Throughout the Kindermusik experience, we deliberately introduce children to a wide variety of musical genres to give them a greater understanding of what is possible through music. This month we celebrate Jazz Appreciation Month! We wanted to make it easy for you to celebrate it, too, so the children in your life can experience the value of improvisation and emotional expression and gain an appreciation of this musical genre that traces its roots to the Southern (United States) African-American music of the early 20th century. Try this Kindermusik@Home activity to give children a taste of jazz and to support early language development.
Scat Cat Is Where It’s At
Listening to and mimicking (or echoing) language is the earliest phonological awareness skill. (Being able to hear, identify, discriminate, and mimic sounds is a precursor to matching initial and final sounds and to blending phonemes, all things that stack up to eventually enable reading.) Scat is a kind of singing found in jazz that uses nonsense syllables instead of words. Try this together:
4 Ways to Extend this Jazz Activity for Kids
Explore the senses by talking with children about their sense of hearing. Explain that we use our ears to hear, listen, and to learn about the world. By listening closely, we know how to imitate the sounds we hear.
Use this game as a model for teaching children how to imitate sounds and language. Find something in your home or classroom that makes an interesting sound. Have children listen to the sound. Then model for children how to mimic that sound. Practice, practice, practice!
Play a call-and-response game at home, in the classroom, in the car, or outside: say a phrase, sentence, or simple pattern of sounds and children to repeat it back to you. For an added challenge, see if children can repeat it back with the same pace/speed, rhythm, and with the same expression as you. For instance, can they raise their voice at the end of a sentence to denote a question?
Do you speak more than one language? Say some words, phrases, or sentences in another language (even if you only studied it in high school!) and have children repeat them back to you as accurately as possible.
Research continues to show that academic success relies heavily on social and emotional well-being, right from the start. Helping young children to recognize and label feelings supports healthy social-emotional growth and is a vital skill in early childhood education. Emotional awareness includes:
The Arts can be a tool to help children recognize and express emotions. Music inspires a variety of feelings in the listener and sometimes those feelings can be expressed through yet another art form, such as art, dance, drama, or writing. Try this game at home or in the classroom to support social-emotional development.
Listen to six different pieces of music, each paired with a piece of art. Then, can you match them back up again?
Here are some fun ways to extend the learning of this game:
After playing the game a few times, point to some of the paintings and ask children to verbally describe the type of music that each painting represents. (Would the music be loud/soft? Fast/slow? What kinds of instruments might make the music?)
Play the musical samples from this game, without the visuals. Encourage children to be inspired, and away from the screen, to draw, write, paint, dance, or enjoy any other art form while listening! How does their artistic expression change if the music changes?
Talk with children about how they feel when they listen to each piece of music. Can they use feeling words (not just sound words or visual words) to describe what they’re hearing?
Put on some brand-new music, of your choice, and create art in response to them.
Jack and Jill, Humpty Dumpty, and the Itsy Bitsy Spider may not have the most compelling storylines (it’s mostly lots of falling down, right?), but these beloved nursery rhyme characters have entertained generations of children with their antics. Why? Well, nursery rhymes are silly, catchy, and memorable. They also happen to be a fantastic pre-reading tool. In fact, exposing young children to rhymes even before they can understand the principle behind rhyming is as important as introducing children to music before they can create it, or to books before they can read them.
Being able to hear and identify words that rhyme is the earliest phonemic awareness task. Phonemic awareness is the understanding that a word is made up of a sequence of discrete sounds, or phonemes, and it is an essential skill for learning to read. Plus, rhyming is the precursor skill to identifying syllables within words.
3 Tips for Playing Rhyming Games with Young Children:
Ask children to listen for the “words that sound alike.”
Try to use rhyming words that have only one syllable, such as cat, sat, and mat.
When first introducing the concept of rhyming, use words that can be associated with pictures, such as bat and hat. Later, progress to playing rhyming games without visual support.
Looking for more activities that support a young child’s development? Find a local Kindermusik educator at www.kindermusik.com and visit a class.
The holidays look a little bit different when children enter the family and New Year’s Eve is no exception. So, while you probably won’t be watching the ball drop in Times Square, oohing and awing at the fireworks at the stroke of midnight, (or even staying awake that late…unless you count that midnight feeding), your young family can start new traditions. We put together a few of our favorite ways to ring sing in the New Year with young children.
4 Ways to Ring in the New Year with Kids
Make a musical time capsule with a 2015 playlist of your family’s current favorite music. Over the years, your family will love listening to past favorites and rediscovering the memories, too.
Pick a country ringing in the New Year about an hour before your child’s regular bedtime and celebrate the stroke of midnight with them. After all, it’s midnight somewhere in the world! This will help to keep your child’s bedtime at a “normal” time while also giving your family plenty of opportunities to celebrate 2015 through song and dance and, of course, the countdown to the New Year.
Sing “Goodbye” to 2014. Change the words to your favorite Kindermusik goodbye song or make up your own. These two Kindermusik cuties brought out instruments for their special goodbye song.
