Tuesday, 26 August 2014

Mussorgsky's Pictures at a Museum, a Symphony for the children

Earlier in the month I spoke of the flu that we were recovering from. It was horrible! It took us out for about two weeks each. We've never been that sick before. We spent a lot of time either at home or the doctor's surgery, drinking soup, resting and limiting the 'in and out of the car' time as much as possible.

When a friend alerted me to the performance of Mussorgsky's Pictures at the Museum at Willoughby Symphony, it was music to my ears. The Children's Concert promised just under an hour of music and then an hour of craft. Music and craft? Perfect! This time I purchased three tickets, one for my eldest son and me, and one for my daughter. This would be her first symphony and a great outing following all the sickness.

Her First Symphony

We arrived and made it to our seats in time for the children to watch the string instruments tuning up. Our seats for this symphony were box seats, high up above the orchestra in line with the brass and woodwind instruments. My son, remembering the orchestra from his first experience last year for Journey to the Planets  enjoyed soaking it all in from a different angle. My daughter on the other hand was more impressed with the soft, cushy, cherry-red seats that folded up and down and delighted in noticing that there was no plate number on hers. 

Once the tuning was completed the conductor took the children through the chosen piece in bite size pieces. In between he introduced a selection of the instruments and involved the children in the audience with questions and answers. Then bringing it all together at the end by playing a abridged version of the thirty minute piece. You could say there was movement played by the orchestra and also movement by us -- within the box to get a closer view at the orchestra (and two visits to the restroom) - they loved it all.


Following the performance we headed straight to the craft tables, which the children had seen setting up earlier, and were keen to get started.

Glue, stickers, pencils, perfect!

For those curious about the instruments, a trumpeter and cellist brought their instruments out for the children to have a look. What a great opportunity it was. My son had a play of the cello and a bit of a laugh with cellist as well, it was lovely to see smiles on their faces. Thank you for sharing and thank you Willoughby Symphony!

A selection of artworks was on display to enjoy
as well

Afterwards, we crossed the road to complete our lovely outing with a scoop of mango sorbet each for the children. Perfetto!

Saturday, 16 August 2014

Farm animals and The Very Busy Spider, Eric Carle

I do love Eric Carle. I love that in every book there is always something to learn. The Very Busy Spider no exception. In this book we learn about a spider's perseverance and dedication to spinning a web in order to catch a fly. We learn that the spider keeps on task is spite of numerous distractions from all the farm animals. We learn that through his hard work, he catches the fly 'just like that' and this a great message for children to learn.

In The Very Busy Spider we see the different animals that live on the farm and learn a little of their behaviour, for example the goat that likes to jump on the rocks and the pig that likes to roll in the mud. In their invitations to the spider, we hear the sounds the animals make and visually we can see the animal, in unmistakable Eric Carle style, without any distraction of background images. The only addition to the picture is the 'pesty' fly buzzing around.

We have a growing collection of the Schleich animals which I love as they are true to form, a good weight and have all the fine details which is great for little children to look at closely. Montessori talks about a sensitive period for 'small things' at 18 months, this is a great opportunity to build vocabulary -- but no need to wait until then and certainly no reason to stop once they pass it! Together with the book and the animals, the children can work with them in a number of ways.

Each child worked with this differently yesterday and today
Our daughter enjoyed matching the animals to the book as we read the story.
Our eldest son enjoyed using the farm fences and putting the animals inside once they had tempted the spider.
And for our littlest 8 month old son we sang the Old McDonald Farm song and introduced the animals and their sounds that way. A fun, lively, musical way to enjoy them and then he put them all in his mouth one by one, as he is doing with everything at the moment!

Tonight after reading the story to the children, we talked about which animal would be the noisiest or quietest and the number of legs they had. There are so many activities that can be done with these gorgeous figurines.

The Very Busy Spider is an excellent book for little children, especially the very young. And of course, there is repetition in there and we all know how much we love that around here!

Monday, 11 August 2014

Good books: The High Street by Alice Melvin

'Sally's in the High Street and this is what she needs…' 

The opening line in this gorgeously illustrated book. We've had it on loan from the library for almost a month now and I think I've read it three or four times a day, sometimes more, to our little girl. Each time getting a little more out of it. 

Sally has a list of things to buy from ten different shops on the High Street. An eclectic mix which makes the story rather interesting and enchanting. She visits a bakery, hardware and antique shop to name a few. Starting off around midday and we follow her through until the shops begin to close at the end of the day.

On the left hand side of the page there are four lines full of rhythm, rhyme and alliteration. Our little girl just loves it. The language is rich and has had me reach for the dictionary! Cacophony? This is the word used to describe why Sally is blocking her ears before she ventures into the Pet Shop. We know Sally's shopping list by heart now and delight in taking greater interest in the details of the shop windows and interiors. On the right hand side is a shop front with Sally outside before she enters, the page opens to see Sally in the shop engaging with the shop owner, which we know by name, looking around the shop or trying on something from her list.

We've all been sick with this crazy flu that's going around and our little girl was so sick and unusually sleepy (she gave up day sleeps a looooonnnng time ago) one day when at her worst, I encouraged her to have a sleep, her little body limp with fatigue and malaise
"I just want to read Mama" I later went in to her room and found her curled up in her bed with The High Street under her head. 

This is a attractive and inviting book that any little girl would love to read and re-read and re-read again. Yes, its on our book order list :)

WIll Sally get everything on her list?
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