Enrichment at home: It’s a Rap

May 20 – 21

Rap is basically spoken poetry with a strong emphasis on rhythm and rhyme. Below is an incredibly moving music video made by Carrie Underwood and Ludacris for the 2018 Super Bowl. Ludacris’s rap is embedded in the song. It’s a special kind of poem: an acrostic. Each line emphasizes one letter from the word “Champion”, so that reading the first letter of each of these words down a page of lyrics would spell the word,

Although the next video may be most suited to preschoolers, the truth is anyone would love this rap of Fox in Sox. And fortunately, it’s one of a series. Younger kids will love listening. Here’s a challenge for older kids: see if YOU can rap a rhyming children’s book. A great way to connect with younger cousins or other tots you are missing right now would be rap the a book by video chat or record a book for them.

As discussed, rap is essentially spoken word poetry with a strong instrumental beat. Not all poetry places the emphasis on rhyme and rhythm found in rap and other spoken word poetry. So what makes a poem a poem?

Next is a link to a video on how to rap that adults may want to view before before sharing. It is a clean video with excellent tips on rhyme and rhythm. This was chosen for it’s emphasis on language, however in contains sales pitches and refers viewers to other rappers families may not be comfortable with. Parents can look for other resources using the search terms “rap beginners kids.” For teens, drop “kids” but parents may especially want to screen for content. There are some wonderful videos on the poetics of rap, but they may contain violent language or other material that is not suitable.

Movement

Rock Podcast.  Spare the Rock is a weekly radio show out of  KUTX 98.9, Austin.  This web link takes you to their blog, where if you scroll down you will find their most recent playlist.  Now, we put this under movement for a reason, so grab your phone, connect with your friends, and throw a virtual dance party.

Science and Math

But Why This semi-weekly NPR “kids and family” podcast digs into life’s pressing questions, like “How Do People Fall Asleep?” and “Do Animals Get Married?” This podcast does cover some topical issues, such as the COVID-19, so some parents might want to pre-screen or discuss the podcasts. Technically, these aren’t all Science and Math podcasts, but … close enough.

Art and Literature

Today’s reading subscriptions will appeal to younger children. To make this suitable for older readers, consider having them create their own read aloud recordings to share with younger children. They should think about how they would introduce and conclude their reading, and how they will use vocal tone to make it interesting.

Story Podcast Circleround is a weekly podcast from WBUR 90.9 Boston.  The website includes links to coloring books and soundtracks. 

Kids’ Books Read Aloud. Adapted. If listening to read-alouds doesn’t work for you, this YouTube series features books you can read along with.

March 26

Podcasts and Subscriptions

Movement

Rock Podcast.  Spare the Rock is a weekly radio show out of  KUTX 98.9, Austin.  This web link takes you to their blog, where if you scroll down you will find their most recent playlist.  Now, we put this under movement for a reason, so grab your phone, connect with your friends, and throw a virtual dance party.

Science and Math

But Why This semi-weekly NPR “kids and family” podcast digs into life’s pressing questions, like “How Do People Fall Asleep?” and “Do Animals Get Married?” This podcast does cover some topical issues, such as the COVID-19, so some parents might want to pre-screen or discuss the podcasts. Technically, these aren’t all Science and Math podcasts, but … close enough.

Art and Literature

Today’s reading subscriptions will appeal to younger children. To make this suitable for older readers, consider having them create their own read aloud recordings to share with younger children. They should think about how they would introduce and conclude their reading, and how they will use vocal tone to make it interesting.

Story Podcast Circleround is a weekly podcast from WBUR 90.9 Boston.  The website includes links to coloring books and soundtracks. 

Kids’ Books Read Aloud. Adapted. If listening to read-alouds doesn’t work for you, this YouTube series features books you can read along with.

March 25

Science and Math

Zoo Live Cams.  Take a virtual field trip to the San Diego Zoo.  Visit koalas, polar bears, tigers, and many more animals in real time.  This website also has a wide selection of activities including video games and arts and crafts activities.

Art and Literature

Dioranimal   Now create your own zoo. Look at this Pinterest Board to get some ideas and create a zoo in your own home. Take US on a field trip. Tag enrichmentalliance on Instagram.

