Sunday, March 29, 2015

Parenting Tip - Cool Toys

My secret wish is to be a toy inventor.  I love to watch children play with toys, and I'm always interested in what toys keep their interest the longest.  My grandchildren in Virginia have Magformers.  These are sturdy plastic shapes that connect together because of magnets.  My four year old grandson played with these shapes for hours for two days straight, making different geometric designs and 3D shapes.  His two year old sister loved to play with them too.

 Bristle Blocks was another favorite toy.  I think my grandson must have made a whole fleet of airplanes.

A game that I play with my older grandchildren (ages 9-12) is a thinking, logic game, called Lotto.  You just need paper and pencil to draw up your own strategy page .  You are trying to guess your opponent's number sequence-made of 4 digits (or 5 digits when you're good at the game) and he is trying to guess yours.  Or if you have several people playing, you guess your neighbor's number who guesses his neighbor's number, etc.  You get a "hit" for the correct number in the correct position and a "miss" if the number is in the sequence, but not in the order you placed it.  It's kind of like Battleship, but you're not sinking ships, you're guessing a number sequence.  You can also play it with words.  You guess your opponent's 4 letter word (or 5 letters to make it harder).  I love this game!
The trouble with toys is, different children like to play with different toys. My out of state grandchildren recently came to visit and they played with different toys than my in-state grandchildren.  And two of them were both 4 year boys.  I guess I'll just have to keep buying toys because I know that some grandchild will play with them. Eventually.

Thanks for reading,


Monday, March 16, 2015

Music Tip - Simplified Children's Song

I love the song the children are singing in my Church this year for Primary.  The melody is inspiring and the words ring so true.  It's called, I Know My Savior Lives.  It was composed by Tami Jeppson Creamer and Derena Bell.

I arranged a simplified version of it for my piano students and grandchildren to play.
Enjoy it!
Thanks for reading,

Saturday, March 14, 2015

Parenting Tip -It was the TWO YEAR OLDS who did me in!

Oh. My. Gosh.  Today I babysat my two 4 year old grandsons plus their 2 year old brother and sister, plus an 11 month old granddaughter. I thought I was up for the challenge.  I mean, hello-- I raised 7 children.  And I love children.  And I consider I'm somewhat a pro with children.

But today was my day to eat humble pie.  I thought I had entered the twilight zone or funniest home videos or "how to drive Grandma crazy" hidden camera before the day was done.

It was the 2 two year olds who were my undoing:
*Oatmeal dumped all over the family room carpet and chair with two children laughing and playing in it.
*Children hiding under the bed after eating all the mints they took from my purse  (while I was cleaning up the oatmeal, of course).
*Pantry shelf taken out of pantry with cocoa spilled all over the kitchen floor.
* Two potty messes all over the carpet.
* My bedroom door locked (the old fashioned lock that requires a key that is no longer in existence)
* Glass cup dropped and broken

Two year olds!!   ARRRRGGGGGHHHHHH!!!!
(Note: before one of the two year olds came to my house, he had already spread poop all over his bed from a "accident" and his 4 year old brother had tried to clean up his own poop mess by taking a bath by himself and spreading poop into the bathtub!  My poor daughter-in-law)

After today, I feel like I failed being the "Best Grandma of the Year".  Instead, I became the "Grandma who couldn't cope".  Oh well.  I'm doing it again tomorrow, but I'll be better prepared!  I won't let the two year olds out of my sight!

And I'll do what I did today.  Laugh and laugh and laugh!

Thanks for reading,


Friday, March 13, 2015

Music Tip - Glorious

This song, called Glorious, is just what it says.  Listen to the words!

Wednesday, March 4, 2015

Music Tip - Hand bells and Chimes

I was in a hand bell choir for a couple of years and loved it!  Did I mention that I loved it?  It was so fun and fulfilling to be part of a group who made  music together.  We used hand bells as well as chimes.

A few years ago I had the opportunity to buy a set of chimes.  These are much cheaper than buying hand bells, but they are still quite expensive.  They make a beautiful, soft sound.   I used them at school in my music classes before I retired, and I have also used them at Church.  Children and adults both love to play them.

I have several tips for making it an easy, enjoyable way to play music with children and/or adults who don't read music well or even, at all.  The most important tip I learned from my brother 20 years ago when he was teaching a group of boy scouts to play those homemade pipes which used to be popular.
Tip 1: Each boy had his own pipe/chime and lyrics sheet.  The words to the song were all that was written on the paper (no music--since the scouts couldn't read music).  My brother circled the words to the song that the scout was to play on his chime.  Then the group would all sing/read along with the lyrics and ding their bell only when they came to a circled word on their own individual page.  Ingenious!  It works!  
To prepare a song this way, type up the lyrics with liberal spacing between words and lines.  Print as many copies as you have notes.  Say a song uses middle C, plus all the notes up to the next C.  Print out 8 copies of the lyrics.  On the first paper write Middle C, then look at the music and find which words are sung when middle C is played.  Circle those words on the lyrics page.

Next, get another lyrics page, write D at the top and again, look at the music, find the Ds and circle those words on the paper.  Continue so each note of the song has its own lyrics page.  Then hand out the lyrics, hand out the bells and sing, play and make music!
Tip 2:  You can either play the melody on the chimes/bells/pipes or play chords.  I find that if part of the group is singing the words, it sounds better to have the chimes play chords along with the piano accompaniment.  If there is no singing, the chimes can play the melody.
You can do both ways when performing a song.  You can start with the bells playing the simple melody (with or without piano accompaniment), then have the singers begin singing and the bells switch to playing the chords.

It's also beautiful to play harmony on the chimes.  Play the melody first time around, then play harmony the second time around. You would type the lyrics two times on the same paper.  The first time, circle only the melody words.  On the second set of lyrics, circle both melody and harmony words (see example above).  You can even use different colors to show which notes are the melody or harmony.
Tip 3: Sometimes a child/adult can play two or 3 different chimes.  This happens when a note is not played very often in the song.  Maybe their note is only sung once or twice (this happens with the highest note in the song). 
 It's not fun getting stuck with that chime--rather boring.  So find another note that is only played a few times, and circle the lyric page with two different colors, one for each chime.  That player thinks they are really cool because they get two chimes!
Tip 4: There are always one or two notes that get played a lot in a song.  It's usually the note the key is in. 
 Assign these notes to players who may have a little more musical training than others in the group.  These notes can be critical to the rhythm and overall success of  the performance of the song.
  Tip 5: Practice, practice correct technique when playing the chimes or hand bells.  Check out you tube videos to watch the correct way to play and dampen the chimes/bells.  I find that children younger than 4th grade don't have the physical dexterity to play chimes.  Wearing gloves is a must when playing expensive hand bells.  They are optional when playing chimes.
 To have your group look really polished and professional, teach your players the "get ready" position. Bells/chimes up to shoulders, looking at conductor, ready to begin.  The bells/chimes are always touched at the shoulders to dampen the sound after playing.  They are also held upright at the shoulders when not in play (as opposed to laying on the table).

Obviously these kids know how to read music!   

Okay, there you have it.  Go find some bells, play some music and have fun!

Thanks for reading,




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