From The Beacon: Sing yourself, your kids into spring

For many people, March brings with it the feeling of rebirth. The cold winter months are in the past. Spring is on its way, the early blooming of precious flowers announcing the return of warmer weather.

With all of the energy in the air, it's no wonder March also is Sing with Your Child Month. Making music with your children requires no money and no musical expertise. But it helps your child's growth and development, sparking creativity and personal expression. Pick a song, grab a guitar, drum, pot and wooden spoon and sing along!

Here are some ideas for adding music to family activities.

  • Playtime with your pet. Add a story and sing during the daily playtime with your family's pet. If you don't have a pet, visit a pet store or volunteer at your local animal shelter and sing while you work. Dog lovers look no further than, "Give the Dog a Bone" by Steven Kellog or "Knick Knack Paddy Whack" by Christiane Engels. You might also like "How Much is that Doggie in the Window" or "Oh Where, Oh Where Has My Little Dog Gone?" by Iza Trapani. If you're a family that loves cats, you can't beat the quirky song and story in "Cat Came Back" by Fred Penner to read and sing before, during or after your playtime with your favorite four-legged friend.
  • Road trip singalong. Have a spring vacation lined up or a long drive to visit relatives? Reduce drive time boredom with story songs that are perfect for road trips. "She'll Be Coming 'Round the Mountain" by Jonathan Emmett is perfect for a scenic drive to the mountains. Select "Over the River & Thro' the Woods" by Lydia Maria Francis Child for the next visit to the grandparents' house. If you'd like a variety of travel songs to take with you on the road, check out "Fun on the Run: Travel Games and Songs" by Joanna Cole.
  • Share giggles while doing routine chores. Spice up bath time with Alan Katz's "Take Me Out of the Bathtub." All of the songs in this book are classic tunes, such as "Take Me Out to the Ballgame," but Katz's lyrics are so silly, you and your child will be laughing before the song ends. Treat yourself to a second round of silly dilly songs with the sequel: "I'm Still Here in the Bathtub." Add a "Wake-Up" story to your morning. Most parents read a bedtime story to their kids each night to calm them for a good night's sleep. Try adding a story to your morning routine to help energize them for the day. Action story songs like "We're Going on a Bear Hunt" by Michael Rosen and "Chicka Chicka Boom Boom" by Bill Martin should get them up and running.
  • Plant a garden and watch it grow. Planting a vegetable or flower garden with your child will help to teach them about science while also fostering a love of nature. Make the time spent tending your garden fun by adding music. David Mallet's "Inch by Inch" is a picture book version of the Peter, Paul and Mary "Garden Song." John Denver's classic tune, "Sunshine on My Shoulders" is beautifully illustrated and told in the picture book "John Denver's Sunshine on my Shoulders" by Christopher Canyon. Should you spot any creepy crawling spiders during your work, break out into your own version of "The Itsy Bitsy Spider" by Lorianne Siomades.
  • Make a Meal together. Feel like cooking spaghetti? Grab your child, a bag of ingredients, and sing or read "On Top of Spaghetti" by Paul Brett Johnson while you prepare your meal together. If you'd rather sing and read about what you shouldn't eat, take lessons from "There Was an Old Lady Who Swallowed a Fly" by Simms Taback, "There Was an Old Lady Who Swallowed a Trout" by Teri Sloat or "I Know a Shy Fellow Who Swallowed a Cello" by Barbara S. Garriel. All three are new twists on the classic "I Know an Old Lady who swallowed a Fly" by Nadine Bernard Westcott.