The Simon Skjodt International Orangutan Center Review

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The Simon Skjodt International Orangutan Center Review

Disclaimer: I was given free admission to the Indianapolis Zoo and the Orangutan Center, for 3 guests and myself, however I was not influenced by the offer. All opinions and insights are my own.

The Simon Skjodt International Orangutan Center is receiving nationwide media attention and is being called one of the most significant zoo exhibits anywhere in the world. The zoo’s website says, “An epic adventure awaits inside this incredible new exhibit, which offers an unparalleled experience for both guests and orangutans.” After our visit today, I must say, I agree.

In Preparation

I invited my friend and her two little boys (ages 4 ½ and 2 ½) to go with me. We did a couple of things in preparation for our trip. First of all, we visited the zoo’s special site called Azy and Friends. We were able to learn about each of the orangutans that reside in the Center. We learned their ages, where they lived before they came to Indianapolis, what their favorite foods are and a little about their personalities. You will find a fun little quiz on the site that will match you up with one of the orangutans. We took the quiz and then I made each of us a special t-shirt with the picture of our orangutan on it.

Simon Skjodt International Orangutan Center: Rockin' Our Orange

Simon Skjodt International Orangutan Center: Rockin’ Our Orange

I picked up some books, from the library. I gave Ashley one titled, Orangutan (A Day in the Life: Rain Forest Animals) by Anita Ganeri. She said the boys enjoyed it so much that she read it to them three different times. Now they have an idea of what an orangutan is and are ready for their trip to the zoo.

The Simon Skjodt International Orangutan Center

The Simon Skjodt International Orangutan Center

The Simon Skjodt International Orangutan Center

The Center is a beautiful structure that appeals to the orangutans and humans as well. There are many areas for the orangutans to explore and interact with visitors…and interact, they do! Look at the smiles I got from this one.

The Simon Skjodt International Orangutan Center: All Smiles

The Simon Skjodt International Orangutan Center: All Smiles

When we arrived Rocky was exploring the Myrta Pulliam Hutan Trail. It is designed to represent the orangutans’ “highway” through the forest. The trail is a series of cables and bridges that allow the orangutans to travel 40 feet above the guests.

The Simon Skjodt International Orangutan Center : TheHutan Trail

The Simon Skjodt International Orangutan Center : TheHutan Trail

On his way back down Rocky enjoyed stopping and watching us as much as we enjoyed watching him.

The Simon Skjodt International Orangutan Center: Rocky

The Simon Skjodt International Orangutan Center: Rocky

Once inside the Center, we were able to look through large windows into the R.B. Annis Atrium. The orangutans can stay away from the windows to relax and hang out together or they can come up to the windows and interact with the visitors. They are so close you feel like you could just reach out and touch them. (And in some camera shots it looks like you just did.)

The Simon Skjodt International Orangutan Center

The Simon Skjodt International Orangutan Center

From the Community Plaza, you can view the front of the building. The front  is covered with large glass windows, from which you have another angle to view the orangutans.  We stood out there for a long time while the boys interacted with one of the orangutans.

The Simon Skjodt International Orangutan Center: Interacting with the orangutans

The Simon Skjodt International Orangutan Center: Interacting with the orangutans

One aspect of the Center, that we didn’t get to experience, is the Skyline. The Skyline is an aerial ride that travels around the outer edge of the exhibit. Visitors get an excellent view of the Hutan Trail as well as a gorgeous view of downtown. I’m looking forward to experiencing this.

The Simon Skjodt International Orangutan Center: The Skyline

The Simon Skjodt International Orangutan Center: The Skyline

I can all ready tell that this is going to be one of my favorite exhibits at the zoo. I have a feeling that it’s going to be popular with many people. If you are a member, you have the opportunity of beating the crowds by accessing the Center an hour before the zoo opens. This exclusive benefit is available on Saturdays and Sundays. from May 24-Sept. 1, at 8:00 a.m.. Who knows, maybe I will see you there.

The Simon Skjodt International Orangutan Center

The Simon Skjodt International Orangutan Center

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Bongo Boy Music School Review

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Bongo Boy Music School Review

Bongo Boy Music School

Bongo Boy Music School

I have been including activities from Bongo Boy Music School, in my Family Friendly Events, since April of 2013; but I had never been able to attend an event. I love children and finding fun learning activities for them, but the children in my life are under the age of three and Bongo Boy Music School didn’t have any activities for them. Well, that has changed! Recently, they added a class for birth to 36 months old. Perfect! My great-nephew is 32 months old and my grandson is 7 months old! I have really wanted to visit and, this past Saturday, I finally got my chance.

We were the first ones to arrive. We received a warm welcome and they turned on some cartoons to entertain the little ones until we got ready to go back to the drum room. There was also a little table and a bookshelf filled with books. We didn’t wait long at all and it was time to go have some fun.

The instructor/facilitator mentioned that she also teaches preschool…no wonder she was so wonderful with the children. She explained to us that there was no right or wrong way to participate. This is mainly an opportunity for little ones to experience music through instruments and movement.

The children were led through a series of fun activities accompanied by lively music. They got to use balls, bells and maracas, scarves, and….oh, yes…drums!

Drumming at Bongo Boy Music School

Drumming at Bongo Boy Music School

Some of the music was simply fun and encouraged movement, like the song about the animals. One song encouraged listening and reacting. This song had the children freeze in place when the music stopped.

Bongo Boy Music School

Bongo Boy Music School

Everyone was having fun, whether they were very young; sitting in their mother’s laps or a little older; up moving and participating. The children also get the opportunity to experience following directions, sharing and putting things away.

The cost of the event is just $5 per child and the parents attend (and participate) for free.
There is also an event for 3 to 12 year olds, on Saturdays. Bongo Boy also has activities for the family during the week. There is a free Community Drum Circle for special needs on Mondays and a free Community Drum Circle for the whole family on Thursdays. You can find their activities listed in my Family Friendly Event post, each month, or go straight to the Bongo Boy Music School calendar.

Related Posts:

Fun with Music: Percussion Instruments
Rhythm! Discovery Center: Review

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Community Helpers – Overview

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Community Helpers – Overview

Teaching your child about community helpers can help them understand and feel more secure in their ever widening world. Learning about community helpers can help them realize that they don’t need to be afraid when they hear sirens in the neighborhood or in the car. The sirens are signaling that there are people out there to help take care of them. Police officers are there to help us when there is an accident. Firemen help us if there is a fire. The doctor and dentist help keep us healthy and the school teacher helps us learn new things.

