New Materials for Increasing Literacy through Music and Movement

September 24, 2012 at 9:24 am Leave a comment

 by Davida Hirsch’71

I am Davida Hirsch and I graduated from Bank Street in 1971.  Bank Street was a major force in my life.

I had always been involved with children, even as a teenager when I was a sitter for kids of all ages. I studied at the School of American Ballet in High School and in college, and ultimately I started my own ballet studio in Yonkers, NY where I lived.  I always had an innate sense that children of all ages needed to have opportunities to be active and that such opportunities would have a positive effect on behavior, learning, creativity and self esteem.

The courses I took at Bank Street supported this view and made it all gel.  My  Bank Street experience  strengthened  the concept that the mind-body connection fostered by music and movement was as important as eye -hand coordination, perhaps even more important, for developing literacy and learning, and so that became my focus.

My long term friend and colleague, Esther Nelson who has an MA in Dance Education at NYU, and I started GRANNY PRESS  and collaborated to spread the word. We traveled the country coast to coast giving workshops and keynote addresses in 26 states for early childhood educators, children’s librarians, Head Start, and day care staff on the importance and value of making movement, music, musical games, and rhyming activities an integral component of their programs to foster literacy, thinking skills, creativity and self esteem.

The focus of our presentations was on the need for less passive pursuits and increasing awareness of the importance of physical and creative activity for children’s physical and mental health. Requests from participants for more input inspired the materials in the packet which incorporate the knowledge Esther and I brought to these programs gained from our many years of experience, teaching both children and adults.  We saw major impacts on the children, such as increased vocabulary, ability to focus and express their ideas, a greater understanding of number and spatial concepts, the development of relationships, and the ability to cooperate with others.  In the process, children were building a life- long love of learning–while having fun. Our unique packet includes:

  • An 88 page spiral bound book with sections on supportive research on the impact of music and movement on brain development, the words and sheet music for the songs with directions and information about the learning benefits, and a page to be printed as a handout for parents.
  • A CD with the words and melodies for the songs, dances and games, engaging the children creatively in acting out the songs and stories.
  • A DVD with Esther demonstrating the techniques with the children and  with me providing commentary about how this work develops literacy and learning.
  • Three rhyming and riddle Granny Press Books that develop vocabulary and  concept formation and thinking skills, plus a sheet of suggestions for fun activities to increase learning and literacy.

For more information on the Granny Press packet of materials, and for a discount for Bank Street alumni please contact

Entry filed under: Uncategorized.

The Bank Street Experience: a Professional Frame for a Life’s Work Join Alum Davida Hirsch at Bank Street Bookstore Nov.28

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Some of Our Past Bloggers

Alisa Algava ‘08, leader of a small Hudson Valley progressive school
Gloria Arenson ’58, psychotherapist
Bill Ayers ‘84, UIC professor, Chicago
Fred Baumgarten ‘84, writer/musician/naturalist/father
Keith Berman '03, founder/president of Options for College and Bank Street’s LinkedIn moderator
David Bowles ’08 (SFC ’93), museum educator at the Rubin Museum of Art
Elena Canaras ‘07, Special Education teacher, Hawaii
Virginia Casper, Bank Street faculty member
Jim Clay ‘88, director of a Washington DC Quaker preschool
Mary DeCamp Cotterall ‘87, Reading Specialist, Michigan
Judy Coven ’77, retired public school teacher and former Antioch University faculty member
Leslie Day '93, adjunct instructor at Bank Street and author of Field Guide to the Natural World of New York City
Mary Louise (Molly) Day ‘76, Lab School teacher, Chicago
Liezel de La Isla ‘99, Prague International School teacher
Diane Trister Dodge '70, founder and president of Teaching Strategies, Inc.
Meghan Dunn ’08, 3rd grade teacher, Brooklyn
Steven Evangelista ’01, co-director Harlem Link Charter School, NYC
Janine Fetters ‘02, Senior Associate of Parent Engagement at NACCRRA
Dena Florczyk '88, middle school teacher and founder/director of The Nigerian School Project
Hollee Freeman '94, writes about parenting issues for the alumni blog and was featured on BSCAA's April 2012 Career Panel
Ellen Galinsky '70, is President and Co-Founder of Families and Work Institute and author of Mind in the Making: The Seven Essential Life Skills Every Child Needs
Joanne Ruvolo Gannett ‘84, Columbia College art history professor, Chicago
Joan Goldstein ‘67, sociologist and educator
Margot Hammond, Director of the Center for Early Childhood Professionals
Carol Hillman ‘67, early childhood educator, author, and Long Trip co-leader
Pam Jones ‘05, Bank Street advisor and instructor
Lee Klinger Lesser ‘87, trainer for the Parent Services Project
Preminda Langer ‘97, teacher trainer
Claire Milam ’97, life coach, Austin, Texas
Rabin Nickens ‘03, Speaker, Trainer and Educational Consultant
Beth Norford ‘89, consultant and former School for Children teacher
Susy Ogden ‘97
Marion Palm ‘95, Leadership in the Arts alum, writing tutor, poet and singer
Jessica Poser, assistant professor of art education at UIC, Chicago
Jesse Pugh '76, BSCAA President
Meg Rauen ‘06, former Chicago elementary school teacher, NY
Linda Reing, Bank Street Director of Alumni Relations
Rosalind Rothman '62, retired NYC teacher and guidance counselor
Kyla Ryman '92/'97, educational coach and consultant
Ariel Sacks ‘06, middle school teacher, Brooklyn, NY
Linda Appleman (Guidall) Shapiro ‘81, psychotherapist and author
Barbara Silver ‘80, literacy consultant and former NYC first grade teacher
Andrea Penny Spencer, former Associate Dean of Academic Affairs at Bank Street
Debbie Stone ‘84, former teacher/co-director of High Valley School
Rachel Theilheimer ‘74, chair of teacher education at BMCC/CUNY
Theodore Timpson ’05, founder/president of Young Spirit Foundation
Eleanor Traubman '95, is Editor in Chief of Creative Times, a blog which promotes NYC's performing, visual and literary arts
Allison Warren '08, new mom, recent grad, and early childhood teacher
Max Weinberg ‘03, Francis Parker School teacher, Chicago
Ted Wells ‘07, 4th grade teacher at The Park School, Brookline, MA
Tracy Wiessbrod ’03, kindergarten teacher and stay-at-home mom

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