Dioramas Adapted.  If you like a little more direction when you make things, this video walks you through the steps of creating a diorama with cardboard and magazines. If you don’t have access to magazines, print or draw your animals.

Movement

BE an Animal. Here’s a game you can play with your friends, even while you are social distancing. Learn some animal moves from this exercise video and use FaceTime or other social media to create a “live cam”.  Act out an animal and ask your friends to guess what you are.

March 24

Anansi and The Turtle Younger children will enjoy the video for its own sake, but older children will probably appreciate this more as an introduction to storytelling. How does the story teller use her voice and body to engage the viewer? See the Movement link below to connect this video to a storytelling activity.

Movement

Storytelling  Scroll through these lesson plans from Scholastic to get ideas retelling a story.  Focus on exaggerated movements..  The Fox and The Stork would be a great one to pair with Anansi and The Turtle.

Science and Math

Turtle Salad.  Scale this down and make a Turtle Salad for your family.  But leave out the turtle meal!

Turtle Salad Adapted.  This salad recipe is pretty similar, but includes step-by-step instructions with pictures.

March 23

Art and Literature

Story Generator. On this intriguing website by Scholastic, an animated machine generates story prompts at the pull of a lever.  The settings can be adjusted by grade level.

Adapted.   The level of the story generator above can be adjusted, but if you need a more concrete activity, try these “meaningful story prompts” from Old Dominion University. Scroll down to Story Jars and you will find an activity similar in nature to the story generator. Unfortunately, there seem to be some formatting issues on the document, but the idea still comes through.

Science and Math

Hand sanitizer is no substitute for good old fashioned hand washing, but your kids can make their own hand sanitizer to have in a pinch if you have access to these ingredients. The essential oils are optional.

Movement

Indoors bowling.  Recycle empty bottles into an indoors bowling alley. This website recommends adding a little water if the bottles tip too easily, but you might want to substitute something less messy, like pennies or a few pebbles.

March 22

Science and Math

Rube Goldberg Inventions Ideas for zany inventions inspired by the Rube Goldberg, the cartoonist whose ridiculous “time-savers” were more trouble to put together than the task itself ever might have been.  This site offers video examples, ideas to get you started, and lists of materials you might find around the house.  If you don’t have one of these items, just try something else. Maybe small books will work as well as dominoes. Try paper towel rolls if you don’t have plastic tubes.  And we sure will want to see your pictures and videos for this one, so please tag us on Instagram. Just google Rube Goldberg Inventions if you want to see more.

Movement

Obstacle Courses This website lists 25 ideas for obstacle courses, several of them themed.  You may not have all the items suggested, but they should give you some ideas for using the materials you do have.

Obstacle Courses Adapted  These are slides from a presentation on wheelchair obstacle courses in a school setting, so not all of these will be practical to create at home. There are, however, ample images that you could recreate or adapt for use in your house or apartment, so go ahead, try this at home.

Art and Literature

Cambodian Myth of Lightning, Thunder, And Rain. This TED animation is a beautiful presentation of a Cambodian Myth.  A lesson plan is available and there are additional TED animations of children’s tales from around the world.

March 21

Sticking with a spring theme a little longer, today’s enrichment activities allow children to play and create with the wind.

Movement

Be a Wind Dancer.  As March blows through, get outside and blow with it. Take along scarves, ribbons, anything that flows. Watch the wind blow on natural objects like trees, grass, flowers, leaves. Make up some dance moves based on how the wind moves these objects. 

Art and Literature

Wind Sculpture.  Create a fanciful wind sculpture and put it outside or in front of an air vent. First watch the video linked on the left for some inspiration.  Now watch this video on creating wind sculptures, and let your imagination go wild. Besides the materials in this video, what can you find around the house to create a kinetic sculpture at home?  Search YOUTUBE for “wind sculpture” and “kinetic sculpture” for more mesmerizing videos. And of course, please tag enrichmentalliance when you post your amazing pictures!

Science and Math

How fast is the wind? These simple directions show how to use household materials to make an anemometer, an instrument used by meteorologists to study wind speed.  If you can’t find the exact materials at home, try out different materials and let us know what works for you. 

Science and Math Adapted

Pinwheels. Step by step instructions, with pictures. Try different types of paper to make a variety of beautiful pinwheels, and show us what you made. You can take these outside and let the wind blow them, or run and dance with them.  Did you know that blowing on a pinwheel can make you feel less stressed?

