We are big fans of enrichment classes for kids here at Bell Family. In NYC there are an overwhelming amount of choices and it is time consuming to narrow the field down. So we are bringing some mama reviews to your inbox to help the navigation process!
First up our friend Isobella Jade, who tried a Making Melodies class on the UES – a Kindermusik International formatted class.
At the start of our Kindermusik class an assortment of baby and toddler size instruments are displayed for play and practice. Phoenix immediately sits down on the special circular Kindermusik carpet and starts playing the xylophone, and then curiously bangs the xylophone sticks against the big drum that was nearby. Although the drum, we are told by the teacher, is only for hands, and I tell this to Phoenix too, and we bang on the drum loudly with our hands instead.
As a parent or caretaker, be ready for a hands-on experience for your child to truly get the most out of a music class. Classes like Kindermusik are best with adult involvement to guide and nurture the little ones to create their own rhythm, use their creative energy and feel the beat.
This week the theme of the class was “going to the zoo.”
After the Hello song and using mini cymbals and clam-shaped clicker-clappers to the beat of Hickory Dickory Dock, we read a lovely book called Zoo Train.
Focusing on the cover of the book which had an elephant on it, we first listened to elephant sounds on the teacher’s tablet.
After the fantastic book we got busy dangling our bodies and walking like giraffes and ran like zebras in a stop-and-go type of rhythm.
Then sitting down we played with different tones, each child received a shaker and a bell and we did fast and slow rhythms and focused on the different pitches. Using these perfect baby and toddler size instruments are great for their fine-motor skills too. (We’ve loved music classes so much that we bought our own musical instruments to play with at home too.)
There was also a parachute portion of the class, little ones absolutely love the colorful parachute, and the children were able to be on top and under it while the teacher sang a couple nursery rhymes and a song about colors.
The class we attended ranged from babies—nine months old, to toddlers—two years old. It was a younger group and Phoenix was one of the oldest there but our schedule didn’t allow us to attend the older group that week to try it out, but be sure to pick a class that fits your child’s schedule and when they will be most alert and ready to play.
Trying out a trial class and finding the right class that fits what you find interesting and engaging for your child is important. You have to sit through the class too, and music class can take more energy than you think since many classes are also about movement and following direction and listening and the adult assisting the child during class. Kindermusik is perfect for parents or caregivers looking for a first-time music class.
Basic Music Class Etiquette:
Music class isn’t sit and be quiet, it’s a “let’s try this!” experience.
It’s hard to text and play an instrument. Put away your phone unless you’re taking a photo of your child or the child in your care. It’s extremely rude toward your child, other children and the teacher when you are texting during a hands-on environment activity.
Watch that drum stick! Music class can be dangerous with instruments being banged and flung around in excitement so it’s your job to be cautious of your child and keep an eye on little ones really getting down with the beat. (Depending on how active your child is you may need to remind your child this is not the place to run around so fast, they will be excited and want to move around though, especially if they love it which is a good thing.)
That’s my drum! Music class is a great place to teach sharing and waiting your turn, since all the little ones want the loudest instrument at the same time.
Kids love to clean up. Music class can teach the importance of contributing and cleaning up together. The teacher should not have to pry the instrument out of the child’s hand. Before a meltdown, help your child understand that this part of the class is all done and it’s time to say goodbye to the instrument. Bye-bye instrument, see you next time.
I’ve also made some great mom-friends during our music classes and when you are a new parent it’s a wonderful way to get out and bond with your baby.
We’ve been attending music classes since Phoenix was six months old and music can indeed slip into the souls of our little ones and inspire them and you’ll see it fast, when they’re doing their own little groove.
For more info on Making Melodies and their class schedule check out their website – www.makingmelodiesnyc.com. More info on Kindermusik and their curriculum and philosophy can be found here - http://www.kindermusik.com/
Isobella Jade is an author and mom based in New York City, you can find her and her son Phoenix at the Central Park Zoo, the American Museum of Natural History, the Children’s Museum and at many toddler time enrichment classes and destinations in the Upper East Side, she believes New York City is the best city to raise kids.
Bell Family Loves… Weddings!
