Summer Camp Week One: Follow-up Friday

Here we are at the end of our first week of summer camp. Just being accountable for prioritising a musical activity each day has been such a positive thing for our family and I’m so excited to share these ideas with… well, whoever might be reading.

On Monday we collected together our instruments and just made some noise! I’m delighted to say that the ‘Family and Friends Music Club’ was created in this session and continues to jam together regularly. Just keeping the instruments together and easily accessible has made an instant difference to the amount of music-making going on in our house. Follow up activities so far have included crafting band posters and sign-up sheets. Maybe we’ll sell some tickets next…

Tuesday was turn-taking day. When I originally wrote the post I included the Pete Seeger version of Let Everyone Clap Hands Like Me – partly because I enjoy it, and partly in case anyone wasn’t familiar with the melody. However, as we already knew the song, I only played that version to my kids a day or so later when I was showing them what I’d been up to with the blog. They loved it! We’ll follow up that activity with a visit to the library for more Pete Seeger CDs for sure!

Wednesday was a day for talking about working musicians and what they do. We continue to discuss that as we listen to music and consider how it was produced. On a personal note, the kids are enthused about helping me set up my music studio; they are busy making plans for teaching younger siblings while I’m working!

Yesterday we made a rhythm chooser, and there have already been requests to follow that up with many more choosers/fortune tellers for everything from jumping-jack challenges to gaining control of the TV remote.

Did you join in with any of the activities this week? If so, did they lead you in any interesting directions? Please let me know in the comments.

I’m not planning to blog at the weekends on the whole, but I might have a bonus post for tomorrow if I get time…


Summer Camp Week One: Theory Thursday

We’re getting crafty and making a rhythm chooser today.  This idea came to me after the kids picked up free fortune tellers from our excellent local library as part of their summer reading program.

All you’ll need are:Young children doing rhythm activity

  • 1 sheet of paper
  • scissors
  • pencil.

I was going to put together a step-by-step, but it really seemed unnecessary once I came this very clear explanation on good ol’ Wikipedia.

I put a semibreve (whole note), dotted minim (dotted half note), minim (half note) and crotchet (quarter note) on each corner of my chooser. Knowing the extent of my children’s musical knowledge I also wrote how many beats each of these was. If the kids were choosing I let them point or say how many beats they wanted and I then said, for example, ‘Ok, that’s a crotchet – the filled-in circle with a stalk – 1 beat’. If I was the one doing the choosing I would ask for the note by name, ‘Semibreve, please,’ and then if they looked quizzical I would point and say something like, ‘That’s the circle with no stalk, 4 beats’.

On the next section I put 8 simple rhythm patterns, making sure to have a good balance of even and odd. We tried clapping these to make our choices with varying levels of success. This was challenging for my younger two (ages 3 and 4) but they were able to count the number of claps and compare it with the number of dots even if they didn’t get to grips with the exact rhythms. With my eldest (age 6) I tried repeating with the Kodaly rhythm syllables (ta for a crotchet, titi for a pair of quavers etc – click here for a more complete guide) as I know she is familiar with that from her school music lessons.

We came up with a variety of musical activities to put as our surprises under the flaps – from conducting along with orchestral music to finding middle C on the keyboard to dancing to a favourite song.  I’m looking forward to making and decorating more choosers with the kids later. In the meantime I’ve uploaded a copy of the chooser we’ve been using; if you want to print this out you’ll need to cut off the bottom blank strip before you start folding.

Click here to see our rhythm chooser

This first chooser is pretty amateurish, but if anyone is interested I can try to put together something more polished to share in due course – let me know in the comments.