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Parents are their children's first teachers, and we know young children learn best through play. What better way to teach your child than through music play? Here is a list of ideas of how you can enjoy music with your child and activities that will help with brain development and getting your child ready to read. Most importantly, remember to relax and make it a joyful time for you and your child.

Sing Songs- Singing songs is an excellent way to help your child hear syllables in words. Songs naturally help children to learn that words are made up of small parts. Children do not mind if you have a good singing voice. Sing simple songs during routine parts of your day while getting dressed, bath time, and preparing meals. Just make up silly words, "This is the way we wash our hair…" or "Time, time, time to get dressed early in the morning…" Infants enjoy soft lullabies. Toddlers and preschoolers like repetition songs like Wheels on the Bus, Twinkle Twinkle Little Star, 5 Little Monkeys, Old MacDonald Had a Farm, and If You're Happy and You Know It.

Nursery Rhymes- Singing nursery rhymes help children to hear words that rhyme. Hickory Dickory Dock, Humpty Dumpty, and Patty Cake Patty Cake are a few nursery rhymes children enjoy or even make up your own silly, nonsense rhymes.

Play Music- Introduce various musical genres such as classical, jazz, dance, lullabies, reggae, preschool songs, salsa, folk, blues, drumbeats, country, and movie soundtracks. Ask, "How did that song make you feel?"

"What instruments did you hear?" Visit the children's section of the library for age-appropriate music. Many free children's music is also available to download online.

Move & Dance to Music- Encourage children to move to music and experiment with their bodies. It should be a joyful experience, not forced. Suggest that children clap their hands together in time to music, move their hips, jump, hop, and raise their arms to the beat. Use scarves, ribbons, or pom poms to encourage creativity. Inspire children to move like a cat or a tree, or fly like a bird.

Make & Play Instruments- Collect various found materials from home, and allow children to create their instrument. Some material suggestions include metal bottle caps, paper towel tubes, sticks, electrical tape, masking tape, rice, beans, shells, bells, beads, rubber bands, paperclips, paper plates and cups, yarn, string, wood, sandpaper, juice, or coffee cans, waxed paper, or glue. Experiment with playing it slow, fast, loud, soft, make short and long sounds. Compare the different sounds that different instruments make. Form a homemade band or march to music.


by Laura McFalls,
Early Childhood Specialist