activities for kids

This week, our Smock Rock students at TLB Music are creating an art project inspired by Henry Mancini’s “Moon River”!

Student Materials:
1 dark blue piece of 8.5″ x 11” cardstock paper with template printed on it for background
(get the free bridge & water template here)
small ripped pieces of tissue paper in blue, light blue and purple
2 pieces of .5” by 4.5” black cardstock paper for bridge towers
1 piece of .25” x 11” black cardstock paper for the bridge deck
thin strips of black cardstock paper for kids to cut for their bridge’s suspension cables
1 yellow paper moon
.25” hole punched yellow paper circles for bridge lights
white paint, small paint brush
glue stick, glue, scissors

Teacher Materials: -paper cutter -scissors -circle hole punchers

Teacher Prep: -print template on blue cardstock paper -prepare tissue paper pieces
-cut and prep all bridge pieces   -hole punch moons   -hole punch bridge lights

Project Intro:
This art project is inspired by the music of Henry Mancini! Mancini was an American composer, conductor and arranger. Show pictures. Do kids know what composer, conductor and arranger mean? Discuss briefly. Mancini was best known for the music he wrote for television and movies! One of his most famous pieces of music is called “Moon River” which he wrote for a movie called “Breakfast at Tiffany’s”, that takes place right here in NYC! Let’s create a colorful East River, then a Brooklyn Bridge with lights, a moon in the sky and stars! While we craft, let’s listen to Mancini’s music: “Moon River”, “The Pink Panther Theme”, “Dear Heart”, music from “Peter Gunn” and more!

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This week, our Smock Rock students at TLB Music are creating Carmen-inspired paper fans and handmade castanets while listening to music from Bizet’s opera Carmen (The Habanera) and Flamenco music!

Student Materials:
2 small rectangular pieces of cardboards (1.75 x 5” each)
4 bottle caps, glue, glue stick, scissors
small items for decorating top of castanets (I used small paper circles)
2 pages of Carmen sheet music (with folding lines printed on the back)
Get Carmen sheet music here (pages 30-31) | download lined paper template here
glitter glue sticks (we use these washable glitter glue sticks by Elmer’s)
paint brushes, tape for making fan’s handle

Teacher Materials: -stapler

Teacher Prep: -cut cardboard into 1.75 x 5” pieces
-print sheet music with folding lines printed on back

Project Intro:
Today, our art project is inspired by Carmen! What is Carmen? Carmen is an opera by French composer Bizet and Carmen is also the name of the lead character in the opera. Opera is a kind of theatre where the story is told through music and song. Elements of opera that help tell the story: stage and scenery, costumes, opera singers and a musical ensemble. Today, we’re going to create Carmen-inspired costume accessories: a paper fan and castanets! The story of Carmen takes place in Spain so, while we craft, we’ll listen to beautiful Spanish Flamenco music in addition to our music from Carmen. Ask students: what do we do with a fan? How do we use? What are castanets? Show classroom pair of castanets and demonstrate how to use. Show craft sample and discuss how we can create castanets out of cardboard, bottle caps and glue!

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This week’s TLB Music Smock Rock project theme is Jazz music! We’re creating a Charlie “Bird” Parker-inspired saxophone collage! While they craft, our students are listening to Benny Goodman’s “Sing, Sing, Sing”, Duke Ellington’s “It Don’t Mean a Thing”, Louis Armstrong’s “Basin Street Blues” and Charlie Parker’s “Ornithology”!

Student Materials:
a sturdy sheet of white paper
tissue paper in a variety of colors cut into small shapes (mine were rough squares, some pieces I ripped!)
1 yellow paper saxophone (get the saxophone & mouthpiece template here)
1 paper saxophone mouthpiece (can be any color, use about template)
small 1/2” circles for saxophone keys (can be any color)
1 paper oval for saxophone bell (can be any color)
Charlie Parker sheet music (printed 4 per page, links below)
Ornithology Sheet Music | Yardbird Suite Sheet Music
black music notes confetti or small paper music notes
glue stick, scissors

Teacher Materials: scissors, 1/2” circle hole puncher, bird hole puncher

Teacher Prep: -cut saxophones -print sheet music 4 per page and cut
-punch 1/2” circles for keys -cut mouthpieces -cut bell (kids can help cut an oval here if you’d like)

*view hole punchers, music notes and tissue paper used at the bottom of post!

Project Intro:
Today, we’re going to listen to Jazz music while we make a collage inspired by a very famous Jazz musician, Charlie “Bird” Parker. Show picture. What instrument did he play? Does anyone know its name? Now, can kids find the saxophone in the classroom? We’ll include a bird in our collage because Charlie’s nickname was “bird”- isn’t that funny? Several of his compositions reference birds: “Yardbird”, “Ornithology”, “Bird Gets the Worm”, and “Bird of Paradise”.

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This week, our Smock Rock at TLB Music students are creating Hawaiian leis and grass crowns while listening to some of our favorite Hawaiian songs like “Aloha ‘Oe”, “One Paddle, Two Paddle” & “Lovely Hula Hands”.

