Yesterday and Today

Think about your favorite song. I bet you can hear it playing in your head right now. (You are welcome.) 😉 Maybe you even remember a person or place associated with said song. Certain melodies/lyrics work their way into our memories and pop up when least expected.

Now imagine you wake up tomorrow and are the only person who remembers this song? It has been inexplicably wiped from the memory banks of everyone in the world…except you. This is the plight of singer Jack Malik, in the movie “Yesterday.”

As we watch Jack reintroduce the world to the music of The Beatles, he quickly finds himself in a difficult position. Even though no one else seems to know the songs are not his, he begins to experience a guilty conscience. And he alone has the power to make things right.

I know it may not be an award-winning blockbuster, but what a fun and entertaining 1h 56m! Though the music was a big focus, the movie was about so much more. The songs were beautifully intertwined with stories of family, friendship, life, love, and integrity.

It reminded me how chasing something just out of reach may cause me to miss the amazing things right in front of my face.

This funny, sweet story introduces us to the wonderful songs of The Beatles, as if for the first time. Songs from yesterday which continue to influence us today. You just might be tempted to sing along!

🎶Help me if you can, I’m feeling down
And I do appreciate you being round
Help me get my feet back on the ground
Won’t you please, please help me
🎶

~John Lennon & Paul McCartney

A Child’s Laughter

There is magic in the laughter of a child. Equally innocent and powerful. All you have to do is listen. Feeling stressed? Your cares will disappear. Feeling grumpy? Your spirits will be lifted.

Today I experienced this phenomenon while babysitting for some good friends. Their little boy is three years old. What an imagination! And his laugh? Contagious!

We played outside, ate snacks, read books, and watched Sesame Street. But the real fun came when we got out the playdough. Our creations included an airplane, Sponge Bob and a birds nest. We also cut out shapes and created patterns.

In the middle of playdough time, my little friend said something I didn’t quite understand. As I attempted to repeat his words back to him, he started laughing. “No, silly,” he said in his sweet little voice. He then proceeded to say the word again. Still unsure, I tried once more. Now it had turned into a game. A game which continued for five minutes, the two of us laughing our heads off.

Tired from all our playing and laughing, he soon fell asleep on the couch. Watching him sleep, so quiet and peaceful, I realized something. His sweet laugh had cleared my head and filled my heart.

What a perfect picture. Can you see it? This sweet boy sitting at his little kid table, me sitting crisscross on the floor (don’t try too hard to picture that) 😉 , playdough, and laughter. A room filled with laughter.

I know it sounds simple, but it is often in the simple things of life where we discover the profound.

The innocent laughter of a child, if we take time to listen, has the power to light our world. And if we join in? Well, we just might be surprised by the outcome.

Going to Mars

Since I was a little girl, I’ve always been fascinated with the moon, the planets, and stars. Being far away from the city lights, able to see uncountable numbers of celestial objects, was something I looked forward to. I don’t even begin to understand the science behind these bodies. What are they made of? How long have they been shining? Will they burn out? Despite my lack of scientific knowledge, my fascination is not diminished.

Today was an exciting day! NASA sent another object to Mars-the InSight Lander. It has been traveling on a seven-month, 300-million-mile journey, and today was landing day! Apparently, it is supposed to spend two years studying the inner workings of the planet by measuring seismic activity. I know enough to understand that means earthquakes on our planet.

My point is not understanding all of the science behind today’s events or their purposes for our society. It’s really about curiosity and how events such a this spur the imagination. Sharing this information with some of my students, watching live while the scientists waited on the landing, their anticipation and excitement were contagious.

Even though we could not visibly see the InSight Lander, there was a countdown scrolling along the bottom of the screen. With each goal that passed-heat shield working-heat shield separating-parachute deploying-students would gasp as if they’d been holding their breath. Once the landing was announced, they clapped and cheered right along with the scientists in that NASA project control room.

Of course, there were some funny moments too. More than one precious kiddo asked, “Are we sending a man to Mars or just a robot?” “Mrs. Morris, I’m so excited about a person going to Mars!” “Not a person…not a person.” Also a few concerned, confused looks. Possibly related to watching too many sci-fi movies or playing too many video games. With a little reassurance and my simplified explanations, they were at least able to understand the basics of what was happening, and know that we were not being attacked by Martians.

I’m sure there will be some interesting conversations tonight if students are asked what they did in music class today. Who knows? Maybe that little detour from our music lesson sparked some new interest. It certainly reminded me of the beauty not only in our world but also in our universe.

We may not be able to see it all up close and personal, but we can appreciate it by simply gazing at the night sky, looking through a telescope, or viewing images taken in space and transmitted back to Earth…from a camera on a capsule…which traveled for seven months…and then landed on Mars.

I can’t wait to show my students the first image that was sent back from the surface of Mars today!

Time Machine

During recent Red Ribbon Week activities, our school had a “dress in your favorite decade” day.  I chose the 80’s-big hair, hot pink tank layered over black dress, leggings & leg warmers.  “Girls just wanna have fun” was uttered by colleagues several times throughout the day.  Staying in line with my decade choice, I decided we would spend some time in the 80’s during music class.