Especially when they’re part of the Bell Family! This weekend our very own BFC President, Lindsay Bell got married to another of our very own, BFC Investor, Brad Wallace.
Now we can officially call that keeping it in the family!
The wedding was located at Church of St. Joseph in Greenwich Village, followed by a NYC reception. Everyone had a wonderful time. More pictures and stories to come!
Congratulations to our fearless leader, Lindsay Bell Wallace!
Today on Bell Family Loves, we’d like to introduce you to a great service in the Hamptons! Enjoy this go-to guide for summer fun:
The Hamptons are world renowned for the beautiful beaches, celebrities, and gala fundraising events. But what can you do when vacationing in the Hamptons with your kids? As a local mom, and co-founder of Hamptons Family Concierge, I am willing to share a few secret spots that I’m sure your whole family will love.
1) Elizabeth Morton Wildlife Preserve – Sag Harbor
All year round, Morton’s is a wonderful outing for all ages. The most important thing to remember – bring birdseed! During most of our visits (time of year and time of day vary), the chickadees and other birds will come and eat out of your hand.(even my 4 year old!) There are also turkeys, chipmunks, and other local wildlife, that you may observe as you walk through a scenic, shaded wood. One trail leads you to a lovely bay beach where you can take a break and have a picnic! Cost: Free (but donations appreciated)
2) Free concerts in the Park – Sag Harbor, Southampton, Easthampton, Montauk
During the summer months, each of the above towns has a weekly outdoor concert in their park. It is perfect to bring a picnic or pizza, and let the kids play and dance while enjoying various types of music. Cost: Free (but donations appreciated)
3) Seven Ponds Farm – Southampton
This Farm is not as well known as some of the other Hamptons farms, but it is my favorite. In the summer, my kids pick raspberries, blueberries, and blackberries, while in the fall you can pick your own apples and pumpkins. There are also other vegetables you can pick yourself, as well as gorgeous flowers. There is a playground for the kids, hay rides, and a small corn maze in the fall. The farm stand is fantastic. After we gather all that fruit, if we have the energy, we go home and make a pie!
4) Whale’s Tale Miniature Golf & Ice Cream Parlor – Shelter Island
It is a nice day trip to hop on the Shelter Island Ferry and spend the afternoon. There are several wonderful family friendly restaurants, and then after lunch, you can go play mini golf. It is an old fashioned place, but the kids love it, and they love the ice cream afterwards even more. This is only open seasonally.
5) Blockspot – SYS, Southampton
This creative, fun filled center is brand new, and has a variety of classes, and activities for age 2-10 years. Blocks and building materials of all shapes and sizes abound. View the schedule to see when you would like to drop in. Great for birthday parties as well.
There are so many factors involved when planning your weekend or vacation activities: the season, the weather, your children’s ages and interests, your location, and so on. Hamptons Family Concierge was developed to assist families in creating the perfect Hamptons experience. We can customize itineraries, plan amazing events, schedule quality services and activities (even at your home), so you can relax and enjoy your trip.
-Hamptons Family Concierge
Over the past month I have met a number of different women, all with fascinating backgrounds, for coffee to talk business, share ideas, seek mentorship, and discuss triumphs and struggles.
Despite the different stages in life each are in (20s, 30s, 40s & 50s) there seems to be the general over harking struggle with guilt.
I don’t have enough time for my friends, boyfriend, partner, fiancé, or husband.
I never feel like I get ahead.
“Me time” does not exist.
I work too much. I am home too little.
I should go to the gym more.
I didn’t eat all day or I have been over eating.
I don’t get to see my family enough, I can’t keep up with everyone’s birthdays, celebrations, etc.
Even though this sounds like complaining, it was actually a relief to hear that all these women are feeling the same types of pressure.
Sheryl Sandberg wrote a lot about guilt in her book Lean In. Even as successful as she is now, she still struggles with balancing work with personal, while trying not to feel bad all the time.
I think making small adjustments such as no phones at the table with your fiancé or setting call dates with mom every other day is the step in the right direction of balance, but I am still trying to figure out what works for me.
