I have been trying to figure out how to make musical instruments for the LP. I thought it would be fun to explore sound and make some noise. I was thinking about putting dry pasta into containers for noisemakers but was worried they would figure out how to open the containers and then would eat the pasta and possibly choke. Or, in the case of the toothless LP2, hurt his gums. I have been having quite an ongoing debate with myself over how to go about this. Filling glasses with water and letting them tap on them just isn't a good idea right now. Wax paper over a comb? The old elastic-bands-over-a-kleenex box? Bashing away on pots and pans with a wooden spoon?
And then FINALLY this morning I had that "ah-ha!" moment...only it was more like a "what kind of idiot are you?" moment, complete with a smack to the head. Anyone who has ever been in our house knows where I'm going with this.
There are probably more musical instruments in our house than in some neighbourhoods. Just off the top of my head, I can think of at least 15. Yes, seven out of those fifteen fall into the category of "guitar" but still...we have more than enough things to make noise with. I think I've said before that Daddy has music in his soul and I'm pretty sure the LP do, too. They are already showing signs of an interest in music. LP1 plays the digital piano (bashes the keys, makes up songs, lays down some wicked beats) several times a day and loves to put on a show for people. She especially likes when Daddy is setting up for band practice because she takes the mic in two hands and belts out her greatest hits (Twinkle Twinkle followed by the ABCs and possibly a mashup of the two, in case you were wondering). She gets on the drums and can keep pretty good time. LP2 has lately taken to crawling over to one of the two acoustic guitars in our living room, pulling himself up and strumming on the strings. He likes the different sounds they make. When Daddy plays for him, he is fascinated. Music lessons are definitely in their futures.
Now, to be fair, I wasn't thinking about child-sized instruments in our house. It wasn't until this morning, as I was cleaning up the breakfast dishes that I suddenly realized I could probably find at least five things they can play now and that I could do it in five minutes or less. Sometimes I need to be quick with my set-up or everything goes sideways. I put both kids in LP1's room and went on a mad dash around the house. In five minutes I found most of the child-sized drum kit (minus a few drums and cymbals), an egg shaker, maracas, LP1's Barbie keyboard, a guitar that teaches about animals and numbers and the vuvuzela Auntie K brought back for me from last year's World Cup in South Africa (in case you were wondering, blowing a vuvuzela in a dog's face falls into the category of Not A Good Idea but IS a hilarious way to wake someone up). I set everything up across the floor. It didn't take long before both LP were gathered around the instruments and jamming.
LP1 started out on the vuvuzela. Once she had tired of making loud noises with it and then using it as a telescope, she hit the drums for awhile and then turned her attention to the keyboard. I showed her how to play a scale. She really liked it when I used her index finger to play all the notes and did the whole "Doh, Ray, Mi" up and down the scale. We practiced that for awhile. Later in the day she would be jumping around saying "Fah So Fah...SOFA!", so I think at least a little of it stuck for her.
LP2 was immediately drawn to the egg shaker and the maracas, probably because he could hold them in his hands and make noise. He liked the different noises he could make just by the way he moved his arms. He also tested out the drums and then spent some time on the guitar. No surprise there. He would spend the rest of the day dragging the maracas around with him whenever we were in the kids' rooms.
Playing with the instruments held their attention for a long period of time. I think they liked being able to make noise in different ways. I know nothing about kindermusic or how to introduce music to the very young but I think that just letting them explore the instruments and playing with what interests them is probably a good start.
When they tired of music, LP1 wanted me to set up what she calls the "noisy bear". For her first Christmas, she received this polar bear slide toy. There are four balls that slide through a polar bear and down a penguin slide...I'm not very good at explaining things sometimes. This is what it looks like:
There is a spot on the bear where, when the balls pass over it, it triggers the bear to sing or say things. I think it is intended for babies who are about 6 to 12 months old. When LP1 first received it, she wasn't very interested in it. I kept it in her closet and would pull it out from time to time but basically forgot about it. Lately she has noticed it and keeps asking to play with it. Today I brought it out and set it up. Although LP1 is far outside of the recommended age group, she really enjoyed it. I tried to make it a little more age-appropriate by asking her to identify colours and shapes on it but really...I think she just liked playing with it. In fact, as I type this, the slide is sitting by my feet. I had to take it out of her room once she went to bed because I didn't want her staying up all night and playing with it. LP2 was also interested in it but his attention was held by the penguins that spin and flip as the balls pass through. He liked watching the balls go down the slide. Surprisingly, this also held their attention for longer than I would have imagined.
There may be some who feel that the LP have too many toys and it is quite possible that they do. But you know what? I'm starting to realize how much they enjoy playing with them and how many different uses one toy can have. And given the choice, I would rather see the LP spend a morning playing with all of their toys than sitting and watching television. It costs less, too ;)