One class entered my room particularly quiet, much more so than usual.  Thinking they might be a tough audience, I decided to shake things up a bit.  “You guys don’t know this, but the music room is actually a time machine.  And today, we are taking a trip back to the 1980’s!” Of course, there were a few eye rolls but mostly giggles.  We had so much fun!

Our playlist for the day:

  • Richard Simmons exercise video-I Just Wanna Dance with Somebody
  • Jump by Van Halen
  • Take on Me by A-Ha
  • Always Something There to Remind Me by Naked Eyes
  • We Will Rock You by Queen (actually 1977 but it worked with the boomwhackers)

This activity started me thinking.  Music really is like a time machine.  In one instance we listen to a composition from hundreds of years ago, imagining what life was like when it was written.  The next minute we hear a song on the radio and are immediately transported back to a special event, a certain person, or a memorable place from our own past. Both examples are powerful.

It certainly was the case for me all throughout this 80’s music day.  I smiled as I thought about the fun times spent with my best friend Kim watching music videos on MTV.  Remembered my short-lived dream of becoming a rock star when performing in my high school talent show.  Laughed about the many times my husband has played the keyboard opening to “Jump.” (He is a tuba player, not a pianist-so this was his piano claim to fame!)

As my once quiet class was winding down and my trip down memory lane ending one young friend piped up, “Mrs. Morris, can we please transport back to the 2000’s now?” I laughed, “Why yes, yes we can.”  Our time machine travel was over.  At least until the radio began to play in my car, after school, on my way home…

 

 

 

 

 

Pictures in the Clouds

This week I rediscovered the children’s book “It Looked Like Spilt Milk” by Charles G. Shaw.  I love this book!  If you’ve never read it, go look it up.  The author creatively takes his readers through a series of images in white on a dark blue background.  Childlike pictures are paired with simple, repetitive words, creating a beautiful backdrop for the imagination.

After reading this story to my students, I asked if they’d ever noticed pictures in the clouds.  Most excitedly raised their hands, eager to share.  We discussed the importance of using our imaginations, and I shared about finding pictures in the clouds when I was a kid.  Funny how that has become more difficult to do as an adult.

Creatively using our imaginations as a grownup often requires more intention than when we were kids.  Our adult minds are on information overload, concerned with family and job responsibilities.  Being imaginative gets put on the back burner, seen as a luxury instead of a necessity.  I wonder what would happen if that changed?  At the least, our stress levels would go down.

At the end of class I challenged my students to notice the clouds next time they go outside and report back to me what they see. Hopefully some of them remember.  Truthfully, I’m the one who needs to be challenged. Maybe my students responses will inspire me to take the time to go outside and look up.

The pictures in the clouds are always there, just waiting for us to imagine them. What do you see?

The Innocence of Imagination

We have a new friend in music class this year, and he is making quite a splash!

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This week, my K, 1st, and 2nd-grade classes have been meeting Freddie the Frog.  Freddie is a cute, green hand puppet who lives on Treble Clef Island.  Books, songs, and lessons teaching basic music concepts accompany this sweet puppet.  Even though I am excited about using these new teaching materials, it definitely takes me out of my comfort zone.  Honestly, I had doubts about whether or not the students would buy in, or if I could convincingly utilize a puppet.

First-graders helped ease my uncertainties.  After telling students I wanted to introduce them to a special friend, Freddie suddenly appeared on my arm.  I explained that he was shy, afraid the kids would not like him.  Their sweet faces showed great concern as they quickly reassured Freddie that they did indeed like him.  We then learned a new song, and students used animal hand puppets to “sing” their new song to Freddie.  Oh my goodness…what a site!

Almost forgot to mention, I’m the only one who can hear Freddie speak. He whispers in my ear, I relay his messages, and students giggle.

Fast forward…Freddie needed to rest while we listened to a recording of one of his adventures.  On the recording, the students would finally hear Freddie’s voice.  His singing voice is a little silly and high-pitched, and a couple of students chuckled as they listened. Then I overheard one little girl (pointing toward the puppet) say, “Don’t make fun of Freddie.  He can hear us!”

Such innocence and imagination.  And it did not stop there.  A few moments later, as students were gathering supplies to color a picture of Freddie’s room, the same little girl snuck over to where he was resting.  She walked right up to him, serious little face, and said, “I like your room, Freddie.”  Cuteness overload.

As class time was wrapping up there were many questions-can I show Freddie my picture?  Can we tell him goodbye?  Can I give him a hug?  So, Freddie accompanied me to the back of the room and hugged each of his new friends as they walked out the door.

I started thinking…why is it the older we get, the less we use our imaginations in creative ways?  Obviously, we must grow up and be responsible adults.  We are quite capable of conjuring all kinds of “what if” situations, causing much worry and fret.  I’ve certainly been guilty.  Often times we’ve had the experiences to back up our fears.

There is no simple solution to this adulthood dilemma.  Maybe if we took a moment to remember what it was like to be a kid…not an easy task I know.  After all, part of our job as parents and teachers is to help kids cope when bad things do happen.  But wouldn’t it be worth it to experience that innocence of imagination once again?

Even if it was only for five minutes…