Category: Music

March 23, 2022 by admin 0 Comments

Growing Big Hearts with Noggin’s Big Heart Beats Album

Noggin’s Big Heart Beats Album is a lineup of catchy songs  — all available on the Big Heart World website — that are intended to help children (and grown-ups) grow big hearts. The songs, which deal with themes like identity, friendship, and helping others, can be played for fun or built into social and emotional learning (SEL) curriculums. 

“When we considered how best to introduce SEL concepts and themes to kids, we immediately gravitated toward music,” said Sean Farrell, who leads Noggin’s original content development. “We wanted to create music and songs that families would happily roll down the windows of their car and turn up their speakers or play in the family room and dance together.”

The Link Between Music and SEL

Music — singing and making music and moving to music — with children naturally supports the development of important social and emotional skills, including self-confidence; self-regulation; and interpersonal/social skills like sharing, turn taking, cooperating with others and solving problems together.

  • Newborns are able to identify rhythms and melodies heard in the womb
  • Music creates social connections between grown-ups and children
  • Children as young as 3 can notice emotions in songs. They can notice feelings in clips that are just 0.5 seconds long!
  • Music instruction has been shown to increase self-regulation skills

“There is powerful research from leading scholars on the value of music in creating a healthier and more flexible brain, and in laying the foundation for learning,” said Michael Levine, director of Learning and Impact at Noggin. “The use of music both recreationally and in educational settings helps create cognitive flexibility and enhances other multi-sensory literacies that are critical to help children compete and cooperate in a global community.”

Using Big Heart Beats Album to Grow Big Hearts

Julia Levy, the producer of the Big Heart World social and emotional learning initiative, joined with the team at Noggin on March 23, 2022 at the AFT / Share My Lesson virtual conference to share tips on how to use the Big Heart Beats Album and music and movement generally to support social and emotional learning.

“Music is a powerful tool that educators can use to engage children’s minds and bodies in new ways, introducing and reinforcing important ideas and growing kids’ big hearts,” Levy said.

Big Heart World released a learning guide that educators and parents can use to explore the Big Heart Beats album and use the songs to support children’s social and emotional learning.

Learn From the Artists: Music Grows SEL Skills
Artists behind Noggin’s Big Heart Beats Album — Chris Sernel (Oh, Hush!), Alex Geringas, and Wil Fuller — shared how music helps grown-ups and children develop social emotional skills. You can listen to their songs here.
“Music can absolutely help kids to process, comprehend, and feel their emotions,” said Sernel. Watch the whole interview here!
Learn from the Artists: What Does Growing Big Hearts Mean?

Alex Geringas and Wil Fuller; Flor de Toloache; and Chris Sernel (Oh, Hush!) discuss what growing “big hearts” means to them. Listen to their songs here.

Learn from the Artists: Creating "Real" Music With Toys
Chris Sernel (Oh, Hush!) explains how his 3- and 5-year-old daughters inspired him to create “How You Feel,” one of the songs in Noggin’s Big Heart Beats Album. He created the song using his children’s toy instruments! Hear him talk about his inspiration and demonstrate using toys to create something amazing.
Big Heart Beats Album Learning Guide
The Big Heart World team created a learning guide to help educators and parents learn from the songs and find some ways to incorporate them into playful social and emotional learning lessons. 

November 16, 2021 by Julia Levy 0 Comments

G-G-Grateful: Una Canción de Gratitud Hecha por Ti


¿Por qué te sientes agradecido/a TÚ?

Es posible que los niños pequeños aún no comprendan que todos tienen sus propios pensamientos y sentimientos, pero los padres, cuidadores y profesores pueden enseñarles a preocuparse por los demás y a sentirse agradecidos. A los 2-3 años, los niños suelen sentirse agradecidos por cosas específicas (¡como una mascota o su juguete preferido!), pero al cumplir los 4 años ya son capaces de sentirse agradecidos por conceptos más abstractos (¡como el amor y la libertad!) (fuente). Los niños pueden practicar decir “Gracias” y conectar la palabra con el sentimiento de gratitud a medida que crecen.

Este sentimiento de gratitud es importante, pero no sólo el Día de Acción de Gracias sino durante la vida: estudios de investigación demuestran que este sentimiento de agradecimiento hace que las personas sean más felices (fuente) y estén más saludables (fuente).

