Published July 11, 2013
MARIETTA — Teeny Tykes and Tunes, a faith-based music curriculum for infants and toddlers, originated in the heart of Pamela Vandewalker, the minister of worship programming and creativity for Johnson Ferry Baptist Church in Marietta.
Vandewalker and her friend, Cherry Garasi of Second Baptist Church in Houston, TX, developed the curriculum with a desire to make music and spiritual activity a part of every child’s daily life. The curriculum has been produced by Lillenas Publishing Company and is being distributed by LifeWay Christian Resources.
Teeny Tykes and Tunes is a research-based, educationally-sound curriculum through which parents can help their children grow and develop. There are two programs: one for infants ages 3 to 18 months and one designed for toddlers ages 19 months to 3 years.
Vandewalker, who is in her 17th year on staff at JFBC, explained, “The program gives parents the opportunity to interact with their babies as they learn social skills, music fundamentals, language development, reading readiness, math readiness, small and large motor skills, and most of all that God loves them and made them to be very special.”
During the first week of June, JFBC had their annual Teeny Tykes and Tunes Camp at the church with hundreds of children present with their mothers and in some cases grandparents.
In one class the children participated in action songs and then JFBC’s children’s music associate Lauren McCook produced a plastic or wooden frog and told the story of the plague of frogs in Egypt in the day of Moses. So the music activities are reinforced with Bible stories and eternal truths.
Vandewalker remarked, “Parents need to share quiet times with their young children by reflecting on God’s love and presence. We use music to teach the children. The songs they learn go into a special place in their brains so that they will be able to retain them for years to come.
“Of the families who have their children registered in the Teeny Tykes and Tunes Camp, 70 percent are not affiliated with our church and 40 percent have no church affiliation. We call this ministry ‘gentle evangelism’, because we are able to touch children, and their moms or some adult family member, with the love of Christ.
“We have found that once children get into elementary school they begin to get their schedule filled with T-ball, baseball, softball, soccer, basketball, cheerleading, band, and a multitude of activities. So, I concluded that we would be wise to develop a ministry to preschool age children that would involve their parents and God has allowed us to see success in what we have done.”
In addition to the summer camp, Teeny Tykes and Tunes has an eight-week curriculum in both the spring and the fall of the church year at Johnson Ferry. The Marietta church has also used this program in some sections of Atlanta’s inner city and on mission trips to Australia, Ireland, Greece, Italy, and Spain. The curriculum also has a Spanish component.
Vandewalker stated, “I think it would also be a great tool for church starts. Anyone can do it. Those interested in helping with this program don’t have to know much about music to be leaders. The cost for the CDs and curriculum is modest and once the needed supplies are purchased they can be used for years.
“Whether it’s used in community centers, city parks, urban projects, clubhouses, after-school programs, family centers, daycares, or worship programs, Teeny Tykes and Tunes is an exciting, proven tool for toddlers and families using active music and movement coupled with Bible stories, Scripture, and prayer to bring people together. It can be used by anyone who desires to reach young families in easy non-threatening environments by offering everyday, ordinary people a vehicle to meet other young parents.
“Classes are an engaging, fun, interactive time for families. Each lesson has finger-plays, fun songs, movement songs, Jesus songs, Bible stories, Scripture, and more.”
If you or your church is interested in Teeny Tykes and Tunes go to the website at www.teenytykesandtunes.com to find out more or to purchase items in their website “store.”
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