Music Connections Recommends…

Music, books, web links, videos, etc. that will add joy to your family life.

Finding GREAT books for YOUNG children

There are SOOO many children’s books out there.  Some are beautiful, some are based on familiar characters, some have sequenced stories, some are very open ended.  What makes a book GREAT for a toddler, or a preschooler?   The main goal is to find books that:

·        Engage the child’s interest

·        Promote interaction between the book, the reader, and the child

·        Promote confidence in the child as a “reader” (WAY before they can read)

·        Offer ways to develop the pre-reading and reading skills a child needs

·        Develop, in the child, a LOVE of BOOKS, and what they can offer


Before buying a lot of books for your child, consider these “qualities” as you look through your own library, and as you make regular trips to the city library.  You’ll get a much better idea of books that you will want to check out for a few weeks versus books that you will want to ADD to their own library. 



Look for books with large, colorful illustrations.  Young children thrive on getting the story through the pictures, so look for illustrations that are clearly representing the characters and what is happening in the story.  There are some books in which the story is evident even without words.  These are wonderful, as the story can be told in so many different ways.  Even with text, it is not always required to read the words exactly.   And really good books have the illustrations depict even MORE of a story than the words identify.  Asking the child about more of the story based on the picture is a great way for children to add to the story line.  little-critterIt is also wonderful to find illustrations that include a small character that is located on each page in different places, such as the cricket and spider in the Little Critter series.  This series of books EXCEL in having the pictures tell MORE of a story than the words.


For Toddlers, look for sturdy books in which each page can have its own focus – that it can be, but does not need to be read in any particular order.  A character may be doing a variety of things centered on a theme.  Toddlers like to turn the pages themselves and will stop on a page that captures their attention.  That is the time to focus on whatever is on that page.  Have them point to one of the pictures that is prominent on the page, and try to connect it with something they are familiar with in their own life.  If it is an animal, talk about what it is, what it sounds like, and refer to an animal they might know.  If it is a character doing an activity – talk about the activity and when it might happen in their own life.  This type of interaction helps them feel confident in their ability to “use” books, and helps them see what are in books relates to things outside of books.


Choose topics that relate to real life, esp. for children 2 years or younger, even if it is funny animal characters that are doing human things.  Imaginary creatures and activities, like magic, are abstract and more difficult to keep straight in their heads as to what is real and what is not real.  Concrete activities that reflect more of what is real in their life, and in the world around them helps develop a more full sense of who they are and where they live.  Although this age child likes pretend play – mostly it is about real life things.  Encourage a concrete understanding of this world before delving into fiction and non-reality.  Once a child is “around” 3 years old, their imagination takes off, and then it is fine to begin introducing a few books with more imaginary topics, as long as there is good discussion about the difference between what is real or not, and that there is a good balance of books which are presented.


When considering the words, choose books that encourage fun expressive reading.  Read the book aloud to listen to the sounds.  Reading aloud with an expressive voice more actively engages a child’s interest, and promotes good language skills.  Although not all of the following things will be found in a single book, these are things to look for:

  • It is fun to read phrases that rhyme.  This helps develop phoneme awareness in children, which is an important pre-reading skill.  Dr. Suess books were designed specifically with this purpose.  “One Shoe, Two Shoes, Red Shoes, Blue Shoes”.  After a few readings, the child may be able to fill in the second part of the rhyme. 
  • When the words promote a strong rhythm it helps the child feel the cadence of speech, and a feel for how phrasing can aid in the understanding of the meaning of words.  Encourage the child to keep a steady beat while you are reading by clapping. 
  • Find books with interesting characters that encourage fun vocal changes – high female voices, slow tedious and low voices, voices of all sorts?  I especially enjoyed reading the Winnie the Pooh books to my children because of the fun unique voices and accents of each of the characters (Tigger & Eeyore are my favorite voices!).  Listening to various voices helps children feel more comfortable around new people they meet who speak differently. 
  • Especially enjoyable are repetitive phrases featured regularly or at the end of each page. Children LOVE being the “reader” of this type of repetitive phrase, especially if you can encourage some type of activity with it, like clapping, or “chugging” the arms, etc.  MANY of the Kindermusik books features this types of phrase.  shiny-dinahOne of the Kindermusik favorites is “Choo-choo, Choo-choo! Dinah, Dinah, Dinah Dinah.  Shoo! Shoo! Shoo! Shoo! Shine-a, Shine-a, shine-a .” from the book, “Shiny Dinah” in the Our Time AWAY WE GO semester.  For each part the children “pull the whistle”, clap their hands, swish their hands, the rub their hands in circles to shine the
  • Books that have a PART that can be sung can really capture a child’s attention, and can connect in a more emotional way.  One of my favorites is “Love you Forever” by Robert Munsch.  (Although it took me a long time to read that all the way through without crying.) 
  • Repetitiveness can also be a springboard for sequencing.  Stories that reuse phrases, continuing to add another phrase on top of each other, such as “The Green Grass Grew All Around”,  “with the branch on the tree, and the tree in the hole, and the hole in the ground… “ help build neural connections toward spatial relationships and sequential ordering.  PLUS, they’re FUN !  My son’s favorite is an old book called “Drummer Hoff” = “And Drummer Hoff FIRED it OFF!”


