Movement and music bring us joy, but did you know if you add some extra ingredients, and a little bit of magic, it becomes a gateway to the world?!
Here at Littlemagictrain, we are passionate about the use of movement and music to create a fun multi-sensory experience that extends the learning process using play.
For example, on our “Amazon Adventure”, we get out our binoculars to see what we can find as we push our way through the Amazon. You and the children become monkeys, snakes, jaguars, and parrots and then make your way safely back home. From such a simple concept there are so many ways to extend the children’s knowledge and understanding of the world around them.
Building the excitement: the preparation for your adventure
Where is the Amazon?
Create a map with the journey from your setting to the Amazon rainforest in South America. Discuss the different countries that the Amazon spans across: Brazil, Bolivia, Peru, Ecuador, Colombia, Venezuela, Guyana, Suriname and French Guiana. The older children can find these countries on a globe or search for the countries in an atlas.
Put the landmarks around the room so the children feel the excitement of travelling so far away from home.
What will we pack?
Talking about clothes enables you to discuss the environment and weather. But most importantly, for me, you need clothes that spiders and snakes can’t crawl up or in!
Don’t forget your binoculars so you can avoid the creepy crawlies and any scary animals in the Amazon!
How will we get there?
Of course, I use my Littlemagictrain, as he is my magical bridge between the real and imaginary world. This is a great opportunity to discuss different types of transport you can use, and which would be the fastest.
How will they feel being so far away from home? Are they excited or a little bit scared?
*You can see that there are so many learning opportunities before you even start your adventure. Imagine how much they will learn once the fun begins.
Setting the scene: enter the Amazon
When the children arrive on the edge of the Amazon Rainforest, they need to find their binoculars (imaginary or made from loo rolls) to look for lots of different creepy crawlies and beasties to keep safe!
Movement and Music
Put on the music and “look out!” as you step over, under and around the trees, branches and rocks in the rainforest.
A little bit extra
- Create an obstacle course. Rescue some old tights, stuff them, and hang them from the ceiling so the children physically push their way inside the Amazon as they travel over the obstacle course. Don’t forget to keep searching for animals and creepy crawlies as you move further and further into the Amazon.
- Create a “Scavenger Hunt” sheet to tick the animals they see as they enter the Amazon.
*This is the perfect opportunity to talk about the different animals that live and can only survive in the Rainforest.
Did you know?
- The Amazon covers 1.4 billion acres across 9 countries
- 1 acre of rainforest is lost every second. (1/2 a football pitch)
- 50% of the world’s biodiversity is found in the rainforests
- 10% of all known species live in the Amazon
- 350 indigenous and ethnic groups call the Amazon home
- 200 gigatons of carbon equivalents are stored in the Amazon
Animals at risk in the Amazon
- The jaguar
- Giant otter
- Golden poison frog
- Blue-throated macaw
- Amazon river dolphin
Rainforest trust https://www.rainforesttrust.org/fighting-climate-change/
When you go further into the adventure, and become the monkey, moving to the music jumping from tree to tree or playing a game of hide and seek you can see this is an ideal springboard to learn about the different monkeys you find in the Amazon - what they look like, where they live (which countries of the Amazon) and what they eat.
Compare the food we eat to the monkey’s diet. Some monkeys are vegetarian, and some are carnivorous just like us. You can feed in new words such as “carnivorous”, “vegetarian”, “vegan” and “folivorous”. Folivorous is a diet that mainly comprises leaves, soft fruits, flowers, and buds and is the diet of the Howler monkey.
This is a much more pleasant diet compared to that of the Tufted Capuchin monkey who eats eggs, insects, small mammals, birds, squirrels, small reptiles, nuts, nectar and they are a confirmed predator of the Titi monkey. Not very nice!
There is so much to discover with a little bit of imagination combined with movement and music. The world opens for the children.
Here are just a few of the ideas, focusing on knowledge and understanding of the world, shared with me at a training session linked to our “Amazon adventure”.
This will give you an idea of how much children can discover when they are taken on a multi-sensory adventure with a little bit of magic.
Knowledge and understanding of the world
- Talk about hibernation
- The environment in the Amazon
- Issues of extinction and rainforest
- Life cycles (butterfly kit)
- Weather in the Amazon vs home
- Trees in the Amazon and the levels of the canopy
- Species of trees here and in the Amazon
- Grow plants/veg with the children and compare them to the plants/food in the Amazon
- What do animals make to live in - webs/nests/burrows etc.?
- What do the animals eat?
- What sounds do the animals make?
- Where do the animals live?
- Introduce them to the Harpy Eagle
- Recognising different animals and speeds
- Walking through the jungle – DANGER
- Hot/cold air – our environment compared to Amazon
- Compare the rainforest to our woodlands
- Importance of the Rain Forest and why we need to protect it.
- Recycling – why do we do it?
- Look at our own pets: guinea pigs and their relatives, the capybara
About the author:
Gina’s background was originally ballet, but she has spent the last 27 years teaching movement and dance in mainstream, early years and SEND settings as well as dance schools.
Whilst teaching, Gina found the time to has create the ‘Hi-5’ dance programme to run alongside the Australian Children’s TV series and the Angelina Ballerina Dance Academy for Hit Entertainment.
Her proudest achievement to date is her baby Littlemagictrain. She created this specifically to help children learn through make-believe, music and movement. One of the highlights has been seeing Littlemagictrain delivered by Butlin’s famous Redcoats with the gorgeous ‘Bonnie Bear’ on the Skyline stage.
Gina has qualifications of teaching movement and dance from the Royal Ballet School, Trinity College and Royal Academy of Dance.