Tag Archives: early childhood development

A Brilliant Way of Sharing Music with Kids at First Roots Manville

junglegymjam-family-bow-firstrootsWhen the Jungle Gym Jam brought the house down last summer at Hillsborough, NJ Public Library and the rave reviews spread through the neighboring towns, Jennifer Esposito was paying attention. She reached out to me the next day and asked if I would perform at the grand opening of her new school location in Manville. I was happy to do the honors and even happier still that my daughter, now 4, would get to meet Frozen’s Queen Elsa at the event! My wife Amy, who co-writes lyrics with me, and our daughter, joined me on ukuleles for a performance of “Five Sea Lions.” A wonderful grand opening event and performance led to new ideas. And then Jennifer came up with something truly brilliant…

Jennifer had been learning by experience that the field of early childhood musical learning centers was a crowded one with lots of franchised regional and national programs that are delivered in a consistent way whether you’re in one location or another. She had been under such a franchise which wasn’t working for her way of doing business. So she went 100% independent, coming up with her own curriculum. It was a bold move, but Jennifer was missing a way of helping public easily understand what set her program apart.

Jennifer Esposito leading a First Roots music & movement activity at Hillsborough Public LibraryJennifer and I had a few back-and-forth discussions that lead to this breakthrough idea: Every semester of her school would feature the music of a working “kindie” band in the New York/New Jersey/Pennsylvania area. She’d give out CD’s and songbooks from that band at the start of the semester and she’d offer special music and movement activities centered around that band’s songs. Kids attending the class would hear a combination of recorded tracks by the featured band and Jennifer covering that band’s songs. Then at the end of that semester, the band would give a live, featured performance in her studio. Brilliant! This was unlike anything I’ve ever seen in an early childhood music learning center and a great distinction to offer the area’s kids & families.

I had the honor of being the first featured kindie artist over this semester that is now drawing to a close and, on Saturday afternoon March 14, I will give a performance at First Roots Music Studio.

More kindie artists will be featured over the coming semester, including Baze and His Silly Friends.

If your family lives in or around Manville, I’d love to see you there!

– Jason

The Power of Pretend Play!

The Power of Pretend Play

My 2-year-old daughter’s sense of pretend play is really taking off! Last night, she went looking for the “beach” in our basement. After about 2 laps all over the basement she picked out a spot and decided it was the beach. So we laid down a “blanket” and I gave her “sunscreen” to put on, while I put some on myself. I offered her “sandwiches” and “pink lemonade” for a picnic. Even without any props to stand-in for all the imaginary objects, she was fully engaged in this pretend play for a very long time without losing interest.

We watched “airplanes” going by with ads trailing from the tails, like “Tonight: Jungle Gym Jam at the Stone Pony!” We saw colorful “kites” flying around and even flew one of our own. She kept asking for more “sunscreen” and kept re-applying it to her shirt and pants as if it were “beachwear.” We watched other beachgoers playing “baseball” and “volleyball” and joined in the fun.

When my little girl started to yawn, I pointed out how it was starting to get “dark” and what a beautiful “sunset” was over the water. Once the “sun” went down, it was time for “fireworks.” I gave her a “headset” so the fireworks wouldn’t be too loud. She put it on and watched all the dazzling colors burst (over our washing machine). Pink fireworks, green, blue, and gold all lighting up the “sky.” She was reaching out to catch the fireworks as they streaked down to the horizon.  Finally it was time to fold up the “blanket,” pack our things and go home to bed. After a bath and a change into pajamas, she drifted easily into sleep, aided by a little evening daydreaming with Daddy.

All in all, not a bad way to spend a mid-autumn evening in the “warm summer sun!” What are your stories of pretend play with a child in your life?