Preschool Music Singing Games and Activities
- 31 mins on-demand video
- 7 articles
- 23 downloadable resources
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- After taking this course, each participant will have a repertoire of over 20 fun and engaging musical activities to share with young children. Each student will know how to direct children in meaningful musical play and help children engage in positive, social musical games and activities that contribute to their early musical and social development. The course specifically targets how to help young children recognize the pulse (or the beat), learn to use their singing voice and use musical play with movement to engage in learning. Students will learn techniques for teaching music successfully to young children and receive additional resources to help introduce children to music listening activities and musical instruments.
- Each music activity and song includes sheet music, written instructions and a demonstration video to watch, so being able to read music and prior musical knowledge are not required. The songs and activities are simple to learn for both preschoolers and caregivers.
This course has been designed to serve as a resource for parents, caregivers and preschool teachers to aide in providing young children with enriching musical experiences. The course introduces over 20 musical games and singing activities using traditional and folk songs that are simple and engaging for children. The activities in the videos focus on three areas: how to help children feel the beat in music, how to sing simple melodies and learning about music through movement. The course includes additional activities and resources to help children explore music independently or with an aide of a teacher or parent. Resources for music listening, learning about music instruments and creating music centers are included. The course also provides instruction on how to teach music successfully to young children. Lessons include how to teach music by rote, what to expect developmentally from preschool children and how to encourage participation and successfully teach young children. If you have a young child at home or professionally care for young children, this course is for you.
- Anyone who cares for preschool aged children or who is interested in early childhood music: parents, caregivers, teachers, students.
Music Educators National Conference stated that "music is a natural and important part of young children's growth and development" and that "a music component is integral to all [prekindergarten] programs [as music] serves the expressive, emotional, intellectual, social and creative needs of all children." I have taught music to all ages as an elementary music specialist and junior high choir teacher in the public schools, a choir teacher in the community, private piano teacher and preschool music teacher in the university setting and at home. I fully believe and have seen that early interaction with music positively affects children's lives and provides a foundation for future music learning.
I decided to share a course that easily gives parents, caregivers and preschool teachers resources for sharing music with their young children at home or in the classroom setting. There are over 20 easy to learn music games and activities provided in this course as well as ideas for music centers and tips on how to teach young children. The activities are engaging and fun for young children. Each activity has a video illustrating the singing game or activity as well as a downloadable file that provides sheet music and written instructions on how to teach the activity. The musical games focus on 3 areas: how to help young children develop a sense of rhythm or pulse, using simple melodies to teach young children to sing and how adding movement with music helps young children feel and learn about music. I am excited to share these ideas with you and hope that you can use them with the children you care for and teach.
Each child's musicality begins with feeling and expressing the pulse or the beat of the music which they can feel at a very young age by using their body to express it. In the following activities, children are encouraged to tap, clap, walk, march and move to the beat as they speak and sing. As they play with the music in this way, they will begin to develop an inner sense of the pulse or beat of the music which is essential in their musical development. The first two musical activities are chants or speaking games where children reinforce the beat and words with movement that is aligned with the text. The final activities are singing games that invite them to pat, move, march, sway and use a simple rhythm stick to reinforce the beat or pulse as they play.
"Juba This, Juba Chant" is a traditional text that children enjoy acting out as they speak the words. Before adding melody, speaking text with its natural rhythm helps children to begin to feel a sense of pulse, just by feeling the beat of the words when spoken. Many nursery rhymes and other simple texts can be chanted and acted out in a similar way.
"One, Two, Three, Four" is a nursery rhyme chant game children love as well. The natural rhythm of the text helps children to begin to feel a sense of pulse. In this fun activity, children start by patting and clapping the rhythm of the words, then add rhythm sticks (older preschool children can do this...pencils could work too). Once they have successfully practiced the words and rhythm of the text, they love to improvise their own version of the words.
In this engaging activity and song, children can use their favorite stuffed animal. They feel the pulse of the music in a variety of ways by patting their legs, tapping their stuffed animal on the shoulder and then improvising other fun ways to interact with their stuffed friend (wiggle his toes, scratch him on the back). With the absence of a stuffed animal, partners can be used as well.
This activity uses the melody from the previous lecture in a new fun way kids love. Children stand in a circle with their hands held high and touching while a child chosen as the bluebird walks through the "windows" the children created with their arms. On the words "tap him on the shoulder", the bluebird chooses a second child to follow and the song repeats until all have become bluebirds and the circle dissolves. Children feel the pulse of the music as they walk to the beat of the song.
