The Healthy Me Music & Movement Program is a multisensory experience designed for preschoolers and focuses on important health topics such as nutrition, the importance of drinking water, fitness, hygiene, and social skills. The health lesson is introduced at the beginning of each class through a developmentally appropriate mini-lesson with visuals and props (picture cards, puppets, realia) and then reinforced through singing, dancing, and instrument play. The high-quality songs are selected or written specifically to reinforce the messaging and vocabulary of the day’s health lesson. The program is available in English and Spanish with original songs in both languages.
The program is being implemented at all three Berkeley Child Development Centers and all Berkeley Head Start programs. Each preschool classroom receives a weekly, 25 minute class for 11 weeks. Classes are taught either in English or Spanish, with reinforcement in the other language when needed. The children served come from diverse backgrounds with many different languages represented. There are many full-inclusion students participating successfully in the program. The nature of the musical learning activities make the class accessible and engaging regardless of language or ability.
The Healthy Me Music & Movement program can be adapted to fit the needs of the sites. The length of the program, ages served, number of students, and topics covered can be determined in collaboration with the school/center staff.
School-wide sing-along/dance-along assemblies for children, teachers, and families are also a possibility. Assemblies are participatory and bring the community together, building a sense of unity and joy. Assemblies are a great way of integrating families, so that they too hear and experience the health instruction in a dynamic and engaging way. Since families are the ones primarily responsible for making healthy choices on behalf of their child, it is important to extend the program to them as well.
About the instructors:
Natalia Bernal was a Spanish Immersion teacher at LeConte Elementary in Berkeley, CA for 11 years. She is a native bilingual and her family is from Uruguay. She has a Masters in Education, a Bilingual teaching credential and is trained to teach early childhood music through Music Together and children’s yoga through It’s Yoga Kids. She currently teaches the Healthy Me Music & Movement program, a family music program called Canta y Baila Conmigo, child & family yoga, and Spanish in various schools and centers throughout the Bay Area. She continues to lead school-wide bilingual singing and dancing assemblies at LeConte Elementary.
Anna-Maria Violich-Olivier is from Venezuela. She is a credentialed bilingual educator who taught in San Francisco public schools for 12 years. She holds a Masters in Education, a BCLAD, ORFF Certification (music program to teach young children), and is trained to teach Music Together and Canta y Baila Conmigo. She currently teaches music and movement to babies and preschool aged children through Music Together (English curriculum) and Canta y Baila Conmigo (Spanish Curriculum). She also performs with Venezuelan Music Project as a Vocalist and percussionist.
“Our children are continuously and joyously involved in teacher Natalia’s class. They love it so much. They’ve already learned the songs. They can’t wait to see her. This is one of the first programs we’ve had that is developmentally appropriate for our preschool-aged children. Embedded in the activities is information about health and fitness that they absorb.”
-Susan Torbohn, preschool teacher
“You are very enthusiastic and willing to modify the questions to meet the children’s needs. You are responsive to dual-language learners. It’s very developmentally appropriate, which is refreshing.”
-Joni Miller, Special Education preschool teacher
“El programa de música con nuestra maestra Natalia Bernal es excelente. Tiene actividades educacionales variadas con aprendizaje de lenguaje y vocabulario en español y movimientos y música multicultural. Los niños disfrutan y participan tanto como las maestras. [The music program with our teacher Natalia Bernal is excellent. She has a variety of educational activities with language and vocabulary learning in Spanish and multicultural music and movement. The children participate and enjoy it, as well as the teachers.]”
-Nelly Caloca, Bilingual preschool teacher