Make Some Music
As part of presenting movement activities, Ms. Costello frequently added background music, knowing that music organizes events for children. Marching and dance music inspired a flow of movement In addition, she began singing simple songs, often with made-up verses about what was going on in the class. Children joined her, and made up songs, too-a strong literacy building activity. The teacher had read that music is the joining of emotion and cognition in the brain, and was happy that her class seemed more "in tune" with her new emphasis on music and motion.
Here are some music and movement activities to try in your classroom:
Sing when you are doing routine tasks. (Remember that making up the words is fine.) Children will pick up on the joyful atmosphere you are creating and also begin spontaneous singing as they move around the classroom. Use familiar tunes as "frames" for songs describing movements. Many children know the tune to "Row, Row, Row Your Boat", "Mulberry Bush", "Frère Jacques", and "Twinkle, Twinkle Little Star", and can easily sing along with you-especially if you have lots of repetition in the words. Children will often make up verses themselves, spurring on literacy learning.
Sing songs that have movement in the words already, such as, "Head and Shoulders, Knees and Toes", "If You're Happy and You Know It", "I'm a Little Teapot", "Itsy Bitsy Spider", "Looby Loo", "Open, Shut Them", "Ring Around the Rosy", "Hokey Pokey", "Wheels on the Bus", and "Old McDonald". Choose songs that everyone can act out together, rather than have to wait for a turn, as is the case with a song like "London Bridge".
Add onto songs to enrich vocabulary and concepts. "Head and Shoulders, Knees and Toes" can have numerous substitute body parts, such as chest and stomach, or hips and thighs. Children enjoy suggesting the substitutes. Build on their knowledge.
Keep the rhythm instruments near at hand-sticks, drums, tambourines-for children to latch onto when a song is brewing. Model clapping and knee slapping to music-celebrate the beat! Some children may feel shy about singing, but will heartily drum or clap.
Instrumental music encourages children to make their own interpretive movements. Try "The Nutcracker" by Tchaikovsky. You might suggest that they "move like the wind, gallop like wild ponies, or dance like the daffodils" to get things started. Provide silk or chiffon scarves that children can use for "floaty" music.