Music - Rain Sticks

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This month's theme is Music, I love music, in fact I love pretty much every genre of music (much to my wife's despise). Riding in the car with me can sometimes be very odd with the music skipping between a genius like Yo-Yo Ma to Rap and underground Grime and then back to a new pop song etc.

We are going to share loads of great ways you can have fun with music all the while your kids will be learning about different instruments, the sounds they make, geography, musical genre’s and loads more. We are going to show you how to make four different instruments over this month so make sure you come back next week for more music fun.

I originally wrote about music over on my other site way back in 2016 shortly after the very sad loss of many talented people but in particular for me was the passing of Prince.  It’s been just over three years since the news of his passing sent shockwaves around the world. The reason I picked the colour purple to be part of my branding on my other site was because of him.  I love his music and have done for many years, most of his albums (I want to say all but I haven't done my homework) were written, produced and performed by him, just one person.  Compare this to Beyoncé's latest album with 73 different writers listed on it. Just for fun I have included a great little video of his I found recently, very rare to see him on stage on his own in just an acoustic set and you can see some of his brilliance.  Most guitarists considered him one of the very best players to have ever lived.  

Musical Games Pack Instant Download

Three great games to help children explore a whole world of music. Make learning about different instruments fun with our I Spy Game. Find and listen to music from around the world, learn geography and about genre’s of music with the A3 sized world map included.

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I think children should be introduced to all sorts of music from very early on.  Obviously you have to be careful with topics and language but that can be managed easily enough.  I still will play some music for my daughter and ask her what instruments she can hear.  This is a great topic to go into and you can research what different instruments look like, sound like and how they are played.  There are tons of reasons to get kids into music, in fact I will go into more detail in future posts because I have babbled on long enough this week.  Every week I am going to show how to make a different instrument. Let's go.

Firstly I have created a digital download pack with three great games included, all professionally designed to help kids explore a whole world of music. Next week I will be providing a free playlist of music from around the world to use with this great game pack.

I have two aims with all these posts we are going to be doing on music, firstly we want to share some fun ways that you can explore music with your kids, letting them learn about the huge variety in music whilst having fun. Secondly we are going to be sharing ideas that will help you put together a brilliant music festival kids party or Kidstock! A great idea for a music festival party would be to have a Karaoke machine but which one should you buy?

How to choose your perfect karaoke machine

Most karaoke machines are made by small companies you may not have heard of, so it’s not a matter of simply going for a brand you trust. Meanwhile, some products that are advertised as karaoke machines are actually just microphone-and-speaker combinations, with no songs and lyrics supplied. That’s fine if you’re happy to use the karaoke videos that are uploaded to YouTube — search for the name of a song followed by “lyrics” or “karaoke” and you’ll probably find something suitable. Quality can vary, though, and every now and then you end up accidentally watching a video of some random people at a karaoke bar. A dedicated karaoke machine, complete with backing track playback and lyrics on screen, will give a more streamlined experience so you can concentrate on what really matters: crooning, wailing and steamrolling your way through your favourite pop songs.

What features do I need?

There are various components in a karaoke system, and it’s helpful to get your head around what each bit does.

  • The Microphone is what you sing into. They vary widely in price but £10 is probably about right for a home karaoke system.about right for a home karaoke system. Most karaoke machines have quarter-inch jack inputs (like on a guitar or a big headphone socket) so choose a microphone with this kind of cable. Having two microphones means you can perform duets. If three or more people decide to join in with a song, they’ve probably had too many sweets (or wine) and won’t need a microphone.

  • The backing Track is the music you sing along to. In most cases it’s recorded specifically for karaoke, and might include backing vocals but not the lead vocals. Quality of these backing tracks can be a bit naff but it’s all part of the fun. Some karaoke systems use the CD+G format, which is essentially a normal audio CD with an extra data track containing the animated lyrics. These discs are available from various online retailers. Other systems have their own backing tracks so you have to stick to their proprietary format.

  • The Mixer is where the backing track and your vocals are mixed together, balancing levels and (in most cases) adding effects to the vocals to make them sound glossier. The mixer will have separate inputs for microphones and the backing track, and a stereo output to send the mixed sound to the speakers.

  • The Speakers are where the sound comes out. Some karaoke machines have built-in speakers while others need to plug into a TV, hi-fi or PA system. Even if your machine has built-in speakers, it may still be best to plug into a hi-fi for higher quality and more volume (neighbours’ sanity permitting). Be careful not to trash your hi-fi by distorting the microphones when you attempt to tackle Livin’ On A Prayer at 1am.

  • The Screen is where the lyrics are displayed. Not many karaoke machines have a built-in display so this will normally be your TV. A larger screen works better anyway as it means you can prance around the room and really perform the song rather than being stood in front of a small display.

Music Based Games

Every week we are going to share more great games that can be used as part of our Kidstock party that we are going to put together. Obviously you can use Musical Statues and Musical Bumps, in fact this game makes a great follow on addition to play after these and i’m calling it.

The Invisible Dancer

You will need plenty of music and some sort of blanket, the blanket needs to be big enough to cover a child, I like the idea of having a big sparkly blanket like its part of a stage curtain or something.

When the music plays the kids need to dance, do their best dancing or you can set challenges like dance like Michael Jackson, ballet dancing etc.

When the music stops the kids need to curl up into a ball with their head tucked in and their eyes closed, you are then going to walk carefully around them, making sure no-one is peeking and gently place the blanket over one child. You call everyone to get up and ask them who is the invisible dancer under the blanket. Honestly this game is a lot of fun and you get some very funny answers but the kids will normally get it after a try or two. There is no end to the game, play until the kids have had enough or until everyone has been the invisible dancer at least once.

At some point in the game I like to keep putting the blanket over the same child over and over again, a good 3/4 times. You need a confident kid to put up with this but it’s funny to see the reactions from everyone else.


Rain Sticks

So, what is a rain stick? Traditional rain sticks are instruments made from dried cacti, thorns & pebbles. When held vertically, the falling pebbles sound similar to falling rain. It was believed they would bring a storm!

  • Paper Towel Roll

  • Washi Tape or patterned duct tape

  • Clear Sticky Tape

  • Corrugated Cardboard

  • PVA Glue

  • Popcorn Kernels, Rice &/or Lentils

  • Alphabet foam Stickers

First, cover one end of the roll in clear sticky tape. We used clear tape so we could see what was happening inside the roll.

Next, glue strips of corrugated cardboard to the inside of your roll. This is what gives the rain stick its distinct rain-like sound. Take an extra piece of the cardboard and fold it back and forth like an accordion and place it inside the tube. 

Rain Sticks from Wonder Kids

We then got small handfuls of Popcorn Kernels, Rice & Lentils and poured them into the tube. Of course we just had to run our hands through them before adding them to the tube! You can add as little or as much as you like. We opted for a small amount, about ¼ full. 

Cover the other end of your roll with clear sticky tape. Before decorating, cut short lengths of washi tape and stick them to the edge of the table. Now your ready to decorate your rain sticks! Stick the washi tape pieces all over the tube. We finished by adding our names with large foam letters. Before decorating, cut short lengths of washi tape and stick them to the edge of the table. Now your ready to decorate your rain sticks! Stick the washi tape pieces all over the tube. We finished by adding our names with large foam letters.

Rain Sticks 2