Tag Archives: circle time

Farewell Orana Playgroup


Today was the last session of Orana Playgroup.

Closing a playgroup is kind of like killing a sacred cow, but what can you do when families in the area just won’t come along?

It’s been fun. A lot of fun.

When I started in July 2008, I had just one family coming to playgroup. Slowly it built up. Over the years the numbers have fluctuated. At its peak we had fifty people coming. The onsite preschool used to thank me for having such a structured playgroup where children did art and craft, sat to hear a story, and did songs and movement. They said the playgroup children had already formed lovely friendships and were in a better position to take advantage of the learning activities at preschool. Playgroup is important in the lives of children.

I have so many memories of kids being kids – creative, funny, clever, and completely awesome. This blog has recorded just a few of those magic moments.

One family gave me a card today. Three of their four children have grown up with Orana Playgroup. The mum said that they had a “remember when” session for playgroup at home.

They put some of their memories on the card…

P1030514     P1030515

Today we remembered certain children and parents who have come to playgroup over the years and we sang songs for them.

The last few weeks Shona (3) has wanted us to sing the train song, and so we did. Today she lined up the chairs and wanted us all to sit on the train, and so we did. She even wore the train hat and found a disc that she could use as a steering wheel.


We also sang The Wheels on the Bus.

The last few weeks Ruby (2) has wanted us to sing a funny monster song. But we don’t know any funny monster songs. This week I wondered whether we could adapt a song we already know, and thought Dingle Dangle Scarecrow might do. But one of the mums, Liz, suggested we adapt Down in the Jungle.

It was GREAT! Liz and I had such fun with it. Ruby looked at us like we were a bit crazy, but she did her funny monster dance after the song, and all was well.

I like the monster version much better, and couldn’t help thinking of the book “Where the Wild Things Are” as we were singing.

Here it is with just me singing it. The words are below.

Click here to play: Funny Monster song for Ruby

Down in the valley where nobody goes
There’s a big funny monster washing his clothes
With a scrubba-dubba here and a scruuba-dubba there
That’s the way he washes his clothes
With an i-tie growl growl growl
With an i-tie growl growl growl
With an i-tie growl growl growl
That’s the way he washes his clothes
Down in the jungle where nobody sees
There’s a huge hairy monster scratching his fleas
With a scratch scratch here and a scratch scratch there
That’s the way he scratches his fleas.
Down in the jungle where nobody hears
There’s a young funny monster cleaning her ears
With a flippety flap here and a flippety flap there
That’s the way she cleans her ears
Down in the jungle when nobody’s there
There’s a big funny monster combing his hair
With a comb comb here and a comb comb there
That’s the way he’s combing his hair
Down in the jungle it made me turn pale
I saw a slinky funny monster wiggling his tail
With a wiggle wiggle here and a wiggle wiggle there
That’s the way he was wiggling his tail
Down in the jungle when the stars are bright
I saw the funny monsters dancing all night
With a boogie woogie here and a boogie woogie there
That’s the way they’re dancing all night.


So much fun on our last day of playgroup.

Young fellas Aston (1) and Jason (17 months) have got used to singing the songs, and participating in group time. Jason is always on the go, but it has only taken him a few months to get used to circle time and participate. It took a while for him to get used to music in the raw, just human voices, with no accompaniment, rather than recorded music, but every week he has increased his focus and participated more. Sometimes it takes a while for little kids to get used to Circle Time. We just let them regulate how much they want to participate and eventually they get it and they love it. I remember one little girl who took about 18 months to fully get involved in Circle Time. It’s all OK!

Liam, Jason’s dad, discovered that the instrument we have been calling a ‘handbag‘ is actually called an ‘agogo’. So we sang “I am a fine musician” with the correct name, and the instrument felt much better about itself.

musical instrument

One song that I wanted to sing at the end of playgroup was I Have Made a Pretty Nest but I completely forgot. The children have loved this song, so here it is one last time…

Click here to play: I have made a pretty nest

Goodbye Orana Playgroup.

This now ends five-and-three-quarter years of my involvement in Kingswood Park, and I have truly loved every minute of it.

Until we meet again.


Narelle Smith ♥


Song – On the Ning Nang Nong


One of our kids loves the poem ‘Ning Nang Nong’ by the wonderful Spike Milligan. Well, we read it once, and I thought that we could include the instruments.

