Sound, fire safety lessons inspire learning for young children at Hoeflin Stone House

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Frank Tracz, director of bands, interacts with kids at the Hoeflin Stone House Early Childhood Education Center on Oct. 25, 2016. The K-State marching band played for the children a myriad of songs to start the morning. (Nick Horvath | The Collegian)

Two student teachers in their senior years of early childhood education, Jessica Minge and Taylor Baumgartner, decided to be creative with their lesson plans this week. The two brainstormed and invited the Kansas State marching band and the Manhattan Fire Department to visit the Hoeflin Stone House Early Childhood Education Center Tuesday morning.

Minge is a student teacher for toddlers and Baumgartner is a student teacher for preschoolers at Hoeflin Stone House.

Minge said her toddlers have been practicing the “Wabash Cannonball” and have a designated time when they can listen to the band songs on their iPads.

“We play it and they just start doing the Wabash,” Minge said. “It takes a lot of gross motor to stand there and wiggle back and forth and not fall over. Then they all chime in and say ‘Wildcats!’ It’s so cute. So, I thought it would be cool to have the band come play for them.”

The marching band played the fight song, “Wabash Cannonball,” “Eat Em’ Up” and the alma mater outside by the playground for more than 40 children. Frank Tracz, director of bands, explained to the children what the different instruments were, how they made different sounds and the volume change in each instrument.

Several cheerleaders led the children in the “Wabash Cannonball” and the children’s eyes were wide and alert when twirler Haley Rapp, sophomore in entrepreneurship, threw her baton in the air.

At the end of their time, band members interacted with the children, allowing them to hold their instruments and help them play their instruments by holding down the keys.

After the band left, three firefighters arrived in a big, red firetruck. Firefighter Cole Minton talked to the children about what they knew regarding fire safety, the basics of “stop, drop and roll” and explained to them what exactly firefighters do. The children watched as one of the firefighters geared up in his suit, helmet and mask.

At the end of their fire safety lesson, the children were allowed to sit in the firetruck to experience a firsthand view of a firefighter’s life.

Baumgartner said she knew the children would be excited because when firetrucks drive by, they run up and smash their faces up against the window.

“It’s fire safety month, so I thought that it would be great to have them come in and focus on community helpers because we’re curious about what they do,” Baumgartner said. “We see them drive down the hill and we’re really curious about what they’re doing, where they’re going and why do they have lights and sirens and why they wear what they do.”

After an eventful Tuesday morning, Minge said this week she has made her classroom’s theme “sound” by bringing in a trombone, saxophone, clarinet and drums. She said they are learning about different sounds that instruments make and anything else that makes sound.

“We will incorporate math, which would be the length of sounds and if the instruments play really long or short,” she said. “We will look at the science of the air going through the instruments and how it makes that sound. We’ll read books about instruments and talk about how people read music. We’ll talk about different movements and getting their gross motor skills moving and dancing and then the fine motor of touching each instrument.”

Minge said they will do a lot of recall throughout the rest of the week.

She said they will ask the children questions like, “Hey, do you remember this instrument?” and “How did they make that sound?”

“I hope that throughout the week with the instruments they will experiment more with purposeful use,” Minge said. “Maybe before, they would just throw the cymbals on the floor, but if they see somebody with cymbals crashing them together, then they’ll maybe mimic that and understand that process.”

Callie Cunningham, sophomore in marketing and an employee at Hoeflin Stone House, said she thought having the band come was an awesome idea.

“Kids naturally love playing and hearing music, so I think that the KSU band really caught their attention and will leave a lasting impact on them,” Cunningham said.

Minge said a lot of the kids have been to football games and knew what to expect, but there were a few who had never heard or seen the marching band.

“They’ve seen pictures because we have pictures in our classroom but they don’t really know what it is so that’s also how we’re expanding their knowledge of community and what’s around us at K-State,” Minge said. “It’s awesome that we have such a great K-State family that would have a band come play for our toddlers. I’m so grateful.”

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Hi there! My name is Julia and I'm a senior in journalism and digital media with a public relations emphasis. I am copy chief for the Collegian and also edit for the Manhappenin' magazine. My dream is to live in the mountains someday while working for a marketing or publishing company.