Category Archives: Music

10 Ways to Fight the Summer Slide, Part II

This is Part II in a two-part series on keeping skills sharp during the summer. In Part I, Kristen Thompson shared five stellar (and easy to apply!) ideas. Here are five more that are sure to make keep your child happy…and learning. 

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Five More Ways to Fight the Summer Slide

by Kristen Thompson

Tips one through five were shared here. Here are five more ways to keep your student on their toes (and lovin’ it) during the next couple months.

  1. Utilize Summer Programs. Take your children to summer library and bookstore programs. Most will post them online, but you can also request a calendar of events. Many libraries really crank it up a notch during the summer and hold fabulous, free activities and book clubs for students.
  2.  Be Choosy about Summer Camps. Consider registering your child for summer camps that encourage kids to use their minds on science projects, exploration, creative writing, music and art.
  3. Train the Brain. Use the summer to strengthen your student’s cognitive skills through one-on-one brain training to improve memory, visual and auditory processing, attention, and logic and reasoning. A core of strong brain skills will help them head back to school with the tools to succeed at learning in any subject. Unlike tutoring, which focuses on academics, brain-training addresses the root causes of any learning struggles. (For more information on brain training, see www.learningrx.com.)
  4. Get Musical or Lingual. Encourage your child to learn an instrument or another language. Studies have shown a strong correlation between “Arts” and “smarts.”
  5. Pick the Right Books. Learn how to choose age-appropriate books for children and teens. Reading is Fundamental has a great brochure that offers basic tips on what to look for. Your local librarian can also help you select books for your child’s interest and reading level. According to Scholastic Parents Online, reading just six books during the summer break can be enough to keep a struggling reader from falling behind.

A Final Note of Wisdom

Research shows that ALL young people experience learning losses when they don’t engage in educational activities during the summer.

“It doesn’t have to be that way,” says Dr. Ken Gibson, author of Unlock the Einstein Inside: Applying New Brain Science to Wake Up the Smart in your Child (www.unlocktheeinsteininside.com). “Think of it like this: The brain is like the body. If you exercise it, you improve it, but if you let it sit idle, it’s going to lose ability.”

To avoid the summer slide, Gibson recommends brain games and exercises that build cognitive skills, the underlying skills needed to learn.

And don’t assume that your kids will roll their eyes when you suggest ideas to keep their brain skills strong all summer. More than half of students surveyed say they want to be involved in a summer program that helps them keep up with schoolwork or prepare them for the next grade. Besides, unlike abdominal crunches, exercise for your brain is actually FUN!

Kristen Thompson is a parent, former teacher, and also the director at LearningRx Kennesaw, a center that specializes in helping learners of all ages and stages reach their full potential. LearningRx is located at 3420 Acworth Due West Road, Suite B, Kennesaw, GA 30144. 

Parents can request a free five-page Summer Slide Guide from LearningRx that includes dozens of brain-building games and exercises, as well as tips on how to incorporate brain building into daily activities. For the free Summer Slide Guide, simply call the Kennesaw LearningRx center at 770-529-4800 or the Atlanta-Buckhead LearningRx at 404-252-7246.

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Filed under Academic Success, Art, Games, Music, Summer Learning

Does Music Make You Smarter?

By Elizabeth Cossick, M.Ed.

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The nursery rhymes your mom sang to you when you were little. The hokey pokey at a childhood birthday party. The song you jammed out to while driving your first car. The first dance at your wedding. The nursery rhymes you now sing to your own children. There’s no denying it: music is a powerful part of our lives. But…can it actually make us smarter?

Research says yes. While loud, cacophonous music has been found to–of course–be a distraction and impediment to learning, music done the right way provides a slew of academic benefits. Here are just a few:

  • Body-Mind Integration

When playing a musical instrument, singing a song or learning a dance step, children experience a unique melding of mind and body. In the brain, this means that neurons are firing away, brain activity is moving across both hemispheres, and sensory integration is occurring. So, how does this equate to the classroom? Sensory integration (using and interpreting the senses simultaneously) is crucial for reading, writing and math.

  • Spacial-Temporal Reasoning

Spatial-temporal reasoning is the ability to visualize spatial patterns in one’s mind. It’s a skill needed for engineering, architecture, art, science, games and math. So, how do you improve spatial-temporal reasoning? Through music, according to the MIND Research Institute. MIND did a study where children were engaged in a series of computer games involving math problems; simultaneously, they received musical keyboard training. What researchers discovered was further proof of the “Mozart Effect”–the idea that listening to a piano sonata enhances spacial-temporal performance. Why? Music has a structural pattern that mimics math: listening to patterns and symmetries in music aids in concepts like counting and fractions. The takeaway? Music makes kids better at math.