When choosing a book with a story line, choose stories that make sense and are meaningful to your child.   Young children respond only to books that tell stories that feel “real”, feel complete, and feel satisfying.  Strongly consider what your child is interested in, and what they know already.  Try to choose books that give them a little more information or understanding about their object(s) of interest, or character(s) they find fascinating.  Ask all sorts of open ended questions to spark conversations that will help them explore the ideas presented in the book, helping them connect with ideas they know and “discover” new bits of information.  Children learn best by discovering for themselves rather than being told.


To me, great books for young children fit into three categories:

a.     Activity books – Books that encourage people to make noise and move, and act out what is occurring on the pages and in the story.  These books encourage personal involvement in reading materials.  They strengthen language articulation skills, as well as give opportunities for large and small motor development.  These may also be alphabet books which help them make the sounds of the alphabet and relate these sounds to what they know.  This could include tracing the letters with their fingers, and exploring other objects with those sounds.  Activity books are a springboard for more action!

b.     Bedtime books – Books that have a lulling rhythm as you read them aloud.  Their story is comforting and without a crisis or scary moment.  These books reassure loving feelings and safety, and welcome the night as a peaceful companion.

c.     Story books – Books that encourage discussion, conversations about the characters and what they are doing.  These books build vocabulary and understanding.  They might have a crisis, or problem that will be resolved somehow, hopefully in a way that sparks children to discuss and solve their own problems, or at least understand others that experience them.


A Great book is made so much better by a good interactive reader. 

  • Allow the child to hold the book and turn the pages.  It’s OK if they do not go in order, or if they turn the page before you finish reading.  Later on, you may try this “trick” I started with my daughter as she got to the right developmental stage (she was 2 years old, but it may vary with your child).  I would say “BEEP” when I finished reading the words on the page, so she would know it was time to turn the page.  This also set her up to use the audio books that we could get from the library.
  • Ask questions that identify or spark interest. 
  • Read expressively, using your voice to enliven, or soothe, or build intensity for a story line. 
  • Offer the child the opportunity to “tell” the story , or parts of the story, based solely on the pictures, or by what they can remember. 
  • After a few readings, start a sentence, then encourage the child finish the thought.  Show enthusiasm for their version, and do NOT correct them if they say the words differently.    


These are ways to engage the child and build their confidence in books as a source of enjoyment, and in their ability to be a significant part of the reading process.

Review the current research on the benefits of Music and Literature on a child’s development.

Books are an important part of each Kindermusik program, as there are at least one or two children’s literature books that are included in the home materials.  Each of these books meet several of the above criteria for being a GREAT book.  The Creative Team at Kindermusik International recognizes the benefits of good books for young children, and therefore integrate their books with the themes of the curriculum. 


There is even a WONDERFUL summary of research they have developed that will help parents understand how music benefits a child’s development of the reading process.  PLEASE check out the following links at .  It talks about the critical aspects of developing the skills of Active Listening, building vocabulary, developing phonological awareness, Print Awareness, and promoting Comprehension.


There are resources available for each age group; Our Time (1 ½ – 3 ½ years)  and  Imagine That (3-5 years), so that the materials is specifically focused on what to expect from, and what is developing in a child at each of these ages, and has some great ideas for what you can do at home based on current research in this field.  It is well worth your time to read it.  It easily explains the research, and if you are interested further, the actual research documents are also available for your curious mind.


