Keep hearing about how great music is for kids’ development but need a little help thinking up fun musical activities to do with them? Music teacher and mom, Lisa Carmody shares her tips on incorporating musical fun for children of all ages — complete with a playlist!
Roll Over Beethoven,Chuck Berry, Rolling In The Deep, Adele
Let’s face it, everybody hates tummy time. But having your child on his belly for a few minutes each day can strengthen the muscles needed for rolling and crawling. You can make tummy time slightly more bearable by adding Chuck Berry’s Roll Over Beethoven. Every time you hear that phrase, roll your baby to his tummy. When you hear it again, roll him to his back. The shorter stints of tummy time make it less torturous for all. When your baby is stronger, Try Adele’s Rolling In The Deep. Roll your baby to his tummy for the chorus and onto his back for the verses.
Bicycle Built for Two,Nat King Cole version, Bicycle Race, Queen
Those first few weeks and months of your baby’s life can be filled with inexplicable gas (both his and yours!). As parents, we will do anything to try and help our little one when he’s fussy. Enter: bicycle legs. Bicycle leg advocates claim circling your child’s legs round and round helps get digestion going which ultimately relieves the gas. Try singing Bicycle Built for Two or Queen’s Bicycle Race to make the activity more engaging.
Gee Baby Ain’t I Good to You, Ella Fitzgerald & Louis Armstrong, Kiss Me, Six Pence None the Richer
Intentional touch and massage are ways to bond with your baby. Turn your baby onto his back at a time when he’s not too tired or hungry. Simply smiling, cooing and tickling him will cause a reaction. Try making eye contact and gently massaging one of your baby’s limbs starting at the top (groin or armpit) and working your way down to the fingers or toes. Make a heart shaped motion on his chest or back, then move to the next limb. You can use the songs I suggested, but simple nursery rhymes work perfectly for this activity and provide a rich musical repertoire.
All I Want Is You, Juno Soundtrack, When Can I See You Again?, Owl City, There She Goes, Six Pence None the Richer
Question: How many rounds of Peek-a-Boo will you play in your child’s first year of life? Answer: As many as it takes to keep him happy. Why not spice things up with a song or two? Explore the texture of whatever blanket or scarf you’re using during the verses of All I Want Is You then play Peek-a-Boo during the chorus. If you use Owl City’s When Can I See You Again?, do Peek-a-Boo during the “Oh, oh, oh, oh” section. Use There She Goes by Six Pence None the Richer as background music while you play freely.
More Than A Feeling, Boston, More Than Words, Extreme, Please Please Me, The Beatles
American Sign Language is becoming increasingly popular as a way to enhance communication with very young children. The key to successful signing with young children is consistency. Pick a few key signs and repeat them every day. Accept every attempt your child makes to sign back, even if his sign doesn’t look exactly like yours. For the purposes of this post, I chose “more” and “please” as two common signs introduced to young children. Listen to one of the suggested pieces and sign whenever that word is heard. Over exaggerate your facial expressions and gestures. You might pause the music and repeat the word in a sentence over and over again while gently guiding your child’s hands to do the sign. Celebrate and listen some “MORE!”
Hey Ya!, OutKast, If You’re Happy and You Know It, traditional
You don’t need a whole bunch of fancy drums to have a jam. You can use old coffee cans, large water bottles, and pots and pans. For young children, follow their lead. See what your child does with his makeshift instrument and copy him. If he’s tentative, you can play freely on yours until he’s ready to join in. Try things like playing up high in the sky, down low, really fast, then painfully slow. It won’t take long for your child to join in, trust me! You can put on almost any song with a strong steady beat and have a play along. Try something upbeat like OutKast’s Hey Ya! Training a steady beat in a very young child isn’t necessary. Their hearts beat faster than ours so their steady beat might not be in time with the music. For a child who is ready, you can demonstrate the steady beat and have him copy you, or you can do hand-over-hand. A satisfying game to play with the whole family is “Conductor.” Have a parent be the conductor first to model how the game goes. The conductor sings, “If you’re happy and you know it play the drums!” He holds his hands up like an orchestra conductor while the rest of the family plays their instruments. They play freely (maybe even wildly!) until the conductor cuts them off. The conductor can sing soft/loud, fast/slow to indicate how he wants his orchestra to play. Switch turns after each round of the song.
Come On Eileen, Dexy’s Midnight Runners, Walk Like An Egyptian, The Bangles, La Bamba, Ritchie Valens, Enid, Barenaked Ladies, Ain’t No Mountain High Enough, Sister Act 2 soundtrack, Log Driver’s Waltz, Wade Hemsworth
One of our most primal ways of making sense of the world around us is to move and be moved. Dancing will inevitably improve your mood, but it can also improve steady beat, spatial awareness, creative movement, and can help develop your child’s vestibular system (the network responsible for balance and co-ordination). Come On, Eileen offers a chance to explore tempo changes. Walk Like An Egyptian-is a nice choice for freeze dance. Every time you hear the
title phrase, have your children freeze in a pose of their choice. Freeze dance teaches children they are ultimately in control of their bodies. La Bamba and Enid are nice choices for free style movement. Ain’t No Mountain High Enough-provides an opportunity to explore space (high, low and wide) during the chorus. Log Driver’s Waltz is a fun song for introducing ¾ time. Any time a child is asked to listen for a particular part of the music and move a certain way, helps develop an understanding of patterning and sequencing.
Boogie Woogie Bugle Boy, Andrews Sisters, Bicycle Race, Queen, Ob-La-Di, Ob-La-Da or Drive My Car, The Beatles, Groove Is In The Heart, Deee Lite
Singing and vocal play help develop baby’s beginning language skills. It’s best to listen to his sounds and echo them back to him for a natural, conversational approach. You can add any of the suggested musical selections for further play. Boogie Woogie Bugle Boy has vocalized trumpet sounds. Why not have a listen and try your own du wop sounds? Bicycle Race has a bicycle bell ring-a-ling-ing. You could pause the music and explore that sound with your little one. Ob-La-Di is just fun to say. You could repeat it using high and low voices. Drive My Car offers an opportunity to make car sounds and practice buzzing your lips. Groove Is In The Heart, is just such a fun song and who doesn’t love to imitate a slide whistle? Once again, you could also draw on the plethora of children’s songs that offer a chance to get creative with your voice.
Lisa Carmody is a former Kindermusik Educator turned public school music teacher. She lives in PEI, Canada with her husband and two boys. She blogs regularly at: Momologues-Soliloquies on poop, barf and postpartum depression. Her stories have been featured on Mom Babble, What the Flicka? and Blunt Moms. You can find her blog at: elsiekarmadi.wordpress.com, on twitter, or on Facebook.