Wednesday, August 20, 2014

Happy Kids Songs {Schoolhouse Crew Review}

Lauren is quite the music lover. Frequently I hear music blasting from her room, and it's rare that she gets into the car without grabbing her iPod and headphones. The headphones are a mixed blessing, though, and lead to quite a few annoying rides where Lauren is loudly blabbering along to songs that the rest of us can't hear. (Since she can't hear herself, she can't tell when she's stops singing and starts bellowing incomprehensible syllables.)

Recently I added fifteen new songs (three albums) from Happy Kids Songs to her music playlists -- both for her to listen to with the headphones and for us to all listen to on the car stereo.

Happy Kids Songs uses quality, upbeat music to teach social and emotional skills to children from four to eight years old. They have produced eight albums covering a variety of topics such as talking, listening, bullying, fears, sharing, happiness, attitude, and more. For this review, Lauren has been listening to Friends & Sharing, Happiness & Attitude, and Manners & Character. We also received the Happy Kids Songs Workbook with activities to correspond with all forty of the available songs.

The first thing I noticed about this music is that it's not just preschool sing-along songs that I've heard (and dreaded) for years.  It's quality music that I don't mind hearing while we're driving around town or while she's blasting the CD player in her room. The creators of Happy Kids Songs have produced music that younger elementary kids would like to listen to and then added beneficial life lessons that will stick with the listeners.

Lauren's favorite song is "Shake It Out and Dance" from the Happiness & Attitude album. It starts talking about how you can get "I can't" thoughts stuck in your head and then how you can shake them out to find a more positive attitude. One of the funniest lines is "I can't sing." We often hear her singing along with the song in the car, and one of the older kids always makes a comment about how ironic it is that she's singing about how she can't sing.

Her second favorite song is "Sharing Friends" from Friends & Sharing. It teaches children that they can play in small groups. It gives them words to use so that they can include a third person in the activity if they are already playing with a friend. I've often found that younger girls tend to have difficulty when there's a group of three, and the lyrics help show that its both possible and more fun to play as a group instead of leaving the odd man out.

Some of the songs and lessons are already making their way into our everyday discussions. Today at lunch I said something about how I appreciated the way Lauren had been working independently while we were unpacking the camping gear. It then dawned on us that I had just given her a kudo, as introduced in the song "Who Knows What's a Kudo?" on Happiness & Attitude.

Lauren has definite favorites among the three albums, but I find them all equally enjoyable and applicable in different situations. One of the funniest lines I heard is from "The Golden Rule" on Manners and Character:
Just do to others what you would like them to do
To you, that's what you do.
It's like my momma said with her Southern drawl,
"Y'all say somethin' nice or nothin' at all."
I'm sure I'll be quoting those lines often around here.

After looking at the lyrics from some of the songs on the other Happy Kids Songs albums, I know that I will add even more music to Lauren's iPod -- music that we all enjoy listening to while we hear encouraging words about being better friends, communicating more effectively, having positive attitudes, and more. (For the sake of all of our sanity, maybe I'll play them on the stereo instead of letting her listen to them through headphones.)

The Happy Kids Songs Workbook is a 125 page compilation of song lyrics, activity pages, and teaching suggestions. The lyrics and activity pages are available on the Happy Kids Songs website for free once you subscribe to their mailing list, but I did find it a bit easier to flip through pages in the workbook instead of printing out the separate pdf pages. The teaching suggestions are only available in the printed workbook.

Happy Kids Songs are available to download for $4.95 per album (or $0.99 per song). The Happy Kids Songs workbook has a retail price of $13.95 (currently $12.56).

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