Several weeks ago, I shared a post with ideas on ways to start an at-home music education program. Three simple ideas that are easy and accessible to all families. They also showed us how easy it is to create musical fun at home.
Today, I’d like to take that one step further with ideas for groups of children. These are ideas you can use if your child is interested in a music-themed party, you homeschool your children. They are also key elements to any locally-sponsored music program where you want to include your child as a student.
Musical Fun: Group Singing
Everyone can sing! Kids love to sing. Singing is a way for children to express themselves. The number of times you hear them repeat their favorite rhyming tunes gives you great insight into their sense of music!
- Start with a Warm-up. Warm up their voices by asking the children to imitate animal sounds. Maybe a huge, brown bear, a worried squirrel, or an excited puppy. Children will soon discover favorite noises to make!
- Teach them how to turn a sentence into a song. Start with their name!
- Sing to each child these words: “Hello who are you?”
- Ask the child to sing back their response: “My name is —- child’s name.”
With shyer children, you might sing their response together. If their parents are present, involve parents singing the response with their child. It doesn’t take long before even the least confident kid is able to giggle and wriggle excitedly and sing their name back to the group.
Mix up the fun by playing with opposites. Invite everyone to enjoy the process of singing loud and soft, high or low, and fast and slow sounds. For instance the old-fashioned “I’m a Little Teapot” song lends itself to these funny games. With older children you can use this song (and others) to mix in part singing, rounds, descant and harmonies.
Musical Fun: Moving in Time to Music
Movement is an extension of the singing activities. Ask the children to march or “dance” to different songs.
- Add simple percussion instruments being played in time to music. It is helpful if the children clap the different rhythms.
- Blend music and action with stomping, growling bears; teapots with spouts; et al.
Don’t forget that wonderful, old action song “The Wheels of the Bus Go Round and Round.” This song has different verses for children to act out while the others sing along. It is fun!
With older children, you might play a piece of music and ask each child to pick a singular movement. Each child, in turn, connects to the previous student(s) until ultimately, they become a single “machine,” all working together.
Musical Fun: Bring on the Drama
This idea for musical fun is an extension of getting kids involved in music. Let one child or many sing a song while others act it out.
We know from ballads that stories tell a story. Even without lyrics, music has something to say. “Peter and the Wolf” is a classic story set to music. Kids enjoy the discussion, too. Play a piece of music and get the conversation started.
- What story is this song telling?
- Is it happy or sad?
By tuning kids into the emotions of the sound, they learn about major and minor sounds.
Musical Fun: Putting it All Together
As a classroom teacher of primary-school children I found that it was possible to successfully introduce ¾ or 4/4 time signatures. I discovered that youngsters love the challenge of working out whether a song had three beats or four beats to clap or tap. That same process works translates to literacy and reading, as well.
Word games – particularly rhyming games – can be a great resource for musical fun. Check out this link for syllable clapping at AntelopeDance.com. Your kids will be practicing musical beat and literacy all in one!
This post was originally posted on the now-defunct Mom’s Choice Matters blog on 3/16/15.
About Chrissy Tetley
Chrissy has been involved in music in one way or another all her life, and was one of those kids playing in the street making up songs with tunes you can whistle on the way home. Piano lessons and banjo/guitar playing led to learning the flute as a serious instrument and studying the Oboe.
As a retired music teacher and NZ trained primary school teacher, Chrissy still has a keen interest in children’s education, particularly where music is concerned. But she is also passionate about storytelling.
Visit Chrissy at Music on the Bookshelf to learn more about her books and music education.