Learning Guide – The Music Kit
This learning guide is the companion for our Music Kit. By Mary Dawn Krege, Early Childhood Music Educator
Children are instinctively musical and curious from the moment they are born. Music education helps us foster young childrens’ natural connection to music and is an important part of their overall development. In addition to being great fun, musical exploration with young ones can help stimulate hand-eye coordination, concentration, imagination, gross motor skills, fine motor skills and processing skills. Music learning also fosters school readiness by supporting intellectual, social-emotional, language, and literacy learning. Successful singing and music development for your child will boost their overall physical, mental and cognitive health. As your child’s first music teacher, you can help them discover and think about how there is music and sound all around them. Here are some wonderful ways to incorporate musical play and learning into your time together.
Singing with and to your child creates music and fun wherever you are. Children sing at a much higher range than adults typically sing. While singing with your child, try singing higher than you normally would. If they don’t sing along at first, don’t despair. Children often listen and process at different rates. They might surprise you and start singing a song they had only listened to previously at another time!
Here are some ways to help your child learn with the instruments and musical items in your kit. You might see your child is ready for some skill earlier or enjoys a certain skill more than others. They may love to repeat the same activity over and over again—children learn through repetition! Enjoy the process and follow their lead.
- Let your child explore each instrument individually without explanation of how it works. Let them figure out how things work on their own.
- Sing a song while they play along.
- Don’t worry if they are not actually playing a song correctly or recognizably; just engaging with the instruments gives them a chance to build confidence and interest in music.
- Children, especially those with sensory impairments, might enjoy feeling the vibrations that the instruments produce or the feel of the instruments themselves.
- Take turns with your child playing an instrument, or try each playing different instruments at the same time.
- Play music for them on one of your devices while they try to play along.
- Talk about how music can sound like different animals or even emotions. Does the music sound happy or sad? This is a good way to help them develop their ability to recognize emotions and hone their imagination!
Movement is a great way for little ones to connect with music. Who doesn’t love a family dance party? Just put on music or play some on the instruments while everyone dances. Dancing with a play silk is a great way to enjoy the music.
Your little one can already be learning key foundational music concepts! A great place to start is by recognizing the variation in music that they are listening to or attempting to play.
- Articulation is how notes are played or sung, such as staccato (short, unconnected notes) and legato (notes that flow into each other). When listening to or playing music with your child, talk about whether the piece is “bumpy” with short notes, or “smooth” with long notes. You might say that a ‘staccato’ piece sounds like a rabbit hopping from one place to another, or how a ‘legato' sound is like a rainbow or a bird flying smoothly through the sky. Toddlers and young preschoolers might like to explore tactile things that are also smooth and bumpy to explore these ideas. Older preschoolers may love to learn the actual terminology.
- Rhythm is the placement of sounds in time. Explore rhythm with toddlers by bouncing them to the beat of a song or taking them for a lap “horse” ride with some slow and some fast movements. When playing an instrument with a verbal child you can ask them if they are playing fast or slow. Older toddlers and preschoolers can continue their exploration of rhythm by trying to imitate the rhythm that they hear. You can tap a rhythm for them to imitate, or see if they can tap the rhythm of a well-known song. For example, “Row Row Row Your Boat” sounds like the rhythm “long, long, short, short, long.”
- Beat is the steady heartbeat of the song. Children will instinctively try to play the steady beat of a song that they hear. When you play music or sing a song you can use that as a time to explore the beat. You can help a very young musician feel the beat by tapping it on their body. You can also give them a ‘pony ride’ with your ‘clip-clop’ matching the beat. Preschoolers can try to play the beat of a song with you or independently on the instruments. Reading books with your child, at every age, also supports learning about rhythm and beat!
- Dynamics are the loud and soft sounds of music. Toddlers can learn the concepts of “loud” and “quiet” through demonstrations with the instruments. With older children, explore what it would sound like to play the instruments in a way that sounds excited, or that sounds tired. Discussing the sounds of animals can be a fun way to develop concepts of dynamics while encouraging imaginative play. For example, ask preschoolers if they can play music in a way that sounds like an elephant or a mouse.
About Mary Dawn
Mary Dawn Krege has been teaching music to babies, toddlers, and preschool children since 1994. She taught Kindermusik for many years and has taught music in the public schools also. She majored in music education at UNCG and has been teaching and learning about music and children ever since. She loves to see the excitement and joy in each child as they discover and experience music and the world around them. Mary Dawn lives in Durham with her husband where she enjoys singing in the Durham Choral Society, playing tennis, hiking, birding, travel and scuba diving. Her daughter and son-in-law live nearby and her son and his significant other live in Colorado. You can follow her on Facebook here.
Tiny Earth’s Music Kit playlist on Spotify, curated just for you.
Books with Rhythm:
Chicka Chicka Boom Boom by Bill Martin, Jr. and John Archambault
Dooby Do Moo by Doreen Cronin
Animal Band by Christopher S. Jennings
The Very Quiet Cricket by Eric Carle
Old McDonald Had A Band by Scarlett Wing
The Ants Go Marching by Priscilla Burris
The Wheels On The Bus by Raffi