March 20

This is the first full day of spring! All of our activities today are themed on nature. Use your science and movement activities as inspiration for writing poems about nature, and consider submitting to the Washington Post Nature Poem contest, linked below. The National Parks have opened to the public at no charge, so if you have a park nearby and a way to get there, you might do your nature studies there. Just remember social distancing.

Art and Literature

Nature Poetry Contest. Take a good look at this beautiful spring day. Maybe you’re looking out your window, maybe you’re taking a walk or a hike. Write down six things you see in nature (examples: bird, tree, cloud). Write down six things that are happening in nature (examples: soar, sway, float). Write down six things to describe what you see (peacefully, green, soft).  Now use these to write a poem.  If you are the kind of person who needs a little structure to write, see Arts and Literature Adapted below. PLEASE NOTE, IF YOU ARE SUBMITTING TO THE KIDSPOST CONTEST, DON’T SHARE THESE POEMS WITH US BEFORE APRIL 22.

Art and Literature Adapted

Nature Poem Activity.  Our POPnPOEMS workshops use pop songs suggested by participants to explore poetry.  This activity, built around “Deep in the Meadow” from “Hunger Games” includes visual aids, word banks, and patterns for creating poems.  If you are interested in submitting your poems, see the entry above. This entry is from our director’s personal website, which contains one additional poetry activity.

Science and Math

Nature Camera-Scavenger Hunt.  Grab a cell phone or a pencil and paper, look for items on this list, and draw or photograph them . Or create your own scavenger hunts and use social media to challenge your friends.  We’re dying  to see what you find, so please tag enrichmentalliance on Instagram. This website includes additional outdoors spring activities.

MOVEMENT

Nature Walk.  This blog offers great guidance for turning an everyday walk into  a nature museum.  Activities in this blog combine beautifully with the poetry and scavenger hunts described above.

Science and Math

March 19. Rain in a Jar. Can’t leave the house? Don’t let it RAIN on your parade. We chose this activity because it requires only a jar, ice, and hot water, and because it was a popular activity when our director taught elementary school. This requires parental involvement because it uses boiling water. For related activities, type “Science in a Jar” in your YOUTUBE search window.

Tag us to show off your #raininajar

#enrichmentalliance; #kidsscienceexperiments; #scienceathome; #covid19kidsathome; #covid19kidsactivities

Movement Adaptive

March 19. OT Sensory Dance Video. Set to “Uptown Funk,” these moves were designed for children and youth on the autism spectrum, but should work well for other Developmental Differences. Have fun. Don’t try to be perfect. Just enjoy these moves, and maybe make up some moves of your own.

Movement

March 19. Kids Hip Hop Class. An on-line dance studio offers lessons on dance moves. This sample lesson is just one of a series. Check out their other online lessons. Have fun. Don’t try to be perfect. Just enjoy these moves, and maybe make up some moves of your own.

March 19. Epamdimonimous. (We can only guess at that spelling!) Donna Washington is a captivating NC storyteller who delighted our after-school students when she presented her engaging workshops here. To stream more stories, visit donnawashington.com and click videos.

Social Distancing Butterflies

May 18-19

Use materials from around the house to make a butterfly feeder. It might attract hummingbirds as well, although for hummingbirds you may need to position it differently. Craft foam is listed in the materials for the project, but we made ours without any. Use what you have on hand. That makes it YOUR project.

You’ll want to know who’s visiting your feeder, so try some of these identification activities, including the butterfly scavenger hunt.

All the butterflies you’ve been observing could serve as inspiration for some gorgeous art work. This Pinterest board is filled with butterfly themed arts and crafts activities suited to all ages.

Social Distancing Jam Sessions

May 15-17 This week-end’s blog post is dedicated to the community of roots musicians in and beyond Charlottesville/Albemarle who enrich the lives of everyone, young and old.

Have a jam session this weekend. Get your friends to join you on your favorite video chat app, or grab a mask and a measuring tape if you are starting to try a little physical distancing. Please do not share instruments.


This sistrum was made in one of our own workshops, using brass brackets and a coat hanger.