When I taught preschool, we studied community helpers in the three year old classroom. At home, you might want to introduce some of them even earlier; for instance, the doctor. Children have to go to the doctor regularly, from birth, so reading books and talking about the doctor may help put them at ease. Before my children went to their first dental appointment, I read books to them so they would understand what was going to happen.

In the following posts you will find book suggestions and crafts to do with your children to help make learning about their world fun. Enjoy playing pretend with your children as they become the doctor and you are the patient. Please come back and leave comments about the books and crafts you enjoyed together. I would love to see pictures too. You can share them on the Love to Laugh and Learn Facebook page.

Related Posts

Doctors: Love to Learn about Community Helpers
Dentists: Love to Laugh and Learn about Community Helpers

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Generally Having Fun with Music

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Generally Having Fun with Music

This post, Generally Having Fun with Music, is written in collaboration with Shannon Wijnker from Mamamusing. Shannon is a music teacher and mother of four.

It has been a lot of fun writing the posts “Fun with Music” in collaboration with Shannon. Our posts have covered the different instrument families. This final post, of the series, is about ways for your children to simply have fun with all kinds of music.

Shannon and I both agree that most learning for young children should come through play and experimentation. So dance around the room with your child, share your favorite songs from childhood or watch a musical together. Just generally have fun with music!

“If the parent values music, and makes it a part of their life, then their children will value music also.” – Shannon Wijnker

Shannon shared:

“Children learn best by constructing their own concepts and ideas, and by trial and error. They will learn how to create a variety of sounds. Some of which they will like and some they will decide they don’t. Your concept of what is acceptable sound may vary from theirs. But be patient and let them explore. Remember that it’s not just about making a beautiful sound, but playing and exploring the concept of sound.”

Contents:

Musical Sensory Bin
Musical Outings
Games Online
Another Resource: The Recorder Classroom
Story Time
Related Posts

Musical Sensory Bin

Shannon mentioned that the dollar store is a good place to pick up inexpensive instruments for the children to experiment with. Recorders are great choice. You can also find tambourines, kazoos, etc. I took Shannon’s advice and headed to the dollar store to pick up some instruments. I decided to create a musical sensory bin. I found several items in the party favor section and some in the toy section. I picked up a recorder and a toy microphone from the $1 bins at Target.

Items in my Musical Sensory Bin:

Beans (I bought at Dollar Tree)
Rice (I bought it at Costco. It was cheaper to get a big bag here rather than smaller ones
at the Dollar Tree.)
Hand Drums
Plastic Musical Clackers
Kazoos
Slide Whistles
Recorder
Microphone
Empty Plastic Containers (of all sizes)
Empty Oatmeal Box
Metal Spoons (I bought at Dollar Tree)
Empty Shoe Box
Rubber Bands
Plastic Easter Eggs

Generally Having Fun with Music

Generally Having Fun with Music

Jeremiah put beans and rice into different containers. We talked about the different sounds they made.

Generally Having Fun with Music

Generally Having Fun with Music

There were different types of whistles and kazoos for him to play with.

Generally Having Fun with Music

Generally Having Fun with Music

We stretched rubber bands around a box and listened to the different sounds they made when we plucked them.

Generally Having Fun with Music: Homemade String Instrument

Generally Having Fun with Music: Homemade String Instrument

The microphone was a big hit. Don’t forget that your voice is an instrument you take with you wherever you go. (Fun with Music: Voices)

Generally Having Fun with Music

Generally Having Fun with Music

Using the spoon to drum on the different containers was also fun.

Generally Having Fun with Music: A Little Drumming

Generally Having Fun with Music: A Little Drumming

Jeremiah was almost 2 years old when I created this Musical Sensory Box. As you can see, he really enjoyed it. He has played with it on more than one occasion and I’m sure he will play with it many more times. The one thing that I noticed is that some of the whistles didn’t work very well. I will probably replace and add some better quality instruments, as I get the money, but this was a good place to start. As we have made the crafts on the different Fun with Music posts, we have added them to the bin. This was a place to start and as his interests grow and change we can add to or switch out instruments.

Shannon also wants to remind us to help our children explore sound within their own environment:

“You can talk about sounds being high and low. You can talk about the timbre (the quality of sound – how we can tell mom’s voice from dad’s). Encourage your children to explore sounds with their bodies and other toys/things they can find in the house. You don’t have to go out any buy instruments to explore sound and music.”

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Musical Outings

In Indianapolis, you can find many places that give free outdoor concerts during the summer. Maybe you have the same opportunities in your area. Outdoor concerts are a great way to introduce your children to live music because they can sit in their own lawn chair, on a blanket or even get up and dance around a little. Expose your children to many types of music. Take the time to talk about what they are hearing, how it makes them feel and the different instruments they are seeing and hearing.

Shannon from Mamamusing wants you to know: “In London, there are several outdoor concerts and festivals in Victoria Park during the summer. One of the best is Sunfest (beginning of July). You can check out a video of my kids enjoying the multicultural music and dancing by clicking here.”

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Games Online

Now that you have introduced your children to some of the various instrument families
in the orchestra, you may want to visit The Young Person’s Guide to the Orchestra. This
is a website created by Carnegie Hall which is a wonderfully FREE interactive online
game for young children to explore and learn more about the various instruments of the
orchestra. You will need to use a computer, because the game requires Adobe Flash,
which you can download for free (if you don’t already have this utility installed on your
computer).

There is also a wonderful set of books for children ages 4 to 9 years old that helps them learn different musical concepts. Along with the books the author, Sharon Burch, has a website with coloring pages and games for your child to enjoy and enhance their learning experience: Freddie the Frog Games and Coloring Pages.You can find more information about the books below in Story Time.

Another Resource recommended by Shannon from Mamamusing

“If you homeschool your children, a great resource for teaching them music (and how to play the recorder) is a magazine called “The Recorder Classroom”. I believe there are 4 issues printed so far. You can download both the music and accompanying mp3s online. They are fun to play and I find my students are motivated to learn the music, when they have great accompaniments to play along with.”

