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Singing Together!

June 17, 2020 | Emily Ford Sytsma

The Rivers Class sings together! We sing throughout the morning: during worship, as we walk to the park, cross the street, work on collage or puzzles, gather on the nest in the classroom, end the day.

But on Friday, after park and snack time, we have a special music class with Mrs. Mauldin, one of the music teachers at Mustard Seed School. The students are happy to see Mrs. Mauldin, who greets us by singing “Hello, Rivers Class” as we sing back “Hello, Ms. Mauldin!” using a Call and Response format: my turn/your turn.

Students especially enjoy the song “Criss, cross, applesauce…spiders crawling up the wall… a cool breeze…”

“A tight squeeze–now you’ve got the shivers!”

Many of the songs that Mrs. Mauldin sings have accompanying actions or signs. As students learn new songs and use both their voices and their bodies, their memory is supported and this helps them learn the words. Actions also help students participate when they feel shy about singing. Maybe you have noticed this during worship as we sing and sign.

After singing “Head and shoulders, baby, one-two-three,” students suggest new motions for this song: wiggle your fingers, touch your head, clap your hands, give me a smile, etc. This is a great song to sing in the car or when walking home!

Songs are a fun way to learn many things. Many of our songs focus on the thumb and first two fingers, for example, “Two Little Blackbirds” or “Where is Thumbkin?” Isolating and naming these fingers is fine motor practice and preparation for writing.

Counting and math are part of many of the songs Mrs. Mauldin sings, and a favorite would be “Five Little Ducks went out one Day, Over the Hill and Far Away.”

Mrs. Mauldin might also sing us a story. Last week she sang-read a counting story called “Over in the Meadow” which included new vocabulary and lots of math (counting).
Literacy + Math + Music = Integrated Learning at its best!

At the end of our time, Mrs. Mauldin sings “Good bye, Rivers Class” using solfege hand motions–incorporating music theory (tonal scale) that the students will learn more fully as they continue their education at Mustard Seed School.

We sing back “Good bye, Mrs. Mauldin!” using solfege motions.

It won’t be long before the Rivers Class students will ask (every day) as we walk back to school from the park, “Is today a ‘Mrs. Mauldin Day’?” And they will be delighted on Friday when Ms. Buckley answers, “YES!”

It is true: Mustard Seed School is an arts-infused school, and we see this every day in the Rivers Class and in every classroom in the school!

Emily Ford Sytsma

Early Childhood Director

Ms. Sytsma began her career as an educator working in inclusive classrooms in the state of Hawaii but found her roots began to grow here at Mustard Seed School when she came to teach in 1996. She joined the preschool team in 2007, after teaching for many years in the Middle School. She finds delight in the preschool’s approach to teaching and learning, inspired by the preschools in Reggio Emilia, Italy. As Early Childhood Director, she seeks to support teachers in their work helping children learn about thinking and creative expression.

Ms. Sytsma’s the mother of a MSS alum and a current student. When not at school, Ms. Sytsma enjoys traveling with her husband and two children. She tends a very simple rooftop garden in Jersey City Heights and on long Saturday mornings, she may be seen taking long walks along the Hudson River and listening to audiobooks or podcasts while organizing her thoughts and getting her heart rate up.

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