Of course, you’ll need some instruments. These instructions for ten instruments kids can make should get you started. You might not have the exact materials the instructions call for, so improvise. Try buttons for beads, two paper clips for bells. The ideas you come up with may be the best ones. Please see below for information on workshops with our frequent collaborators, Kim and Jimbo Cary.


You can jam with just about anything!!!!

While you’re working on your instruments, play a little roots music to get some inspiration. Some suggestions to look for when you stream music: Putumayo Kids, “American Folk Songs for Children” by Mike and Peggy Seeger, and “Classic Folk Songs for Kids,” Smithsonian Folkways Collection.


Carver Rec Center session with Kim and Jimbo.

When your instruments are finished, find a live stream concert and play along in your living room. Charlottesville’s Front Porch is streaming three times a week. The Atlanta Children’s Museum has Music Mondays. Or stream a video of a musician you like to play with and jump in. The Enrichment Alliance has had frequent collaborations with Kim and Jimbo Cary. For this post, they sent us a link to a video to a song Jimbo wrote for The Animal Rescue League.


Kim and Jimbo Cary collaborative concert.

Kim & Jimbo are available for online music workshops for children and families and also live  at-a-distance  performance/workshops for making and playing homemade instruments and more. Visit kimandjimbo.com or contact kimandjimbo@gmail.com


Now you’re ready for an old time jam Invite your friends to join you by way of a chat app, or jam with your family. Follow the social distancing guidelines. Finally, here’s one critical tip for jam sessions: they’re not supposed to be perfect; they’re supposed to be fun.

Quarantine Enrichment Ideas: Gardens in Bottles

May 13-14

It seems there’s an infinite number of ways to create gardens out of recycled soda bottles. I remember a project we did when I taught elementary school that involved two 2 liter bottles, cut and reassembled to create multiple layers, with an aquarium on the bottom and a terrarium at top. I could not find that exact set of instructions, but this Soda Bottle Ecosystem comes closest, the only real difference being that it uses 3 bottles. This will require some adult supervision, due to the use of an Exacto Knife.


A very similar method is used to create a Hydroponic Garden. Hydroponic gardens grow plants without soil. While the systems can be quite complex, involving special equipment, this is a simple system you can create at home. After looking over these materials, try entering “hydroponic”, “aquaponic,” and “soda bottle” in your search engine for some more ideas, including vertical gardens.”


This video shows how to grow a rain forest in a garden. You might want to add a little clear packing tape when you join the two pieces. What other ideas do you have for a soda bottle terrarium?


These are just three ideas from a multitude of possibilities. Have a look at this Pinterest Board for more ideas for reusing soda bottles to create magical gardens.

Covid-19 After School- Read Alouds

May 11-12. Read-alouds are for always.

There are numerous benefits of reading aloud to children, no matter what their age. Even when they are able to read independently, reading aloud can increase pleasure in and comprehension of reading. Reading together is such a valuable way to spend time with your children, and we have a list of suggested readings for that, but with children home while parents are working, it can be good to have some online resources to augment family reading time, so we have included two resources for online stories.

Storyline features children’s books read by celebrated actors, including Oprah Winfrey, Chris Pine, Kristen Bell, Rita Moreno, Viola Davis, Jaime Camil, Kevin Costner, Lily Tomlin, Sarah Silverman, Betty White, Wanda Sykes.

Stories in ASL has a similar catalog for young children, but also goes up beyond age eight. including classics for older children, such as Sadako and the Thousand Paper Cranes, and even some posts suitable for adults, such as “Stopping by the Woods on a Snowy Eveving.” Their website is updated weekly, so check often for new posts.

Read Aloud America is a list of books suitable for reading aloud to everyone from babies to adults. It’s updated annually and the latest update was posted this spring. If you are away from your children, grandchildren, or other significant kids in your life, pick a story and read it to them on ZOOM.

But if that’s not enough, did you ever consider reading to your dog? According to this article, reading to dogs benefits children. Presumable the dogs enjoy a good plot, too. Especially plot hounds.

Children’s Activities in Quarantine: Board Games Revisited

April 8-10 Are you bored with board games?

You don’t need to buy new games to play new games. The games you have around the house can be played with new rules.

Changing up checkers. Bashni is a crazy Russian variation of checkers that involves moving ever growing stacks of checkers around the board.

