Work Experience 24: Children’s Entertainer
I like to think of myself as a bit of a children’s entertainer. Quite often I’ll sing and dance (badly of course) in my kitchen for the sole purpose of making my kids laugh, or roll their eyes, or tell me to stop because their friends are over and it’s embarrassing. Ah…it’s one of the joys of life. Not to mention when I’m teaching the lower grades at school. No day in Prep is without at least one silly action song. I get as much enjoyment out of it as the kids, if not more!
Recently I had the opportunity to spend a couple of days with professional children’s entertainer Danielle from Danibelle’s Musicadium. She runs classes for pre-school aged children aged from 0-5 at the Lang Park PCYC in Brisbane, and is AMAZING at her job.
What did I do?
Each week the theme for Danielle’s classes changes. The songs she sings, stories she tells and outfits she wears follows the theme, which was ‘In the Pond’ that week. I thought it’d be a great idea to get into character, so raided my kids’ dress-up box and found a bunch of green items to transform me into a frog. My daughter’s gorgeous green knitted frog hat was perfect! When I turned up to meet Danielle on the first day she looked fabulous. She had painted a dragonfly on her face with face paint, put some leaves in her hair, and was wearing a green tutu which represented a lily pad.
As Danielle was setting up and parents started rolling in I have to admit I felt a slightly out of place standing there looking like a weird (but happy) frog. I got lots of smiles from the mums and dads, but some of the children in the first group (aged between 12 months and 2 years old) took a while to warm up to the strange lady with the frog hat. Some were actually scared of me at first…that definitely wasn’t the plan! I just smiled, sat on the floor with them, and let them touch my hat or try it on to get used to it.
Danielle is a former PE teacher, dancer and singer, which is the perfect combination for someone who runs large group classes of children. Each class began with balls and hoops in the middle of the room for the children to play with while others arrived. I played throw and catch with one or two of the children in each group, and held hoops for them to crawl through. It took me back to the days when my children were little and I took them to playgroup. It seems like such a long time ago now…sigh… After packing everything away, it was time for the parents and children to sit in a circle. Wearing a microphone, Danielle enthusiastically ran into the middle of the circle and greeted the children with her ‘Good Morning’ song. She skipped around waving at children as she went. Danielle takes on the role of ‘Danibelle’ during classes and is highly energetic and engaging the whole time. She had everyone up on their feet playing a ‘Stop’ game to music, where they ran around in a circle until she called ‘STOP!’ This game had all of the littlies giggling. It was so nice to see all of the parents and carers getting involved, which Danielle encourages. I tried to join in on the game, but the child I ran beside didn’t like my hat and quickly hid behind her mum’s leg. I decided I’d better just sit on my chair at the side and join in from there.
After the game, Danielle told the children a story about a cat going for a walk to the pond, using actions and yoga poses for the children to copy. Throughout the story, she also sang action songs for the children and parents to join in on. These included ‘3 Little Ducks’, ‘Galumph went the Little Green Frog’ and ‘Row, Row, Row Your Boat’. I really enjoyed my spot on the sidelines, and sang along with everyone.
Next it was time to move into the adjacent playroom. There was so much fantastic equipment for the children to play on or in that encouraged gross motor skills such as climbing, crawling, and balancing. The variety of equipment available ensured each age group was catered to.
After about 15 minutes Danielle encouraged parents to bring their children back to the main room, where she had an assortment of percussion instruments spread out on the floor. The children could shake their instrument and sing along as Danielle sang songs and played her guitar.
By this stage, many of the kids were used to me and my hat, so I joined in at the back of the group. Soon it was time to pack up the instruments and take out a huge brightly coloured parachute. I remembered back to when my kids did gymnastics when they were little, and the parachute was always an exciting but relaxing way to end a class. Kids love it! During the last class with the older children I sat under the parachute with them, and could see why they like it so much. All of the adults held a side of the parachute, lifted it up then slowly brought it down over the children’s heads. Danielle hopped under the parachute with the children, and sang a couple of relaxing songs while the parachute was lifted and brought back down over and over again.
Once the parachute was packed away, Danielle sang a goodbye song and gave each child a smiley face stamp on their hands and feet to end the class.
After a short break Danielle repeated the class for children aged 2-4, making some minor adjustments to better suit that age group, and ended with a babies group for children up to around 12 months old. It was great to observe all of her classes over two days, and get involved where I could.
What did I learn?
Danielle is the perfect person for her job. Her background in teaching means she is extremely well organised for classes, can adapt each class according to the age-group and is able to manage large groups of children and their parents/carers. Her singing and dancing background obviously comes in very handy too! Danielle’s in character the whole time during her classes and the children respond really well to her energy and personality. I also liked that she made an effort to learn children’s names (quite difficult when the classes can change from week to week) and share a moment with each child during the lesson to make them feel noticed and special.
It was great to chat with Danielle about the business side of her work too, such as how she charges and the arrangements that are in place at PCYC to allow her to operate there. Interestingly, she doesn’t need to advertise much as so much of her business is through word of mouth.
I had such a happy couple of days at Danibelle’s. Seeing smiles on children’s faces is one of my all-time favourite things.