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Story Time – There were so many books that didn’t fall under any of our other posts so I have included them here. You should really check all of them out. I really enjoyed reading them and I’m sure you and your child will too.


Before John Was a Jazz Giant: A Song of John Coltrane by Carole Boston Weatherford
Reading Level: Ages 5 to 9 yrs old
This is an interesting look at the influences on a great musician. The book shares the many different sounds and experiences that John faced as he was growing up; listening to Daddy play the ukulele or to big bands on the radio. The essence of the story it that John heard and listened to many things that lead him on his path of becoming a Jazz Giant.

Freddie the Frog series by Sharon Burch
Reading Level: Ages 4 – 9 yrs old
This series was recommended by Shannon Wijnker from Mamamusing. She uses this series in her music classes. Shannon says, “A great series to start kids learning music concepts and theory is “Freddie the Frog”. These are cute stories with a hidden agenda. My students love these books and ask for them again and again!”

Through the series of books your child will learn the names of notes; they will learn about rhythm, beat and tempo. Each book comes with a CD that includes the dramatized story and sing-along songs.

Adventure #1 – Freddie the Frog and the Thump in the Night by Sharon Burch
Freddie the Frog lives on the island of Treble Clef, with his parents. Join him in his adventure as he searches the island for the source of the thump.

Adventure #2 – Freddie the Frog and the Bass Clef Monster by Sharon Burch
Freddie the Frog awakes from hibernation to find out that he is no longer at home, on Treble Clef Island.

Adventure #3 – Freddie the Frog and the Mysterious Wahooooo by Sharon Burch
Join Freddie the Frog and his best friend, Eli the Elephant, as they discover tempos, rhythms, and beats on Tempo Island. Your child will enjoy learning to play their percussion instruments to the rhythm and beat along with Eli and Freddie

Adventure #4 - Freddie the Frog and the Secret of Crater Island by Sharon Burch
Freddie and Eli take on a new adventure. They seek to find the secret on Crater Island, along with the Blue Beetle Bugs.

Adventure #5 – Freddie the Frog and the Flying Jazz Kitten by Sharon Burch
Join Freddie the Frog and the Flying Jazz Kitten, on Treble Clef Island, as Freddie becomes a jazz sensation. They will learn how to use an instrument they have with them all the time, their voice. Freddie and the Jazz Kitten help your child learn about scat singing.

Froggy Plays in the Band by Jonathan London
Reading Level: Ages 3 to 6 yrs old
Froggy sees a poster at school about a marching band contest and a big prize. When he asks his music teacher about it, she tells him to form a big band and practice, practice, practice. She helps Froggy and his friends as they work their hardest to become a great marching band. The one important thing the teacher tells them is, “Don’t stop for anything!” This is very good advice especially when they get to the end of the parade. Pick up this book and find out what happens to Froggy and his marching band when they didn’t stop for anything.

Instruments and Music by Daniel Nunn
Reading Level: Ages 4 – 8 yrs old
This book is a great introduction to instruments and music. Your child will get to see pictures of many different instruments; some will be familiar and some will seem strange. There are instruments from many countries. Your child will learn what materials the instruments are made of and how they produce sound. I believe any child interested in music and instruments will enjoy this book.

Jazz Baby by Carole Boston Weatherford
Reading Level: birth to 6 years old
This is simply a fun little book to introduce music and instruments to even the youngest “musician”. The text on each page starts with “Jazz baby, jazz baby” and then describes, in rhyme, some fun aspect of music; such as playing a horn or the drums. Your child will get to see children singing, dancing and playing instruments. I love this book. I think it’s absolutely adorable. I had to buy one for my grandson and one to have at my house.

Listen to My Trumpet! by Mo Willems
Reading Level: Ages 4 to 8 yrs old
Piggie gets a trumpet and wants to show his friend Elephant what he can do on his trumpet. He blows and blows and all kinds of sounds come out of the horn, but is it music? Find out what Elephant has to say about Piggie’s playing and how Piggie responds.

Little Pig Joins the Band by David Hyde Costello
Reading Level: Ages 3 to 6 yrs old
Little Pig wants to play an instrument like the bigger pigs but he is just too small for any of them. He watches as everyone chooses an instrument and marches around. Little Pig watches each of them march in different directions and play different songs all at the same time. Once a big accident occurs, he realizes there is a job for him. Read this adorable book to find out how Little Pig helps out.

Meet the Orchestra by Ann Hayes
Reading Level: Ages 3 to 8 yrs old
This is a fun and well written book that covers many of the instruments that can be found in an orchestra. There are simple explanations of what the instruments look like and how they are alike or different from each other. Your child will receive an explanation of what the instrument sounds like. The illustrations are quite fun. Each musician is an animal, which will appeal to the younger crowd. This book makes a great introduction to instruments and the orchestra.

Music Is by Lloyd Moss
Reading Level: Ages 4 to 8 yrs old
This is an enjoyable book written in rhyme. It talks of all the fun ways music influences our lives. Lloyd Moss captures my feelings about music. It is a happy, important aspect of my life everyday. He talks of music when you wake up and music when you go to bed. Music for your birthday, 4th of July and to ring in the New Year. Music in an elevator and sometimes on a phone. Music fills our lives even when we aren’t paying attention. What would life be like without music?

Our Marching Band by Lloyd Moss
Reading Level: Ages 4 to 8 yrs old
This is a fun little book about a group of kids that loved playing their instruments. The story starts with them getting the instrument that they each wanted. They each practiced and practiced their parts separately and although they sounded a little rough in the beginning the sounds they made together were much different. Read this inspiring tale of how dreams and practice turned them into a marching band.

The Orchestra by Mark Rubin & Alan Daniel
Reading Level: Ages 5 – 8 yrs old
This book is a wonderful introduction to music, instruments, musicians and the orchestra. It describes the different families of instruments in the orchestra: strings, woodwinds, brass and percussion. Your child will even learn different terms related to music such as melody, harmony, rhythm and tempo. The book covers a lot in simple descriptions your child can understand. I highly recommend this book as an outstanding introduction to music.

