Termly Training 3 July 2011
It was lovely to see everyone who attended the Termly Training on 3rd July 2011. We hope you found it valuable, learning from each other. Thank you to all those who shared their ideas and expertise at the event and made it so positive and stimulating.
Below you will see what we covered:
Class instructors can be nervous about this element as their knowledge of signing is limited. However they shouldn’t be – we are not claiming to be experts! If people ask about other signs its ok to say you don’t know.
In larger baby classes (more than 10) it can be hard for the parents and child to see the A4 sheets. It is therefore a good idea to produce and laminate smaller individual flash cards which you can give out. Don’t forget to cut off those sharp corners though.
Talk through and demonstrate the signs you are going to be using before starting the song so the parents feel more confident. Remind the parents its important to say the word at the same time as doing the sign, particularly as most children in your class will not be hearing impaired.
Remember that if parents and children know other signs from other classes they attend, then that’s the signs they should use.
If some parents feel a bit daunted or uninterested by the signing aspects of this element, remind them it is just the same really as any other song you do with actions – it’s just that the actions in these songs have a little more meaning.
Many Mums who come to your baby classes do so to meet people. Therefore it is really good to plan your classes to facilitate this. Give them plenty of opportunities to chat and get to know each other and perhaps point out places they could go afterwards for a coffee.
It’s really important to explain the benefits of each element, so pick something and write it on your class plan (your class manual has lots of ideas for each song and activity).
Help nervous new Mums by giving lots of explicit and detailed instructions about how to hold and move their babies.
There are some more tips in the manual update about how to handle your baby classes (go to the Downloads section of the left menu and click Termly Training Handouts to print your own copy).
Baby classes can be harder to fill. You could try to amend your adverts to emphasis babies (talk to Trish if you want more advice on how to do this). Target NCT organisation as these can bring people to your class in groups.
You could think about using some offers to get people in, e.g. a reduced price for a term, or letting people who miss their weekly session come to an alternative one.
Karen suggested a great homemade prop for babies – filled bottles. She had lots of empty water bottles which she had filled with a variety of items which had different sounds and looks – e.g marbles, shells, rice, seeds, paper clips, crayons, bells, spaghetti, beads, glitter, sequins, cutlery etc. These could either be given out, a few to each child, or they could be placed in the middle and the babies encouraged to come and explore them. This prop is good for sensory time too. Just make sure you glue the lids back on securely!
Thanks Pauline for a great demonstration of this one! Pauline really showed the importance of making this activity exciting and energetic. She started by really emphasising the listening that the children needed to do, and got them all quiet and expectant whilst the song told them what colour to look for. Then when the children found the correct colour, she got them all very really excited and cheering and jumping up for joy. The contrast was really fun. Pauline does this activity for half a term and suggested that children needed this amount of time to really learn their colours. Those who are struggling begin to remember the song and anticipate the sequence of the colours, even before they could name them.
Debbie had some great twists on the shape song. When doing the colours song, she uses a large bag of coloured bean bags and gets the children to go and place the bean bag she gives them by the coloured shape. Then, when it comes to shape in the second half of the term, she starts by getting the children to sing the song and find the shapes on the wall. As she does so she begins to point out characteristics of the shapes, e.g how many sides, how many corners etc. Then after a few weeks, she gets out a large selection of coloured felt shapes, and starts to give them out to all the children whilst the song plays. They then have to go and put their shape by the correct picture before coming back to get another one. For children who struggle she gives them a shape whose colour matches the one on the picture. For those who are more advanced she makes sure the colours of the shapes don’t match.
Count It Throw It
After feedback from the previous training session, Trish has adapted this activity and the new description can be found among the handouts (go to the Downloads section of the left menu and click Termly Training Handouts to print your own copy).
Listen to the beat first with the children, then get them to clap along, then count it. Then you can show them the crochet sign. Tapping on their knees or on their parents can also be fun. After a few weeks of doing Polly, start to introduce her friends, but do Polly each week with one other. Use words to emphasis the beat, such as ‘slow’ ‘slow’ for Trevor, or ‘banana’ for Millie.