  • Social/Behavioral

Music has also been found to aid in mood improvement. This concept is a simple one: happy music = happy kids. Calm music = calm kids. Wild music = wild kids! Students take social cues for appropriate behavior from the music they hear.

Incorporating Music at Home and School

So, music is clearly beneficial. Now, how can you easily incorporate it into your classroom and home?

  • CDs: An obvious answer is the good ol’ CD player. Play songs in the car, when your children are your captive audience. One rule: You control the dial! You may even be able to sneak in some Mozart here and there.
  • Instruments: If you are able to provide music lessons for your child (and if they’re willing to participate), lessons are wonderful, especially during the formative elementary and middle school years. But, if formal lessons aren’t in the cards (or budget), opt for some simpler alternatives, like a tambourine, rhythm sticks, or a hand drum.
  • Music Programs. There are also several stellar, research-based programs out there specifically designed to combine music with learning. One of the best is Rock ‘N Learn, a series of over 50 CDs and DVDs that uses music (like really fun, hip music) to teach everything from division to phonics to Spanish. Not only does Rock ‘N Learn set concepts to a catchy tune (read: aids in memory), but it also makes learning very positive for children (read: fun). The CDs and DVDs are affordable, too, ranging from $10-$20 each.

The moral? More music = more learning. Now that’s worth singing about!

Sources: Keith, Kimberly. http://childparenting.about.com/cs/k6education/a/mozarteffect.htm

MIND Research Institute: http://mindresearch.net/cont/programs/prog_stmm_desc.php

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Filed under Academic Success, Math, Music, School Readiness

St. Patrick’s Day Interactive Bulletin Board

by Rachel Stepp

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It’s almost that time of the year when tricky little leprechauns visit classrooms all over the world. Why not welcome him into the classroom with a creative and fun bulletin board?

Here’s how to bring a little luck o’ the Irish into your classroom this month:

1. First comes the spring background.

Start by creating a spring scene on the bulletin board. Create a nice blue background with spring flowers blooming in the fresh, green grass.

2. Then let the rainbow shine!

Have your students trace their hands on paper in all the colors of the rainbow (red, orange, yellow, green, blue, indigo, and violet). Once students have traced their hands (the more hand prints you have, the bigger your rainbow can be!), have them cut out their tracings. Then, add a rainbow to your bulletin board with all of the hand prints stretching across the spring sky.

3. Next, add a pot o’ gold.

Don’t forget to add a pot of gold at the bottom of rainbow! You can cut out a black pot and add yellow “coins” covered in gold glitter to come out of the pot. The children will be excited to see the sparkling coins, and you could even add American currency to the pot to reinforce coin knowledge.

4. Where’s the tricky leprechaun?

One of the most important parts of the St. Patrick’s Day bulletin board is, of course, the leprechaun! One simple way to get a leprechaun that is large enough for your board is to trace it on large butcher paper. Take a piece of green paper and tape it over your SmartBoard or on your white board. Then, use a SmartBoard projector or overhead projector to shine a picture of a leprechaun on the paper. Trace the picture to the size you want it. It might be easiest to find leprechaun clip art or coloring pages, so that it will be easy to trace. Once you have traced it, go over the lines with dark marker and then cut it out. Put the leprechaun on the bulletin board in various places throughout the month of March. The tricky guy can keep ’em guessing!

5. Now, set it to song!

Add some interaction to your bulletin by adding this short song (to the tune of BINGO):

There was a little leprechaun,

He lived under a rainbow.

R-A-I-N-bow

R-A-I-N-bow

R-A-I-N-bow

He lived under a rainbow.

Teach your students this song and have different students perform it daily. Remember to stay true to BINGO. Each verse, remember to take a later off of ‘rainbow’ and clap in its place.

6. And, finally, read all about it!

St. Patrick’s Day by Gail Gibbons is a great book for Kindergarten through second grade that explains the origins and symbols (shamrock, leprechaun) of the holiday, including the life and works of St. Patrick. The colorful watercolor illustrations are engaging for students of all ages. (The book is available at The School Box for $6.95, by the way. Here’s the link to buy it online: St. Patrick’s Day by Gail Gibbons).

The children will enjoy reading and singing about St. Patrick’s Day during March, under a rainbow of their own hand prints!

Rachel Stepp is a graduate student at The University of Georgia who regularly contributes to A Learning Experience.

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Filed under Activities, Art, Centers, Classroom Decor, Math, Music