Here's a delightful, exploratory place where children's participation enhances their physical growth as it fosters creative- and critical thinking skills. Because there will be lots of activity, try to locate the music area near the noisier parts of your room, such as the dramatic-play corner. Marchers and movers need space, so another good location might be near your circle-time area. Before you set up, start collecting a variety of instruments, tapes of all kinds of music, and tape players children can use. Placed within easy reach, this assortment can inspire independent use and easy-to-put-back organization. Make sure there are tables and chairs where children can sit for listening activities, constructing instruments, playing music games, or even trying music experiments. Rather than put out everything at once, introduce new items and learning opportunities over time, rotating materials to spur enthusiasm and curiosity.
Workshop Ideas Help children discover the excitement of becoming instrument makers. Offer a variety of materials: plastic containers with sturdy snap-on lids and rice or small pebbles to make maracas; and toilet paper rolls, rubber bands, and waxed paper to create "hummers." Surprise children with intriguing household items, such as a washboard and thimble, or a supply of metal cookie cutters, spoons, yarn, and wooden dowels (wait to see what children construct, or give them a hint by hanging a wind chime nearby). Encourage children to use their original instruments in their own bands and orchestras.
Exploration Station One day set out an assortment of bells, rhythm sticks, or tone blocks. Encourage children to experiment with sounds, rhythms, and patterns and tape their musical discoveries. Make recording sessions easy by color-coding recorder buttons (red=stop, green=start, and so on). Reinforce how-to directions by placing a rebus chart nearby.
Do You Hear What I Hear? Provide a place where children can listen quietly to all kinds of music - folk, country-and-western, New Age, classical, jazz, and others. Set out crayons or markers and blank paper so children can express the various beats and moods of the music in interesting composition designs.
Composition Alley Put out five identical glasses filled with colored water at different levels. Encourage children to experiment and create tunes by striking the glasses carefully with a metal spoon. Keep crayons and blank sheets of music nearby in case children want to compose their own songs and write them down (for example, green, blue, red, blue, and so on). Later, add a set of graduated bells or a xylophone.
Moving and Grooving Set up a well-defined space (for safety's sake) in which children are free to move to all sorts of music. Make sure there are scarves to twirl, pom-poms to shake, hats to flourish, and stuffed animals to dance with. Also put out baskets of finger cymbals and tambourines to heighten children's awareness of communicating with their bodies and add to the fun!