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
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!