Incorporating music and movement activities for young children is a valuable part of any early childhood program...and there are many ways you can do this, no big budgets required!
Music and finger plays are an engaging and interactive way to tell stories and also reach across all of the Australian Early Years learning Framework (EYLF) outcomes. There is a way to include music into learning for all ages from babies through to teens!
How can educators incorporate music and movement activities for different age groups?
Exposure to music and singing is an important part of childhood learning and can help children share across communication, cultural and developmental barriers. Sometimes it can be frustrating for adults and educators if children don't want to join in our active (yet often embarrassing!) musical moments and gestures but there are different ways we can try to accommodate the needs of every child in our care. It just takes a little thinking outside the box and perseverance!
Babies will often enjoy music and songs that incorporate touch, faces, steady rhythms, simple repetition, one to one games and tunes that calm and make them feel safe. They respond to regular movements like swaying, rocking and bouncing to music.
Toddlers will often enjoy musical experiences that allow them to use up some of that ever present energy with large movements, feel part of the song when they hear their name added, interactive music games using finger puppets, scarves and other props with music, traditional chants and well known simple songs they can join in quickly, musical games that teach simple concepts (shake the scarf up high, down low, behind your back, fast, slow etc).
Sometimes they like to just sit and listen to you singing but it won't last for long and you will always get more engagement if you make it as interactive as possible with toddlers so get them up and moving instead of sitting in a circle quietly!
Preschoolers will often still enjoy the same musical experiences you offer to the babies and toddlers but at this age there is a growing interest in group games that challenge their growing social skills (like taking turns or not being a sore loser!)They also enjoy using their more advanced gross and fine motor skills to perform different actions to music... let's hop like a kangaroo, crawl like a baby, shake the ribbon so it stays up in the air, tap the triangle to make a soft noise....
Preschoolers can help make props for musical activities and stories and also create their own performances to share with others. They still love the classic simple songs and rhymes they have grown up hearing and singing but there are also cultural tunes to discover and different elements like beat, pitch and tone. Transition times are often accompanied by some form of repetitive song or familiar music so they feel a sense of routine and calm.
How do music and movement activities support learning outcomes for children ?
There are so many learning benefits for children when they have consistent and ongoing access to a varied diet of musical interactions (whether planned or spontaneous!) so I'm just going to mention a few to help you see the bigger picture.... by the way... it's just plain fun and that's perfectly OK to aim for too!!
Musical experiences offer children of all ages opportunities to:
The CD player, You tube , Wiggles DVD and nursery rhymes all play a role in these experiences we offer children but we also want to plan for the addition of simple singing songs and games using just our voices unaccompanied by other beats and backgrounds. We also want to include the classics AND encourage children to interact with us in different ways!
With that in mind I wanted to share with you a few ideas we have collected from around the web to make it a little easier for you. Click on the links below to find out more about each resource or article featured. Let's do this!
Printable Puppet & Prop Ideas for Music & Movement Activities
One of the easiest ways to make some simple finger puppets is to print them out and attach them to a craft stick. While you can easily print your own pictures, this collection from Picklebums has some that are ready to print (and free too).
I have often used these printables in my musical activities over the years when my own versions finally disintegrated after many years (and I can assure you the children loved them!).
Another great idea is to grab a glove, add some velcro to the fingers and use laminated pictures (or felt if you have them) for your finger plays. This Old McDonald idea shows you how easy it is to do.
This felt frog puppet glove is made using felt stickers, which you can often find at the $2 stores or craft shops, and there's a cute song to go along with this one too. Budget friendly fun!
I love the creativity of this Five Little Ducks idea - a sustainable way to use up old rubber gloves!
5 Little Monkeys is a classic song and these printable templates are perfect for making stick or glove puppets. I think I have been singing 5 Little Monkey's for over 20 years and finger puppets have saved many a rainy day with a room full of bored toddlers!
If you are interesting in using puppets, felt figures and other props to tell stories through music and interactive games you might find my Empowered Educator posts below helpful.
Just click on the images to learn more about our playful learning!
Songs & Rhymes for Music & Movement Activities
If you find yourself using the same songs and rhymes all the time, here are a few other ideas for inspiration!
This collection of counting songs includes many favourites- there are even printable song cards and song stick toppers too!
There are so many great alphabet songs out there and this post has a huge collection of them (with videos so you can see the actions too!).
If you're looking for songs with a particular theme, this collection is worth a look. It includes the song lyrics and a video for each song.
DIY Instrument Inspiration
Are you feeling inspired to include more music and movement activities for children into your program? Why not pop over and share a photo of your play with us inside our FREE Empowered Ed Facebook Community - you can join us here!
A Little About Me
Jodie Clarke is an early childhood professional supporting educators who want and need to stay passionate about the work they do! She has 30 years hands-on experience in the early childhood and human services sectors across many different roles.
Jodie is mum to 3 in Australia and has already helped thousands of educators with their work through her popular blog posts, activity ideas, online training and e-books.
Louise Fitzpatrick Leach says
Thanks, Jodie for this extremely comprehensive blog article – I love that you go above and beyond just links for songs – the puppets and props and hand made instruments are so important too. I do wish this area of learning wasn’t becoming such a professionalised space, with children sometimes the audience rather than feeling they can do it themselves. I love musical visits from people but we adults need to model that everyone can play, sing and enjoy music everyday not just be wowed by professionals. 🙂