The Orchestra (Culture in Action) by Liz Miles
Reading Level: Ages 8 and up
This is a children’s book, but as you can tell by the reading level, it is for a little older child. There is a lot of great information about the orchestra, music, musicians and composers. You could still use this with a younger child who has an interest in music because it is broken up into several different sections. Sometimes you will find more than one subheading on a page. The reason this is nice is that you can read a section or two at a time, to a young child, and save some for later. I wouldn’t use this book as an introduction to orchestras for a young child but it has much valuable information for a little older child.

The Philharmonic Gets Dressed by Karla Kuskin
Reading Level: Ages 4 – 8 yrs old
As I first read through this book I was going to discard it as possible reading material for my posts on music but I had second thoughts. It is a silly book. Understand I usually like silly but I was taking my posts on music a little too seriously so I wasn’t going to suggest this book. The book goes through each step the one hundred and five members of the Philharmonic go through in getting ready for their performance that evening. It starts with them bathing and showering and then getting dressed. Oh, and it has every detail of them getting dressed; from putting on their underwear, socks or hose all the way to putting on their tuxedos or dresses. The further I read and the more I thought about it, I changed my mind and decided this would be a good book to include with my posts on music. Although it does it in a silly way, your child will get to see that the musicians are regular people with families and pets. They have to get ready for their job like everyone else. Your child will get so see some of the instruments and the different size cases they get carried in. I believe your child will have fun with this light-hearted book about the Philharmonic.

The Recorder and Other Wind Instruments (Let’s Make Music) by Rita Storey
Reading Level: 6 yrs old and above
This book covers both types of wind instruments; woodwinds and brass. Your child will learn how the instruments are made and how they are played. It gives you examples of skills you will need to build to be able to play a wind instrument, like being able to blow out a long slow breath of air (without puffing out your cheeks). They will learn what it means to buzz your lips and how to do it. The illustrations are pictures of wind instruments and people playing them. Have fun learning about the many different wind instruments.

Saxophone Sam and His Snazzy Jazz Band by Christine M. Schneider
Reading Level: Ages 4 to 8 yrs old
This is simply a “doo dilly dilly” silly book of two children and some sneaky jazz music. The music is calling but from where? Is it coming from the kitchen, the bathroom or from underneath the bed? Follow the children as they search for the music that is overtaking the house. They are having a toe tapping good time. After reading the book, or maybe even while you are reading the book, put on some jazz music and have some fun dancing to the “zoo zoo zing” once “the band is in full swing!”

Zin! Zin! Zin! A Violin by Lloyd Moss
Reading Level: Ages 5 to 10 yrs old
This book is not simply about a violin (as I thought), it is actually a musical counting book. Not counting as in tempos but as in the way you count musical group settings; such as a solo, a duet, a trio, etc.. The story is told in a fun rhyming text. Your child will be exposed to many different instruments as well as the varied names for the different sized musical groups. Although the story goes up to a group of ten, they only tell you the correct names up to nine. So if you are curious, a group of ten is called a dectet. Be sure to share this with your child to find out what the special names for all the groupings are.

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Related Posts

Music at an Early Age by Shannon at Mamamusing
Fun with Music: Overview
Fun with Music: Percussion Instruments
Fun with Music: Brass Instruments
Fun with Music: Woodwind Instruments
Fun with Music: Voices
Fun with Music: String Instruments
Fun with Music: Keyboards
Review: Rhythm! Discovery Center
Review: Peanut Butter and Jam Concerts
Bongo Boy Music School Review

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“The Nut Job” 3D Movie Review

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“The Nut Job” 3D Movie Review

Disclaimer: I was given 2 tickets to attend the screening of “The Nut Job”; however, I was not influenced by the promotional materials. All opinions and insights are my own.

The Nut Job Review

The Nut Job Review

When I received the screening invitation for “The Nut Job”, it came with this description, “In animated 3D, THE NUT JOB is an action-packed comedy that follows Surly (voiced by Will Arnett), a mischievous squirrel, who must plan a heist to get into his town’s biggest nut shop in order to help his pals in the park gather food to survive the winter. Together with his sidekick, Buddy, he will assemble a ragtag crew to help him get inside – and take them on a fun-filled adventure that they’ll never forget.”

I know some people will call me a prude but I was a little concerned about a children’s movie where the theme was stealing. I worry about the questions and lessons that a child might learn; such as, are they going to get the idea that sometimes it’s okay to steal things?

After seeing the movie, I wouldn’t change anything about it except maybe the way it is being promoted. I wouldn’t have promoted it as a heist. They wouldn’t even have to change the title because several of the characters are real “nut jobs”, which makes for a cute and funny film.

The storyline for the movie is about a group of animals that live in a park. They are trying to store up enough nuts for the winter but are falling short of their goal.

Surly, a squirrel, is a self-sufficient rogue. He would rather look out for himself and not depend or worry about anybody else. Regardless of his want for independence he has a faithful and silent friend, Buddy (a rat). Buddy is always there for Surly, no matter what.

Grayson, also a squirrel, is known as the park’s hero. It’s not clear how he received that title. Mostly he is a puffed up, neurotic fellow that talks big but is scared of his own shadow.

Andie is a female squirrel and, in my opinion, the actual heroine of the story. Andie tries to stand up for Surly when he gets banished from the park. She believes that there is good in everyone.

Because of an accident, caused by Surly, the park has lost what little it had stored away for the winter. Surly is sent away and Andie and Grayson are given the task of finding a food supply so the park animals don’t starve.

While making his way through the city, Surly runs across a Nut Shop. The Nut Shop is actually a front for the real bad guys of the movie; some mobster type guys. They are planning to rob the bank that is right next door to the Nut Shop they purchased. The men have no use for the nuts so the fact that Surly and the animals of the park need them does not bother my moral compass (maybe I’m simply justifying).

Surly plans on keeping all the nuts for himself and Buddy but Andie messes up that plan. She happens to run into Surly and discovers his secret. She makes a deal with Surly to split the nuts and now the real fun begins.

A rag-tag group of animals come together to help get the nuts from the shop. They are not the most organized group of animals which makes for lots of laughs. There is suspense, a double-cross, a police chase and did I mention laughs?…lots of laughs.

And be sure not to leave before the credits. You might want to get on your feet and dance…definitely worth the wait.