In this blog, “Music Connections Recommends…” , I suggest many books that I believe fit the above criteria.  Some are Kindermusik books (or Do-Re-Me & You – which are developed by Kindermusik International), but MOST are other books I have found along the way – through teaching, and especially through experiences with my two children.  They are usually presented based on a particular theme.  Please feel free to add your comments to these postings with list with books you have found to be GREAT, so that we can all find GREAT books that will OPEN up the world to our children.


Or if you have other ideas on what makes a book GREAT for young children, please add your comments.  I would LOVE to hear them.



Read it, feel it, live it, and love it. 

Then, your child will too.

March 8, 2009 Posted by | 2 - 5 years, Books, Parenting, Promotes fun interaction | , , , , , , , | 6 Comments

Children’s Music and Games for Valentines Day

Valentine’s Pencils are an excellent alternative gift for this special holiday.  If your child got some, perhaps, instead of sharpening them, you might want to be creative, and make them into instruments.  Last year, my students enjoyed this challenge, and I posted a slide show of their creative works of art and music:  Homemade Instruments Made from Pencils.

Bella's pencil

I’ve posted a fun Animal Valentine video, as well as two other fun videos on my other blog:  Kids Love Animals.  Share the love and the learning.

It doesn’t take long online to find some excellent Valentine’s Game and Activities for children, but my daughter’s favorite is on The Kidzpage .  It has puzzles, and coloring pages to print, and fun online games.

SONGS FOR TEACHING is an excellent site that has the lyrics to wonderful songs for children, and it has a page full of Valentines Songs.  You can even listen to someone singing it, and if you like it, you can download it for a small fee.

Kindermusik families may remember some of their favorite songs from their Home CDs that are perfect for this day of family love.  Many of these are folk songs, so you may know them as well.  I am trying to include enough of the songs to help you remember how to sing it.

Skinnamarink a-dink-a-dink, Skinnamarink a-do, I LOVE YOU!   – Village: Dream Pillow

Love Somebody – Yes, I do… (3 times while pretending to look around for someone to love, then)… I Love Somebody and it’s YOU, YOU, YOU!

You are My Sunshine, my only sunshine.  You make me happy when skies are grey.  You’ll never know dear, how much I love you.  Please don’t take my sunshine away.

Mama loves, and Daddy Loves, and Everybody Loves a little Baby.    – Village: Dream Pillow

I love my Family, my family, my family, my family, take a look and you will see…  They’re OK with me.   on Family Time:  Our Kind of Day

Tell Me Why the stars do shine,  Tell me why the ivy twines,  Tell Me Why the skies are blue, And I will tell you just why I love you.      on Village:  Do-Si-Do

Shady Grove, my little love, Shady Grove I know, Shady Grove, my little love, bound for the Shady Grove.     on Village:  Cock-a-Doodle Moo

Cuddle Up A Little Closer Baby Mine, Cuddle up and be my little Valentine

Let Me Call You Sweet Heart, I’m in love with you.

Wiggle (4 x), Giggle (4 x)… Little Sack of Sugar, gonna eat you up   on Family Time: Our Kind of Day

Meet Me Tonight in Dreamland   – on Village: Dream Pillow

Find out more about Kindermusik at !

Enjoy singing and playing with your family this Valentine’s Day !!!  LOVE, Ms. Debbie

February 14, 2009 Posted by | 2 - 5 years, Family, Kindermusik, Online Tools, Parenting, Promotes fun interaction, Seasonal Fun, Uncategorized, Websites | , , , | 3 Comments

Going Green – Ideas and Products

Recently, I have been surrounded with people who are GOING GREEN –  focusing more on our environmental impact:  Kindermusik International, and my daughter’s school, Lakeland Montessori.   

This blog posting is intended to list some great websites, blogs, etc. that I recommend for learning more, learning how, and learning about some really cool products that are available (if you really need to buy anything at all.)  I will continue to add things here as I find them – just to keep all the Green Stuff on the same posting.

You can reference my thoughts about Kindermusik’s new efforts here, or you can go directly to their blog, , where they have a lot more information than JUST what Kindermusik is doing.

If you are interested in keeping up with all the aspects of becoming GREEN, check out:  – a website that is “the consumer’s guide to the green revolution”.  Includes blog postings with creative & inexpensive ways to “be more green”.  And there is a newsletter to which you can subscribe. 