Así pues, ¿cómo podemos criar a un/a niño/a agradecido/a? Hablen sobre la gratitud, hagan que ser agradecido sea un hábito en su familia ¡y conviértase usted en un modelo a seguir! La investigación confirma que los padres que muestran gratitud tienen hijos más agradecidos en sus actos (fuente).

Su propia canción original sobre la gratitud

Con el Día de Acción de Gracias a la vuelta de la esquina y la gratitud como máxima, nuestro amigo, el talentoso compositor y cantante Royer Bockus, ha creado una original Canción de Gratitud, “G-G-Grateful” para invitar a los padres, cuidadores, niños y educadores de Gran Corazón a crear su PROPIA canción original sobre la gratitud. 

Se trata de una plantilla que pueden usar para crear su propia canción familiar de agradecimiento. Esto le ayudará a usted a ser un modelo de gratitud a la vez que ayudará a su pequeño/a a entender cómo ser agradecido/a.

Estos son los tres pasos:


Escuchen la canción juntos.

Esta es la versión con letra: 

Esta es la versión instrumental sin letra:

Piensen en las cosas por las que usted y su niño/a están agradecidos. Pueden ser personas (¡como la Abuela!), lugares (¡como nuestra pared para trepar en el parque!), ideas (como la libertad y el amor) o sus comidas, animales, flores o libros favoritos, etc. 

Es una fantástica oportunidad de ayudar a los niños a entender qué es la “gratitud” y “ser agradecido”. Son palabras cargadas de significado que pueden ser demasiado abstractas para la comprensión de los niños pequeños. No pasa nada: ¡se trata de enseñar y aprender!

Por turnos, compartan uno con el otro lo que a cada uno les hace sentirse agradecidos. 

¡Ahora toca convertir los “gracias” en una canción!

Escuchen la música en su versión instrumental mientras crean su propia canción juntos.

Crear su propia versión de “G-G-Grateful” es suficiente para incentivar la gratitud, pero si desea que la canción esté presente en su mesa de Acción de Gracias, puede invitar a cada miembro de la familia a añadir una frase a la letra.

Compartan su versión de “G-G-Grateful” en las redes sociales con la etiqueta #bigheartworld! ¡Estamos ansiosos por escuchar lo que usted y su familia han creado.

November 16, 2021 by Julia Levy 0 Comments

G-G-Grateful: A Do-It-Yourself Thankfulness Song


What are YOU thankful for? 

Young children may not yet understand that everyone has their own thoughts and feelings, but parents, caregivers, and teachers can help them learn to care about others and to feel thankful. By 2-3 years old, children can be thankful for specific things (like a pet or a favorite toy) and by about 4 years old, children can feel grateful for more abstract things (like love and liberty) (source). Children can practice saying, “Thank you” and learn to connect those words with the feeling of gratitude as they grow.

All of this gratefulness is important — not just on Thanksgiving but in life: research shows that feeling grateful actually makes people happy (source) and healthy (source).

So, how can you raise a thankful child? Talk about gratitude, make thankfulness a habit in your family, and be a gratitude role model! Research shows that  parents who show gratitude have children who act more grateful (source).

Make Your Own "Thank You" Song

With Thanksgiving approaching and thankfulness top of mind, our friend, the amazingly talented composer and singer Royer Bockus created an original Thanksgiving Song, “G-G-Grateful,” to prompt Big Hearted parents, caregivers, children, and educators to create their OWN original songs about gratefulness. 

It’s like a template for you to use to create your own family thankfulness song. This will help you model your thankfulness while also helping your little one explore gratitude.

Follow These 3 Steps

Listen to the song together:

Here’s the version with lyrics. Notice how Royer names and sounds out the things she’s grateful for as she sings!

Here’s the audio with no lyrics:

Brainstorm what you and your child are thankful for. It could be people (like Grandma!), places (like “our” rock in the park!), ideas (like freedom and love) or favorite foods, pets, flowers, books, etc. 

This is a great chance to help children understand what “gratitude” and “thankfulness” are. These are big words that might be a bit too abstract for younger toddlers to understand. It’s OK: this is a moment for teaching and learning!