The Nut Job

The Nut Job

For more information and some fun games check out their webpage The Nut Job

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Review: Peanut Butter and Jam Concerts at the Center for the Performing Arts, in Carmel

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Review: Peanut Butter and Jam Concerts

Disclosure: I decided to do this review, for the Peanut Butter and Jam Concerts, on my own. I was not asked to do it. I purchased the tickets for my great-nephew and myself.

Peanut Butter & Jam Concert Series

Peanut Butter & Jam Concert Series

I had first read about the Peanut Butter and Jam Concerts in the Indianapolis Star. They are geared for children ages 1 to 7 years old. The entire experience is just under an hour. There is 30 minutes of music followed by 15 minutes for the audience to touch and play the musical instruments. The purchase of a child’s ticket allows the admission of two adults for no additional charge.

Today’s performance was given by the Sounds of Brass, from the Hendrick’s Symphony Orchestra. I was especially interested in this performance because my husband was one of the musicians. We picked up our 2 year old great-nephew and took him to this concert.

Brass Group from the Hendrick's Symphony

Brass Group from the Hendrick’s Symphony

When you first arrive, each child receives a carpet square to sit on. (I taught preschool for several years and I used carpet squares in my classroom. They are wonderful for helping children to get a concept of their personal space.)

Carpet Squares to Sit on at Peanut Butter and Jam Concerts

Carpet Squares to Sit on at Peanut Butter and Jam Concerts

There are chairs that the adults can sit in but many sat on the floor with their children. It is a wonderfully intimate setting for little ones to be introduced to different styles of music.

View from behind the band at the Peanut Butter & Jam Concert

View from behind the band at the Peanut Butter & Jam Concert

The interaction with the musicians at the end of the concert seemed to be a big hit with everybody. A few of the children were able to get musical sounds out of the instruments which is quite a feat on brass instruments. You don’t simply blow air through a brass instrument to get a sound, you have to buzz your lips just right as you are blowing the air.

Interacting with the musicians at the Peanut Butter and Jam Concert

Interacting with the musicians at the Peanut Butter and Jam Concert

This was an extremely entertaining and educational event. I highly recommend taking time to attend at least one (if not all) of the Peanut Butter and Jam concerts. They have one concert each month and they fill up fast so be sure to call and get your tickets early. Please look for me. It is very likely that you will see me at several of these events.

Related Posts

Fun with Music – Overview
Fun with Music: Percussion Instruments
Fun with Music: Brass Instruments
Fun with Music: Woodwind Instruments
Fun with Music: Voices
Fun with Music: String Instruments
Fun with Music: Keyboards

Posted in Attractions and Events, Music, Reviews | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 5 Comments

Christmas at the Indianapolis Zoo Review

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Christmas at the Indianapolis Zoo Review

Disclaimer: I was given 4 tickets and a parking pass to attend Christmas at the Indianapolis Zoo. However, I was not influenced by the promotional materials. All opinions and insights are my own.

The temperature was approximately 34͒ F, which was double the temperature from the day before (thanks goodness). We bundled up our little Texan (my 4 ½ month old grandson) and headed out to enjoy Christmas at the Indianapolis Zoo.

Christmas at the Zoo

Christmas at the Zoo

This was the welcoming view we received as we entered the zoo.

Christmas at the Indianapolis Zoo

Christmas at the Indianapolis Zoo

I couldn’t wait to get inside to see how the rest of the zoo was decorated. It was even more beautiful and magical than I remembered. My pictures hardly capture the beauty but you can at least get an idea.

IMG_5618

One of the first animals to greet us were the seals. One of them was barking quite loudly. We walked over to take a look but he was hiding among the rocks so we didn’t get a good look at him from up top. We did get to see him swimming from underneath though.

We were waiting on some family members to show up so we decided to walk over to the gift shop to wait inside. We didn’t want the little one getting too cold. On our way, we ran into one of Santa’s reindeers.

Santa's Reindeer

Santa’s Reindeer

 

The Oceans Building at the Indianapolis Zoo

The Oceans Building at the Indianapolis Zoo

 

Our next stop was the Oceans’ building. It was a warm place with lots of interesting animals to interact with.

 

 

 

Petting sharks was a hit with the whole family (no matter what the age).

Christmas at the Indianapolis Zoo, Petting Sharks

Christmas at the Indianapolis Zoo, Petting Sharks

We enjoyed spending time looking at the penguins; even though they seemed to be resting.

Christmas at the Indianapolis Zoo: Checking out the Penguins

Christmas at the Indianapolis Zoo: Checking out the Penguins

There were so many wonderful things to see in the Oceans exhibit.

Christmas at the Zoo - Oceans Exhibit

Christmas at the Zoo – Oceans Exhibit

It was too dark for me to get a good picture of the polar bear but he was sitting right next to the window. We were able to get a good look at him.

We then walked over to the Dolphin Pavilion. I found out, from my sister, that we were supposed to have been offered tickets for the dolphin show when we went through admissions but it wasn’t mentioned, so we didn’t have tickets. My sister and her family came in after us and they were offered tickets so they got them, but then didn’t go to the show since we couldn’t. I thought that was really sweet. We did go underneath and watch the show from below. It was interesting from below too. I think it would have been nice if they would have the audio for the show running through speakers down below so we knew exactly what was going on.

Christmas at the Indianapolis Zoo

Christmas at the Indianapolis Zoo

It was getting late for my grandson so he got fussy, because he was ready for bed, so we cut our trip short. We are hoping to get back there this week, if the weather permits. Regardless of whether we get back this year or not, we will be back. It was beautiful and the snow made it magical. I hope you and your family gets a chance to enjoy Christmas at the Indianapolis Zoo.

Snow and Lights during Christmas at the Indianapolis Zoo

Snow and Lights during Christmas at the Indianapolis Zoo

You might also be interested in:

Review – Christmas on Monument Circle Indianapolis

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Review: Walt Disney’s Frozen 3D

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Review: Walt Disney’s Frozen 3D

Disney's Frozen 3D

Disney’s Frozen 3D

Disclaimer: I was given 2 tickets to attend the screening of Disney’s Frozen; however, I was not influenced by the promotional materials. All opinions and insights are my own.

I absolutely love Disney films; always have, always will. My “baby” is 23 years old, so it has been a while since I have seen a Disney film at the theater. I still watch the older ones, if I see they are on TV or I find them on Netflix, but it has been several years since I’ve seen a new one. I believe the last Disney movie I saw at the theater was, “Lilo and Stitch”, in 2002. This information was leading up to me saying, “Disney still has it!” They know how to make a great family film.

