Stories and thoughts from day to day life in the Bullard Family

Apple Picking November 12, 2011

Filed under: Activities,Music — parentsong @ 6:23 am
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Making our way well into November, I know apple season is waning, but I thought it would be nice to share some of our favorite apple songs and verses and some of our apple-picking photos. This year we were able to make apple-picking a bigger part of our lives and visit the orchards several times. No apples from the grocery store this fall! And this weekend we’ll head out to the farm for some old-fashioned cider-making!


Down in the green orchard, there stands a green tree,

With the finest of branches you ever did see!

The apples are ripe, and ready to fall

And here is a basket to gather them all!

Here is the tree with leaves so green,

And here are the branches that hang in between.

When the wind blows, the apples will fall,

And here is a basket to gather them all.


The leaves are green, the apples are red,

They hang so high above my head.

Leave them alone til frosty weather

They’ll all come tumbling down together.

Two little apples, hanging in a tree.

Two little apples, smiled at me.

I shook that tree as hard as I could,

Down came the apples, Mmmm they were good!

Way up high in the apple tree,

An apple looked down and smiled at me.

I spied that apple so red and round,

And caught it as it tumbled down!

How do you like to enjoy apples? Maybe next year I’ll get to cook with them some more! For now, it is cut and eat- very simple. I think I’ll try a pie, though. We just got a nice mix of winesap, goldrush, and stayman. We’ll see how my swell baking abilities handle it (she says, sarcastically).

Thanks for reading!


Autumn Circle Time September 21, 2011

Filed under: Circle Time — parentsong @ 6:24 am
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Image by Greg Fischer

As we move into a new season and now that we have started our “homeschool” preschool, we use this circle 3-4 days per week. Some days we miss because I still have a rather unpredictable baby. I think this circle is a bit challenging for a 2 1/2 year-old, but she enjoys  most of it. Her attention to the circle comes and goes, but I think as she learns the verses and songs a bit more, she will get more into it.

Opening verse:

The earth is firm beneath my feet, the sun shines bright above

And here stand I so straight and strong, all things to know and love.

Verse: An Autumn Greeting

Come, said the wind to the leaves one day.

Over the meadow and we will play.

Put on your dresses of red and gold.

For summer is gone and the days grow cold.



Autumn has come to the county and town,

Wearing its garment of golden and brown.

Apples she brings us so round and so red,

Brings us our corn that we bake into bread.


Round and round the wheel goes round. As it turns the corn is ground.

Verse with motions: Here is the Tree

Here is the tree with leaves so green. Here are the apples that hang between.

When the wind blows, the apples will fall. Here is a basket to gather them all.

Song*: The Leaves are Green

1. The leaves are green, the apples are red. They hang so high above my head.

Leave them alone til frosty weather, they’ll all come tumbling down together.

2. The leaves are green the nuts are brown. They hang so high they won’t come down.

Leave them alone til frosty weather and they will all fall down together.

Movement: Stretch Me

Stretch me! Stretch me! Stretch me high!
Stretch me up to the big blue sky! (on tip toes)
Stretch me! Stretch me! Stretch me over! (stretch to one side)
Stretch me! Stretch me! Stretch me over! (stretch to other side)
Stretch me! Stretch me! Stretch me over! (stretch to front)

Roll me around! Roll me around! Roll me around!
Till I¹m sitting in clover! (rolling hands)
Rolling in clover! Rolling in clover! Rolling in clover!
Over and over! (hold knees and rock around on the floor)
Nell Smyth, The Breathing Circle p. 26

Song*: Bumblebee, Butterfly, Spider and the Beetle

  1. Bumblebee and butterfly, Spider and the beetle,

Come around and dance with us, In winds before the winter.

  1. Bumblebee of summertime, Do once more your best,

Hum around and dance with us, Before your winter’s rest.

  1. Butterfly of summertime, Do once more your best,

Flutter around and dance with us, before your winter’s rest.

  1. Spider of the summertime, Do once more your best,

Creep around and dance with us, Before your winter’s rest.

  1. Beetle of the summertime, Do once more your best,

Plod around and dance with us, Before your winter’s rest.

  1. Bumblebee and butterfly, Spider and the beetle,

Come now to your Mother Earth, and Rest there for the winter.