I thought their gift ideas were quite unique!  For example, check out these websites for plantable paper, handmade paper that can be planted, and wildflowers will grow.  (click on Plantable Paper)

Lakeland Montessori found an excellent website that offers a wide variety of products to help in this process.  At , everything offered promotes reducing the impact we have on the earth, as well as supporting hard-working people in fledgling companies in third world countries.  Any purchases during the next year offer 10% of the sales to our school.  During the check out process, just select “Lakeland Montessori Schoolhouse-FL” from the drop-down list of affiliates.    Highly recommended items: 

  • Wrap-n-Mat – this ingenious mat replaces sandwich baggies, wrapping around food items and closing with Velcro.  Then, it opens up into a clean, reusable placemat.  Easy to clean!  I ordered 2 and switch them out every other day – and no longer use zip lock bags in Cora’s lunch.
  • Aluminum or Stainless Steel Bottles – stop using plastic bottles, this works everyday!  I NO LONGER buy plastic bottles of water!!!  You can also get these locally at your sports stores.
  • TWIST Euro cloths & Loofah Sponges – made with cellulose from renewable tree farms.  These work great, and even run through the dishwasher well to sanitize them.  I like the Loofah sponges the best.

February 8, 2009 Posted by | All ages, Websites | , , | 1 Comment

Songs for Mothers and Fathers

Oh, my, there are so many songs written by parents for parents – not necessarily for the children.  These sing to the heart of a parent and their experiences of loving their children. 

These songs help me step back from the RUSH of daily life, and the negative emotional responses to the regular annoying things children need to do to grow.  These songs help me refocus on my love for my family, and how to let them be children, and how to guide them to the positive end result of capable, responsible, caring adults.

I have two favorite collections, one of which you can buy, the other is a made by a friend.  Each have songs by different artists, so I’ll list them separately so you can find them.  There are a few albums full of these songs that I love, and a few singles that I would recommend.  You may be amazed at how many of these you may already have in your collections.   PLEASE feel free to add your favorites in the comment section so we can all find these gems!

Hand in Hand – Songs of Parenthood  – A collection by Music for Little People  Find it at .  But beware, you may want to spend a LOT of money there.  I do.

  1. Circle Game – Joni Mitchell
  2. On Children – Sweet Honey in the Rock
  3. The Things We’ve Handed Down – Marc Cohn
  4. Baby – Bobby McFerrin
  5. Wake Up – Yoko Ono
  6. Beautiful Boy – John Lennon
  7. Only Child – Jackson Browne
  8. Born to the Breed – July Collins
  9. Child’s Song – Tom Rush
  10. Sunshine – Ferron
  11. My Father’s House – Kenny Loggins
  12. Forever Young – The Pretenders

Love Songs for the Time of Tiny  – “A collection of music for babies and parents falling in love.  These songs were compiled onto one CD by one of my Kindermusik moms, Kimberly Sgroi, when her second child was born.  I am so grateful she shared this music with me, and I still listen to it frequently.  I have even purchased several of the CD’s from which these songs came.

  1. The Things We’ve Handed Down – Art Garfunkel
  2. A Child is Born – Barbara Streisand
  3. Welcome to the World – Nicolette Larson
  4. One in a Million – Lisa Vischer
  5. Dormi, Dormi – Eugene Ruffolo
  6. Angel Baby – Linda Ronstadt
  7. Starlight, Starbright – Nicolette Larson
  8. I Will – Art Garfunkel
  9. Getting to Know You – James Taylor
  10. Before You Grow – Faith Hill
  11. For Baby (For Bobbie) – John Denver
  12. Rockin’ My Baby to Sleep – Nicolette Larson
  13. Lasso the Moon – Art Garfunkel
  14. Turtle Dove – traditional – Kindermusik version from Away We GO
  15. Child of Mine – Carole King
  16. The Moment I Saw You – Nicolette Larson & Graham Nash
  17. Last Night the Moon was Still – Justin Roberts
  18. May their Always be Sunshine – traditional – Kindermusik version on Dream Pillow

Full Albums by artists that focus on the parenting experience:

Sweet Honey in the Rock – Experience… 101 

This music is purely and richly vocal, with just percussion accompaniment.  – Read more about this awesome album at:

Eddie Coker – Seven Songs  (esp. Keep Shining)


