In honour of Family Literacy Day, here are a couple of my family’s favourite websites that promote literacy through fun, interactive play:
For your preschooler to emerging reader, www.starfall.com is the place to go! Starfall is jam-packed phonics fun with interactive animation, music, video, games and much more. Preschoolers can start by playing with the musical alphabet and listening to songs about vowel sounds. Then kids can progress to animated phonic stories like `Zac the Rat` and practice their new skills with fun games. Early readers can read stories on a variety of topics—if they get stuck on a word, they simply click the curser on it and the word is sounded out for them. Kids have so much fun playing and learning on this site.
Make Belief Comix
My 9 year old recently discovered another fun site that promotes literacy through creative writing. www.makebeliefscomix.com is a fully interactive site that allows kids to create their own comic strips.
“Comics help children learn how to read and think imaginatively. The comic characters can became their friends and family, and they began to realize that reading can be fun and open up new worlds to them. By giving children a choice of fun animal and human characters with different emotions — happy, sad, angry, worried — as well blank thought and talk balloons to fill in with their written words, and some story prompts to spark ideas, youngsters will be able to tap into their creativity to tell stories and create their own graphic stories. “–Bill Zimmerman, Creator, MakeBeliefsComix.com
Once kids create their comics, they can be printed and/or emailed to friends. Bonus—Kids can write in English, Spanish, French, German, Italian, Portuguese, and Latin so it’s great for French Immersion or older students learning a second language, too.
Do you have a favourite literacy site? Share it with us.
Are you still looking for things for your kids to do over the summer? Here is a list of some of the great daycamps happening in July and August. There is such a wide variety you are sure to be something to peak your child’s interest!
Let your child’s imagination run wild in an art-based camp:
The summer is a great time for kids to get some extra playtime in their favorite sport or try something new. There are some great sports themed camps offered such as:
If performing is your child’s thing, there are lots of options for them to express themselves:
The World Around US
There are some great opportunities for your child to learn more about the world around them:
Let’s not forget to just have some summer fun!
Have a great summer everyone!
”When Matthew and Thomas were in preschool, I began writing songs for them. My first song was “Octopus” (Slippery Fish) which became a hit in all my early performances and workshops for families and teachers. I recorded the song on my first album, “10 Carrot Diamond” in 1985. Once kids heard the humongous whale sized “Burp” at the end, they were hooked.
The song also became known as “Slippery Fish” as the song begins with the Slippery Fish being eaten by an Octopus, which is eaten by a Tuna fish…a Great White Shark …and finally a Humongous Whale. I chose the title “Octopus” as I thought it was more interesting.
As I speak French and Spanish, I translated the song into those languages and recorded the versions on my first French album, “Qu’il y ait toujours les soleil” in 1988 as “La belle pieuvre” (le petit poisson) and on my first Spanish CD, “Soy un Pizza” in 1994 as “Un Pulpito”. So the song is swimming around the world in all three languages! Through word of mouth, YouTube, my own web site and the educational web sites of others, my song is now widely used by teachers and sung daily by children and families. Many fans do not realize that it is my song. The power of folk music…
As I am now a grandma, my two little grandsons are inspiring new songs which I will introduce at the Festival.”
It is true about the song taking on a life of its own. My own experience with the song started when my daughter came home from preschool and kept singing the song over and over. Mackenzie, being three, garbled many of the words so her teacher wrote them down for me and show me the actions. It quickly became a family foavourite. We even taught the song to my mom, a speech pathologist, to use with her kids in therapy. It wasn’t until Mackenzie was in kindergarten and we went to see Charlotte Diamond at Kids Fest with her class, that I realized that Octopus was Charlotte’s song. It truly has become as much a part of children’s lore as Itsy Bitsy Spider and Twinkle Twinkle Little Star (at least in our house .
If you want to sing Octopus with your little ones, I have included below one of the many YouTube videos of children singing and acting out the song. We also have Charlotte’s 10 Carrot Diamond for sale in our online Festival Store and will be available for purchase on-site at the festival.
See you at Charlotte Diamond’s shows on our Mainstage, May 27-29!
Part of the Children’s Fest mandate is to bring world class performances to Penticton and make these performances accessible to all, regardless of financial background. Without the support of government grants, community sponsors and generous individuals, this would not to possible. Our office works hard all year raising funds. Only a fraction of the revenue needed to run the festival comes from ticket sales. Here’s the breakdown from 2009:
Almost half our funding comes from generous businesses and service groups in the Okanagan and beyond who donate not only money but inkind products and services. With their support to house the performers, feed the volunteers, shelter the activities in tents and much more! Visit our sponsor page to see who these community stars are.
30% from Government Grants
All levels of government contribute financially to the production of the festival from Canadian Heritage to BC Arts Council to the City of Penticton and the RDOS. Thanks to them, we are able to do things like pay performers and production staff as well as offer such a wide variety of activities on such a fabulous site.