I’m old school, so I believe all Disney movies should be rated G but that’s not the case. Disney’s Frozen is rated PG. (You can find more information about movie rating on the Motion Picture Association of America website.) As I watched the movie, I couldn’t figure out why it had a PG rating. Everything seemed quite mild; no intense fighting scenes, no profane language…then HE appeared!…

Disney's FROZEN (Pictured) MARSHMALLOW. ©2013 Disney. All Rights Reserved.

Disney’s FROZEN (Pictured) MARSHMALLOW. ©2013 Disney. All Rights Reserved.

a GREAT BIG snow monster. He makes the Abominable Snowman from “Rudolph the Red Nosed Reindeer” look like a kitty cat. The good news?…he is only around for a couple of scenes.

Now on with the story. I’m not sure how Disney is going to promote this but, in my opinion, they have two new Princesses (although one does become Queen). They are sisters; Elsa and Anna. Elsa is the big sister and she has a secret she must keep from her little sister to keep her safe. This brings division between them that Anna never understands. In order to protect her sister, Elsa ends up fleeing to the mountains but Anna follows after her. Anna teams up with rugged (but tender-hearted) mountain man Kristoff and his loyal reindeer, Sven, to go find her sister. Although Elsa was trying to save Anna, in the end, Anna saves her big sister. The sweet and accident-prone snowman, Olaf, adds much humor to the movie.

"FROZEN" (Pictured) OLAF. ©2013 Disney. All Rights Reserved.

“FROZEN” (Pictured) OLAF. ©2013 Disney. All Rights Reserved.

I love a good musical and this film could almost be classified as a musical. There are so many great songs; some beautiful and serious and others are just down-right fun.

The animations are gorgeous, as usual. Several of the 3D effects with the snow and ice are breath-taking.

"FROZEN" (Pictured) ELSA. ©2013 Disney. All Rights Reserved.

“FROZEN” (Pictured) ELSA. ©2013 Disney. All Rights Reserved.

I was definitely not disappointed, in my return to the theater, to see a Disney movie. This is a great story of love, family and courage. I encourage you to gather the family and head to the theater and enjoy, what will probably become, another Disney classic.

You might also enjoy:

Studio Movie Grill Review

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Thanksgiving Fun with Turkeys

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Thanksgiving Fun with Turkeys

Let’s have some fun with turkeys. Why is it that the turkey has become a symbol of Thanksgiving? The turkey probably was part of the first Thanksgiving meal along with deer, several types of seafood and many fruits and vegetables. Wild turkeys are found in 49 of the 50 United States. Alaska is the only state where they are not found. The fact that they are so wide spread across our nation is probably why they are a common symbol to our Thanksgiving.

Below are some fun activities to do with turkeys during this Thanksgiving holiday.

Fun Time
Fun with Food
Craft
Story Time
Related Posts

Fun Time

Since it’s almost Thanksgiving, I thought it would be fun to have a turkey themed day with my 2 year old great-nephew. We started out with a movie. The movie was Free Birds. It’s a story of turkeys that travel back in time, to the first Thanksgiving, to try to get turkeys off the menu. Although it is currently in movie theaters (November 2013), it might be on DVD by the time you are reading this. I would recommend watching it. It was a fun addition to our turkey themed day.

Right before naptime we read Turkey Trouble by Wendi Silvano. I love including books in our fun time. This turkey was also trying to find ways to not be included in the Thanksgiving festivities. I loved some of his disguises. I have more suggestions of fun turkey books below in my Story Time section.

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Fun with Food

You can find all kinds of fun turkey themed bento meals on Pinterest. If you aren’t familiar with Bento meals, they are artistically crafted foods that are popular in Japan. If you are on Pinterest, you can find several fun ideas by clicking here. I was especially inspired by the one I found on Creative Food. I adapted their idea to get this:

Fun with Turkeys: Turkey Bento with colored pepper tail and ranch dip

Fun with Turkeys: Turkey Bento with colored pepper tail and ranch dip

1. For the body, I made a turkey sandwich and cut it out with a circle cookie cutter.

2. I had purchased a package of 2 oz. portion cups (like the ones you might get butter or single servings of dressing in with your take-out food) at Costco. I used one of those for the head. I put some ranch dip in it.

3. We then cut eyes from a piece of American cheese with a straw. I used edible food markers to make the pupils in the eyes.

4. I cut the beak and feet out of carrot pieces.

5. I used a small piece of red pepper for the snood. (The snood is the fleshy piece that grows from a turkey’s forehead and hangs over it’s beak)

6. For the turkey’s tail feathers I cut thin slices of red, orange and yellow peppers.

The meal was a hit! Everyone gobbled it down (pun intended).

Fun with Turkeys: Turkey Bento Meals

Fun with Turkeys: Turkey Bento Meals

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Craft

When I taught preschool, I would do this craft with my classes. I originally found it on Enchanted Learning. You use the child’s hands and feet to make the turkey. The original instructions say to use colored construction paper for the parts but my daughter inspired me to do something different. Read the instructions below to find out how to make this special Thanksgiving turkey and a fun memory of little hands and feet.

Hands & Feet Turkey

Fun with Turkeys: Materials Needed for Hands and Feet Turkey

Fun with Turkeys: Materials Needed for Hands and Feet Turkey

Materials Needed:

Markers, crayons or paint
White cardstock
Brown construction paper
Wiggly eyes
Pencil
Glue
Scissors


Instructions:

1. Trace the child’s feet on the brown construction paper. Yes, both feet.

2. Cut out the feet. (I got my great-nephew started on the next part before I cut out the feet so he had something to do.)

3. Trace the child’s hands on the white cardstock. You will need 3 sets of hands (Since my great-nephew’s hands are small I was able to get a set of hands on a half piece of paper.)

4. I chose fall colors for the feathers (the fingers become the feathers). We used orange, red and brown. At first I gave Jeremiah the half sheet of paper, without cutting out his hands, for him to color. Since he is only 2 yrs old, I figured he would scribble more than actually color.

Fun with Turkeys: Hands & Feet Turkey Craft

Fun with Turkeys: Hands & Feet Turkey Craft

Then he started coloring real intently on one corner.

