"In this classroom, relationships are fostered, families are respected, and children are honored.
In this classroom, nature's gifts are valued and children's thoughts are captured.
In this classroom, learning is alive and aesthetic beauty is appreciated." -Unknown

Wednesday, March 7, 2012

Our Top 5 Outdoor Musical Activities with Children

"Life is like music; it must be composed by ear, feeling, and instinct, not by rule." -- Samuel Butler


What do you get when you combine music, children, and the great outdoors? An amazing experience to behold through sight, sound, and touch. Music draws us together, lifts our spirits, allows us to express ourselves, and is just out and out FUN. In this post I'll share 5 of our favorite outdoor musical activities. 


1. A Wooden Xylophone with Mallets 



This idea came about one day when I was looking around on Pinterest and one of my friends had posted an image with which I fell in love. I clicked until I got to the link and got the details on this wondrous thing, but then wondered, "Who can I get to build this for me?" You've heard me mention my amazing substitute  IA "the other Ms. Barbara" before, who is an amazing seamstress (check out our Dr. Seuss costumes she created for us). She is married to a handy hubby, so I asked her if he'd look at the plans and see what he thinks. The next thing I know she's delivering our very own wooden xylophone with mallets. The instructions can be found at this link: http://www.instructables.com/id/2x4-xylophone/ .  Check out the sound.

video

The original instructions called for 2 x 4 boards, but he knew we'd be putting the instrument away each day, so he made it with 2 x 3 boards to make it lighter in weight. 

Not only were the children amazed with the sounds, but it brought up some amazing open-ended questions. I asked, "Why do you think each block has a different sound?" One little guy did some experimenting and concluded, "The wood is different sizes. That's how they make different sounds." He then tapped the longest one, then the shortest one and proclaimed, "The shortest one is a higher sound!" How cool was that?

2. A Gathering Drum

Last year I was taking a class at the local college and one of our assignments was to set up the environment in an aesthetically pleasing manner. Our group had lots of ideas of how to do this. One gal brought in several of the instruments she has out at her home childcare, including her gathering drum. I was amazed at the beauty, the workmanship, and the sound. She graciously let me borrow it and we began learning about drum circles, drumming chants, and the like. What an amazing opportunity! Thanks, Ms. Carol.


3. Dancing with Scarves

Last year I began taking my iPod outside with the iHome and cranking up the music to give the children another musical opportunity. Warm sunlight, light wind, and scarves make this a magical event. The children move to the rhythm of the music and love seeing the bright colors of the scarves flowing around them.


4. Rhythm Sticks or other musical instruments

There's just something about the sound of sticks tapping together. You can be listening to music or making your own. Finding the rhythm seems to come naturally to most children. Some days we play to the iPod's music. Some days we create our own musical numbers. Regardless, it's always fun. This doesn't have to be limited to only rhythm sticks. Grab the maracas, triangles, hand-drums, castanets, woodblock, and more. 



5. Shadow Dancing

One of the joys of the time of day that we spend outside is that it's early enough in the day that we have nice, long shadows for the children to discover. One day some of the friends were just enjoying dancing to the music coming out of the iPod and happened to look down and see their shadows dancing with them. What an amazing discovery! They began moving and carefully watching as their shadow twin moved right along with them. What great conversation opportunities arose on this day. 


One of my college instructors always emphasized that almost any activity you can do with a child inside, can also be done outside. What great options present themselves when you have wide open spaces, sunlight, shadows, green grass, etc. available for those treasured moments.

I guess you could say this post has been about 3 of my favorite things and I've merely combined them. That's right: kids, music, and nature. Gotta love it! 







33 comments:

  1. I may have to make a xylophone for my yard even though my child is a teen! It would be fun.

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    1. JoAnn, I say GO FOR IT!! The adults are enjoying it as much as the kids. Even the custodians for the elementary school are walking by, talking about it, and admiring it. As soon as we're inside, it wouldn't surprise me if I hear them out there playing it. Be sure to send me a pic of yours when your teen checks it out.

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  2. The Xylophone sounds really good! Thanks for posting the video too. I've several posts about outdoor music on my blog - this one about how the children and their parents were involved maybe particularly interesting to your visitors http://creativestarlearning.blogspot.com/2011/10/outdoor-music-wall.html

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    1. Thanks, Juliet. I agree that the post just wouldn't be the same without being able to hear the sounds of the xylophone. I visited your blog this morning. Sounds like we think a lot alike.