Linda Ronstadt – Dedicated to the One I Love

  • Dedicated to the One I Love [Lowman Pauling- Ralph Bass]
    Be My Baby [Phil Spector- Jeff Barry- Ellie Greenwich]
    In My Room [Brian Wilson- Gary Usher]
    Devoted to You [Boudleaux Bryant]
    Baby I Love You [Phil Spector- Jeff Barry- Ellie Greenwich]
    Devoted to You (instrumental) [Boudleaux Bryant]
    Angel Baby [Rosalie Hamlin]
    We Will Rock You [Brian May]
    Winter Light [Zbigniew Preisner- Eric Kaz- Linda Ronstadt]
    Brahms’ Lullaby [Johannes Brahms]
    Good Night [John Lennon- Paul McCartney]

Specific Songs that apply from Specific Albums

  • Teach Your Children – Crosby, Stills, and Nash
  • Sunrise, Sunset – Barbara Streisand – Fiddler on the Roof
  • Cats in the Cradle – Harry Chapin
  • Butterfly Kisses – Bob Carlisle – This has also been made into a book with a cassette.

Yahoo Readers answer the question “What are some good songs about parents and their chidren…”.  Although I don’t know many of them, you can check out their answers at

DealMac also offers a friendly discussion on CD Mix of Songs for parents of New babies at:,2582065 

Happy Mother’s Day!   Happy Father’s Day!  and Happy Parenting with MUSIC!


May 9, 2008 Posted by | Music Recording, Uncategorized | , , , | 3 Comments

Toys I Make, Trips I Take – Resources

The semester of Toys I Make, Trips I Take, of the Kindermusik Imagine That! program is so CHOCK full of themes, it is an interesting challenge to collect and present the information. 

First, there is the theme of the toymaker making toys for his toy shop.  AND the aspect of each of the classic toys to enjoy, ie. the Jack In the Box, the drum, the spinning top, etc.  I’ve got lots of songs, and other resources, as you will see, but not so many books about the classic toys or the toymaker. 

I am open to someone sharing books or resources they love on this subject, by making a comment on this blog.   I have found a few online, and ordered them, but cannot yet recommend them.  Maybe you’ll see some new entries soon.  Only if they’re the best!

I must first recommend a fabulous classical music piece,  The Toy Symphony by Leopold Mozart.    You can find a great recording of this symphony on the CD set described in this posting:  Classics for Children – Great set of classical music 


Within the semester, we have the opportunity to help the toymaker build a boat, and a train, and to explore adventures that we might have in our imaginations.  The following blog posting include resources for these themes.


Traveling with Trains by books, music, and more.  (NEW)

Travel by boat – in a book or two  (book resources and ideas)

Children, Children, build me a boat  (activity idea and slide show)


During our train travels, the children are encouraged to explore map reading and map making skills.  I have recently found a wonderful book that introduces map skills to young children.

Treasure Map  by Stuart J. Murphy, Harper Collins

A group of children on Elm Street find a treasure map, and learn some important mapping skills on the way to finding a wonderful “treasure” under the X.  Readers will be intrigued by the treasure, and may want to start their own tradition.


Mighty Maddie by Stuart J. Murphy,  , Harper Collins, Inc.  Maddie has toys ALL over the house, big heavy ones, and very light ones, and needs to have them all cleaned up before her friends start arriving for her birthday party.  She decides to become MIGHTY MADDIE, and does an amazing job with things both heavy and light.
The previous two books are part of the MathStart series. Cora (4) and I have just discovered the MathStart series through our local library, and we are loving them.  Each book is a wonderfully interesting story that introduces a basic math concept.  Check out more information on these books, and fun math activities on the author’s website, .

During the last part of the semester, we focus on the enjoyment of stuffed animals as friends, confidants, and playmates.  Along that line, I do recommend:



Teddy Bear, Teddy Bear  – Ill. by Michael Hague;  Scholastic, 1993 .  It is the classic rhyme that encourages specific movements, and the illustrations are classic and delightful.  Try to make each of the positions that you see the little bear doing, even along the borders of the pages.



Fabulous videos about Toys: 

Rudolph, the Red Nosed Reindeer and the Island of Misfit Toys – GoodTimes Entertainment, 2001 – This is an excellent follow up, with top notch voices, for Rudolph to join with an elf that would rather be a dentist than make toys.  Feeling like they don’t fit in, they find more misfits – toys that are made incorrectly – and end up saving Christmas by foiling the plans of the Toy Taker. 

