Friday, August 5, 2016

Miss Susy's Classes: Kid Paradise
by Jessica Davis

Susan Porter brings an infectious sense of fun to her long running "Sing, Dance and Play" classes.

Originally from Ohio, Susy Porter, like so many transplants, moved to Los Angeles  to pursue a career in entertainment.  But while making ends meet as a party entertainer, she met a clown (really!), married him and ended up raising her family in Culver City.
Filling up six “Sing, Dance and Play” classes a week for almost a decade since then, she's now in the enviable position of having gotten to know hundreds of Culver City families  and watch them grow up, including mine.

It was in 2004 that the Culver City Living Catalog first introduced my to Susy’s classes at the Veterans Memorial Building.  It was my first regular opportunity for “me” time, and then-baby Trinity’s first experience in a classroom.  
One of Susy’s many strengths as a teacher is that she relates to each child exactly as he or she is, and accommodates the quirks and gifts of each.  Always an observant child, Trinity preferred sitting on the sidelines versus mixing it up with the other kids. Five years later, baby Ashton took a different approach.  A man of action, his biggest challenge was putting the instruments back in their baskets when class was over. He just wanted to keep playing.  Despite their different learning and participation styles, however,  Susy made it easy for both of them to enjoy the classes on their own terms.

It’s not only the kids who have a good time, though. There's plenty for the adults to enjoy as well. The jokes and humorous asides can fly fast and furious in between songs and activities, and Susy’s ability to bring her unique—and occasionally naughty—sense of  humor and fun to class is another one of her gifts.

Culver City Patch, April 15th, 2011

Tuesday, August 2, 2016

Thursday, March 17, 2016

Our Spring session of Sing, Dance & Play begins Wed, April 6th and Thursday April 7th at Veteran's Park in Culver City!

I love this piece!It demonstrates with a few well told stories, how important our words are to our children. It's not easy to raise kids, but I find that remembering what is the most important thing, our children's hearts and our loving connection with them, makes it all worthwhile.

