Most children seem to enjoy the sound of music. They often ask to hear their favorite songs again and again, usually not caring how their voices, or the voice of the adult sounds while singing it. Movement seems to follow naturally with music. Young infants will turn their heads to the sounds of a caregiver singing, toddlers will bounce to the beat of their favorite song, and preschoolers begin to move with more purposeful, dance-like movements as the music is played over the CD player.

Music has an important role to play at home and in the early childhood classroom. It not only encourages young children to use their muscle skills as they move to the music, it also promotes creativity and supports a child’s learning.

Supporting Children’s Development Through Music and Movement

Try to avoid having the radio or CD player playing throughout the entire day. This can be over stimulating and distract a child’s attention away from other sounds, such as a caregiver’s voice. Instead, have specific times of the day set aside for listening to music.

baby clapping.jpgInfants

  • Describe to the baby what he or she is listening to or how he or she is moving to the music.
  • Clap your hands or bob your head as you sing with baby.
  • Imitate baby’s sounds, or make your own and see if baby will imitate you.
  • Collect objects that make sounds. For example, empty tin boxes, rubber squeak toys, and shaker toys. Place them in a container for your musical exploration!

paper towel trumpet.jpgToddlers

  • Encourage toddlers to sing familiar songs.
  • Keep music activities short and participation voluntary.
  • Play pretend games as you listen to different styles of music, (Pretend to be butterflies, bumblebees, or popcorn).
  • Offer simple rhythm instruments such as drums, bells, etc.
  • Be spontaneous. Sing while walking to the playground, cleaning up from lunch, etc.
  • Collect paper towel tubes and make your own trumpet! Try these other objects that are fun to make noises through: buckets, wrapping paper tubes, plastic pipe pieces.

music bottles-266714-edited.jpgPreschool

Make a “sound table”. Place a few small cans, boxes or bottles (with lids) and a variety of objects on the  table.  Encourage the children to explore the sounds that are made when combining different objects.  Encourage children to add different items to the table to make even more sounds. Try the following movement activities. Ask the children to:


  • Move around the room in slow motion.
  • Pretend to be driving a car around the room.
  • Move as if you were carrying a very heavy box.
  • Make an interesting shape with your body.

whistle_grass.jpgSchool Age

  • Introduce a variety of music from different cultures.
  • Encourage children to make their own musical instruments.
  • Make grass whistles. Find a long grass blade. Hold your thumbs upright, side by side. Stretch the grass blade between them and press tightly. Blow between your thumbs and the grass blade and listen!
  • Make an ear harp. Have your child wrap a rubber band around the lid of a jar or a box. He can hold it to his ear and strum a quiet tune.
  • Collect several jars of the same size and shape. Fill the jars with different amounts of water. Blow over the rim of each jar and listen to the sounds each jar makes.


Resource: Extensions November-December 2003 Vol. 18, No. 3


Topics: play, music movement, Learning, development

Patricia Guth

Written by Patricia Guth

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