10 Cool Musical Activities to do with your Kids this Summer
1. Re-Live Your Past - I mean give a musical history lesson
Find a song you enjoyed as a kid (that you wouldn't mind your kids listening to!) You may have to pay 99 cents for the download, but it will be worth it. Or see if you can find the video for your song online. (Recently, I giddily watched Lionel Richie's "Hello" video.) Then look up what year the song was from. Learn, remember, and share other stuff about that year. Look up what was going on in the world, how people dressed, etc. (There are lots of 80s nostalgia sites out there and some great books at the library too.) Don't forget to tell them what your life was like that year!
2. Celebrate the Rain - Make your own maraca or rainstick
Making a maraca is as easy as filling up an old oatmeal can with some dry beans or rice. Another easy version involves putting a couple teaspoons of rice in a paper towel tube then sealing off both ends and decorating. To make a rainstick, do the same, just add two long foil twists or experiment with bits of foil. Check out these websites for instructions. http://www.diylife.com/2008/05/06/the-art-and-science-of-making-a-rain-stick or http://www.enchantedlearning.com/crafts/music/rainstick
3. Skip the expensive car wash - Let the kids do it with this freeze dance game.
As you sit in your lawn chair and watch, have the kids wash the car, while doing silly dances to a song. Of course "Carwash" - the classic Rose Royce version - would rock out for this. The lyrics are great - summer, hard work, acting a fool. You strategically pause the song and everyone has to freeze in their tracks. This can lead to accidental soaking if someone has the hose, by the way. Or you can make soaking the consequence for not freezing fast enough. The game is bound to deteriorate, but you will have provided some entertainment, and you may have a slightly cleaner car.
4. Make a Mix CD - Otherwise known as a week worth of bribes
Use songs as rewards for doing summer chores, good behavior, etc. Each day your child earns the reward, have them choose a song for the mix. You can decide if you want to use the music you have already or download songs from iTunes, Rhapsody, or chipwithrow.com, for example! I usually do a mix of both. Make a chart that has the songs listed as a nice reinforcing visual. Then at the end of the week, make a CD (or new play list if your cool kid has her own iPod.) Introduce some songs they may not know and add those to the choices for some added fun!
5. Visit a Music Store - A variation on my secret obnoxious habit
Take your kids to visit a music store with instruments - just for fun of course. Make sure you let the salesperson know you are not buying anything, just helping the kids see what's out there for when they are older. If you find someone nice, they may let the kids explore some of the instruments or you may just have to use your imaginations.
The percussion section of the store usually has some cool stuff, and some of it is inexpensive. Stores also have colorful, artistic guitar picks, too.
My secret obnoxious habit, by the way, is taking my daughter to the pet store as a form of entertainment. I know you hate it grouchy pet store lady, but you have monkeys wearing diapers!!! And what kid doesn't grow from seeing that!?!
6. Combine Music and Art - Your kids' art genius will surprise you!
Listen to four different pieces of music, each with a different feel. Have each person draw while listening in a style they think works with the music. When all the drawings are done, share your artwork and try to guess which pictures correspond with which songs.
7. Napkin Dance - Use earth friendly napkins, because this is really wasteful
We love the napkin dance at our house, and you'll see a variation of it lots of times at Chip's shows. It's such a blast! Pick a song that's fun to dance to and that has a line that's repeated several times. We use Chip's song "Hello to the Rain," or Mickey Hart and Mystery Box's "Last Song." Everyone dances around to the song while carrying around a handful of napkins, and when the "magic" words are sung, whoosh - everyone throws the napkins into the air.
The napkins soar all around, then fall to the ground, and for some reason, kids really go crazy for this. Then scramble to pick up the napkins and do it all over again. Honestly, it's hours of entertainment and even potentially good exercise. There are more earth friendly versions of this - we did it once with unmatched socks, or maybe you have cloth napkins or something more dignified. The napkins really soar though. Assuage your conscience by keeping your paper napkins for future napkin dance extravaganzas.
8. Write Jingles for Summer Activities - Buy yourself some time before dragging everyone to the pool
"Can we go to the pool today?" Maybe you need to fire off some emails or run to the store first, but what kid is going to have the patience for that? I know - classic moment for redirecting! But what to do!? Try having the kids write and sing jingles that have to convince you to ok those favorite summer time activities. They will come up with some cute stuff, and some annoying stuff honestly. I usually limit beforehand the number of times a jingle can be sung in my presence.
9. Check out PBS Concerts - How enriching is that!?
PBS often has interesting music concerts aired on weekend evenings. Check your listings and see what might be appealing to your kids - I recently saw listings for Songs of Ireland, Doo Wop Groups, and Blues Traveler, all of which could hold my six-year-olds attention for at least a few minutes. It's at least a small antidote to High School Musical and Hannah Montana.
10. Even better - go to a live concert!
Hopefully, Chip Withrow is bringing his family friendly music for cool kids and grooving families to a stage near you this summer. If not, you can still probably find some great music by asking around at your local community center, library, or park. Summer is a great time for concerts that the whole family can enjoy!