Take turns, sharing what makes each of you thankful.

Now it’s time to turn your “thank yous” into a song!

Play the music without words in the background as you create your own song together.

Just creating your own version of “G-G-Grateful” is enough to build gratitude — but if you want to bring the song to your family’s Thanksgiving table and each add a line, please feel free!

Share your version of G-G-Grateful on social media and tag #bigheartworld! We want to hear what you and your little one create.

A Song for Your Child

Music: It’s magical! It can soothe anxious, cranky, or crying children, ease them into sleep, calm their worries, invite them into playfulness, and make difficult transitions smoother. 

Music and singing are parenting superpowers.

Singing and creating songs for each other is also a powerful way to express our love and care.

As the resident musician at Start Early’s Educare Chicago school, I work with mothers and fathers to help them write and sing personal lullabies for their babies, supporting maternal health, aiding childhood development, and strengthening the bond between parent and child.
In this article, we give ALL parents the tools they need to start working this type of musical magic in their own homes with their own children. You don’t need to be a singer/songwriter/musician — or even musical — to give your child the gift of music. 
Anne-Marie Akin, the author, singing with Baby Ethan. Early childhood teachers may recognize Anne-Marie as the creator of the popular children’s tune, “The Milkshake Song.” Her recordings for children include “Songs for Wiggleworms,” and “Wiggleworms Love You.”
How would you like to create a song for your child?

It might seem like a big, mysterious process to write a song, but it’s not. You probably already make up small songs all the time for your child without even realizing it. 

We can ALL write songs — we naturally have the tools! We usually don’t notice when we are humming to ourselves or making word patterns in our heads. That’s a songwriting tool! Another set of tools are the silly songs and rhymes we all make up featuring our children’s names. 

As you start to think of the words for a song for your child, remember: 

  • Children love repetition — and it’s good for them developmentally. 
  • Nothing fancy! You don’t need a fancy set of lyrics or an elaborate melody to create a song that will be meaningful to you and your child. 
  • Even just singing their name — maybe with an added rhyming word, maybe just their name — is a special musical moment for your little one and you.

You can start brainstorming with these prompts:

  • Do you want a slow sleepy song, or something upbeat?
  • What is your child’s name? A name can inspire a whole song!
  • Is there a special story behind your child’s name?
  • Are there nicknames you use in your family? These can become part of your song.
  • Does your child have a special stuffed animal or lovey, a favorite food, color, animal? Think about including your child’s “favorites” In your song.

As you keep thinking about your song, consider these questions:

  • What are your dreams for your child?
  • What is unique and beloved to you about your child?
  • What do you and your child enjoy together?

The answers to any, or all, of these questions can help you create a special song to share with your child!

But what about a tune?

You can turn any hum or rhythm into your own song!

Or you can use one of our accompaniment tracks as an easy way to create a melody. 

Listen to a few notes of the music composed by Sam Wolsk and me (Anne-Marie Akin), then say your child’s name out loud in response to it — kind of like a question and answer. The music calls a little, then you respond, singing (or saying) your child’s name back. Try this with your child or on your own. Before you know it, you will have built a little song!

Track 1: Lullaby Ballad by Sam Wolsk & Anne-Marie Akin
Track 2: Lullaby Happy Bop by Sam Wolsk & Anne-Marie Akin

If you want to add more than just your child’s name name, you can create more lyrics. Try some of these song templates or create your own. Adding your child’s name makes it even more personal.

Get started with a lullaby template!

Here are some templates you can use to start writing your own song for your child. Feel free to adjust the number of name repetitions based on your own child’s name. 

"Happy Tune" Template

I like your ____________, 

Child’s name, Child’s name, Child’s name

I like your ______________, child’s name

And we both like to ______________. (something you like to do together! Dance? Run? Snuggle?)

"Dance Song" Template

Create a song using dance motions (Clap your hands! Fly like a bird) and your child’s name.

"Sleep Tune" Template

Child’s name, child’s name, close your eyes

Child’s name, child’s name, rest awhile

Tomorrow we will  __________________

But now it’s sleepy time.

"I Love You" Template

(This template uses comparisons. You can choose things that are important to you and your child! Think: as deep as, as wide as, as high as, as sweet as, as long as…)

I love you as ________ as _______

As __________ as ________________

Sleep my _____________

Sleep my _______________

I love you.