-Lindsay Bell is the President of Bell Family Company
One of our favorite toddler food companies has shared some of their pointers from HAPPYFAMILY Nutrition Advisor Amy Marlow. Amy shares some common questions from parents. There’s no doubt that young children need snacks. Figuring out what to serve at snack time (and when, and how much) is the million dollar question. According to her, healthy and wholesome snacks don’t have to be a puzzle. Check out her Q & A below…
1. What are the most common challenges you hear from parents about getting children to eat healthy snacks? Parents of school-aged children often complain about the difficulty in finding healthy snacks that can compete with the junky snacks their kids see at school, on TV, at the store, and at friends’ homes. They often worry about repetition and wonder if it’s “bad” to let their child have the same snacks day after day. Many parents are also concerned that their child seems to be “hungry” for snacks all the time.
2. What are your best snacking strategies for addressing these challenges? One strategy is good role modeling. Select healthy snacks and enjoy them in front of your children. It’s also important to set boundaries with snacks. Don’t allow the child to make the selections at the grocery store, instead, give them healthy options to choose from.
To avoid over-snacking, set a snack-time just as you set meal times and then stick to it. Allowing your child to snack all the time will only ruin their appetite for meals and start a vicious cycle of filling up on snacks at the expense of healthy meals.
3. What are your best recommendations for nutritious snack options that kids will love, and why?
- Great snack products / standbys to rely on. Fresh fruit of course – keep carrots, cucumbers, bell peppers, jicama, and other vegetables sliced in a container in the refrigerator. This is especially good for after school/before dinner when kids are hungriest.
- More go-to snacks
- Happy Squeeze smoothies (organic fruit combinations – some with vegetables, Salba® the Super chia, coconut milk or Greek yogurt – in convenient portable pouches from Happy Family)
- Whole wheat pretzels, organic cheese sticks and slices
- Unsweetened dry cereal, unsalted nuts and dried fruit – try combining all three to make a healthy trail-mix!
- Homemade whole grain pancakes which can be easily kept on-hand in the freezer
- Sweet Treats. Sweets have their place, and in my opinion, many children will just get obsessed with them if over-restricted. Give your children healthy sweets such as frozen grapes and homemade fruit popsicles, as well as the occasional ice cream, all-natural or homemade cookies, fruit leathers or fruit snacks. Don’t make every evening snack a sweet, but if you have a sweet treat in the house every so often, and control the portion size, this is a healthy way to teach moderation.
- Snacks that get kids involved in the prep
Two great snacks to make with your children are muffins and smoothies. There are plenty of muffin recipes made with nutrient-packed ingredients like fruit purees, oats, wheat germ, whole grain flours, and dried or fresh fruit. You can even sneak in some veggies. Let young kids mix the ingredients, and older children can measure the ingredients and pour the mixture into the muffin tins. To control portion size, use mini-muffin tins instead of full size. Don’t forget to make extra – they freeze well and are a quick snack anytime!Smoothies can easily be made at home with yogurt, fresh and frozen fruit, milk and ice. Kids can get involved by choosing the ingredients, putting them in the blender, and turning it on. Another tip is to freeze smoothies in popsicle molds for a healthy frozen dessert.
- Other snacking ideas. Parents should think about “real” food as being great potential for snacks, like sandwiches, quesadillas, pancakes and pizza bagels. Turn snack-time into a mini-meal instead of relying on less nutrient dense snack foods. This is a good strategy for two types of snackers – the active tween or teen who is truly ravenous all the time and the young child who tends not to eat enough at meal times
4. Please explain why it’s so important to get children to adopt healthy eating habits early in life and the possible future implications.
Eating habits are just that – habits. The best way to set up a child for a lifetime of healthy eating is to get them into the habit early through offering healthy foods in and out of the home. Physiologically, a key time for developing healthy food preferences is before age three, as that’s when the child’s taste buds are learning to accept and enjoy flavors.
Amy Marlow is a registered dietitian (RD) and New York State certified nutritionist. In addition to her work with Happy Family, Amy helps manage a Fortune 100 company’s employee wellness program and sits on the board of the New York State Dietetic Association. Amy is the proud mother of three.
