It’s easy to fit music learning into the routine and flow of an early childhood classroom! In about thirty minutes a day, you can help strengthen your students:
And all through the power of music! Here’s how:
As Children Arrive
Engage your students with music the minute they enter your classroom! Choose a piece of music from our Active Listening Playlist and have it playing softly as children arrive. Greet each child and let them know that as they go about their morning activities, they need to listen to the music and think about the story that the music is telling. You can prompt them with questions like, “Is something exciting happening?”. “Is the music gentle and calming or is the music exciting and energizing?”
Then follow up at your morning circle time by asking your students to describe what they heard in the music. Encourage them to use descriptive language or use their bodies to show how the music made them feel. You might even listen to the piece again as a whole group and invite children to “move to the music”.
This takes very little time, but it can set the tone for the day, engage children immediately as they come into the classroom, and give you a window into their creative thinking process and even their emotional wellbeing. (less than 5 minutes)
During Morning Circle Time
Use the Morning Circle Time weekly videos during your morning circle time to get children up, moving, engaged, and their brains turned on. Laugh and sing with your students while they do a body warm up, speak a fingerplay, prepare their voices for singing, and sing a song together!
Use these video lessons to allow for deep musical learning and mastery of new skills, songs, and fingerplays while injecting joy and playfulness in your morning. Sharing music with children is the perfect opportunity for meaningful and high-quality interactions. (8 minutes)
Transitions in the classroom can be tricky and some days you can go from having a room full of listening ears to complete chaos in a matter of seconds! Music can help you!
Use the Music for Transitions playlist to choose from a list of pieces specifically chosen to help children move from one activity to the next while staying calm, focused and using those listening ears to engage with music. After playing the music for a minute or two, allowing enough time for all children to participate, gently turn the music down to nothing to cue the children that transition time is finished and it is time for the next activity. (2 minutes)
Use a classroom instrument to keep a steady beat while the children move from one activity to the next and ask them to keep the beat with you – with their feet! On their laps! On their shoulders! With a cool dance move! Children are natural music-makers and by giving them the opportunity to move to music and keep a steady beat, you are giving their brains developmentally appropriate stimulation that will keep them engaged without over stimulating them. (2 minutes)
Start singing a song or speaking a finger play that the children have already mastered from the weekly video lessons. Once the children join in, you can stop singing or speaking the poem and allow the children to lead themselves in the song or poem. As children share musical experiences with each other, they bond together, feel safe together, and feel empathy towards each other. If they do this as they are transitioning or waiting in line, not only are they staying engaged and focused, they are also experiencing something that makes them feel good and that they belong to their classroom community. (2 minutes)
For a Whole Group Activity
Use the Let’s Keep the Beat! weekly videos to bring your students together as a whole group and give them the opportunity to practice keeping a steady beat to music. There is abundant research that shows the connection between a child keeping a steady beat and a child being a strong reader. Both skills use the same neural pathways, so keeping the steady beat to music is the perfect pre-literacy and brain-building activity for your students! And they will delight in being active music makers!
In some of the videos, Mary models using rhythm sticks safely and appropriately. Look for the little sticks symbol beside the name of the song to know if you need to have rhythm sticks ready for the activity. And if you do not have access to a classroom set of rhythm sticks, no problem! You and your students can use your hands to keep the beat!
In the second video of this section, Mike introduces a new instrument or models how the instrument makes sound. Use these videos to demonstrate classroom instruments or kick-off an investigation into how sound is made. All of this while your students are also keeping the steady beat to different musical sounds – win win! (8 minutes)
Sometimes when children come back to the classroom from being outside, they need a chance to calm down and re-center. Adults do too!
Use the Musical for Mindfulness playlist to choose from a list of pieces specifically chosen to help children (and adults) calm their bodies, take deep breaths, and regulate their emotions. Use the music as a cue to start regulating the nervous system and preparing for what is coming next.
You can also use this playlist before and after naptime or any time that you want to bring the energy down inside your room to support yourself and your students to breathe deeply and feel present and calm. (5 minutes)
End of the Day
Use the Let’s Move! weekly videos to engage your students in musical play and movement. These videos include action songs to get your students up, moving, singing and laughing – the perfect way to end your day with your students! Sharing music together at the end of the school day helps ensure that everyone in your classroom family feels included, loved, and excited to return tomorrow morning. (8 minutes)