Fun with Turkeys: Coloring

Fun with Turkeys: Coloring

I decided to cut the hands out so he didn’t waste time working so hard on a piece that would get cut off and thrown away. Here he is working on one of the fingers.

Fun with Turkeys: Hands & Feet Turkeys

Fun with Turkeys: Hands & Feet Turkeys

I would give him one color for each set of hands.

Fun with Turkeys: Hands & Feet Turkey Craft

Fun with Turkeys: Hands & Feet Turkey Craft

5. Jeremiah helped me glue the feet together to make the body and then we arranged the hands to make the tail feathers.

6. Finally, we glued on the eyes.

7. I would recommend putting the child’s name and date on the back of the turkey. We took ours and had it laminated. I had to take the eyes off so we could laminate it but then we glued them right back on.

Here is Jeremiah and his prize turkey. I would recommend doing this activity every Thanksgiving, while they are little, just to see how much they grow from year to year.

Fun with Turkeys: Hands & Feet Turkey Craft

Fun with Turkeys: Hands & Feet Turkey Craft

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Story Time

10 Fat Turkeys by Tony Johnston
Reading Level: 3 to 5 yrs old
This book doesn’t have anything to do with Thanksgiving but since turkeys are closely associated with Thanksgiving I thought this would be a fun book to include. The story starts out with 10 fat turkeys “fooling” on a fence. There are lots of funny words such as, “Gobble, Gobble, Wibble, Wobble” and lot of silly antics out of the turkeys. This will be smiles and giggles to your little one..and a few from you too.

Gus, the Pilgrim Turkey by Teresa Bateman
Reading Level: Ages 4 to 8 yrs old
Gus loved being a turkey and loved living on the farm until one day his friends told him some sad news. Gus was looking forward to playing in the snow and celebrating the New Year until his friends told him that turkeys usually don’t make it to the New Year. When his friends shared with him that turkey is one of the main items to eat for Thanksgiving he decided it was time to leave the farm. He travels far and wide to find a safe place to live. As he finds a new safe place to live he comes to the realization that he is now a Pilgrim. Pick up this fun little book for a light spirited look at Thanksgiving and the deeper definition of a pilgrim.

A Plump And Perky Turkey by Teresa Bateman
Reading Level: Ages 4 to 8 yrs old
The people of Squawk Valley really wanted turkey for their Thanksgiving dinner but they couldn’t find one anywhere. The turkeys around Squawk Valley had become quite smart and learned to hide when Thanksgiving was near. The townspeople decided to trick the turkeys by having a special art event that featured turkeys. They posted signs all over the forest saying they were looking for a plump and perky turkey to be their model for the different art projects. Pete the turkey saw the poster and believed he could help out so he went to model for the special event. So Pete posed while the townsfolk created their turkey art. Everyone was excited because now they were going to be able to catch Pete and have him for their Thanksgiving dinner. Pick up this fun little book to see if the townspeople get to eat turkey for dinner or if Pete gets away.

Run, Turkey, Run! by Diane Mayr
Reading Level: Ages 3 to 7 yrs old
If you aren’t ready for your child to understand that the turkey we eat at Thanksgiving is a live animal, before we get it, then avoid this story. It is not a morbid, overly detailed, story but the fact that the other farm animals keep telling the turkey to run and the farmer is chasing him the whole story means you will probably have to have the discussion. It’s actually a cute little story. The turkey tries to roll in the mud with the pigs and swim in the lake with the ducks in order to hide from the farmer. In the end, the farmer and his family eat grilled cheese sandwiches with peas and mashed potatoes. Have fun with the story of the turkey who got away.

Too Many Turkeys by Linda White
Reading Level: Ages 5 yrs old and up
This is not a Thanksgiving story but it is a cute turkey story. Fred and Belle have a tiny farm that they take very good care of. One day a baby turkey, which is called a poult, wanders onto their farm. Belle is not very excited about the idea but Fred says he will take care of the little turkey. The turkey ends up being a great benefit to the little farm until too many of his friends show up. Pick up this book and find out how having a turkey on the farm was helpful although a little stressful at times.

A Turkey for Thanksgiving by Eve Bunting
Reading Level: Ages 5 to 8 yrs old
Mr. & Mrs. Moose are getting the table set for Thanksgiving. They are very excited to have all of their friends over but there is one thing that is making Mrs. Moose sad; there is no turkey for Thanksgiving. Mr. Moose wants to do what he can to make this a special Thanksgiving so he heads out to find a turkey. Pick this book up to find out what happens when Mr. Moose finally finds a turkey, it might surprise you.

Turkey Trouble by Wendi Silvano
Reading Level: Ages 3 to 7 yrs old
If you aren’t ready for your child to learn that the meat on the table comes from live animals, it would probably be best to skip this book. Other than possibly needing to have that conversation, this book is adorable. Turkey is in trouble because Thanksgiving is almost here and he is the main course. He tries several disguises to hide from the farmer. In the end, he comes up with a fantastic substitution for turkey. Pick up this book and share it with your child to find out what the farmer’s family has to eat this Thanksgiving.

Turkeys on the Family Farm by Chana Stiefel
Reading Level: Ages 5 to 8 yrs old
This is a wonderfully informative book about turkeys. Your child will get to see actual pictures of turkeys. They will learn how turkeys are raised and cared for, on an organic farm. They will learn the different terms used when referring to turkeys such as tom, hen, jake or poult. This is a great book to get some basic information about turkeys.

Turkeys That Fly and Turkeys That Don’t (Rookie Read-About Science) by Allan Fowler
Reading Level: Ages 3 to 7 yrs old
Your child will learn a lot of fun facts about turkeys. Even I found it interesting as to why some turkeys fly and some don’t. There are lots of pictures of wild turkeys and domestic turkeys so your child can see the difference. I enjoyed learning about the similarities and differences between wild and domestic birds, I’m sure your child will too.

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Related Posts

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Fun with Music: Keyboards

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Fun with Music: Keyboards

This post is written in collaboration with Shannon Wijnker from Mamamusing. Shannon is a music teacher and mother of four.