HAPPYFAMILY is a leading premium organic food brand delivering nutritious meals and snacks for babies, toddlers and beyond. The company supports Project Peanut Butter, a nonprofit that feeds starving children Africa. Since its launch Happy Family has underwritten more than 1 million meals through PPB. For more information, visit www.happyfamilybrands.com
Bon Jour, Hola, Hello! Want the little ones to be asking directions when on vacation? Check out some tips from our friends over at Little Pim on how your baby or toddler can be multilingual in weeks (and why it’s a great idea)!
Once you are convinced its a great idea, Order Little Pim here and get 15% off with code – BELL.
Fun/Cool Facts about Language Acquisition
- When babies first start to vocalize, they babble sounds from all of the languages of the world. Slowly, they begin to lose the sounds that they do not hear everyday.
- Under age 6, kids are naturally primed to learn up to 3 languages with perfect ease. After age 6, natural acquisition becomes much more difficult.
- Learning a second language has a positive impact on a child’s overall listening skills.
- When asked, “What can you do with a stick?” kids who learning a second language generally come up with more ideas than their monolingual peers.
- Studying a language can actually help you do better on tests! Kids who have studies a foreign language are likely to score up to 140 points higher than average on SAT Math and Critical Reading.
- Being bilingual can delay the onset of dementia by up to 4 years.
- 55 million Americans speak a language other than English at home.
- A child who can speak both English and Spanish can communicate with over 80% of the world’s population!
Tips for families who want to learn a new language
- Start by introducing your kids to the idea of foreign languages: map placemats work wonders for starting mealtime discussions about other parts of the world and how other people speak.
- Read stories either in the language or that come from the language you want your family to learn. Think folk tales and fairy tales, to start.
- Listen to music! Music is a great way to keep your family immersed in a language. Singing out the words will give kids a chance to practice new sounds, and often makes it easier to remember new words.
- Keep flashcards with you when you go to the doctor’s office or a restaurant or other places where you might have to wait for a while. Playing games and making up stories with the words on the cards can really help pass the time!
- Pick a specific time of day or activity that you will always do in the language your child is learning. For example, you could have breakfast in French, or watch an episode of Little Pim everyday before naptime. Once you pick your routine, though, make sure you stick to it!
About Little Pim
Little Pim is an award-winning foreign language learning program for babies, toddlers and pre-schoolers. With Little Pim, families can get their first introduction to a foreign language in a way that is easy, fun and effective. Little Pim’s unique Entertainment Immersion Method® was designed to engage young kids during the window in which the human brain is most receptive to language learning. Building on a child’s natural love of play, the videos blend real kids and animation to provide a captivating full-immersion experience for even the youngest learners. The program is the brainchild of Julia Pimsleur Levine, the daughter of Dr. Paul Pimsleur, creator of the Pimsleur Method, the popular language-learning program for adults. She was inspired to create Little Pim based on her own bilingual childhood. Little Pim is available 11 languages including Spanish, French, Chinese and Italian via videos, music, books, flash cards, gift sets and more. To find out more visit Littlepim.com.
We are excited to launch the new Bell Family Blog. Our blog will focus on promoting fun and healthy lifestyles for parents and kids alike. We will feature guest blogs by Bell Family Company (BFC) sitters, family and friends, fitness advice, product reviews, nutrition and health ideas, creative crafts and games, and much more!
Tune in every monday, wednesday, and friday for new posts.
- -Mondays: Bell Family Loves. This section will feature product reviews, companies, and services hand-selected by our member families, sitters, and staff.
- -Wednesdays: Working Women Wednesday (WWW). We will focus on highlighting working women and how they juggle full schedules with their personal and family lives. Look out for fun features on BFC President, Lindsay Bell, along with some of our veteran sitters turned moms!
- -Fridays: Fun Family Friday. Get to know the whole gang! We will be featuring one family, sitter, staff, or friend of the BFC brand each Friday.
Thanks again for stopping by; we look forward to seeing you again on Wednesday.
-Lauren works remotely for Bell Family as the social media and marketing coordinator. She has been babysitting for the neighborhood hooligans for over 10 years and joined BFC a year ago! In her free time, she loves baking and exploring DC.