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03/14/2018

Macfeat Introduces New Sound Garden for Children

Quick Facts

 Macfeat teacher Mary Chamberlain was inspired to create a sound garden at Macfeat after attending a session at the National Association for the Education of Young Children Conference.
 Chamberlain will retire this year after 30 years in the classroom.

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ROCK HILL, SOUTH CAROLINA — Teaching is all long-time Macfeat Early Childhood Laboratory School Teacher Mary Chamberlain ever wanted to do.

Though she’ll retire this May after 30 years in the classroom, her legacy will continue to live on in numerous ways at the Winthrop University laboratory school, including through the new Macfeat Sound Garden, a unique outdoor playground space for children to explore rhythm and sound. “Instrument” options include a large, colorful xylophone made of wood strung between a small playhouse and the playground fence; recycled items like pans, old baking tins and aluminum cans that can serve as drums; and tubs and spoons for bongos. ARAMARK donated many of the items.

Families were invited to a music concert unveiling the new sound garden on March 9. Students in Chamberlain’s class played songs such as “Chicken Fat” and “Music, Music, Music” using rhythm sticks before breaking for intermission. Then, they grabbed their homemade strings and percussion instruments for renditions of “Mary Had a Little Lamb” and “Twinkle, Twinkle, Little Star.”

“We’ve had a great time with this music unit,” Chamberlain said with a smile.

Chamberlain was inspired to create a sound garden at Macfeat after attending a session at the National Association for the Education of Young Children Conference. Several Winthrop partners came together over the course of two weeks to build the sound garden: former Macfeat teacher Mary Watson and her family; parents and other family members of current students; and music faculty Justin Isenhour and his wife, Jennifer Isenhour ’10, who teaches music in Weddington, North Carolina.

“It was cute to see the kids watching it go up,” Jennifer Isenhour said. “They just stood there and were like, ‘Can we play with it now? How about now?’”

Macfeat Director Erin Hamel said she appreciated the collaborative process of the project.

“They were so many people involved,” she said. “It was really beautiful. This gives the kids an opportunity to explore and create rhythm and music in a way that’s interesting and engaging to them. They can problem-solve and create their own instruments and music. What a gift Mary is leaving Macfeat! It will really be part of her legacy.”

As for Chamberlain, retirement comes as rather bittersweet.

“There’s a part that just can’t imagine my days without Macfeat in them,” she said. “It’ll be a big switch.”

For more information, contact Nicole Chisari, communications coordinator, at 803/323-2236 or chisarin@winthrop.edu.

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