A defining moment happened in my Life in 2007.
After years of pursuing a performing career and and having a steady stream of transient teaching jobs to keep me afloat, I said “yes” to a one-year, contracted job as a teacher at a private preschool in Manhattan.
I would be the sole teacher of a preschool-prep, mommy & me class . Over 75 families enrolled for seven, two-hour classes happening over five days a week. I had a classroom, and a time structure – but no curriculum.
The preschool itself had one. It had highly regarded mission, philosophy and curriculum in place. But my program was it’s own entity, designed to feed into the preschool, and had no formal curriculum in place.
I was excited to have this job – but was so nervous and overwhelmed. What would I do with these people for two hours?! Not just the kids, but the parents, too!?!
The first week I followed the structure of time that was in place – but was, honestly, totally bored. There was so much open play that it felt more like just a social group than a class, and all the activities seemed disjointed and just like ways to fill the time.
My great challenge was to create a curriculum that connected all the activities we did in a day, that was age & developmentally appropriate, educational and relatable to the rest of the preschool philosophy, while also being entertaining and engaging for both the kids and the adults. !!
Armed with my Masters degree in Educational Theatre, several years of learning about and teaching the 0 to 3 set at Gymboree Play & Music, and my professional dance background, I started creating that curriculum based around early childhood concepts and children literature that we explored via play, art, science, movement and music.
But the music….that was my next challenge. For all the songs out there, and all the music programs, there weren’t always a lot that specifically worked for these Early Childhood themes and concepts – the themes I had built my curriculum around. When I did find songs that were right for Early Childhood teaching, they were a little hokey – they lacked pizazz!
So, I started writing songs anywhere I felt a need for one, and soon I had an album’s worth of music. Whether songs that sprang up from the books we read, like The Brown Bear Rap, or about washing our hands or about trains – I suddenly had a knack for writing preschool appropriate songs great for the classroom, and great for at home, too.
Three albums and one popular YouTube weekly video show later, here I am with music, shows and entertainment specifically right for the early childhood (0 to 6) set. Whether using it in the classroom or hosting a Miss Nina concert event, Miss Nina music is perfect for the Early Childhood community because it was designed especially for them and the people who love them.
About Miss Nina
Before she was known as “Miss Nina”, Nina could be found dancing everywhere and anywhere you’d let her. Professionally or just for fun, music and movement has been her passion and part of her daily life forever. Whether you see her performing in concert, in class or listen to her original music you can witness her high-energy joy that fuels her dancing spirit. And Nina hopes its contagious! Providing children and their families the space and opportunity to enjoy music and movement together is her passion.
Likewise, fostering a love of books and reading in children by putting children’s books to music is her other passion. On her 2013 Parents’ Choice Silver Honor award winning CD, “Sha Doo Be Doop” nina has put some classic children’s books to music such as Jane Yolen’s “How Do Dinosaurs Say Goodnight”, Biil Martin Jr.’s “Brown Bear, Brown Bear, What Do You See” in The Brown Bear Rap, and an ode, Wild Things, to the late, great Maurice Sendak’s “Where The Wild Things Are.” And on her 2009 release, “Singing & Dancing Together”, Nina recorded the book This Jazz Man by Karen Ehrhardt. She has several other “book songs” that she enjoys performing along with her other original music & traditional children’s music at sing-alongs, bookstores and events all over NYC and the tristate area.
Miss Nina also started a Weekly Video Show for the toddler and preschool set back in January of 2012, which features weekly sing-along & move along songs. Visit the blog to check out the videos!
Nina earned a B.S in Dance Management from Oklahoma City University, and after dancing professionally in Musical Theatre for several years went back to get her M. A. in Educational Theatre from New York University. She’s worked as a Teaching Artist for The Leadership Program, The Educational Arts Team and Making Books Sing, has been a Gymboree Teacher and Manager, and taught and helped develop the curriculum of the Small Wonder Program at The Dwight School’s in Manhattan., and currently teaches Music for Aardvarks classes in Maplewood & Montclair, NJ. Nina lives in Maplewood with her husband and three year old, Piper!