I'm very excited! When I arrived at work on Thursday it looked like maybe the Easter Bunny had made an early visit this year....
But upon closer inspection I realized these weren't just any eggs...
A few months ago I started the process of having our own egg shakers made for our Intellidance programs (and other classes at J'Adore Dance) and to make them available to the families that dance with us. I wanted a shaker that was easy for little hands to hold, brightly colored for visual appeal, and made a pleasing sound. Presto! Here they are: the IntelliSHAKERS!
Shakers are one of my favourite toys for ages 0-5. They are simple but have endless opportunities for exploration and imagination. They encourage movement with an automatic auditory stimulus the child controls. They shake it, it makes a sound! Easy to grasp and play, shakers are a great way to expose young children to instrumentation and rhythm development.
Here are some of my favourite IntelliSHAKER activities:
Eye Tracking with Shakers (birth- 8 months)
Shakers are a simple and fun way to support your baby’s eye tracking ability. The shaking noise captures your baby’s interest creating a multi-sensory experience as they follow the shakers with their eyes. Try slower side to side and up and down movements for babies under 4 months of age. Movements can become faster as baby gets older.
Keep a pair of shakers at your change table and do a few minutes of eye tracking play at each diaper change.
The Grand Old Duke Of York (3 months - 5 years)
The Grand Old Duke of York Song (video below) can be used as an eye tracking activity for babies. It can also be used as a keeping the beat/action song activity for toddlers and preschoolers by asking them to mirroring the leader.
Engaging Gross Motor Development with Shakers ( 3months to Crawling)
Babies are attracted to movement, color, and sound! Egg shakers provide motivation for babies to lift and turn their heads while in tummy time, roll from back to front and front to back, reaching and grasping development, and creeping and crawling towards the shaker. The video below shows how we engaged baby Lauren in a roll using a shaker as motivation.
Beat and Body Parts (3 months-5yrs)
Turn on a song with a strong, easily identifiable beat. For babies tap the shakers on different body parts to the beat. Try slowing down the taps to half time or speeding them up to double time. Try rolling the shakers along their backs or tummies. By reinforcing the beat through both touch and sound you will nurture your baby's rhythm development.
For Toddlers and Preschoolers have them copy you as you keep the beat on different body parts with your shakers. Change the tempo (fast or slow) or make up rhythmic patterns (slow, slow, quick, quick, quick) to challenge their motor and musical skill development. With 4 and 5 year olds, take turns being the leader and follower and pass the beat!
Action songs (2-5 yrs)
Shakers can easily be integrated into action songs and musical play. Two of our favourites can be played along with Asheba's No More Monkeys and Sharon, Lois, and Bram's Tingalayo! Try adding shaker play to your child's favourite songs.
Just turning on the music and shaking, dancing and playing along is an activity your kids will love to do over and over again!
Other ways I have seen my girls and little dancers play with shakers:
- Mouthing the Shakers: With a studio full of babies I prefer egg shakers over maracas with stick handles as you know the first place the shaker is going is in the mouth. No long sticks = no choking hazard!
- In and Out: With so many of my instructors bringing their 1-2 year olds to meetings and training sessions I have seen how much enjoyment this age group gets from simply taking the shakers out of a container and then dropping them back in with a satisfying crash!
- Spinning Tops: A couple of little guys from my Fit Hop Totz class figured out if you spin the shakers fast enough they will spin like a top!
- Zoom Zoom: Shakers also make wonderful "cars" and "trains".
- Nose Rolling and Neck Carries: We did a relay race at one of our camps this summer using the shakers. First the kids used their noses to roll the shakers across the dance floor and then carried them under their necks on the way back.
Leave a comment below by September 9th and you'll be entered in a random draw for a set of all six IntelliShakers, Sunshine, Cherry, Blueberry, Grape, Lime, and Cotton Candy (retail value of $21). Must be a resident of Canada or the USA to win.