I'll never forget the story of David, my next door neighbor a while back, who taught me a great lesson one morning as I watched him trying to teach his seven-year-old son how to push the gas-powered lawn mower around the yard. As he was showing him how to turn the mower around at the end of the lawn, his wife Jan called to him to ask a question. When David turned to answer the question, Kelly pushed the lawn mower right through the flower bed at the edge of the lawn--leaving a two-foot wide path leveled to the ground!
David was not happy about this. As soon as he saw what had happened, he began to lose control. David had put a lot of time and effort into making those flower beds the envy of the neighborhood. The moment his voice climbed higher in a semi-rage toward poor Kelly, Jan walked quickly over to him, put her hand on his shoulder and said, "David, please remember...we're raising children, not flowers!"
The moral of this story couldn't be more important today. Each one of us is enduring more stress as we face a recession and a deep financial shakeup that has no end in sight. During times like these it's essential for us parents to remember what our priorities are. Our kids and their self-esteem are more important than any physical object they might break or destroy. The window pane shattered by a mishit baseball, a lamp knocked over by a careless child, or a plate dropped in the kitchen are already broken. The flowers are already dead. All of these things are replaceable; our children are not. We must remember not to add to the destruction by breaking a child's spirit and deadening their sense of aliveness.
Words, especially when yelled in anger, can be very damaging to a child's self-confidence. The child probably already feels bad enough just from seeing the consequences of his or her behavior. Our sons and daughters don't need more guilt and self-doubt heaped upon their already wounded egos. If anything, they need to be reminded that we all make mistakes throughout our life. (Here's an exercise to try: the next time you feel like raising your voice to one of your kids, stop and think about the last time you made a mistake. It probably wasn't too long ago, and you really don't care to be yelled at for that right now.)
More recently, I was buying some new clothes in a men's store and the owner and I started talking about parenting. He told me that while he and his wife and seven-year-old daughter were out at a restaurant for dinner, his daughter knocked over her water glass. It spilled everywhere and messed up her mother's dress as the water flowed over the edge near her seat. After the water was cleaned up without any recriminating remarks from her parents, she looked up and said, "You know, I really want to thank you guys for not being like other parents. Most of my friends' parents would have yelled at them and given them a lecture about paying more attention. Thanks for not doing that!"
Once, when I was having dinner with some friends, a similar incident happened. Their five-year-old son knocked over a glass of milk at the dinner table. When they immediately started in on him, I knocked my glass over, too. When I started to explain how I still knock things over even as an adult, the boy started to beam and the parents seemingly got the message and backed off. How easy it is to forget that we are all still learning.
One of the best stories I've ever heard about "spilt milk" and the lessons of making a mess comes from a famous research scientist who made several very important medical breakthroughs. A newspaper reporter once asked him why he thought he was able to be so much more creative than the average person. What set him so far apart from others?
He responded that, in his opinion, it all came from an experience with his mother, which occurred when he was about two years old. He had been trying to remove a bottle of milk from the refrigerator, when he lost his grip on the slippery bottle and it fell, spilling its contents all over the kitchen floor--a veritable sea of milk! (Thankfully, no glass shattered, but the milk kept flowing out like a river.)
When his mother came into the kitchen, instead of yelling at him, giving him a lecture, or punishing him, she said, "Robert, what a great and wonderful mess you have made! I have rarely seen such a huge puddle of milk. Well, the damage has already been done. Would you like to get down and play in the milk for a few minutes before we clean it up?"
Indeed, he did. After a few minutes his mother said, "You know, Robert, whenever you make a mess like this, eventually you have to clean it up, and restore everything to its proper order. So, how would you like to do that? We could use a sponge, a towel or a mop. What do you prefer?" He chose the sponge and together they cleaned up the spilled milk.
His mother then said, "You know what we have here is a failed experiment in how to effectively carry a big milk bottle with two tiny hands. Let's go out in the back yard and fill the bottle with water and see if you can discover a way to carry it without dropping it." The little boy learned that if he grasped the bottle at the top near the lip with both hands, he could carry it without dropping it. What a wonderful lesson!
This renowned scientist then remarked that it was at that moment he knew he didn't need to be afraid to make mistakes. Instead he learned that mistakes were just opportunities for learning something new, which is, after all, what scientific experiments are all about. They are simply that--just experiments to see what happens. Even if the experiment "doesn't work," we usually learn something valuable from it.
Wouldn't it be great if all parents responded the same way Robert's mother responded to him? After all, why do we have that phrase, "Don't cry over a little spilt milk." It truly is no big deal. We need to remember that we're raising capable, confident kids--not shiny linoleum floors.
One last story which illustrates the application of this attitude in an adult context was told by Paul Harvey on the radio several years back. A young woman motorist was driving home from work when she snagged her fender on the bumper of another car. She was in tears as she explained that it was a new car, only a few days from the showroom. How was she ever going to explain the damaged car to her husband?
The driver of the other car was sympathetic, but explained that they must note each others license numbers and registration numbers. As the young woman reached into a large brown envelope to retrieve the documents, a piece of paper fell out. In a heavy masculine scrawl were these words: "In case of accident . . . remember, honey, it's you I love, not the car!"
Let's remember that our children's spirits are more important than any material things. When we do, self-esteem and love blossoms and grows more beautifully than any bed of flowers ever could.
I'll end this be reminding you that parenting during acutely stressful time periods adds another element to the job that can be hard to prepare for. We are bogged down by our own emotions and woes such that the slightest mishap by one of our kids will send us over the edge. That said, our children can act as great buffers to that stress. They may not have a handle on all that's going on in the world, nor understand the decisions we have to make as parents to ensure the health and security of our families, but surely you can agree that the joy the bring to our lives outshines so much of that stress. Let them act as children--let them make mistakes and learn from them. After all, it's those same mistakes we made growing up that allowed us to mature into thoughtful, productive, and compassionate adults. And remember, you are raising children, not flowers!
© 2009 Jack Canfield
Jack Canfield is America's #1 Success Coach, co-founder of the billion-dollar Chicken Soup for the Soul brand, and a leading authority on Peak Performance. If you're ready to be more accomplished and have more fun in all that you do, get your FREE success tips from Jack Canfield now at:

Sunday, January 17, 2016

Hello Sing, Dance & Play families and friends! We are happy to announce that our wonderful class will be happening Wednesday and Thursday mornings at 9:45 a.m. We are enjoying the world of music and imaginative play. It is exciting for me to watch as your babies grow into toddlers and your toddles grow into "big kids".

 Exposure to music at an early age provides benefits to your child's developing brain in a way that nothing else can. As your babies listen, move, play and learn through music, an unseen, amazing process is occurring. It's called "Synapotogenesis". In all my years of studying child development, this is my favorite word because it explains the value and benefit that  early exposure to the arts, and music specifically, has on your baby's brain. Here is brief definition of the word:

 "Although it occurs throughout a healthy person's lifespan, an explosion of synapse formation occurs during early brain development, known as exuberant synaptogenesis."

How thrilling for me, Teacher Susy, to be a part of bringing about :"exuberant synaptogenesis" in your young child's developing brain!

If we could see the neurons connecting and the neural pathways forming during a typical 45 minute Sing, Dance & Play would be mind blowing!

I could never overestimate the value of music in your child's life. Classical, jazz, ethnic music of all kinds. Give your child a rich tapestry of sound to soothe, stimulate, nurture, comfort and elevate their awareness of their world. Music can help you organize your day, motivate your child to clean up, slow down, play, imagine or whatever you might need in the moment. 

Make music an important part of your child's life. Share your favorite music with them. Enjoy music together.

We'll see you in class!  
Every Wed & Thur in the Uruapan Room at Vetreran's Park in Culver City.

Keep singing!
Teacher Susy


Tuesday, December 15, 2015

Hello Families! Here is a list of songs , rhymes, and fun musical chants from our music class. I hope you enjoy singing and playing with your young child today! Take advantage of their love of music, imaginative play and movement! This is the time of their life to ignite and nurture a lifeling love of music as well as stimulate their brain with the magic and joy of musical play! Singing and playing with musical activities is a wonderful way to bond and connect with your child, and to enjoy these precious years with them ! They grow up so fast. Enjoy!
Love, Teacher Susy

Early Childhood Music Activities and Lyrics
Compiled by Susy Porter

Finger Play

Here is the beehive, but where are the bees?
Hidden away where nobody sees.
Watch and you’ll see them come out of the hive,
One two, three, four five.

Slowly, slowly, very slowly, creeps the garden snail.
Slowly, slowly, very slowly up the wooden rail.
Quickly, quickly, very quickly, runs the little mouse!
Quickly, quickly, very quickly, in his little house.

Two little blackbirds sitting on a hill,
One named Jack and one named Jill.
Fly away Jack. Fly away Jill. Come back Jack, come back Jill.
Notes:  Replace “blackbirds” with different animals or creatures.  Ask the children for ideas.  It will always rhyme as long as you keep the creatures’ names “Jack and Jill.”

On my toe there is a flea.
Now he’s crawling up on me
Past my tummy, past my nose,
On my head where my hair grows.

On my head there is a flea.
Now he’s crawling down on me.
Past my tummy past my knees.
On my toe, take that you flea! (flick the flea off your toe w/your finger)

Johnny had one friend, one friend, one friend,
Johnny had one friend, one friend two.
Johnny had two friends, two friends, two friends.
Johnny had two friends, two friends three. (continue up to five)

Johnny, Johnny, Johnny, Johnny, Whoops,
Johnny, Whoops, Johnny, Johnny, Johnny

                  “Wiggle” by L. Levinowitz from Maracas by Music Together
Wiggle ,wiggle, wiggle, wiggle, wiggle, wiggle, wiggle, wiggle, wiggle, wiggle, wiggle. (etc.,etc.)
Notes:  Replace with “tickle”, or “jiggle”, or let the kids suggest words.