Scrambling Scrabble. If you have a set of Scrabble tiles at home, there’s almost no limit to the different kinds of games you can play with those tiles.

Monopoly Not Monotony. Ever notice the rules you play by don’t seem the same as the instructions? Ever play with a friend who has rules you never heard of? There are all sorts of ways to vary Monopoly. Maybe you can come up with some new ideas of your own.


These are only a few ideas. Look at the game you have at home and type the name of a game plus the word “variations” and you may get some helpful hits.

Gifts Children Can Make at Home

April 6-7

Bath Bombs. This is just so cool. Make bath bombs with household ingredients. Be creative about using items you have on hand if you can’t find the decorative silicon ice trays.

Pipe Cleaner and Yarn Trivets. Making these lovely trivets or coasters is a simple activity, but these instructions do require a glue gun. Try craft glue, tacky glue, or paste glue if you don’t have a glue gun and/or an adult to supervise.

Once you’ve made your gifts, you’ll need a card. Wouldn’t a pop-up card be especially fun?

And you’ll need some wrapping paper of course. You can make that with supplies on-hand. These instructions call for a sea sponge, but experiment with other materials.

Every great celebration involves food. Here’s a Fruit Salad that could be a side dish or a dessert. It’s a light, simple dish a child can prepare, with or without assistance depending on age and ability. Consider substituting low fat yogurt for the sour cream and/or pudding.

Field Trips in Quarantine

May 4-5 Aquaria

(That’s the plural of aquarium not an astrological sign, in case you weren’t sure.)

As you may have heard by now, the penguins are taking field trips in aquaria (that’s the plural of aquarium. I just said that, right?) Join them on their tour of The Florida Aquarium.

Staff at The North Carolina Aquarium at Pine Knoll Shores are working incredibly hard to keep young people engaged in learning about marine life during the pandemic with activities and an animal of the day. They even have a virtual bookshelf.

Now you know enough to make your own aquarium, and you don’t even need live animals to do it. Check out this Pinterest Board to get some ideas for making an aquarium diorama. Maybe you’ll want to make two aquariums. No wait, that’s aquaria.

Activities During Quarantine: Printmaking and Foil Art

May 2-3

This promises to be a very lovely weekend, so get outside to collect some natural materials for these captivating art works.

Foil Art. Instructions for this activity suggest drawing with glue. The effect is marvelous, but here’s a suggestion: gather some natural objects and glue them under the cardboard as well.

Sun Prints. You may have seen commercially available paper for sun prints, but did you know you can make them if you have acrylic paints and a few other supplies?

We like to start every month with a gallery crawl. Visit the National Gallery print collections online to see some examples of beautiful prints through the centuries and from all over the world.

Quarantine Activities: National Poetry Month

April 30- May 1

The end of National Poetry Month is not an end at all. It’s the beginning of a new year of exploring the many gifts reading and writing poetry can bring into our lives. So we end April and move into May with a few ideas to keep you reading and writing throughout the year.

Blackout Poetry is a type of “found poetry” that involves darkening sections of previously published writing in order to create a poem. While this type of poetry often involves the use of black markers, it can be particularly creative and exciting to use colored media to create a visual artwork that interacts with the written words. We’ve linked a Scholastic article that takes this process step-by-step to lead you into creating beautiful works of written and visual art. The artwork feature today is all offered with permission from Stacy Antoville, the art teacher cited in this article. For more exquisite student art, follow her class on Instagram @art_o_ville.


We want you to get up and moving every day during quarantine, so here’s an activity to incorporate with a daily walk. Grab a pen or pencil and notepad, or if you prefer use a notepad app. Take a walk, preferably a good long one. Write down at least 5 things you see, 3 things you do, and 1 thing you overhear. Draw a quick sketch of one thing you see. You may or may not actually decide to use this in a poem later. The point is to notice details. (Adapted from an activity offered by Erika Meitner, VQR Writers’ Conference, 2019).


There are numerous audio and downloadable poetry books at the Jefferson Madison Regional Library. Temporary library cards are available online during quarantine.


Our director, Mary Anna Dunn, will be offering an online poetry class through Charlottesville Parks and Recreation’s Adaptive Recreation Program later this summer. Details TBA.