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Be Kind: Music and Videos for Facilitating Conversations About Character

 

Anyone living here in the U.S. (and on the greater planet Earth) is well aware that this year has been a crazy one.

From basic human rights problems around the world, to intensely negative politics here in the U.S., I almost forgot that October is anti-bullying month.

For any teachers out there, this probably gives away the fact that I’m not teaching or playing any school assemblies this month… it’s been biz dev city over here at PsP.

It’s ironically unfortunate that a month dedicated to anti-bullying has been filled with so many negative headlines and dareIsay bad all around bad juju.

At the same time, this pushes open a wide door for conversations about character that can hopefully lead to a better and bright tomorrow. #isitthanksgivingyet?

Teaching Character

Every teacher at every grade level faces unique challenges but no matter what age your students are, character development is inevitably a part of day to day education. In a lot of ways, I see the character education part of teaching as almost defining where you are meant to teach. If you’re a friendly, creative dork like myself, probably preschool. If you’re witty and hip and have some tough skin, probably high school. Obviously that’s up for interpretation, but you get the idea.

As a preschool and school-age teacher, I definitely saw children go from having zero empathy to legitmately interesting and thought out views on whats right and wrong. This transition from a self-centered world to a more empathetic one always seem to be a combination of home life, school life, and how external pressures mixed with personality.

As I started writing more educational music for kids, I knew that character education would have to be the second project I tackled (right after nutrition). So in the summer of 2013, I sat down for many a 16 hour day and got to work on Nature Jam’s second album, Be Kind. My Nature Jams partner Zach is the king of all-night work sessions, and there days that went by where I did not leave the studio for so much as a meal.

In celebrating the 3rd year of Be Kind, below is a handful of the songs that had backing videos for our live shows, as well as a little blurb about each to help you start a conversation with your kids about character. They’re missing the Rob and Zach live element, but they’re still great in their own right!

Be Kind

The title track from the album, Be Kind is a relaxing mix or Orchestral instruments (check out that epic harp run at 1:33) that remind you to “be kind to all you find, what you’ll find is joy.”

Generally when we ran Be Kind concerts, this was the chill outro track (after a giant bubble dance party of course). The “We Are One” section is a great for a big sing and clap along. “Be Kind” was written and performed by Zach Ladin and first appeared on “On the Right Track.”

Bucket Fillers

Carol McCloud’s “Bucket Filler” series of books is massively popular in preschools. Filling up and dumping out buckets is an metahpor for teaching kids kindness.

The video and song feature call and response (anytime the young boy has his hands to his mouth) and the upbeat groove and pop-instrumentation is certainly worth of your next classroom dance party.

Golden Rule

“Golden Rule” is a short and sweet number about treating other people the way you want to be treated.

The intro vocals were performed by our good friend Avery and the song, written by Zach, can help you and your kids start a conversation about empathy.

Monkeys with Bananers

The lyrics to “Monkeys” were written by our good friend Aaron Poole and they encourage kids to “move like you want to move” and to “have a ball, but be sure to watch your manners.”

This song and video combo was a particular favorite at all of our concerts where avid fans would stand up and wiggle their fingers as we “play ’em on piano” and first-comers would dance like an animal and get a seriously unanticipated chuckle at the very end of the video.

Leave No Trace

“Leave No Trace” focuses more on being kind to mother Earth. Written and recorded by Rob, it features a troop of hilariously cute kids picking up trash in Scotland as part of Keep Scotland Beautiful.

It’s true that we all love to have parties, go to music festivals, have town fairs, but that puts it’s toll on the planet. Reminding kids to “LEAVE NO TRACE!” is an easy and action-packed way to get them cleaning up!

Just For Today

“Just For Today” is a manta commonly used in Reiki circles or in daily meditations.

It’s less of a song and more of a daily chant that you can do with your class as a concise and powerful reminder for everyone to respect themselves, their peers and their work.

Check out the rest of Be Kind

The rest of the Be Kind CD features more stellar songs like “The Bully Train,” “In Their Shoes,” “Have a Smile” and more!

The rest of the Be Kind CD features more stellar songs like “The Bully Train,” “In Their Shoes,” “Have a Smile” and more!

You can download the full CD in the iTunes store, or have a listen on Spotify!

We hope that Be Kind helps spark some family or classroom conversations about character and that it helps you have a smile this fall!

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