Finger play: On My Head

On my head my hands I place

On my Shoulders, On my face

On my hips and by my side

Then behind me they will hide

I can hold them up so high

See my fingers swiftly fly

I place them right in front of me

Then I’ll clap them, one, two, three

Closing verse*:

Down is the earth

Up is the sky

There are my friends

And here am I


* From Autumn by Jennifer Aulie


Late Summer Circle Time August 6, 2011

Filed under: Circle Time — parentsong @ 7:20 am
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Now that the shift toward the close of summer is coming, I thought it would be a good time to start a new selection of songs and poems for our circle time. I think six or seven weeks for the same grouping of songs and rhymes is probably long enough. I’m certainly ready for new material!

Hanky Panky

I like to start the first two lines alternating claps with hitting both hands on knees, then jump around for the “hip hop” bit and make a big jump and sit down for the “kerplop.”

Down by the banks of the hanky panky,

Where the bullfrogs jump from bank to banky,

With a hip, hop, hippity hop,

Jump off the lilypad, and kerplop!

Five Little Fireflies

For the poppity pop, I open and close my other hand.

One little firefly shines very bright.
(Hold up one finger) Poppity-pop-pop, on-off goes its light.
Two little fireflies suddenly spark,
(Hold up two fingers) Poppity-pop-pop, they glow in the dark.
Three little fireflies flicker and fly,
(Hold up three fingers) Poppity-pop-pop, watch them pass by.
Four little fireflies glimmer and glow,
(Hold up four fingers) Poppity-pop-pop, just look at them go.
Five little fireflies blink in the night,
(Hold up five fingers) Poppity-pop-pop, my, what a sight!
– By Lois E Putnam

Shoo Fly

This song is a huge hit with Briony. There seems to be lots of bugs flying around the garden this time of year, so we sing it even out of the circle.
Shoo fly, don’t bother me,

Shoo fly, don’t bother me,

Shoo fly, don’t bother me

For I belong to somebody.

I feel, I feel, I feel like a morning star,

I feel, I feel, I feel like a morning star.


In the wildflower preserve near our home, milkweed is abundant. Soon we will search for the open pods of seeds on our nature walks.

In a milkweed cradle all close and warm,
(Place cupped hands together)

Little seeds are hiding safe from harm.
(Keep hands closed)

Open wide the cradle now, hold it high.
(Open cupped hands, raise them above your head)

Come along wind, help them fly.
(Sway open hands in the air)

John the Rabbit

A great song for taking turns singing the words and the “yes ma’am” part. As we start, Briony sings the “yes ma’am” but I know she’ll want to sing the words as soon as she learns them! There is also a great video from Elizabeth Mitchell on youtube.

Oh John the rabbit, yes ma’am
Had a mighty bad habit, yes ma’am
Of jumping in my garden, yes ma’am

He ate my tomatoes, yes ma’am
And all my sweet potatoes, yes ma’am
And he cut down all my cabbage, yes ma’am
And he ate up all my peas, yes ma’am
And if I live, yes ma’am
To see next fall, yes ma’am
I just won’t have, yes ma’am
Any garden at all. NO MA’AM!

I also include a part of the poem “September” by Helen Hunt Jackson. It is printed in a book filled with really great poems for children titled “Songs from the Tree-top and Meadow.” You can view the entire book on Google books (at least, at the time of this writing you can). For the month of August, I only say the first two verses. I’ll maybe split it in half and recite the last three verses for September. I have found shorter poems are easier to memorize for me and my 2-year-old.

The goldenrod is yellow,

The corn is turning brown,

The trees in apple orchards

With fruit are bending down.


The gentian’s bluest fringes

Are curling in the sun,

In dusky pods the milkweed

Its hidden silk has spun.


The sedges flaunt their harvest

In every meadow-nook,

And asters by the brookside

Make asters in the brook.


From dewy lanes at morning

The grapes’ sweet odors rise.

At noon the roads all flutter

With golden butterflies.


By all these lovely tokens

September days are here,

With summer’s best of weather

And autumn’s best of cheer.


Our Summer Circle Time July 16, 2011

Filed under: Circle Time,Music — parentsong @ 9:00 am
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For us, this summer has been a time for learning and trying out new rhythms. This has been a little bit stressful because I’m not sure what we’re doing. I think this is probably normal for a family with very young children. Things change so quickly in this stage of life. One nice thing I have to share with my children is our circle time. Honestly, at this point it doesn’t happen at a set time everyday, but when we sit down and go through it together, just having that micro-rhythm brings ease and comfort to the day.