Student Materials:

Lei: hole punched flowers in a variety of colors with holes punched in center for stringing
green paper leaves with hole for stringing, string, a variety of colorful straws, scissors, green crayon

Crown: 2 strips of green cardstock paper (3” x 11”) attached
scissors, glue stick, paper flowers

Teacher Materials: -scissors
flower hole punchers (shown at bottom of post), small circle hole puncher

Teacher Prep: -punch flowers in a variety of colors and cut green leaves
-punch holes in flower and leaves for stringing (leaves some flower without holes for crowns)
-cut string to appropriate lengths – cut 3” x 11” green cardstock strips
-glue strips of green paper in pairs to double length -precut straws if using heavy weight paper straws

Project Intro:  Today our art project is inspired by hula dance and music! Hula dance comes from the Hawaiian Islands. Show pictures. What do kids see? Beach, ocean, palm trees, dancers, etc.  The dancers wear grass skirts, flower headbands and leis and dance using graceful arm movements and swaying their hips. Demonstrate briefly. Hula dance is most often accompanied by accompanied by chanting, ukuleles, guitars, drums, puili sticks and other rattles. Today, we’ll make our own flower leis (a necklace of flowers!) and grass crowns while listening to beautiful traditional Hawaiian music!

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This week’s Smock Rock students at TLB Music are creating Beatles-inspired “Octopus’s Garden” collages complete with yellow submarines! This project is amazing for practicing fine motor skills: it includes cutting, pasting, pressing, drawing, bending, threading and manipulating small pieces.  As children craft, they’re listening to some of our favorite Beatles’ songs like “Octoptus’s Garden”, “Yellow Submarine”, “Here Comes the Sun”, “Good Day Sunshine”, and “Hello, Goodbye”!

Student Materials:
ocean scene printed on sturdy sheet of white paper (PDF below)
printed octopus template on sturdy purple paper (PDF below)
2” circles: 1 red (for crab) & a few more in a variety of other colors to create fish
small white 1/2” circles for eyes
2 small red crab claws (precut by teacher)
small paper hearts for fish tails
small paper shells (precut by teacher)
1 paper yellow submarine (precut by teacher, image below)
small tissue paper pieces to create coral
crayons, glue stick, scissors

Teacher Materials: scissors, circle hole punchers

Teacher Prep: -print ocean backgrounds, octopus templates, and yellow submarines
-precut crab claws, shells, heart tails -cut octopus templates out, leaving legs for students to cut
-hole punch 2 inch circles and small circles for eyes (add black dot on eyes for pupils!)

Project Intro:
This art project is inspired by The Beatles! The Beatles were a very popular band! Has anyone heard of them? Show pictures. What are their names? What instruments do they play? Today, we’re going to create an Octopus’s Garden in honor of their song “Octopus’s Garden”. What other sea animals do your students know? Other songs we’ll listen to today: “Yellow Submarine”, “Here Comes the Sun”, “Good Day Sunshine”, and “Hello, Goodbye”. To begin, give each student an ocean background. What do they see? (ocean floor, sand, water, seaweed, coral)

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This week, our Smock Rock students at TLB Music are creating watercolor seahorse collages inspired by the art of Eric Carle! In particular, the beautiful artwork from his book, Mister Seahorse.   While we craft, we’re listening to ocean-themed music including “Under the Sea” from The Little Mermaid, Bobby Darin’s “Beyond the Sea”, Aquarium from Saint-Saëns’ Carnival of the Animals and The Beatles’ “Octopus’s Garden”!

Student Materials:
sturdy sheet of white paper with seahorse outline printed on it
blank sturdy sheet of white paper for background (can use watercolor paper for both if you’d like)
crayons: orange, blue, green, magenta, white and black
watercolor paint, paint brushes,water
glue stick, glue, scissors
*all supplies used are listed at bottom of post!

Teacher Materials:
copy of Eric Carle’s Mister Seahorse

Teacher Prep: print seahorse outline on white paper (download outline below)

Project Intro:
Before starting the craft, flip through the book. Has anyone read this book?  How do you you think Eric Carle created his art?  Eric Carle uses watercolor and painted paper collages to create his distinctive style! Ask children to help you identify colors, shapes, animals and anything else that interests them.


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This week at TLB Music, our Smock Rock art students are creating handmade maracas while listening to Cuban music!  These maracas are easy for little hands to make, help students practice fine motor skills and they sound great to play!

Student Materials:
masking or duct tape, in a few colors or patterns
2 plastic spoons, 1 plastic easter egg, about 1-2 tsp of rice

Teacher Materials: scissors

Teacher Prep: -place a small of of rice in a cup for each child
-cut strips of tape for students or help students cut

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This week, TLB Music‘s mini camp theme is Little Artists!  One of our campers craft activities is creating a water lily pond using Monet’s famous series Water Lilies as inspiration.

