These monthly visits with these 10 kids are simply wonderful, and the cool thing is, I come away from them totally juiced about what I do and how I do it. I’ve learned to not worry about how much we get done, but how we do it. I’m taking more time developing the songs/dances/exercises, playing little intellectual games along the way, asking questions that they know the answers to and reflecting on what we’re doing.

I started out with hand sounds, with rubbing, finger-snaps (a hard concept but one they can work on), and three ‘claps’ – baby bear, momma bear and poppa bear, each louder than the next. They catch on fast. We then recreated a thunder storm, mixing the sounds into story. They love the big thunder sound with the pappa bear clapping. Quite joyous and fun.

I only brought my mandolin this time, and their eyes were filled with wonder. I referred to my visits with the guitar and banjo and they knew the number of strings, the body parts and other details. That particularly delighted me. They remembered. We did Down By the Bay, another one they are familiar with, but we did Snowman, Easter Bunny and Leprechaun, with some very funny additions and extensions which used some of their humor skills (we seem to have similar warped themes). And rather than dismiss the silly ones, we got our main rhymes and themes straight, and we were loose enough to tag on the alligators, etc. We were fully engaged in the play.

The main focus for this session was a new circle dance and song. The Little Sally Walker dance has caught on; they know the process and the words so I thought I could introduce a community dance from Cameroon that I looked up earlier in the morning.

Round and Round the Village, Round and Round the Village, Round and Round the Village, on such a sunny day.

We worked on the singing for a while and played with different kinds of weather. This’ll work later once they are comfortable with the format.

We then formed a circle, sang the song as we circled around. I then asked them to partner with the kids next to them, as a duo. Some skittishness but they all bought in.(cooties!), We did some simple hold hands, Ring around the Rosie, clap hands, shake hands and then reprise the full circle dance. We then turned to the person on the other side and proceeded to do the same simple duo moves. It worked well and was a great mixer.

I suggested that they come up with some duo dance moves, name them and then present them next month.

The Village theme struck me, since it is the Village School, so there is an extension for this song via the school’s name and community. Localization.

We then did lLittle Sally Walker several times just to have some fun (and movement) with a familiar exercise.

I finished up with Magic Penny, and I was tickled that it remained fresh in their heads, in spite of an hour long time period today and five weeks apart.

And, importantly, I took time to reflect on all that we did: Mandolin, Village Song, Down My the Bay, Rain Storm, etc. Again, they were there and engaged. Yo!

I felt good about the pace, the back and forth, the play, the quality of the learning experiences and that fact we all had a good time together. I got to use a lot of my teaching artist tools to make for a multi-tiered learning experience and feel my own creativity in this very live process.

And there was a hint of spring in the air.

I love my job.