On the Ning Nang Nong Where the Cows go Bong!  (DRUM)
and the monkeys all say BOO!
There’s a Nong Nang Ning
Where the trees go Ping!    (TRIANGLE)
And the tea pots jibber jabber joo.   (The instrument we call a ‘handbag’ because we don’t know the real name for it, it’s a long story)
On the Nong Ning Nang
All the mice go Clang   (CYMBALS)
And you just can’t catch ’em when they do!
So its Ning Nang Nong Cows go Bong!   (DRUM)
Nong Nang Ning Trees go ping    (TRIANGLE)
Nong Ning Nang The mice go Clang   (CYMBALS)
What a noisy place to belong   (ALL OF THE INSTRUMENTS TOGETHER)
is the Ning Nang Ning Nang Nong!!   



Song – Upsy Down Town


We read the story Upsy-Down Town by Sue Hendra…

upsy down town

And then we sang the song, which is different to the words in the book…

In upsy-down town
The sky is in the sea
The rabbits are in the nest
Where the birds should be
The rain is falling up
Instead of falling dowm
Down in upsy-down town.
There’s a chocolate cake as white as snow
The more you eat
The bigger it grows
You walk upon your nose
Instead of on your toes
Down in upsy-down town.



Song – Pito Pito Colorito

Pito pito colorito
donde vas tu, tan bonito?
Voy al campo de la era
a la escuela verdadera.
English translation…
Good morning, early bird, tiny delight
Where are you going dressed so beautifully?
I’m going to the meadow of time
to the true school of life.
Listen here – Pito pito colorito


Book – Green Eggs and Ham


Yesterday (2nd March) was Dr Seuss’ birthday.

He was a genius!

He put into his books what we now know contributes to children’s building blocks for learning how to read – vocabulary (including ‘rare’ words), rhyming, concepts such as near and far etc, and making up silly words and having fun with language.

Research shows that the more we talk, sing, and read with our children, the better their outcomes in all areas of their development (Hart & Risley being the most well known). Studies have shown that children who grow up in a language-rich environment have grown up to have more satisfying lives than those children who don’t. And don’t be afraid to use words that your children don’t know. Exposure to big words and ‘rare’ words increases their vocabulary which is great for developing their reading, speech, and language skills.

This week we read Green Eggs and Ham.

green eggs and ham

Do you like them? Have you tried them?

Here is an interesting fact about the book…

Bennett Cerf, Dr. Seuss’ editor, bet him that he couldn’t write a book using 50 words or less. The Cat in the Hat was pretty simple, after all, and it used 225 words. Not one to back down from a challenge, Mr. Geisel (Dr Seuss) started writing and came up with Green Eggs and Ham —which uses exactly 50 words.

The 50 words, by the way, are: a, am, and, anywhere, are, be, boat, box, car, could, dark, do, eat, eggs, fox, goat, good, green, ham, here, house, I, if, in, let, like, may, me, mouse, not, on, or, rain, Sam, say, see, so, thank, that, the, them, there, they, train, tree, try, will, with, would, you.

Source: http://mentalfloss.com/article/28843/10-stories-behind-dr-seuss-stories

So, Green Eggs and Ham isn’t all that great for extending children’s vocabulary, but it has lots of concepts, it’s really good fun, and it reinforces what parents say to children at the dinner table “how do you know you don’t like it if you haven’t tried it?”.

I mentioned to some of the parents that I love the very short story (more like a poem) titled ‘Too Many Daves’ by Dr Seuss, and they said they hadn’t heard it. So I’ll read it next week. It’s about a Mum who names all 23 of her children ‘Dave’.

Narelle Smith


Song – Tight Rope Walking


This week…

We did some tight rope walking…

Click here for the song – Tight Rope Walking

This song is from a Channel 10 children’s programme. The show is called something like “Wubble Woo” – I can’t look it up at the moment because the Winter Olympics is on the TV instead.


Book – “Slowly, Slowly” said the Sloth



Slowly, Slowly, said the Sloth by Eric Carle

Eric Carle is the fella who wrote “The Very Hungry Caterpillar”.

This book is wonderfully meditative. Just the thing to read before bed or to slow a child down.

The sloth knows who he is and what he can do.  At the end of the book, the sloth says…

“It is true that I am slow, quiet, and boring. I am lackadaisical, I dawdle, and I dillydally. I am also unflappable, languid, stoic, impassive, sluggish, lethargic, placid, calm, mellow, laid-back, and well slothful! I am relaxed and tranquil, and I like to live in peace, But I am not lazy. That’s just how I am. I like to do things slowly, slowly, slowly.”

Wow! Such a lot of amazing language. Books do this, the very good ones, they include words that the children are not expected to know, they are called “rare words”. And the children don’t have to know them, just hearing them is enough to stretch their experience of words and language.

When we read “Slowly, Slowly, said the Sloth” again, I was so impressed with what the children remembered about the story, especially the descriptive words. Have I told you lately how smart kids are? The story generated some lovely discussion about lots of different animals.

Narelle Smith