Handheld percussion instruments are a wonderful way for children to feel the beat of the music and they love to experiment with them. In this activity, children tap the beat with their hands and then one at a time take turns with the text "tapping at my window" tapping a percussion instrument instead of using their hands. I generally choose instruments that make more of tapping sound for this activity: wooden blocks, claves, rhythm sticks or even pencils work to engage the children in practicing feeling the beat.
Marching is an excellent way for children to feel the beat as they sing. In this fun song, children march like "high stepping horses" in their own free space and move differently as the text changes to "jiggity, jiggity jog". I have also done this with plastic cups facing down in each hand as children sit which makes a fun clopping sound similar to horses trotting.
This traditional song is familiar to many children and is so fun to play a game with. In this singing activity, I often pass out popsicle sticks that have pictures of each character spoken of in Farmer in the Dell. Children begin sitting with the farmer standing outside the circle who walks as the song begins. As their character is mentioned, they in turn stand to join the parade of children walking around the circle. As they walk and sing, they feel the beat and develop a sense of pulse as they sing.
Simple melodies are important for young children. Short, repetitive melodies enable a child to learn quickly and easily. Songs with a limited range of notes help young children successfully transition from their speaking voice to their singing voice. This next group of songs give children safe, fun singing experiences to build their confidence with singing and help them to recognize pitch. They experiment by hearing their voices move up and down, by singing by themselves and as a group, and by listening to and imitating their peers and their teacher. The first two activities start with children singing in games that require only two notes, a descending third. The final songs expand to five or six notes in the melodies they sing. Because of the short, simple melodies, the games beg to be repeated, with everyone having a turn doing something special. This repetitiveness is the key to giving children the musical experience they need to learn melody and experiment with their voices. As the children play together in this creative, positive musical environment, they also strengthen their physical, social, emotional and musical development.
In this simple two-note singing game, children get to play a game they love: hide and seek. It is a wonderful way for children to learn to start singing and develop pitch discrimination. A child is chosen to hide. The remaining children sing a two note descending third singing the child's name hiding and the words "where are you?" The child hiding responds echoing back and singing "I'm right here" until he/she is found. I also sometimes have the child hiding answer back with an improvised rhythm of their own on a percussion instrument.
Children love this simple call and response singing game. It uses the same two note descending third pattern from the previous lecture. Children sit in a circle with a ball with the teacher/caregiver. The adult starts with the ball and sings "What's your name?" to a specific child while rolling the ball to him/her. The child then receives the ball and sings back his/her name. The game repeats until all have a chance to sing their name. This is a fun way for children to share their name with new friends and to experiment with using their singing voice instead of their speaking voice. The game allows each child to hear their voice alone and develop their own listening and singing skills.
This simple melody and activity creates a fun way for children to interact and sing. A child with a key walks around a circle of children who have their eyes closed and hands behind their back. While everyone sings the song "The Closet Key", the child secretly drops the key in to someone's hand. As the children repeat singing the song, taking turns so others have a turn to hide the key, they practice matching pitch and using their singing voice.
This childhood favorite is fun to play and sing. Two children form a bridge touching hands high in the air and as everyone sings the song, they walk in a circle, going under the bridge. On the words "my fair lady", the two children forming the bridge immediately drop their hands, capturing the child who happens to be going through the bridge at that time. Repetition here is important as kids take turns being the bridge and practice singing and playing the game together. As children sing again and again these simple, traditional songs, they develop a sense of pitch and their singing voice.
For young children, it is important as they learn to match pitch to sing songs with a limited range and songs not too high or too low consistently. Go Tell Aunt Rhody is a fun, simple song to sing and in this song activity, kids enjoy pretending to be "the old gray goose". The children sit in a circle while the child selected to be "Aunt Rhody" walks around the outside of the circle. On the word "dead", the child walking touches someone on the head who falls down pretending to be the "old gray goose [who] is dead" The song begs repetition and taking turns being Aunt Rhody and the goose.
Many children learn the song "Twinkle, Twinkle Little Star" at a very young age. In this "Find the Star Activity", one child is selected to hide the star while another child is asked to close their eyes or leave the room. When the child opens their eyes or re-enters the room, the children sing the song loud or soft to give hints as to the whereabouts of the star. This fun hide-and-seek game helps children develop their singing voice by repeating the simple, repetitive descending melody. This fun game can be played with so many songs and children of all ages enjoy it.
