a cracker box for baby sister, and decided this was her ukulele!

For Water Bottle Maracas, we filled empty water bottles about a third of the way with rice and glued on the lids.

For Tin Can Drums, simply turn empty, rinsed out metal cans upside down. Add chopsticks to play!

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We sat down to rock with our band, and what fun the kids had!

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Travis’s favorite was the guitar, which he loved strumming with extra cut straws or chopsticks.

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Veronika gravitated towards the shaky maracas.

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Both kids loved drumming with chopsticks. For some musical learning, we went over a few concepts. First up, Travis thought of a beat (a.k.a. rhythm, or a pattern that repeats). His was “Bo-ba, Bo-ba, Bo-ba”.

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Then we played around with speed (a.k.a. tempo). We practiced his beat super fast, and then slow on the drum.s

Next you can try making up silly lyrics, although this was harder for Travis to do on the spot. I also challenged him to add style (a.k.a. dynamics), sometimes quiet, sometimes loud.

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Don’t forget to harmonize as you all sing and play along! In sum, there’s lots of musical exploration to be had, just in your kitchen.

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Line Dancing Fun

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Travis is growing tired of class videos we’ve used to get our afternoon wiggles out during home school, so today I turned to Raddish Kids for inspiration. With a musical theme this month, one of the lessons was all about line dancing!

We kept the “lesson” part of it short, since really I just needed to get Travis moving. Big kids can delve further and talk about the genre of Country and any singers or song titles they know. You can also give some history of the genre. Instead, I just focused on common instruments (banjo, fiddle) and explained that line dancing allows dancers to move as a group, instead of with a partner. In other words, it’s meant to be shared!

To get our toes tapping, we listened to clips of the Boot Scottin’ Boogie and Watermelon Crawl. A few quick tutorials from YouTube showed us basic steps like the heel stomp and grapevine. Travis was a little skeptical but then we watched a quick how-to for an Achy Breaky Heart line dance.

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We cranked up the music and danced! Of course, it’s totally fine if your kids make up their own moves.

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For giggles, we finished with a clip of a line dance from Ice Age.

Drum Time

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We had a rainy day today, which made it the perfect moment for an impromptu drum session with Veronika!

I had three different sized oatmeal containers in the recycle bin, including a full-sized oatmeal canister and two smaller servings of instant oatmeal. So first I made her a set of bongo drums! If you don’t have different sized oatmeal containers, use three that are all the same but cut them to different heights. Use masking tape to secure them together, and voila!

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A wooden spoon and a few rhythm sticks were all we needed to start drumming. I also showed her the different ways we could drum with just our hands. We explored with our fingertips, our palms, our knuckles, and more.

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This was great for letting her explore all the different ways we can use our hands and fingers.

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But she liked the sticks best, and soon was giving lots of proud taps.

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We added a soundtrack of favorite songs (heavy on drum beats of course), and started up a jam session.

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Later in the day, I set up her up with a “drum circle” of bowl and pot drums. On a soft blanket, I arranged a sauce pot, a few loaf pans, a plastic bowl, and another empty oatmeal container. I sat her in the center with her mallets and put the music back on.

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Let the drumming begin!

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Don’t worry if your toddler drums in unconventional ways. Veronika enjoyed turning the vessels right side up so she could swirl the rhythm sticks around the inside, which made a fun clanging sound.

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She also loved piling the “drums” one inside the other, turning it into a stacking game and drum session all in one.

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When she discovered that the loaf pan made a spectacularly loud clang on the wooden floor, this had to be repeated several times.

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I didn’t reprimand her, since it’s not drum play until it gets a little loud! In sum, this was a fun way to explore volume, dynamics, rhythm, and so much more.

Hanging Instruments to Crash, Rattle, and Bang!

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Old toys that don’t get much attention can seem novel if presented to your kids in a different way. To wit, Veronika hasn’t been very into her musical instruments lately… until I strung up a few on a cord and introduced this novel way to have musical play!

We played this game indoors against a dresser, but if it’s a beautiful sunny day and a warm time of year, it works equally well against a fence!

Using colored twine, I threaded instruments that could slot easily along the line, namely tambourines, bells, and a triangle. Get creative with your definition of “instrument” here, too; a colander from the kitchen added some percussion!

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Once I had everything threaded up, I presented Veronika with wooden spoons and rhythm sticks, and it was time to make music!

She loved using the wooden spoon in particular and soon there was bashing…

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…crashing…

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…tapping, and jingling. She also loved reaching out with a hand to shake the bells on the cord.

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This game will no doubt entice older siblings over to play, too! A great way to revive a bag of old instruments.

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Musical Nursery Rhyme Dance Party

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We’re filling a snow day today, which made it the perfect day to set aside some quality time for musical play.

Of course you can always just grab an instrument and play, and in that vein, I laid out every instrument we had at home.

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For some more structured fun, I went through a repertoire of nursery rhymes with Veronika! We started out with Where is Thumbkin. I held up my fingers for the verses, as she played along on the maracas.

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Next up was Head, Shoulders, Knees, and Toes. Make sure to touch each body part, and shake an instrument in between verses!

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The Itsy BItsy Spider was fun with a rain stick for the rain.

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Twinkle, Twinkle Little Star was beautiful on cymbals.

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You’ll probably find that there’s a perfect instrument for each song! For example, bang or rub on a drum for Pat-a-Cake. Or you can simply get up and dance, as I did for The Hokey Pokey while she looked up at me and laughed!

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We added other favorites like Wheels on the Bus, If You’re Happy and You Know It, and I’m a Little Teapot.

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Whatever instrument strikes your little one’s fancy is just fine; there’s no wrong way to play this game. Or simply pick him or her up and dance! This is a great way to pass some time with a one-year-old at home.

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