When I had Bear we went along to lots of different groups and classes, from baby massage and baby yoga to weekly swimming and sing a sign, we were always out and about experiencing things. Then when I had Monkey I found it a little more difficult to get to baby groups because I quickly realised that baby groups don’t really cater for toddlers. Now that Bear has started preschool, I’ve got some one to one time with Monkey and so this term we’ve been going to Rhythm Time.
Monkey is a really strong character, he is bold, determined and strong headed. To be honest, Monkey can be a bit of a force to reckoned with and I know I’m entirely responsible, because I’m exactly the same. Monkey is very much a free spirit and being a second child has never had a solid structure like Bear has, so I was a bit worried in case he didn’t go along with the structure of the class. As usual I was worried about nothing and if anything the structure has helped Monkey to follow instructions.
Rhythm Time Activities
The class is broken down into sections and a similar pattern of activities is followed each week. This really helps children understand what is coming next. The class starts with the Hello song, where the host leads a song featuring all the children’s names matched with different actions. For example, “wave hello to Peter”, “clap hello to Sarah” or “wiggle hello to Lauren”. This is such a lovely way to start and really helped engage Monkey at the beginning of the class.
Finding the base beat
This is a really interesting one because the music is actually quite hectic and it takes a bit of focus to find the base beat. The aim is for the children to find the base beat and tap the sticks along with that beat. The children have to tap the sticks together along with the base beat on the first time hearing the song and then have to tap the sticks on the floor on the second time hearing the song. I always find this a really fascinating activity because the children actually to keep with the base beat better when tapping the sticks on the floor.
For this activity the parents use juggling scarfs to hide different body parts of the children, while singing a song to help them identify them, i.e. hands, tummy and feet. I found this activity really helped support what I have been trying to teach Monkey at home.
Ratatat is a fun little rabbit that lives in a hat. This is such a brilliant activity that helps encourage children to be more independent and confident by stepping into the circle. It has been really interesting seeing Monkey engage in this activity actually, because there was something similar in a class I used to take Bear to and he would always refuse to join in and instead chose to stay seated on my lap. Monkey is a lot more confident and independent than Bear was, so runs in to say hello to Ratatat as soon as he appears from the box of Rhythm Time treasures.
This is another one that encourages children to be more confident and independent by stepping into the circle. The host holds a microphone and encourages the children to say hello or goodbye into the microphone. A lot of the children rushed forward and did the action of speaking into the microphone, but didn’t quite grasp the idea of actually speaking into it. As the term has progressed, more and more children have started to get to grips with the idea and now speak into it. Monkey hasn’t yet spoken into the microphone, but he loves running into the circle and interacting with the other children. His speech is developing quite quickly now, so I’m sure it won’t be too long before he starts speaking into the microphone.
Each child is given a musical instrument from a glockenspiel to a drum. Music is then played and the children have to play their instrument along to the beat. At the end of the short song, the children then have to pass their instrument onto the next child. This is one of our favourite activities of the class. It not only helps children understand beat and rhythm, but it also encourages turn taking and sharing when they have to pass the instruments along.
What did we think of Rhythm Time?
We’ve really enjoyed Rhythm Time and it has really helped with Monkey’s concentration, listening skills and ability to follow instructions. Rhythm Time classes have also really helped with learning about turn taking and sharing, which has definitely made a big difference at home with the boys playing together.
After each activity in the class the children are asked to put the instrument or item they have been using away themselves, which again has had a really positive effect at home. We are really strict with tidying away toys at the end of day, but Monkey has always been a bit reluctant. Since going to Rhythm Time it has become more of a pattern for him, so we have to badger him less and the process is a lot more fun.
Our host Frank has been wonderful throughout every lesson. He is energetic and really knows how to interact with the children, while keeping control of the class. He explains to the parents what the children gain from each activity, whether that be changes in beat, changes in pitch or building on confidence.
On a personal level, I’ve loved having that one on one time with Monkey and have really enjoyed having something we do just the two of us. Monkey loves playing instruments, singing and is a lively character, so Rhythm Time classes have been perfect for him. We have actually put our names down to rejoin the class when we return from our travels around South East Asia next year, which I guess speaks for itself really.
*Note: We were given Rhythm Time classes in return for an honest review