Music powers the young brain and children’s musician, Nancy Stewart, brought that message to over 300 librarians across Washington State. Nancy launched a pilot program last year to connect families with free resources for early learning through community singing. Her project takes place in her own community of Mercer Island and has been expanded to last through at least summer 2014. The ideas shared at the trainings provided by Nancy around the state for library staff will be incorporated into her resources. Nancy’s free website for “Sing With Our Kids” is available at http://singwithourkids.com/.
Nancy’s free website includes songs, videos, book recommendations, community toolboxes, a grandparents corner, tips on using technology, advice from the experts, early learning and music information, your voice and ears and much more. All the information is available freely as long as credit is given and not profit is made.
Programs related to the project have included flash mobs, scavenger hunts, caroling, may pole celebration, storytimes, campfire sing-alongs and early literacy talks for parents and care-givers. When Nancy demonstrated the may pole at the library workshops, excitement was so high that many libraries now have their own maypole for singing and dancing. In addition, one librarian in Everett came up with the idea of theming the may pole to reflect the current season and a new version about a spider was created. Check out Nancy’s flash mob video at http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=DnFA4DOIwdc&feature=share.
Making inter-generational connections and getting out into the community is what Nancy’s pilot project is all about (in addition to encouraging singing and the development of early literacy skills in young children.) Nancy has partnered with the local library, bookstore, parks, churches and even families she has never met while working on this project. Using social media (blog, facebook, twitter) helps Nancy reach a wider audience and connect with new people. For her community Christmas caroling, Nancy’s basic idea was to get families together and go caroling. She threw out the idea that someone could do this in their own neighborhood and even project the lyrics onto a big screen if available at someone’s home. Next thing she knew, Nancy was contacted by a family inviting her to lead caroling at their home with lyrics projected. Neighbors and family came together to sing making for quite the memorable event.
Early literacy skills are vital to helping children prepare for kindergarten. Nancy has great videos on the six early literacy skills and five practices of early literacy at http://singwithourkids.com/video.htm. She collaborated with Charlie the Noiseguy to make the videos both educational and fun.
Feedback from the workshops held in 13 locations around the state was extremely positive. Participants shared the following comments on the impact of the workshop:
- I would say the project was great to learn about and Nancy was very motivating. It helped me feel encouraged to understand the importance of music in a child’s life and the need to incorporate it more into storytimes. I also enjoyed the live examples of how to use a parachute, maypole, etc. Great ideas!
- Being reminded about the power of music once again and how it can connect families together.
- It was just listening to Nancy talk about the power of song. It gave me a lot to think about and also a new way of talking to patrons about the importance of song. Also, her website looks incredible! I think this will be invaluable.
- Building the confidence and providing the outstanding free resources for integrating songs and singing into children’s programming in the community.
- The wealth of ideas and all the connections that were made. The reminder about the importance of music in my professional life and personal life!
- I really enjoyed the videos that Nancy shared of herself going out into the community. Breaking up in to small groups and brainstorming gave us a “hands-on” approach and I think that helps us retain the information better and we also learn from each other.
The final workshop takes place tomorrow in Spokane at the Moran Prairie branch of the Spokane County Library District. After the final workshop, Nancy will continue to share her project with libraries throughout Washington via her website, blog and other avenues. Interested in giving it a try yourself? Check out Nancy’s community toolbox at http://singwithourkids.com/toolbox.htm.