The Tangerine Bear – Feature Films for Families , 2005  – A toy bear that no one wants longs to find a home.  When no one buys him, he ends up in a story specializing in damaged merchandise.  He meets new friends, including a Jack in the Box, and eventually discovers his true home.   

I would highly recommend ANY of the films from this company; they are all fully designed to “strengthen traditional values through entertainment”.  And they do.  Check them out at .  We personally have more than 30 of the films by this company and both the children and grown ups enjoy them.  See my blog posting: Feature Films for Families .


April 21, 2008 Posted by | 2 - 5 years, Books, Classical Music, Movies, Music Recording, Promotes fun interaction | , , , , , , | 1 Comment

Children’s books about Orchestra Instruments

In the first year of Kindermusik for the Young Child, the students learn about each of the different groups of instruments in the orchestra.  A fun way to enhance this learning is through books that explain or expand on these instruments in ways that relate to children.  I have found the following books to do Just that! 

The Remarkable Farkle McBride – by John Lithgow,  Ill. By C.F. Payne;  Scholastic, 2000.

Farkle is a talented young musician, but just can’t stick to any one instruments.  He finally finds his talent is conducting all of the instruments.  Wonderful story of finding your place in this world.


Orchestranimals – by Vlasta van Kampen and Irene C. Eugen;  Scholastic, 1989.

The penguin conductor is anxiously trying to get everyone ready for the upcoming concert.  Introduces all the instruments in an amusing way (and includes a snippet of music melodies for each instrument).


Zin! Zin! Zin! A Violin – by Lloyd Moss,  Ill. By Margorie Priceman;  Alladin Paperbacks, 1995.

A musical counting book.  The delightful rhymes help clarify what groups of instruments playing together are called; one instrument plays a solo, two is a duet, three is a trio, and so forth, until an entire orchestra is gathered.

Of course, listening to classical music is a perfect way to learn about the instruments

Classics for Children – Great set of classical music  – This recording includes Peter & The Wolf, as well as Young Person’s Guide to the Orchestra, plus many more – Just BUY this CD set – you and your children will get so much out of it.


April 21, 2008 Posted by | Ages 6 and up, Animal Fun, Classical Music, Music Recording | , , , | 1 Comment

Flowers, Dewdrops, and Gardens Resources

The theme for the Kindermusik Village –  Dewdrop Semester, all about flowers and gardens.

My favorite poem that fits right into the theme is the following.  Below the verse, there is a list of more resources on the subject.

The Flowers    by Robert Louis Stevenson

From “A Child’s Garden of Verse”  It can be found as a Little Golden Book.

  • All the names I know from nurse:
  • Gardener’s garters, Shepherd’s purse,
  • Bachelor’s buttons, Lady’s smock,
  • and the Lady Hollyhock.
  • Fairy places, fairy things,
  • Fairy woods where the wild bee wings,
  • Tiny trees for tiny dames –
  • These must all be fairy names !
  • Tiny woods below whose boughs
  • Shady fairies weave a house;
  • Tiny treetops, rose or thyme,
  • Where the braver fairies climb !
  • Fair are grown-up people’s trees,
  • But the fairest woods are these;
  • Where, if I were not so tall,
  • I should live for good and all.


Favorite Books on the theme of Flowers and Gardens:

 The Carrot Seed, by Ruth Krauss, illustrations by Crockett Johnson, Harper & Row Publishers, 1945       This is the author of Harold and the Purple Crayon.   This is just as wonderful of a story about a young boy taking care of his plants, even though everyone is telling him it WON’T work.  His patience and persistence pay off with a HUGE carrot. 


TLC, Grow With Me!  by Lissa Rovetch, ill. by Chum McLeod  – A Do-Re-Me & You Publication  A young girl gets a present from a neighbor, a surprise in a pot of dirt.  She gets hints along the way to learn how to make the surprise appear.  Excellent for children just learning the art of gardening.  Since it is DRMY, of course it comes with a CD of fun songs for gardening.  You may find it on a good sale at .


Dandelion,  by Don Freeman,       Scholastic, 1964         (Excellent author)    A Lion decides to dress up fancy for a party, but everyone is glad when he gets back to being himself.       