Singing and moving are instinctive for a child and inseparable. The beginning movements with music for a child are part of their natural play: walking, tiptoeing, twirling, running, stomping, and swaying. While their bodies move & their voices sing, their ears hear and they are able to make important connections about the basics of of music: rhythm, melody, form, tempo and dynamics. In this series of videos, children walk, march, jump, freeze & improvise their own movements as they also lead others in their play. The children will want to repeat these singing games over and over again and in so doing, will increase their musical understanding and their physical, social & emotional development as they play these musical games and activities with their peers.
This fun singing game allows children to improvise movement in creative ways. The children stand in a circle and to begin, the teacher or caregiver chooses the actions to begin singing. With the words "clap your hands", everyone claps their hands while singing. On "circle left", "circle right", children hold hands and move in a circle in the corresponding direction. Kids love inventing their own words and actions which can include anything from "stomp your feet" to "brush your teeth" to "touch your nose....touch your toes". As they move their whole body with the words while singing, children internalize the rhythm, melody and the form of the song.
In this singing game, different children are chosen to represent the sun, the moon and the sunshine and another child races around them to return to their seat before singing the final words "boom, boom". The song is short and simple and children love the challenge of hurrying to their seat before the end of the song. The activity repeats to give more children the opportunity to be "Sally" who goes round the sun, moon and sunshine.
This second game using the same song "Sally Go Round the Sun" is equally simple and enjoyable for young children. All children begin standing holding hands. Children then circle right when singing the first phrase, quickly circle left with the second and then right again with the 3rd then quickly sit down on the final words "boom, boom". The movement helps them internalize the rhythm, melody and form of the song as they sing and play. The document with the music in lecture 18 is the same for this lecture.
Children love improvising movement in this fun singing activity. The activity starts with children standing in a circle. One child is chosen to stand in the middle and decides on two actions all the children can imitate on the words "this way" and "that way" as they sing the song. This activity provides the perfect experience for children to feel, invent and imagine as they connect the song, text and movement together. Children love to repeat and take turns as the leader in the middle of the circle.
This is a fun "follow the leader" singing game where children love being both the leader and the follower. Children line up and the leader leads the line by moving in any pattern or position then freezes in an improvised pose on the last note. Next in line then has a turn. This short, simple song begs repetition and the children love experimenting with movement in all sorts of creative ways. As they walk in line in tempo with the song and pause frozen at the end, they internalize the rhythm and form of the music and enjoy sharing that musical experience with their peers.
Children are involved in creating their own movement and the movement of others in this fun singing game. Children begin sitting in a circle, with one child who stands outside the circle. While singing the text to the tune of "Do You Know the Muffin Man?", the child walks around the circle and chooses someone to follow and "play" with him/her. As the song repeats and new children are chosen, children substitute the word "play" for any action word: skip, hop, wiggle, tip toe, etc. Children enjoy being the leader and being chosen by a peer. They also love improvising their own movement as they move around the circle.
The video for this lecture is a continuation of using movement with music from the previous section but adds listening to music as part of the process. In this video, children are invited to move to music from musical recordings instead of to music they are singing. The first three songs presented are the "Royal March of the Lion" and "Aquarium" from The Carnival of the Animals by Camille Saint-Saens and Nikolai Rimsky-Korsakov's "Flight of the Bumblebee". Three pictures are shown: a lion, bee and a fish. Children are invited to listen to a short clip of each song and then guess which music sounds like which animal. They then, with a stuffed animal, which I find helps children feel more confident with their movement and is fun for them, move their animal to the music. They could also move freely without a stuffed animal. Two other songs from The Carnival of the Animals are then played: "The Cuckoo in the Depths of the Woods" and "The Elephant" The children are invited to identify the sound of the cuckoo bird by raising their stuffed animals when they hear it. As they listen to "The Elephant" they move around swaying their arms like an elephant's trunk as they saunter about like an elephant. Children love the guessing games and are actively involved in feeling the music as they express themselves and move in response to the music. They feel the range of dynamics, tempo, varied rhythms, different melodic styles and connect with the music as they dance along with it. Both classical pieces shared are from public domain recordings.
Students will know at the end of this lecture how to teach a song by rote, which is learning music by listening rather than reading. Since preschool children are not fluent readers or knowledgeable about the symbol system of music, they learn music by ear and experiencing the music.
Students will learn some basic guidelines for classroom set up and teacher-student interaction to help with success in teaching.