Having young children often means spending lots of time on character education. After all, most children don’t automatically know how to act in when they’re dealing with other people or what traits are admirable in a person. This is especially true when you’re dealing with a child who is wired a little differently from other children. I’m deep in the years of training with my preschoolers and with my literal, socially awkward nine year old.
So, when I received the opportunity to review a few products from Happy Kids Songs, I was really excited about the possibility of using these products in our homeschool. I received digital downloads of three different song sets: Friends & Sharing, Happiness & Attitude, and Manners & Character. These albums each include five songs and are priced at $4.95 for each album.
I also received an additional product that I would find very helpful in our homeschool, the Happy Kids Songs Workbook: Hands-On Activities to Build Character, Social and Emotional Skills. This workbook is currently priced at $12.56.
These products are geared toward children aged 3-8, but all my children (ages 9, 7, 4, & 3) enjoyed these songs. When I received these songs, I downloaded them directly to my computer’s hard drive and set up a play list for each album using Windows Media Player, but you can certainly use these songs with your iTunes or MP3 playing device, or you could burn these to CDs for use in your car’s CD/MP3 player or in a CD player.
The first album that we decided we wanted to listen to was the Friends & Sharing album. I knew I was going to love this album from the very first lines of the album where it goes, “When you’re sailing on the friendship….” The music was catchy, the words were often fun and the meaning was unmistakable.
The five songs on the friends and sharing album are:
- “Sailing on the Seven Cs”–This song defines what elements are part of a friendship and how the actions in a friendship often are more important than any words that you can say
- “Everybody Wants to Find a Friend”–This song discusses how everyone wants a friend and that all you have to do to find friends is to reach out to other people
- “Sharing Friends”–This song is about how it’s okay when your friends want to play with other friends and that everyone might have more fun when they all play together.
- “Happy as Happy Can Be”–This song talks about how friendship makes you happy and that when you’re with your friends you feel like you belong and are happy.
- “Together”–Discusses how when you have so much fun with your friends you can have a hard time saying “good-bye” to them. The song reminds children that even when they are apart from their friends that they’ll remain friends because of their feelings toward each other.
I really loved all of the songs, and smiled every time I heard the catchy tune of “Sailing on the Seven Cs.” However, as a Mom and as someone who spends a lot of time with young children, the song that most spoke to my heart was “Sharing Friends.” Often, when children have friends that they play with, they feel excluded and not cared for when those friends want to play with other people.
If you want to play with Marie,
Play with her and not with me,
It’s not what I want, but it’s okay,
And I’ll come back another day.
This song really speaks to those feelings of exclusion and how it’s okay when your friend plays with someone else you can play alone. As the song goes on, the friend of the child being excluded checks with the other friend and that other friend is fine with them all playing together. No one has to suffer the feelings of exclusion and everyone has more fun together. At the end of the song, the line repeated is:
I’m glad we all said “yes” instead of “no.”
I know some children (and adults!) who could stand to hear the lyrics in that song as they sort through trying to realize that groups of two friends are not inherently more fun than larger groups of friends–and that even if your friend wants to do things with other friends right now, that doesn’t mean that she’s stopped being your friend. This is a perfect song for young children who are just beginning to sort all that out to sit and listen to.
The next song set that we spent some time listening to was Happiness & Attitude. The songs on this list, once again, have the unmistakable fusion of different styles and messages that is very catchy.
The five songs on this album are:
- “Shake it Out and Dance”–This one is about being positive. Sometimes when we we think we can’t, we find we really can’t and this song is a reminder to give things a chance before saying you can’t.
- “Who Knows What’s a Kudo?”–This song is on noticing good things in other people and giving them compliments. I also love that this song teaches gratitude towards others for the efforts that they make.
- “I don’t Understand”–This song explains that it’s okay to ask questions because that’s how we learn new things
- “Be Good to Yourself”–This song talks about being kind–to yourself. Treat yourself in the ways that you’ve learned to treat other people.
- “Better together”–This is similar to some of the songs on the friendship album in that it focuses on how we can have fun together and that’s what friends do. There’s also a long verse about how sometimes we want to play alone and that’s okay too.
I found that my favorite song on this album is “Who Knows What’s a Kudo?” It’s often our nature as people to spend more time complaining when things go wrong than to think to compliment people on their efforts when things go right. So the inspiration to tell people something that’s “nice and true” about themselves is one that is a great effort to teach our children.
The final song set that I spent time with is Manners & Character. This album is a mixed bag of musical styles and virtues that children (and adults) need to practice.
The five songs in this set are:
- “H-o-n-e-s-t-y”–This song talks about how important it is to be honest and then gives a list of all the great reasons why you should be honest.
- “The Magic Word” –This one is about how important good manners are and how when we use good manners, not only can we make other feel better, but we can often get more of what we want.
- “Quirks”–This song reminds you that everyone is special and that every person is different from those around them. We’re also reminded that people want to be accepted for who they are and that the things that make people so interesting are their differences.
- “The Golden Rule”–This one, of course, focuses on treating others the way you want to be treated. It also reminds us that sometimes, when we can’t say anything nice, it’s better to keep our mouths closed (This is something I tell my nine year old often!!)
- “Six Little Kids”–This song uses the old fable of feeling the different parts of an elephant and having different perspectives on what it is to show that people have different ideas and perspectives. It also reminds us that our experiences make us see things differently from others and that’s a good thing.
There is so much goodness in this set that I really just can’t pick out a favorite! I probably most appreciate “Quirks” because as I’ve dealt with seeing one of my children being left out and made fun of for being different, I’ve often said, “Different isn’t a bad thing” and I’m hoping that this song brings that child a little healing.
We also received the Happy Kids Songs Workbook. This is a compilation of the free worksheets and handouts that they offer as free individual downloads on their website. For $12-13, I think it’s a good deal if you’re wanting to have all the song sets and activity suggestions together. One of the best things about it is, if you don’t have all the songs, you can search through the lyrics of the worksheets for the songs that best fit your lesson plans and download those individual songs. I feel like the workbook is a great value for a teacher who wants something physical to aid in lesson planning.
So far, we’ve mostly just listened to the songs during playtimes and quiet times in our household. However, I have plans for these songs in my regular routine for the children as we pick up steam in our school year in September.
My plan is to take each of these songs and to spend a week with each song (buying albums of songs as we go along) doing some of the activities and worksheets in the book a part of their character education. I’ll be using the workbook as my curriculum guide. They have 40 songs, so that will be at least 40 weeks of character education in our household.
These songs have great value and meaning as messages for your younger children as they learn what it means to be a friend, use their manners and have a positive attitude as they navigate the waters of dealing with themselves and other people. This is would make a great supplement to any character education or virtue training that you intend on doing with your children.