Upper Body Movement

A Ram Sam Sam, A Ram Sam Sam,
Gooley, gooley gooley gooley gooley Ram Sam Sam.
A raffey, a raffey!
Gooley gooley gooley gooley gooley, Ram Sam Sam.
Notes:  Audiate the different phrases of the song (hear the song without singing out loud while doing the motions), audiate the whole song, then sing the song.
Roly poly, roly poly, up, up, up!
Roly poly, roly poly, down, down, down.
Roly poly, roly poly, out, out, out.
Roly poly, roly poly, in, in, in.
Notes:  Vary the volume and pace.

This old man, he played one. He played nick-knack on my thumb.
With a nick-knack paddy whack, give the dog a bone.
This old man came rolling home.
This old man, he played two, he played nick-knack on my shoe
This old man, he played three, he played nick-knack on my knee

Hey Mr. Knickerbocker, boppity bop.
I feel so good with my boppity bop,
I put that beat right into my fingers. (tap,tap,tap,tap,tap,tap,tap)
Hey Mr. Knickerbocker, boppity bop.
I feel so good with my boppity bop,
I put that beat right into my ___________

The earth is our mother; we must take care of her.
The earth is our mother; we must take care of her.
Hey yanna ho yanna hey yanna ho.
Hey yanna ho yanna hey yanna ho.
The sky is our father; we must take care of him.
The rivers are our sisters; we must take care of them.
The trees are our brothers; we must take care of them.
The earth is our mother; she will take care of us.
Notes:  Try sitting in a circle (“knees to knees if you please”), or dancing with bells.

Tick tock, tick tock goes the grandfather clock.
But the cuckoo clock goes double-time,
Tick tock, tick tock, tick tock, Cuckoo! Cuckoo! Cuckoo!

Bouncing Songs

I have a little pony. His name is Macaroni.
He trots and trots and then he stops.
My funny little pony; Macaroni.

Mother and father and Uncle John, went to market one by one.
Mother fell off, and father fell off,
But Uncle John went on and on and on and on.

Chants and Rhymes

Who stole the cookies from the cookie jar?
Jackie stole the cookies from the cookie jar.
Who me? Couldn’t be! Then who?
Cheryl stole the cookies from the cookie jar.

                  “The Sounds of Fall” by Ken Guilmartin from Music Together
Listen to the leaves falling one by one, chh chh chh chh,
When we rake them up, we’re gonna have some fun.
Listen to the birds in the tree so high, chirp, chirp, chirp, chirp.
Don’t you wish that you could spread your wings and fly?

I’m a long John (teacher)         I’m a long John (children echo)
I’m a long time gone         I’m a long time gone.
Like a turkey in the corn         Like a turkey in the corn
With my long johns on         With my long johns on
Ba ba ba ba ba         Ba ba ba ba ba
Boo boo boo boo boo         Boo boo boo boo boo
Notes:  Make up your own sounds (ma, bo, po, la, etc)

As I was walking to town one day,
I met a __________ along the way.
And what do you think that _________ did say?

Unusual Meter Rhythmic Chants


Rocketship, rocketship, to the moon.
Rocketship, rocketship, to the moon.
Rocketship, rocketship, to the moon.,Zoooom
Airplane, airplane, flying high.whoosh
Butterfly, butterfly, flutter by. Shhh,shhh,shhh
Notes:  Replace rocketship with fire truck, race car, choo choo train, or school bus You can ask the kids for suggestions; you’ll get some fun ideas!

                  “Splishing and splashing” by K. Guilmartin from Music Together
Oh I like to sit in a nice hot tub,
splishing and splashing and splishing and splashing.
And I like to walk in the rain and the mud,
splishing and splashing and splishing and splashing.
And I like to play washing dishes in the sink,
splishing and splashing and splishing and splashing.
And I like to watch as my doggy takes a drink,
splishing and splashing and splishing and splashing.