21% from Ticket Sales
Less than one quarter of our funding comes from the purchase of show tickets and passes. If you look at it this way, we would have to charge more than $25 a ticket to fund the festival soley with ticket sales.
Did you know that about a quarter of our tickets are paid for by service groups and small business through our Adopt a Class Program? This program offers sponsored tickets to students who would not ordinarily be able to attend do to financial hardship.
5 % from Other Misc. Sources
This 5% covers things like on-site vendor and artist merchandise commissions, silent auctions and individual charitable donations.
Thanks to all for helping build a brighter future for our children!
Whenever I write music for children, I simply jump into the life of a child and write about the things they like – puddles, firefighters, ladybugs, and more. I always feel that children learn through play! I’ve never been one for writing moralistic songs, but instead I take what they like and make it fun. Children are my biggest inspiration; just spending time with them I can see what really makes them shine!
The band plays everything from disco to reggae and rock. The short and simple songs are usually composed by me. They often become the favourite of little ones, as they love the repetition and silliness and perhaps the least favourite of parents as they can’t get the songs out of their heads. My band deserves a lot of credit for creating melodies that the parents can groove to. For example, I often come with a stack of lyrics and say, ‘I’d like this song to have a punk sound and this to have a reggae sound,’ etc., and within minutes they’ll create what I want and more. Other times I will sit with Eduardo, my drummer, and he and I will work out tunes together. He’s been with me for 10 years as a band member and as the engineer and co-producer of my 3 albums and my upcoming album.
One last person to thank for my music and for the lyrics is my husband, Kevin. Many times he’s spontaneously written a song for me. If I remember correctly, I Yi Yippee was written when I stubbed my toe. He just happened to be playing the guitar and started to sing a silly response to me as I was holding my toe and yelping. Like a child, I soon forgot about the pain and he and I sat down and completed the tune.
The last thing, with almost each and every song, is including actions! Before I even sang to children, I always marvelled at the reaction children had to any kind of music – they just naturally wanted to move – because of this, I incorporated actions into most of our songs! There’s no pressure for the kids to move, but if they want to, the opportunity is there! Music and movement is not only beneficial to their physical and mental health but at a Music with Marnie Show it is welcomed full heartedly!
Check out the Music with Marnie Channel on Youtube to hear some of the songs Marnie has written. Catch Marnie and her band in Tent 2 throughout the Festival.
KidsFest asked many of the 2010 performers to share their insights on our blog. This is what Will Stroet submitted. We thought it was a great piece for Mother’s Day:
“I have been working with kids since I was a teenager – as a musician, French immersion music teacher, recreational gymnastics instructor…And in about one month I’ll be a new dad. My wife is pregnant with our first child – a little baby girl. We’re so excited to be starting our family!
I’m really looking forward to music time with my daughter. I’ve heard from lots of parents about how they listen to my music with their kids. I also see lots of kids singing along to my music at my shows, particularly here in Vancouver and the rest of the Lower Mainland. How cool is it going to be to have music time with my own child? I’m sure, my daughter will inspire me to write lots of new songs.
Music has always been a large part of my life. When I was a baby, my mother used to play guitar and sing lullabies and English and French folks songs at bedtime. She also dedicated countless of hours taking me to my violin lessons starting at age four. Although I didn’t love the violin, I continued playing for another nine years before my parents gave me the choice to learn a new instrument. I chose guitar, as most thirteen year old boys would. Although I didn’t enjoy the violin, I’m thankful my parents encouraged me to continue. They were instrumental in developing my musical skills, and if it weren’t for their support and love for music, I wouldn’t be the fun-loving musician I am today!
As I grew up, I witnessed the power of music in school. As a former kindergarten teacher who regularly used music in her classroom, my mother shared her French songs with hundreds of students and teachers over the years. When I was in school, she visited my Kindergarten and Grade one classes as a volunteer to sing my classmates and me. An old friend of mine from elementary school, also a new father, still remembers being in first grade with me and loving music time. His favourite song was “Les feuilles tombent,” a song my mom wrote which we included on our French CD entitled, “Will et sa maman: Chantons et dansons!”
After receiving my Bachelor of Arts at UBC, I returned to get my Bachelor of Education. During this program, I discovered my talent for writing educational and fun music for kids. I tested my new songs on colleagues and students, and realized that music is a very powerful and effective teaching tool. Now, five years later I’ve taught hundreds of kids and and performed my music for tens of thousands of kids across the province.
In a few weeks, I will be performing my music for my newest fan, my own daughter! Then a few weeks later, I will be performing at the Okanagan International Children’s Festival. I’m looking forward to it! It’s so rewarding to see kids respond positively to my music. If my songs can teach kids important lessons like how to ride their bikes safely (“Bike Safety Boogie”) or have a greater respect for animals (“Make Friends with an Earthworm”), than I know I’ve made a difference in this world!”
Since writing this article, Will has become a Proud Papa and will be celebrating his wife’s first Mother’s Day this weekend. Congrats, Will!
Catch Will and his Backyard Band on the Tim Horton’s Open Stage throughout the festival.