Chrysanthemum, by Kevin Henkes,     GreenWillow Books, 1991  

A young mouse girl is lovingly named by her parents, but once she starts school, she’s not so sure how much she likes her name. 

I absolutely love the extended vocabulary that Dad uses in this book. For 3 and up.


Inch by Inch, The Garden Song,  by David Mallet and Ora Eiten;  Trophy Picture Books, 1997.  This song is a classic song from the 60’s days of love and peace, and becoming more self-reliant.  The illustrations are simply, yet poignant, and you’ve got to love the biggest beet in the world that is harvested.  I love reading AND singing this to my daughter.   This one is actually very good for even young readers, and they will love you to sing the song – the melody is written on the back pages.

A recorded version is on Mary Miche’s Earthy Tunes album (see below).

Blog Postings on the subject for your enjoyment:



April 20, 2008 Posted by | All ages, Birth to Five Years, Books, Do-Re-Me & You!, Music Recording, Nature, Promotes fun interaction, Websites | , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

Traveling with Trains by books, music, and more.

These are some of my favorite resources about life surrounding the magical world of train travel, from historical, to classic, to silly, to futuristic imaginations.  I guarantee you, each of these resources have been experienced and loved many times.

There are several Kindermusik semesters that include train themes, see this list on my blog posting:  Kindermusik Programs with themes of travel & vehicles . 

Please feel free to add your favorites to the comment section as well!  I’ll look for them.

Musical Recordings:                                .

All Aboard – John Denver;  Family Artist Series from Sony Wonder, 1997   Avail. at large music stores.   A marvalous, kid friendly collection of songs ALL about trains.  You’ll love Choo Choo Ch’Boogie.  There are several available at, as well as other online and local music stores. 

The Little Engine that Could       .

The Little Engine That Could      A Platt & Munk Classic book by Watty Piper;  A little engine saves a train full of toys.        

The Little Engine and The Big Chase   2nd book in the series, and just as fun.  The silly little clown has gotten whisked away by a big diesel engine, and the Little Engine and his friends have to rescue him.   

The Little Engine That Could – An MCA Home Video, Inc. Presentation. 1991.  The classic tale gets a wonderful make over that keeps the classic feel, but flushes out the characters and the story very well.
The Little Engine That Could – One selection from the Read With Me DVD Series.  Fisher Price has come up with a cool device that allows children to use the DVD player to have classic books read to them, and allows them to be interactive with the story, answering comprehension questions about the story, or playing games based on the story.  Scholastic has met the challenge with a nice selection of DVD books to choose from.  Find the device at, then find the stories at .  My 4 year old daughter LOVES these.  Thanks, Valerie!————————————————–Thomas the Tank Engine:  The Complete Collection by Rev. W. Awdrey    Random House Publishing.   I love this book because it includes all of the stories, as well as some background on the author and the development of these stories.   A website full of fun for Thomas fans, includes links to the following:

  • Videos
  • Games
  • TV – leads to information about television shows that include Thomas stories
  • Events – information leads to character appearances, as well as
  • A Day Out with Thomas, where a real engine has been designed to become Thomas the Tank Engine, and pulls train cars full of children all around the country.  His schedule can be found when you follow the links.


Other Favorite Train books:

Tootle   A Little Golden Book by Gertrude Crampton; Ill. by Tibor Gergely.   A young engine attends school to learn to be useful.  He has a hard time with “Staying on the Rails, No matter what!”  We LOVE this story about learning to follow the rules.



Smokey Houghton Mifflin Co.      Written & Illustrated by Bill Peet.    An old rusty steam engine finds a new use, once he is no longer needed in the rail yard.  The ending is a wonderful surprise.  Teachers love it!

Tracks    Scholastic Inc.  by David Galef; Ill. by Tedd Arnold.  

Albert, the railway construction designer, builds a crazy railroad track when his eye glasses break. 

FUNNY picture book!


I’ve Been Working on the Railroad       Scholastic   The words presented are the same as the classic song, but the pictures tell a bigger, much more fun story.  We spend LOTS of time just talking about what’s going on in the pictures.

Down By the Station  by Will Hillenbrand   Scholastic has done it again.  Classic song, but a whole new story is told through the pictures.  The conductor, the teachers, the baby animals, and the children combine for a wonderful read together book.  Cora pours over both these books, all by herself, singing the songs, and talking about the antics of these creatures.