Share Your Song!

Once you have a draft of your first song, share it with your child! Be sure to watch his or her little face listening to your song. 

And, if you want, please share it on social media (tag us @bigheartworld). We’d love to hear your song, too!

"Thank You" to Sam Wolsk, who arranged the music!
Sam Wolsk

Here’s Sam’s bio: Sam is a graduate of Northwestern University’s Bienen School of Music, where he earned a dual major in jazz studies and psychology. He is the founder of DW Jazz Orchestra, an ensemble that plays in Chicago and New York. Sam also plays piano and trumpet for Honey Butter, a local R&B/pop band. He has composed and arranged dozens of jazz and pop pieces, and he loves teaching his students how to play their favorite songs. He sees music as one of the most important avenues of self-expression and connection to others, and he loves equipping his students with the tools and techniques to participate in the conversation.

Learn More about the National Lullaby Project

Anne-Marie has been part of an effort called the National Lullaby Project, created by Carnegie Hall in New York. The project pairs professional artists with new parents to help them create their own lullabies for thier children. Learn more about the Lullaby Project. Listen to this piece by WBEZ Chicago to learn more more about Anne-Marie’s work in Chicago at WBEZ Chicago. 

May 2, 2021 by Julia Levy 0 Comments

Learning Music Can Grow Your Kid’s Mind AND Heart

Even before babies are born, they are listening to the sounds that surround them and learning music, and by the time they are three years old, their brains have made a thousand, trillion connections, says Dr. Eric Rasmussen, the chairman of the Peabody Preparatory’s Early Childhood Music department at Johns Hopkins University. 

“Music does, almost without a doubt, improve cognitive functions — it makes you smarter,” Eric said. “But the bottom line for me is that music just makes us human, makes us the artful, beautiful people we are.”  

Eric said being exposed to music and music education in the early years is a powerful tool that can build multiple parts of the brain, all at once. It can help children to develop fine motor skills; memory; problem solving skills; math and literacy skills. It can also boost social and emotional skills, including perseverance, self-esteem, and relationships with other people. 

Dr. Rasmussen teaching music to a group of young children.
"But the bottom line for me is that music just makes us human, makes us the artful, beautiful people we are."
Eric Rasmussen

For parents, caregivers, and early childhood educators, the good news is that “learning music” doesn’t mean teaching children to count and name the musical notes. Formal instruction like that, Eric said, “gives the brain information and completely bypasses the ear.” Instead, parents, caregivers, and educators should foster “musical interactions” with children that use the ear (and the whole body) to promote meaningful learning. 

5 Ways Parents and Caregivers Can Encourage Brain-Boosting Musical Interactions:

Eric shared five ways parents and caregivers can create brain-boosting “musical interactions” with their children:

  1. Sing to your baby without words“Turn diapering into a song: ‘Doop-a-doop-a-doop-ba-doopity-doop,’” Eric advised. He said he encourages parents to talk in “Motherese,” a sing-song voice that is naturally musical, and to take away the words to create “songs” to share with babies throughout the day. 
  2. Sing to your toddler without words“The brain can’t do music and words at the same time,” Eric explained. “You have two competing things going on.” He said most children are better able to focus on the musical elements of songs without the words. So pick your favorite song and sing it without the lyrics to your child. 
  3. Turn conversations into musical interactions. Turn your regular conversations with your child into musical interactions by focusing on patterns. When you point at a bird flying in the sky and say, “bird, bird, bird,” it’s almost like a song, Eric said: “It’s like feeding your child a little, tiny snippet of a melody.”
  4. Play music and sing to your child. Depending on the type of learner you have, listening to instrumental music or music with words might help them focus and learn more! So, turn on the music and play together to learn about music itself, and, later, the meaning of the lyrics.
  5. Get out your scarves and shakers to encourage your child to move to the music. “Movement may be more fundamental to music education than everything else put together,” Eric said. “Music gives rise to the understanding of rhythm, and rhythm is more fundamental to music than melody. Every melody has rhythm but not all songs have melody. What gives rise to understanding of rhythm is movement.” 

Play the music from Noggin’s Big Heart Beats Album!