The best management technique of all is to be totally focused on the activity. Show enthusiasm and build anticipation. If YOU are involved, the children will be involved (p 11).
Of course, it doesn’t hurt to remove all chairs from the room, essentially forcing parents to get involved. I hold a monthly program called Music and Movement for ages 3 through 6.
On our library’s event page, I encourage parents and children to wear sneakers and comfortable clothing “as both will be doing a lot of moving!”
A general announcement to silence cell phones and participate in the program with their child(ren) never goes amiss either.
I designed Music and Movement to promote good health by blending appropriate books, music and movement for an invigorating experience.
Some of my favorite books to choose from include:
Craig, Lindsey. Dancing Feet.
Cronin, Doreen. Wiggle.
Cronin, Doreen. Stretch.
Davis, Kate. Who Hops?
Ellery, Tom. If I Were a Jungle Animal.
Fuge, Charles. This is the Way.
Gravett, Emily. Monkey and Me.
London, Jonathan. Wiggle, Waggle.
I usually read 2 to 4 books per program and work them between movement segments to give folks a breather. As a facilitator, I wear yoga pants, a library T-shirt and I always bring a water bottle!
I also incorporate movement activities that require kids to act out stories or songs. For example, I’ve tweaked Michael Rosen’s performance of We’re Going on a Bear Hunt (watch the YouTube video) so kids are slapping their hands on their thighs while singing “We’re going on a bear hunt. We’re gonna catch a big one.” Then I pretty much follow his lead. The kids LOVE it.
Other fun acting out songs/stories include:
Shake My Sillies Out
We are the Dinosaurs (Laurie Berkner)
The Monster Mash (for Halloween fun!)
You can get creative with the songs for other holidays and seasons.
I also incorporate ribbons/streamers for songs including:
The Wheels on the Bus
The Freeze Dance
Walking on Sunshine (with bubbles) or other pop hits (give those parents a break! I personally love the Glee songs)
Rhythm Sticks, Shakers, and/or Bells can be used as well. For great ideas on using these tools, consult 101 Rhythm Instrument Activities for Young People by Abigail Flesch Connors (quoted above) or Mother Goose on the Loose by Betsy Diamant-Cohen (check out her site).
I like to keep some consistency in my closing songs across ages and programs to signal the end. My two favorites: “The More We Get Together” and “Twinkle Little Star.”