If you find your knees suffer whilst doing Trevor, Karen recommended some dancers knee pads which can go discreetly under trousers, which she gets from Dance Direct.
Lots of you use a Christmas decoration in your prop time and then finish by using it to decorate a tree, either a 3D one, or a cut out. Tinsel, stars, baubles all proved popular.
Some of you suggested music for a Christmas warm up – Step Into Christmas, Rockin’ Robin, anything from Ally McBeal’s Christmas album.
Doing textures with a Christmas theme works well for the baby classes. Emma turns Harry Horse into a reindeer and trots along to a version of jingle bells which exactly matches his beat!
Trish does a Christmas mix and match game, which can be downloaded from the hand outs menu.
Baby Warm Ups
Kirstie showed us a lovely baby warm up which incorporated massage. She began by rubbing their heads, then shoulders, then stroking their arms, down to their firsts where she uncurled their fingers. She then moved their legs up and down, first slowly then quickly. She then stretched their arms out to the sides and up to the ceiling, then across their body. Then she bounces them on her knees, alternating between the two. Then she showed us her ‘bum curl’! She put her hands under the baby’s bottom, leaned back with the babies back on her chest and as she moved back she lifted the babies legs into the air and towards their head, curling them up, then uncurling them back down. Apparently this move is very popular with the mums and the babies! Then she finishes by lifting up the baby and giving it a little wiggle. Kirstie recommended the soundtrack to Princess and the Frog.
Karen brought her preschool training to the fore when she demonstrated how you can bring songs alive with a little story telling. She demonstrated Peter Rabbit using a stuffed toy rabbit, telling the children all about him during the intro and showing them his little nose and explaining he had a ticklish fly on the end of it. It was delightful and you could see how the children would be captivated but it. She did a similar thing with the Jungle Song, really setting the scene during the intro, telling the children to listen hard and look through their binoculars to see if they could find any animals. Then she produced a stuffed animal on each verse and chased the children with it – a soft snake, a fluffy parrot, a toy tiger etc.
Over in The Meadow
Pauline shared with us her take on the song ‘Over in the meadow.’ The children sat in a circle for the song. As it started she got the children to tap their knees with their hands to the beat. Once they had mastered that she got them to do it whilst crossing their arms (opposite hands to knees). She continued to do this action every time the song came back to the chorus. When it got to the verses she got the children to do the action of the animal, so to wink, to swim, to dive etc. It was a very accessible way of using song and worked extremely well. It also was great for developing children’s rhythm and cross-body co-ordination.
We saw a couple of takes on a merchandise table. The looked fab with their plain coloured cloths. Trish uses a single notice board behind, whilst Pauline had a tri-fold board. On these they displayed their insurances and certificates, leaflets, posters they had made advertising their summer classes and party packages, they had a T-shirt pinned up and laminated photos, all of which was very eye-catching and professional. On the table they displayed their CDs, their Ralphs and caps. They had MAD Academy leaflets and families magazines.
Trish emphasised the need to have some nurseries on your books to help compensate for any fluctuation you may find you have with your public classes. There is some more advice on marketing to nurseries in the handout downloads.
Both Emma and Sophie have had huge success working within Garden Centres. Emma was invited a while ago by an independent garden centre to do some parties at their annual fete. This has turned into a regular booking every school holiday. She does short bursts for the visitors, then has a few minutes to give out information packs before doing another mini-party. She finds it very lucrative and that the garden centre is eager to promote her and her classes as it’s a big draw to their garden centre, and in particular, their coffee shop.
Sophie has had a similar experience at her local Wyvale. She discovered that they had a conference room and she approached them to do classes. Not only did they agree to let her have the room at a very discounted price, but they did all the marketing for her and even put her in touch with their PR team who did her press releases for no charge.
So the message is, think about your garden centres, or indeed any place which is looking to make a profit from attracting people to their café!