I chose some rhymes, finger plays, a couple of songs, and one chant that encourages movement (because that’s what children do!).

Our Summer Circle:

Poem: We Have a Little Garden by Beatrix Potter



Circle Time at Home: An Introduction July 2, 2011

Filed under: Family — parentsong @ 12:54 pm
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Most preschoolers and even children in day care probably experience some kind of “circle time” during the day. In our Waldorf-inspired parenting group we attend, we open with circle time. Everyone gathers to sit in a circle and we go through a short series of songs, rhymes, finger plays, and usually close with a little something to nibble on. We use the same circle at home that is used when we are in the group. The songs and rhymes usually reflect the season and help the child to recognize and relate to what is going on around them.

I love circles at home because it is a designated time of the day that we can focus on singing and rhyming. It is a short time, only about five or ten minutes. For the young child, this repetition is important for building language and communication skills as well as attention span, memorization skills, and social skills. It feels so wonderful to have Briony saying the rhymes with me and singing the songs. It creates a meaningful ritual in the day.

In future posts, I hope to share circles (sets of songs and rhymes) that we are using. These change over every so often, probably about every two months. It is fun to put the circles together and use them. Maybe it will inspire some of your own circles! I’d love to hear special songs or rhymes you like to use with your little ones, even if they aren’t so little anymore!


Singing to an Infant: Lullabies June 25, 2011

Filed under: Songs — parentsong @ 11:32 pm
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Lullabies have been the muse that lures babes to sleep for, well, a very very long time. It is quite natural to sing to a baby. Almost every culture has some form of a lullaby. Lullabies help promote sleep, increase bonding, boost confidence and trust (part of the rhythm, something to anticipate or something expected), and can be soothing to a restless babe.

With our daughter, we sang spirituals and an English song called Ten Green Bottles. It was difficult to sing to Gabriel in the early months because he was colicky and the only thing that soothed him was shhhhing. Now that he isn’t crying all the time, I have been using lullabies to soothe him during his bedtime routine and prepare him for that wonderful slumber. This also helps me keep the routine straight. This way, even if it gets a little off track, I can keep the same basic rhythm leading to bedtime because it is guided by song. This doesn’t exactly put him to sleep every time, but it is a start!

Here is the rhythm I use for now (at 4 months):

      1. Short song to announce bath time (I wrote).
      2. After bath, during massage and dressing I sing All the Pretty Little Horses. I usually end up improvising some and changing words until we are finished.
      3. During his bottle, which is the only time I don’t nurse him, I sing Edelweiss. It’s not a typical lullaby, but it is very soothing and lovely to hum.
      4. After he has finished eating, I rock him and walk around singing the spirituals. Usually Swing Low, Sweet Chariot or Goin’ Down That Lonesome Road, residuals from when we sang Briony to sleep. If it goes on longer, I bust out the Ten Green Bottles.

Since using these songs, I am better able to keep a consistent routine. This is part of our sleep plan and part of our colic recovery. More on that in other posts.


The Songs of Parentsong June 4, 2011

Filed under: Songs — parentsong @ 10:08 am
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Okay, so far my entries have not even mentioned music or songs, the very thing that inspired me to start this blog. As I said in my first post, we sing to our daughter (and now this includes our son) all day. Not literally, but probably about ten or more times throughout the day. Part of this feeds our need to be making music (we both quit the choir once Briony was born). And part of this is to help explain what is happening throughout the day and develop a musical mind in our children.

I’ll showcase different songs we sing with our children at different developmental stages and how we use them. I’m not going to go all out and analyze the music- that is too academic for me right now.

What kind of songs do we sing?

Some songs will be old favorites (think Camptown Races), some will be songs recorded by musicians that we play on a CD (though this is a rarity for the babes under 2), and others will be songs from Nick’s side of the world (that would be England) or little ditties that I wrote.

Many songs come from our experience in the Joyful Parenting program at Morning Glory Children, a Waldorf inspired early childhood experience and kindergarten in Doylestown, PA. It is one of our morning songs. I love it because it is very sweet and greets nature along with the children in the morning. It also has some pretty groovy hand movements.

            Good morning dear earth, Good morning dear sun

            Good morning dear flowers, and stones everyone

            Good morning dear beasts, and the birds in the trees

            Good morning to you, and good morning to me

I’m working on figuring out how to incorporate video here, so I can demonstrate the songs. That is a mighty task for a one-handed, sleep-deprived, technologically-challenged individual.