Other Videos                                                                             .

There are two other videos are described in the blog posting:  Children’s media resources for vehicles and travel

  • Cowboy Pooh
  • Imaginaria

Florida rail lines:   Take a few of the books with you to enjoy on your REAL TRAIN RIDE.

Best Railroad game:                                                                                                    . 

Rail Baron  – I LOVE this game, but it is definitely for at least 10 years old and older.  It is so cool that the railroads on the map are based on real rail lines that were some of the original built.  The goal of the game is to ride the rails from one destination to another, and collect the payment for making the trip.  The money is used to buy railroads which you can then ride for free.  WAY FUN!  I have the version released in 1984.  I’m not the only fan, you can read about the history of the game at 


There has not been a new release in quite awhile, but you can find some good used copies on ebay.  Because it is rare, it can be a little spendy – but it is worth it!  If you find a game that doesn’t have all the pieces, it’s ok, you can buy replacement pieces if you follow the links on the website listed above.  There is even an online version that you can play on the computer.

April 20, 2008 Posted by | All ages, Books, Music Recording, Promotes fun interaction, Websites | , , , , , | 3 Comments

Smart Moves: Why Learning is not all in your Head

In Kindermusik, we incorporate movement so much, that it is known not just as a music class, but as a music and movement class.  Our creative team goes into extensive research from a variety of sources on how children learn, and there are many professionals over the centuries that show how important movement is in the learning process. 

If you want to read a great book that describes, in scientific detail, the importance of movement in the learning process, I  HIGHLY recommend “Smart Moves” by Carla Hannaford.  There is fascinating information in that book, based on extensive research, which she lists, and is written in a way that makes it very understandable.  She talks a lot about the development of neural connections in the brain, and how movement is KEY to developing strong connections, and a foundation for further learning.  It also talks about movements that help your left and right brain hemispheres to work together.  She introduces a lot of Brain Gym activities, which refer to the process of using specific movements to set up the body for doing particular activities – a science called Educational Kinesiology.  (When I told my husband that, he said “Bless You” – he never takes any of this seriously.)  The information in this book just truly got me excited about the big picture of learning, and I encorporate a LOT of her ideas in my teaching methods.


At a Kindermusik Conference in 2006, I also was fortunate enough to see her present information about her new book, “Awakening the Child Heart”, which takes her theories a step farther than the nuts and bolts of the body’s hardwiring.  I thoroughly enjoyed this book as well, and the whole vision of the interconnectedness of our bodies, and our connections to each other in this world.  It’s a bit more philosophical, and I do recommend reading “Smart Moves” first.  But if you are up for a book that will make you really stop and think about human beings and how integrated our body systems are – and how even little things make such a difference – pick that one.  From Carla, to me, to you:  I wish you Coherence.

April 15, 2008 Posted by | All ages, Books | , , | Leave a comment

St. Patricks Day Music for Children

  • St.Pat BearKnock, Knock
  • Who’s There?
  • Irish
  • Irish Who?
  • IRISH you a Happy St. Patrick’s Day!!!

Lots of Irish jokes for children, as well as crafts, history, games, printable art, recipies, etc. can be found at .  Look around on this website, , it is HUGE and chock full of cool information for moms and fun things for children. 

Mama Lisa’s WorldIf you want to check out some fun Irish songs FOR CHILDREN, check out Mama Lisa’s World for both the words and melodies to the following:

Cockles and Mussels  (which is, by the way on the Creatures at the Ocean CD) Me Mother is Gone to Church

Michael Finnigan, (featured, even in book form, in the Imagine That!  Hello Weather semester in the Fall.)

Too Ra Loo Ra Loo Ra   (Featured in the Village Dew Drops semester, This was James’ favorite lullaby song)

You might also have some fun with Limericks, reading a few (clean ones), and making up some of your own.  It can be FUN!  Read about them on Mama Lisa’s blog posting:  A Little about Limericks .  Here’s my attempt:
There once was a lady of song,
She sang and played all the day long,
With children, with families,
with Kindermusik-ologies,                         (yes, I make up the word!)
Pure love of music, just can’t go wrong.

March 17, 2008 Posted by | All ages, Cultural Influences, Promotes fun interaction, Seasonal Fun, Websites | , , | 1 Comment