Infants & Toddlers/Activities: Musical Activities That Promote Learning

  • Grades: Early Childhood, PreK–K

infants

Involve Them With Rhythm! Babies have a wonderful sense of rhythms and will bounce to them at a very young age. Rhythmic songs attract babies, who listen with focused attention to what you are singing. Settle on the floor with a drum or an upturned wastebasket and infants seated close by. Clearly and softly, drum out and chant nursery rhymes in a singsong voice. Try "Hickory Dickory Dock" with a group of 8-month-olds. They will focus on your face as they bounce in rhythm to your chanting.

Boost Language Learning. Songs help babies increase their repertoire of words. Begin with old nursery favorites, such as "Row, Row, Row Your Boat" and "Twinkle, Twinkle, Little Star." Babies learn words more easily when they are accompanied by simple melodies.

Sing About Wishes and Feelings. Create songs that ease transition times for infants. When a baby wakes in the crib and is not ready to be picked up for diapering or feeding just yet, reassure him by making up a song that uses his name over and over again. Babies quiet down to listen to you and love to hear their name repeated in your made-up song.

The CDs of Hap Palmer are a good choice for babies, with lyrics that reflect their exuberance and desires. For example, "Sitting in my high chair, big chair, my chair; sitting in my high chair, feed me soon!" And to ease separation anxieties, try: "My mama comes back, she always comes back, she always comes back to get me. My mama comes back, she always comes back; she never would forget me!"

Build Their Attention Span. Help babies develop the ability to pay attention by singing and playing long songs that entrance them. Babies will tune in to the musical sounds, voices, and the beautiful way language is used.

toddlers

Promote Dance Through Music. Children move their bodies gracefully and dreamily to slow dance music. They twirl, bend, stretch out their arms, and sometimes even close their eyes as they sway and dance. The "Skater's Waltz" is a slow piece that impels toddlers to create interesting body movements.

Support Movement With Chants. You can invite high-energy toddlers who love to bounce to pretend they're riding a horse as you chant: "Ride a cock horse to Bambury Cross to see a fine lady upon a white horse. She has rings on her fingers and bells on her toes. She shall make music wherever she goes."

Enhance Gross-Motor Development. Toddlers learn to coordinate large-muscle movements as they hold hands, circle around, and sing songs such as Ring Around a Rosy. Or try: "Sally go round the sun. Sally go round the moon. Sally go round the chimney pots every afternoon. Boom!" They love the ends of these circle songs, when they fall on the floor with glee.

Soothe Them to Sleep. Settle toddlers into naptime with familiar songs, sung over and over in a low voice. Repeat as many stanzas of a song as needed. For example, share as many verses of the song "Mockingbird" as you can. When toddlers are overtired or overstimulated, use slow, narrative songs to redirect their attention and settle them.

  • Subjects:
    Child and Infant Care, Communication and Language Development, Songs and Rhymes, Music
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