There is a debate going on among musicians, both amateur and professional, as to whether a piano is a string instrument or a percussion instrument. Although a piano has strings in it, the sound is made by little hammers striking the strings. The definition of a percussion instrument is “a musical instrument (as a drum, xylophone, or maraca) sounded by striking, shaking, or scraping”. So what do you think? This might be a fun survey for your child to do with family and friends. Teach them how to make a chart from their findings.

When exploring keyboards remember there are other instruments besides the piano. In the keyboard category there are also organs, electric pianos, harpsichords, accordions and so much more. Lets have fun experimenting with keyboard instruments.

Playtime
Craft
Musical Outings
Story Time
Related Posts

Shannon shares with us:

One of the most popular instruments is the piano. Every parent wants to play it and every parent hopes that their child will learn. So we sign them up for piano lessons and at first everything is going well. But then the children are expected to practice. Repetition isn’t fun and all of a sudden the piano is not as fun as it used to be. Sound familiar?

Don’t get me wrong – I am all for children taking piano lessons, but I have encountered way too many children who are forced to take lessons because they had displayed an interest in learning, but have since fallen out of love with the idea.

Many parents ask when it is a good age to start teaching children the basics of piano. My answer – it’s never to early to let them play and explore. Structure can come later, and I’ll talk about that in a second. I have a piano in our house and it is located in the playroom. My girls will experiment by pressing the various keys, making up pretend songs, imitating myself playing the piano and also fooling around with the multitude of timbres (different instrument sounds) available. Here are my two older daughters making up songs at the piano. I have not given them any lessons, they have creatively come up with this setup (the microphone stand) on their own. I encourage their exploration, and leave it at that for now.

There are two streams of thought. Some believe that learning how to play by ear is the best way to go. Others believe that learning how to read notes off a page is other. Neither better than the other, it simply depends on the student. I learned how to read music at an early age and it has served me well. Once your child has learned the basics of reading (kindergarten) they can then grasp the basic concepts of learning how to read music. There are several method books out there which can help guide your child. Just remember that their attention span is not very long and you will be lucky to have them sit and concentrate for 15 minutes. When they are practicing try to split it up into 2 or 3 sessions of about 5 min each. Repetition can be very boring, so look to Pinterest for ideas of how to make their learning (and the repetition which is essential) fun. Click here to see Mamamusing’s Pinterest Board about Keyboards

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Playtime

If you don’t have a piano or keyboard at home, for your little ones to experiment with, there are some virtual ones online and apps for your phone. I found Virtual Piano online. It was fun to play around with but not nearly as much fun as getting my hands onto a real piano. I found a toy piano by Melissa & Doug and several toy accordions on Amazon.com that your child could have fun with.

Shannon also suggests:
Besides having a keyboard at home, there are a multitude of keyboard toys on the market: xylophones, floor pianos, keyboards, baby pianos, etc. Just give them the opportunity to explore.

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Craft

P is for Piano

Materials needed:

Keyboards: Materials Needed for Piano Craft

Keyboards: Materials Needed for Piano Craft

P – Capital Letter (comes from the set Upper Case Stencils (Large) A-Z by Lani)
White cardstock
10 Tongue depressor sized craft sticks
White paint
Black paint
White craft glue
Scissors
optional – crayons or markers

Instructions:

1. On cardstock, print the letter P template letter P template
2. Cut the 10 tongue depressor sized craft sticks to 2 ½ inches.
3. Paint them white.
4. From the scrap pieces of tongue depressor sized craft sticks, cut 7 of them to 1 ½ inches.

Cutting Craft Sticks for Piano Craft

Cutting Craft Sticks for Piano Craft

5. Paint these 7 pieces black.

Painted "Piano Keys" for Piano Craft

Painted “Piano Keys” for Piano Craft

6. Spread the white craft glue on the long “stem” side of the letter P. I like to use foam applicators for spreading glue. (The craft sticks will not go all the way from the top to the bottom so you might want to lay them out before you put down the glue just to get an idea of where you want them to end up.)
7. Add glue to the back of the black pieces and lay them out in the pattern of a piano keyboard (3 black keys, the 2 black keys) Refer to the picture if you aren’t sure how a piano keyboard looks. If you have a piano at home have your child look at your keyboard and see if they can figure out how to place the black keys.

Keyboards: Piano Craft: P is for Piano

Keyboards: Piano Craft: P is for Piano

*** Other options would be to let your child color or paint the letter P before you glue the piano keys to it. This craft would also be good when learning the alphabet. You can purchase the entire alphabet collection from Lani at Upper Case Stencils (Large) A-Z. This set would be great for crafts, when learning and practicing the alphabet, or to make up games to help with letter recognition.

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Musical Outings

In Indianapolis, you can find many places that give free outdoor concerts during the summer. Maybe you have the same opportunities in your area. Outdoor concerts are a great way to introduce your children to live music because they can sit in their own lawn chair, on a blanket or even get up and dance around a little. Expose your children to many types of music. Take the time to talk about what they are hearing, how it makes them feel and the different instruments they are seeing and hearing.

Shannon from Mamamusing wants you to know: “In London, there are several outdoor concerts and festivals in Victoria Park during the summer. One of the best is Sunfest (beginning of July). You can check out a video of my kids enjoying the multicultural music and dancing by clicking here.”

Story Time

Pianos (Music Makers) by Pamela K. Harris
Reading Level: Ages 6 and up
Your child will gather a lot of interesting information about pianos from this book. For instance, did you know that a piano is sometimes considered a string instrument? Most of the time you can’t see the strings but they are in there. Other people say that a piano is a percussion instrument because little hammers hit the strings to make the sounds you hear. Your child will learn how a piano is made and how it is played. They will hear and see that pianos come in many different shapes and sizes. They will hear about some great musicians that played and wrote music for the piano. The illustrations are pictures of pianos and people playing them. Your child will enjoy learning about pianos while reading this book.

Keyboards (Instruments and Music) by Daniel Nunn
Reading Level: Ages 4 to 8 yrs old
This book is a great introduction to keyboards, for your young child. It explains the different types of keyboards; pianos, organs and several others. Some keyboards are small enough to carry around and others take up a large part of the auditorium. Have fun helping your child learn about keyboards with this informative but simple book.

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Related Posts

Music at an Early Age by Shannon at Mamamusing
Fun with Music: Overview
Fun with Music: Percussion Instruments
Fun with Music: Brass Instruments
Fun with Music: Voices
Fun with Music: String Instruments

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