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Green Gifts for the Budding Musician: STL Ocarinas

Children love and deserve musical instruments; however, the noise they produce can be irksome to parents.

One trick is to only choose instruments that are pleasant sounding, no matter how they are played. STL Ocarinas fit this description with beautiful, ancient sound.

We were sent two ocarinas to try:

Teacarina:  When I first opened up our Teacarina, I thought, what a charming little cup. This multifunctional instrument allows you to play and sip, which is sure to delight any child.

The Teacarina, a combination pottery teacup and ocarina, allows you to play simple tunes between sips of your favorite tea or other hot drink.

Manufactured in a range of beautiful colors, the Teacarina is a hollow walled, handle-less teacup that doubles as a soothing and intriguing musical instrument.

As with other ocarina, you produce music by blowing through an air chamber, changing pitch by fingering four holes of various sizes on the side on the cup.

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Great Children's Literature: Mbutu's Mangos

41vrtdwcfnl_aa240_.jpgMbutu’s Mangos by Zaccai Free and illustrated by Vidya Vasudevan is another excellent book by Solar Publishing (see My Mom Hugs Trees). The story is a reflection of Zaccai’s experiences living in Central America, in which he learned about “plants, people, and the simple life”. Mbutu’s Mangos also comes with a CD of Zaccai reading the story.

Mbutu loves mangos, just like my children. He notices that when the mangos are ripe, a lot of fruit is wasted rotting on the ground below the trees. He pledges to stop this waste and not let a single mango rot. I’ve had similar thoughts when I see the rotting apples below my fruit trees. Mbutu devises a “mango saver” by assembling fishing nets under the branches to catch the fruit before it hits the ground. His mango saver is a great success; however, the mangos begin to rot on the bottom of the net. Eventually, the mangos all fall on Mbutu’s head when the net breaks, much to the laughter of my children when we read this story. Mbutu feels disappointed, until his father teaches him about the cycle of life:

Mbutu, that’s part of life. A mango starts off as a seed, and then it builds up flesh and skin to attract birds, animals, and people like us. We eat the sweet, juicy fruit and throw away the seed, which soon sprouts and becomes a new seedling. Some of the seedlings mature into new trees. We can’t eat all the mangos, so some of them have to rot. After the flesh rots, the seed has a chance to become a new tree. See Mbutu, everything in life goes in a circle. The fruit must rot so a new tree can begin. [Read more…]