Let’s get our bodies moving today and celebrate St. Patrick’s day!
Start your music time off with this Shamrock’n’roll dance video, and then take a trip to Ireland with John Jacobson’s Musical Planet!
Look up Ireland on Google Maps and help your child locate the capital. Next, find a city to the west of the capital. Search for the River Shannon, which was mentioned in the video. Try baking this Irish Soda Bread together (if you don’t have buttermilk, I know I certainly don’t keep it on hand, you can substitute by putting 1 tablespoon of vinegar in the liquid cup measure and then fill up to 1 cup. The recipe calls for another 3/4 of a cup of vinegar, so tweens/teens/grownups can get involved with some math skills for that one!)
Ok back to the music and movement! John Jacobson talked about one type of dance called shanos (usually written like sean nos), and you can try a simple version right here. The ceili dance is done with partners, so you may not have enough people in your house to try this one, but you can see what it looks like and hear some Irish music here.
Here’s another video to teach your little ones a bit of step dancing and a lot of background information about it, plus another performance by an Irish dance competition team. For your littlest littles, Sesame Street sent Murray to Irish Dancing School, too!
Irish music uses instruments like flutes, fiddles, and drums. Try making your own instruments to play along with some Irish music today! You can decorate a paper towel roll with markers or paint, and then use a rubber band to attach a little wax paper to the end. Have your child blow into the open end to make the wax paper vibrate. Remind them that all sounds are produced by motions called vibrations.
For a string instrument, grab an empty box and some rubber bands.Cut a round hole on one side of your box, and seal the top of the box shut with glue or tape. Now stretch your rubber bands over the box to create strings! At school, I often just use plastic tupperware containers for this project with different sizes and thicknesses of rubber bands. Observe how the length, thickness of the rubber bands, and the tightness of the stretch over your container impact the pitch you hear. When violins and guitars and other string instruments turn the tuning pegs on their instruments, they are changing how tight or loose the string is stretched over their instruments, which makes the pitch go higher as the string is tightened, or lower as the string is loosened.
Easiest of all, make yourself a homemade drum! You can simply turn over a pot and tap it with a wooden spoon, put a lid on any container and tap it, or get creative by cutting the end off of a balloon and stretching it over an empty can and attaching it with another trusty rubber band.
Not feeling crafty today? I totally hear you, why not hand your kid a couple of spoons and let them learn to play them with this video instead? A few years ago, we had a visit at school from The Green Fields of America, who showed us Irish music, dancing, and yes, even the spoons, in action! This video of one of their performances is so fun, and there’s more to hear on Spotify.