One of the best ways to develop language skills with young children is to invite them to write songs with you. Take a familiar tune, add an inviting topic (such as the children themselves), mix your new, made-up words gently with the tune, and SING! In the process, you will be encouraging children to use descriptive vocabulary and creative-thinking and writing skills. As you collectively create songs about each other, you will also be encouraging children to celebrate the similarities and differences of the group.

A great way to start this process is to help children create songs and cheers about one another Use the tune for "Twinkle, Twinkle, Little Star" to create a song or cheer to celebrate the unique qualities of each child. Fill in the blanks in the song with each child's name, features, or favorite things.

"My Cheer" (tune: "Twinkle, Twinkle, Little Star")

(child's name), (child's name)

he's so neat!

He loves (favorite food)

when he eats.

His hair is (hair color)

and (hair style or length) too.

He's my friend

and so are YOU!

(child's name), (child's name),

He's so neat!

We always smile when we meet!

This Is What I Learned at Home

Are you getting "good" at the "Twinkle, Twinkle" tune? Great. Here is a fun group son&/game you can use with the tune to celebrate the special skills they have learned from family members.

"This Is What I've Learned to Do" (tune: "Twinkle, Twinkle")

This is what I've learned to do.

(Have child pantomime skill)

See if you can do it too.

This is what I've learned to do.

Now I pass it on to you!

This is what I've learned to do.

See if you can do it too!

You can add a multicultural flavor to your group-time greeting songs. Try singing them to the tunes of different styles of music! You can start this song with the tune of "La Cucaracha" and then try it to the tune of "When the Saints Go Marching in".

"Good Morning To You!" (tune: "La Cucaracha")

Good morning to you, good morning to you.

Let's all give a great big smile.

Good morning to you,

good morning to you.

We can sit and stay awhile. cha-cha-cha.

Personalize the song by adding each child's name to the second verse: Let's give Susan a big smile.

Tunes for Transitions

You can personalize your transition songs too. Take the familiar tune of "The Bear Went Over the Mountain" and change it into something that involves each child's name. You could try "The Bear Went Over To Line-Up". When you get to the part where the Bear sees what he can see, say the children's names you want to line up.

The Bear went over to line-up

The Bear went over to line-up

The Bear went over to line-up

To see what he could see.

He saw Justin and Jennifer

He saw Bethany and Bruce

He saw Tara and Tyrone

Who else could he see?

Tunes for Toddlers

Having fun songs that contain children's names will attract toddlers. And using a body action might keep them there for a short while. Here is one of my favorite toddler name games:

"Tell Me, Tell Me" (tune: "Mary Had a Little Lamb")

As you sing the verse, roll a ball to a child. The child who catches the ball says her name.

Tell me, tell me, tell me, do

Who are you? Who are you?

Tell me, tell me,

tell me, do

Who are you?

All finger plays and songs are from The Great Big Book of Classroom Songs, Rhymes & Cheers (Scholastic Inc.; $21.95) or Terrific Transitions (Scholastic Inc.; $9.95), both by Ellen Booth Church. To order, call 800-SCHOLASTIC.