Student Materials:
a large green paper plate, green lily pads, pink tissue squares, crayons (green & white)
a glue stick, sponge brushes, paint (purple, dark blue, light blue, green & white)

Teacher Materials: scissors

Teacher Prep: -cut lily pads out of green paper in a variety of sizes
-cut small squares of pink tissue paper (I used 1” and 2” squares)

Project Intro:
Claude Monet was an impressionist painter from Paris, France. Impressionism is a 19th century art movement. (ask kids to try to say “Impressionism”) This movement was actually named after one of Monet’s paintings, Impression, Sunrise! Small, thin brushstrokes are one of the main characteristics of these paintings.  Look at Monet’s works of art. What do kids see? Monet’s most famous series of paintings is Water Lilies, which depicts Monet’s garden in France.  There are approximately 250 paintings in this series! Today, we’re going to create our own water lily ponds using the technique of Impressionist painters.


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This week, TLB Music‘s mini camp theme is outer space!  One of our campers craft activities is creating a spaceship collage using colorful shapes.  This is a great activity for young kids to work on concepts like shapes, colors, counting and how to draw objects using shapes as your guide.

Student Materials:
a variety of colorful paper cut into rectangles, squares, triangles and circles
a black piece of paper, a glue stick, a circle moon, and orange & red crepe paper streamer pieces.

Teacher Materials: circle hole punch, scissors, paper cutter (optional)
All craft supplies used are at bottom of post.

Teacher Prep: -punch 2” circles out of paper with printed moon surface
-cut or rip strips of orange and red crepe paper streamer into various triangles sizes
-cut shapes in a variety of colors (windows: 2” circles | doors: 2.5” squares |
cabins: 5.5” x 3” rectangles | roofs: triangles made by cutting 3” squares in half |
wings: triangles made by cutting 2.5” squares in half)
*If students are older, they can help with the “teacher prep” section!

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My business, TLB Music, is hosting a mini-camp summer series for NYC kids 18 months – 5 years and this patriotic windsock project is one of our campers’ activities of the week!  This craft is perfect for young children and the end result looks great as a decoration for the Fourth of July.  Follow these easy instructions to create your own and scroll to the bottom of this post to see the craft supplies I used!

Student Materials:
blue paper, white paper stars, red and white crepe paper streamer strips, glue stick, string

Teacher Materials: star hole punch, small circle hole punch, scissors

Teacher Prep: cut 8 1/2 x 11 blue paper into 7 x 11 pieces (2 per child)
punch white stars (12 per student)
cut strips of crepe paper streamer into strips  (8 per student, 4 red, 4 white)

*If students are older, they can help with the “teacher prep” section!

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I created this Upper East Side, NYC scavenger hunt for all the wonderful UES kids I know!  Print a copy and explore the neighborhood!  Can you find all 20?

Click the link below to download and print the free PDF.

Upper East Side, NYC Scavenger Hunt for Kids PDF

Want more scavenger hunts? CLICK HERE

These activity sheets are perfect for beginning violinists! Use the guide to teach the basics of bowing (up vs. down bow) then practice on open strings with the sheet music.  Click on either image below to download the free, printable PDF:

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Did you know that January 29th is National Puzzle Day?  I love puzzles!  I snapped the picture above on New Year’s Day, at the start of our 1000-piece challenge.  Puzzles give your brain a fantastic workout- making them extremely beneficial (for both kids and adults) and SO satisfying to complete!

Cognitive Skills:  When kids work on a puzzle, they practice identifying colors, letters, and develop spatial awareness.  Puzzles also encourage kids to work on their memory.

Hand-Eye Coordination:  Getting the pieces to fit just right requires this valuable skill!

Fine Motor Development:  Picking up and placing puzzle pieces benefits fine motor development immensely.  The smaller the pieces get, the greater the challenge!

Problem Solving:  You have one goal in sight when doing a puzzle.  This requires children to think logically and come up with a plan to complete the task!

Social Skills:  Working in a group to complete a puzzle encourages kids to practice sharing, taking turns, and working in a team to achieve a common goal.

In honor of today’s holiday, I put together a list of some of my favorite puzzles for toddlers, big kids, and adults.  The toddler puzzles by Melissa & Doug have withstood years of play in our playspace and music studio’s lobby- I highly recommend them.  As kids get older, increase the number of pieces and decrease the piece size to keep up the brain-boosting power of puzzles!

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This activity sheet is perfect for learning the C major scale on the piano or xylophone!  At TLB Music, we teach young children how to play a scale on the xylophone using a simple song like “Doe a Deer”.  I highly recommend this toddler-friendly xylophone by Hohner.  It is fantastic because you can first use the colors as your guide (a color-coded song book is included) and as the children get older, they can begin to read the notes marked on the bars.  After mastering the scale on the xylophone, our students graduate to playing it on their own keyboards!

Click here to get the free activity sheet:  The C Major Scale on the Piano and Xylophone

Related piano activity sheets:
Notes C, D, and E on the Piano and Keyboard
Identifying C, D, and E
One Two Sheet Music for Piano (using notes C, D, E, F, and G)
C Major Scale Activity for Kids
Musical Spelling Activity Sheet (Level 1)
Musical Spelling Activity Sheet (Level 2)

Next time you go to a baseball game with your kids, print a copy of this scavenger hunt to bring along!  Can you find all 20?

Click the link below to download and print the free PDF.

Scavenger Hunt for Kids: Baseball Search PDF

Want more scavenger hunts? CLICK HERE

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