Art Music Drama

How to Steal a March #7: Art Play Boosts Brain Power

We often don’t think of it as serious or important as academics, but art play boosts brain power. Art play helps develop the important skills of visualization and creativity.pre-printing activities for young children

Brains think in words, but we also think in images. When we hear the words in a story, we create the images in our mind. When we describe an event to someone else, we use words to help them picture what happened too. Reading books and telling stories is word play; art activities are image and sensory play.

painting for kids

Usually, when we think of art activities for kids we think of drawing. Art tools for drawing aren’t limited to crayons. They can include chalk, paint, sticks, rocks, buttons, and recycled and nature items of many kinds. Besides paper, kids can create on sidewalks, driveways, dirt, decks, cardboard boxes and sometimes, walls. That’s not such a great choice, however. Kids can make pictures with a stick in the dirt, or rocks on a beach. The recycling basket often has treasures for art with school tools

When it comes to painting, food colors, fruits and vegetables, and even clear water are more choices. Brushes can range from fingers to old toothbrushes to marbles rolling around on a tray.
In addition to drawing, hands love to play with play dough. Whether you make your own at home or purchase it at a store, kids of various ages can play with it over and over. There are ­countless variations of play dough with different textures to appeal to the sense of touch. Another part of it’s appeal is that kids can create whatever they want. The possibilities are unlimited.

art play with rocks

We might think of creativity as a talent we are born with. It is also a skill that we can help kids develop by letting them explore and create. Businesses are finding the value of creativity as they look for innovative ideas and solutions. Have you heard the saying to “steal a march” on someone? This refers to having an advantage over somebody. Art play boosts brain power and can do just that–give kids an advantage. What kind of art play might happen today for your child?

How to Steal a March #6: Include Music Play for Kids

We know the importance of exercise for bodies, and it’s also important for brains; for some brain fitness, include music play for kids.

musical activities for kids

Music stimulates many areas of the brain at the same time. If we could see inside the brain when it’s listening to or creating music, we would see an amazing amount of activity and coordination in a number of parts. It can and does enhance learning.

What are some ways to include music play for kids:

The most inexpensive, easiest to access, and available source of music is our own voice. We can sing to kids throughout the day. Granted, some of us worry about the quality of our singing voice, but kids don’t just listen with their ears. They listen with their hearts. A loved one’s voice echoes in our memories forever. Who do you remember singing to you? Is it a precious memory? Knowing the words for songs isn’t necessary. Make up your own to any familiar tune. “This is the way we put on socks, put on socks, put on socks,” fits to the tune of Mulberry Bush. We can use whatever words go with our actions at the time.hand-play

Play some music. Different cultures have different styles but we don’t have to be limited to any one kind. Each decade or period seems to have it’s own sort of music too. We can include a variety of music from around the clock and the world.

Let kids create music. There are music toys for kids and there are also ordinary everyday items that make sounds. Sometimes, there’s a fine line between music and noise. A squeaky door may be an intriguing sound to a child but it may be a terrible one to us.Christmas music and songs for kids

Watching YouTube videos of young children singing along with a favorite song, dancing to the music, or playing with instruments and toys makes anyone smile. We can see how kids are enjoying themselves. More than that, we are helping them to “steal a march,” that is to say, helping them gain an advantage. How might you include music play in your child’s day?

February Friendship #7: Kids Can Be Friends with Music and Singing

Kids can be friends with music and singing. Is music part of your child’s day? Food is nutrition for bodies, and music is nutrition for brains. This excerpt is from an earlier post on the importance of music for children:

Wow, is there ever a lot of research on music for learning and brain development. A study from Germany’s University of Munster found that music in early childhood can actually enlarge parts of the brain and in the book, “This is Your Brain on Music, Daniel Levitin writes: “Music   enhances or changes certain neural circuits.”

importance of singing to kidsTo include music for your child, you do not have to have a great voice or play a musical instrument. Nearing his 90th birthday, Dick Van Dyke (Bert in Mary Poppins) advises, “Everyone should dance. And everyone should sing. People say, ‘Well, I can’t sing.’ Everybody can sing. That you do it badly is no reason not to sing.” When parents sing, kids listen with their hearts.

You don’t only have to sing known songs. Make up your own to fit a situation using familiar tunes, for example, instead of ants go marching, kids can go marching to the car, hurrah, hurrah. Singing is a great way to get kids’ attention so instead of saying something for the zillionth time, sing it! Songs are a way to remind kids without nagging. Kids know what to do when they hear the tidy-up song, or Raffi’s Brush Your Teeth. There are plenty of children’s bands and performers as well as other types of music for listening and singing along.

importance of music for kidsLife itself is based on rhythm: our heartbeats and breathing. Have you ever rocked a little one to sleep? That’s rhythm too. And have you noticed how kids will drum on anything? Again, rhythm. Tap the rhythm to a song with your child, clap hands, play finger games like Patty-cake. Set out the pots and pans and a wooden spoon. When you can’t stand the noise anymore, switch for something quieter like a thick phone book or mouse pad.

Besides singing, for some more music fun play favorite tunes and dance. Both music and movement encourage connections in the brain needed for math and language. Music has a system and wave patterns. Notes go up and down. So do numbers. There’s rhythm and spaces. Language has that too.

dancing outside in fall leavesMusic encourages careful listening and stretches memory. When we sing together we listen and watch others and pay close attention to social clues. We join together through our voices.

Instead of only being a play-of-the-day, could music be a play-of-the-month? Kids can be friends with music and singing for a lifetime. What are some ways to include music for your child?


Kids Dragon Songs with “Old MacDonald Had a Dragon” Children’s Book

There are not a lot of kids dragon songs but this children’s dragon book turned an old favorite about farm animals into a very funny, silly one to sing. Old MacDonald Had a Dragon is written by Ken Baker and illustrated by Christopher Santoro. In the story, the farmer likes having a dragon on the … Continue reading Kids Dragon Songs with “Old MacDonald Had a Dragon” Children’s Book

Halloween Double Doodle Drawing Trick for Hands and Brains

For a play-of-the-day, try this Halloween double doodle drawing trick. It’s a trick on paper but a real treat for brains, fun and sweet. What is double doodle drawing? This is the name given to drawing with both hands together by Jean at The Artful Parent. We tried it and it was both a trick … Continue reading Halloween Double Doodle Drawing Trick for Hands and Brains

Fun Bus Activities: The Wheels on the Bus Fun and Learning

The Wheels on the Bus fun and learning is today’s bus activity. Singing is the only activity that engages all parts of the brain. A song with action words is great for both mind and body. This one was written by Verna Hills in the UK and it’s been around for almost 80 years. The … Continue reading Fun Bus Activities: The Wheels on the Bus Fun and Learning

Olympic Games #16 – Olympic Music Activities for Kids

Yes, the Olympics are about sports but music is part of the Games too. Can you include some Olympic music activities for your child? Did you notice several of the athletes putting their hands high above their heads and encouraging the crowd to clap in time? Their sport didn’t include music. Instead, the crowd supplied … Continue reading Olympic Games #16 – Olympic Music Activities for Kids

Olympic Art Activities for Kids: Olympic Games #12 – Art Wins Medal Too

Olympic art activities for kids aren’t just crafts. Nor are the Olympics just about sports. Did you know at one time, there were Olympic medals for art? From 1912 to 1948, art competitions were part of the Olympics. Medals were awarded in five categories for art inspired by sport. Sports and art do not contradict … Continue reading Olympic Art Activities for Kids: Olympic Games #12 – Art Wins Medal Too