Music is a key element in bringing up happy, creative children. Learning an instrument can be wonderful for kids, but there are also lots of simple music-related activities we can incorporate into everyday family life. These are not only helpful for developing literacy skills, they're lots of fun too.
Sing songs with babies, toddlers and preschoolers. Bath time is one ideal occasion for this. Make up silly songs and mention the parts of the body as you gently pour water on them. Find books and websites with nursery rhymes to share with your kids.
Encourage family sing-a-longs with children of any age! Car trips can be ideal for these. One of our favorite musical games is Songs, where one person gives a word and others must hurry to start singing a song that has that word in it. Frequent repetition of songs and other rhyming texts helps children internalize language.
Clapping the rhythm of common words, phrases and names is useful. This enables kids to work out syllables, a helpful skill for both reading and writing. Make a game of it by clapping the rhythm of someone's name, or slowly clapping one or two lines from a nursery rhyme for children to recognize.
Find children's musicians you like and listen to them at home. Seek out books with accompanying CDs to double the learning experience. Recently, Scholastic Australia published Juicy Juicy Green Grass, a picture book made up of some songs by Peter Combe. Children can follow the lyrics while listening to the songs.
Change the rhyming words in simple songs to something silly and have kids correct you. Change the words of songs you already know well, and make up new songs that fit the same tune.
Take kids to concerts and other musical performances. Don't be afraid to introduce children to classical music too. It really helps if children are used to listening to music before they attend a live performance. Your local library may have books and DVDs that can help with this. Try having classical music playing softly at bedtime after your read-aloud.
Find and read song lyrics with older kids. Discuss them and encourage children to express their own feelings about the songs.
Play musical games. Musical chairs and the limbo are old favorites. Statues is fun -- when the music stops, kids must freeze their wacky dancing but may sneak looks (and laugh!) at each other until the music starts again. Introduce a drum to the dance and have kids able to move from their frozen positions only one drum beat at a time.
Encourage your children to compose their own music and songs. Give them simple musical instruments or make your own as a family activity. Experiment with the sounds different objects can make. Apps like Little Fox Music Box, and Toc and Roll allow kids to mix tracks and record their own songs.
Music and dance go brilliantly together. Encourage youngsters to move to music whenever possible. Making up little movement sequences to a known piece of music is not only a wonderful way to develop their creativity, it gets kids moving as well.