Train Songs (Shaker eggs work great with these)

                  “Train is a comin’”
Train is a comin, oh yeah, train is a comin, oh yeah,
Train is a comin, train is a comin, train is a comin, oh yeah.
Train’s goin’ faster, oh yeah, train’s goin’ faster, oh yeah,
Train’s goin’ faster, train’s goin’ faster, train’s goin’ faster, oh yeah.
Notes:  Replace “train’s goin’ faster” with “train’s goin’ slower” or “better get your ticket.”  Have children blow out all their steam at the end of the song.

                  “This Train is Bound for Glory”
This train is bound for glory. This train is bound for glory.
This train is bound for glory. Children get on board.
No more weepin and a wailin. No more weepin and a wailin.
No more weepin and a wailin. Children get on board.
Notes:  Try “this train is headed for the zoo” (the farm, the city, the moon)

                  “Down by the Station”
Down by the station early in the morning.
See the little pufferbellies all in a row.
See the engine driver pull the little handle,
chug chug, toot toot, off we go!
Notes:  Have children sit in a circle, facing the same way, making a ‘train’, moving arms like a
train, and pulling the handle on “toot toot.”

“Little Red Caboose”
Little red caboose, chug, chug, chug
Little red caboose, chug, chug, chug
Little red caboose behind the train, train, train, train.
Smokestack on his back, back, back, back. (tap your back)
Comin round the track, track,track,track.(rub your palms together)
Little red caboose behind the train. Choo Choo!

Up & Moving/Dances

                  “My Bonnie Lies Over The Ocean” Scottish traditional
My Bonnie lies over the ocean,
My Bonnie lies over the sea.
My Bonnie lies over the ocean,
Oh bring back my Bonnie to me.
Bring back, bring back, oh bring back my Bonnie to me, to me.
Bring back, bring back, oh bring back my Bonnie to me, to me.
(Optional 2nd verse)
Oh blow ye winds over the ocean,
Oh blow ye winds over the sea (continue same as 1st verse)
Notes:  Walk in a circle while singing, emphasizing the 1-2-3 beat.  On, ‘bring back’, all come together lifting hands in the air.

                  “Clap and Stop”
I’m gonna clap and clap and clap and stop.
I’m gonna clap and clap and clap and stop.
I’m gonna clap and clap and clap and stop.
Clap and clap and clap and stop.
Notes:  Replace clap with walk, spin, stomp, run, hop, crawl, and surf.  This simple song helps children develop impulse control.

                  “Do Re Mi”
Doe, a deer, a female deer
Ray, a drop of golden sun
Me, a name I call myself
Far, a long long way to run
Sew, a needle pulling thread
La, a note to follow sew
Tea, I drink with jam and bread
That will bring us back to do...oh oh oh
Notes:  For a walking activity with the song, have children take a step for each note while singing up and down the scale, starting at one side of the room walking to the other. You can have fun with it by singing, ‘do re mi re do’,or ‘do mi so mi do’, and taking big steps.

Recorded Music with Movement Activities

·      “In The Hall Of The Mountain King” from “Peer Gynt” by Grieg:  tip toe like mice, act like cat, then dog, then giant, then hide in the cave.
·      “Flight Of The Bumblebee” by Rimsky-Korsakov:  buzz like bees
·      “March from the Nutcracker” by Tchaikovsky:  soldier marching, butterfly dancing, bumblebee buzzing and flying.
·      “Rodeo: Hoe Down” by Aaron Copland:  dancing as on a horse.
·      “Wipe Out” by The Ventures:  surf to it , play air guitar, silly freeze.
·      “DeColores” traditional folk song: use rainbow streamers or scarves.
·      “The Pizzicatti” by Diebes: rhythmic sneezing and use scarves.
·      “Can Can” by Offenbach
·      “Rock Around The Clock” by Bill Hailey and the Comets:  twist!
·      Wee Sing “Pretend & Play”
·      Musical Moments, Activities for Kids and Parents, USC School of Music