Using an expressive voice and exaggerated hand motions, Jenn Sifferman reads a series of Halloween-themed books to a group of babies and toddlers, successfully capturing their attention for an hour.
Although the youngsters can't yet read themselves, they are already developing an appreciation of books that, hopefully, will develop into a lifelong love of reading with the help of Sifferman's Musical Beginnings program.
Part of the nationwide Kindermusik curriculum, Musical Beginnings combines stories, music and motion to generate an interest in early reading, something that's especially important to Sifferman, a former kindergarten teacher and assistant principal at St. Stephen Catholic School in Riverview.
"I'm a strong believer in exposing children to reading as early as possible -- from the day they're born," said Sifferman, a Gibsonton resident.
Sifferman decided to launch Musical Beginnings after searching for a program for her 16-month-old daughter, Sofia.
"I just couldn't find something that fit our schedule," said Sifferman. "So I decided to start my own program."
Sifferman was already familiar with the Kindermusik program. She did her graduate project on Kindermusik at the University of South Florida.
The program combines music, creative movement, instruments, play and storytime.
"It creates a real bonding experience for parents and children," said Sifferman, "It's a wonderful program, geared to newborns up to 7 years old."
Sifferman, who has a master's degree in early chiildhood education, said the program engages all of the child's senses, combining visual stimulation, oral language, sounds and tactile sensations.
"I found my thing," she said. "I really love this program."
Sifferman currently offers classes on Thursday and Saturday mornings at Gumballs & Overalls, 3239 Lithia-Pinecrest Rd., Valrico. The cost is $55 a month and includes home materials, books, a CD with all the program's music and instruments.
Parents are invited to preview a class. Contact Sifferman at 813-220-2558 or email email@example.com. Information also is available on the Musical Beginnings Facebook page.
Sifferman's Top 5 Halloween Children's Books
The Five Little Pumpkins
Five Little Bats
The Little Old Lady Who Was Not Afraid of Anything