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  3. Barbara, thanks so much for adding this to the outdoor play link up. I have been adding old saucepans outside & some use them to 'cook' with but others love just walking about banging them together! Kierna

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    1. You're welcome, Kierna. I love it when you add something new to the environment and the children are just drawn to it; to investigate, experiment, and discover.

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  4. I love to see all the wonderful ideas and activities for outside play and exploration. The wooden xylophone reminds me of a set of over ten metal bowls nailed on a red and yellow painted board outside at my son's toddler classroom (for tapping and playing!). I just fell in love with it! (It was designed by an environmental sculptor). You can read the post and see the bowls here: http://montessoriconfessions.blogspot.com/2008/02/can-metal-bowls-touch-your-soul.html

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    1. Lisa, that is awesome!! Oooooh, maybe my next project. My only drawback, other than finding someone to do it for me, would be that we are located on an elementary school campus. We would need to be able to put away our outdoor items to avoid any vandalism in the evenings or weekends. We aren't located in a rough neighborhood, but sometimes people just make poor choices. Wonder if we could have it on hooks that hang on the fence then move it? Wonder how heavy it would be? Is there anyway you could get the specs for it? I'd love that. Thanks so much for taking the time to comment!!

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  5. Way cool! Love that xylophone! May have to add one to our backyard, just for fun! Thanks for sharing!

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    1. Jen, it really does draw the kids to it. I'd like to find some simple songs and maybe color code or number the notes on the music and the xylophone to see if they can begin playing songs, if they'd like,

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  6. What a wonderful collection of outdoor music play ideas! Thanks for linking up to the Outdoor Play Party, I'm sharing this one.

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    1. You're most welcome. Thanks for letting me know about it!!

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  7. So fun! What a great collection of ideas!

    I would love for you to stop by and link up any outdoor posts on my Outside Play link party:
    http://tutusandteaparties.blogspot.com/p/come-play-outside.html

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    1. Thanks, Lauren. Just popped by your place and linked up this one and three others. Thanks so much for the invite!!

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  8. Love all these ideas. We haven't incorporated music into our outdoor play at home yet because we elderly at home neighbors I think we might ruffle some feathers!
    Thanks for sharing on the outdoor play party!

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    1. They might be the biggest fans. I wonder if you approached them about being the "audience" for a performance, how it would go? We definitely always want to be respectful, but it might be a bridge to a time for the children to spend time with the seniors. That would be awesome!

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  9. This outdoor activities was really more interesting because it is musical. I am pretty sure that this kids really enjoyed their time in doing such a wonderful activities like this. Thank you.

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    1. Thanks, Zumi!! I agree that the activities hold the kids' interest more if they are outside and have the musical element added to them. They did have fun. Thanks for your feedback!!

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  10. Your so welcome Ms. Barbara.That is true if the outdoor activities is interesting then that could be catch the kids attention and not just their attention maybe it catches also their interests that could lead them to learn more.

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  11. Barbara I absolutely love your outdoor Xylophone! We are fortunate to have a handy grandfather who has made us so many wonderful additions to our environment. I have now found his next project. Thank you so much for adding this to our 'Outdoor play link-up'! :) Karen (flightsofwhimsy-ece.com)

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    1. So glad we can find something more for your handy grandfather to do. lol Would love it if you'd post a photo of yours on my Facebook wall once he completes it! https://www.facebook.com/pages/For-the-Children/170943436350531?ref=hl

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  12. I'll have to find a tutorial on how to make an outdoor xylophone. Great post!

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    1. Thanks, Rachel. If you look below the photo of the xylophone, you'll find the original link to the tutorial of how to make it. Good luck!!

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  13. these look like great activities! I love the outdoors; from doing activities to just sitting around on outdoor furniture. The only problem is where I live is deep in mosquito territory so I need to use sector mosquito spray in order to keep them away. We also get a bunch of firefies, which are really cool.

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  14. Wonderful! Your xylophone gets such a great sound! Tell us about how you made your mallets. I'm so excited to try this for my classroom.

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    1. A friend's handy hubby made them for us. I asked her the same, but the only response I got was out of scraps he had. That didn't fully answer your question or mine. Sorry. Thanks for the feedback.

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  15. How do you make the mallets?

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    1. A friend's handy hubby made them for us. I asked her the same, but the only response I got was out of scraps he had. That didn't fully answer your question or mine. Sorry. Thanks for the feedback.

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