Put a Kindermusik twist on a New Year’s Eve staple. The song “Auld Lang Syne” is a nostalgic expression of friendship. So, why not celebrate the turning of the calendar with your favorite Kindermusik activities to remember your new and old friends from class? Some of our favorites include lap bounces like “Giddy Up Horsey,” instrument exploration, hayrides, ball play, and hammocking. Need some more ideas? How about 24 more?
Want to sing in the New Year with your family? Find a local educator at www.Kindermusik.com and visit a free class in 2015.
Contributed by Lisa Camino Rowell, a freelance writer in the Atlanta area.
You might be surprised to learn that the song provided more than a Saturday morning distraction. It also actually taught children about grammar. In fact, a first-of-its-kind research study from Vanderbilt University shows an association between musical rhythm and grammar.
Exploring the links between grammar and musical rhythm
In the study, Reyna Gordon, Ph.D. measured the grammar skills and music skills of 25 typically developing 6 year olds. While the two tests were different, Gordon found that children who performed well on one of the tests also did well on the second test. Musical experience, socio-economic backgrounds, or IQ did not matter. Gordon suggests that the similarities between the rhythms in music and the rhythms of language explain how children who did well on one test also did well on the other.
According to the study, in grammar children’s minds sort the sounds they hear into words, phrases, and sentences. The rhythm of language helps them to properly sort those sounds. In music, rhythmic sequences give structure to musical phrases and help listeners move to a steady beat.
“I’ve been thinking a lot about this idea… is music necessary?” confesses Gordon in a press release. “Those of us in the field of music cognition, we know—it does have a unique role in brain development.”
Yes! Yes, it does!
Don’t Do Try this at Home or in Class
Parents and early childhood educators can support young children’s grammar skills by actively engaging in musical activities together. Try putting on some music or singing a song and inviting children to tap along to the steady beat. Children can clap hands or knees, gently bang a wooden spoon on a plastic bowl, or shake a homemade instrument. This Kindermusik class in the Ukraine tapped to the beat using rhythm sticks:
Young children (and parents of young children) instantly recognize the “Happy” song by Pharrell Williams. We feel happy and can’t help but “clap along.” We love this version:
You clapped along, too, didn’t you? It’s easy for adults to acknowledge the “feeling” of happy in the song. However, young children must learn to identify feelings such as happy, sad, angry, scared, surprised, etc. In fact, being able to recognize and label feelings contributes to social-emotional development.
Kindermusik@Home Activity to Help Young Children Identify Feelings
Learning to relate facial expressions with emotions is important just before and during the early school years. For example, when a friend is feeling angry, her face might scrunch up or her eyes might close. When a friend is feeling sad, he might cry or put his head down. If children are going to learnempathyfor others, they need to first learn to identify how other people are feeling. Try this sample activity, “How Do You Feel?” from Kindermusik@Home:
Singing Together and Social-Emotional Development
Research shows that when children actively participate in group music and movement activities it supports development in all seven areas of social-emotional development, including communication, relatedness, and cooperativeness.
Do you know the old jazz standard by George and Ira Gerswin: “I’ve Got Music. I’ve Got Rhythm…Who could ask for anything more?” Well, apparently all that music and rhythm brings even more than a really good dance number by Gene Kelly. New research implies that young children’s rhythm abilities before they can read may eventually help doctors predict future reading disorders.
An ongoing study by Nina Kraus indicates that a preschooler’s ability to follow a rhythm and keep a steady beat can accurately predict early language skills and reading skills. While this is only the beginning of a five-year study, the team plans to track the participants to determine whether these rhythmic and steady beat abilities (or lack thereof) can predict later reading disorders, even with children as young as newborns.
“Detection this early could lead to intervention strategies such as music games to improve at-risk children’s rhythmic perception when their brains are most malleable,” says neurologist Gottfried Schlaug of Harvard Medical School in Boston in a press release.
We already know that early childhood music instruction:
Improves phonological awareness
Refines auditory discrimination
Increases auditory sequencing ability
Strengthens listening and attention skills
Enhances speaking skills
Heightens oral language development
Take a peek inside a Kindermusik classroom to see young students reading and playing rhythm patterns:
Hang around babies long enough and you start hearing things. From soft sweet coos to long monologues of “dadadadadada,” babies talk a lot—even though we have no idea what they are really saying! That’s okay. We don’t need to understand all the words (or non-words!) to join in the conversation.
How Parents Respond to All that Baby Babble Matters
New early childhood research from the University of Iowa and Indiana University found that how parents respond to all that baby talk can speed up a baby’s vocalizing and language development. That’s great news for those of us no longer fluent in Baby talk.
“It’s not that we found responsiveness matters,” explained co-author Julie Gros-Louis in a press release, “It’s how a mother responds that matters.”
In this six-month-long study, the research team watched the interactions between a dozen mothers and their 8-month-old babies two times a month for 30 minutes. During this free playtime, the researchers monitored how mothers responded to their babies’ positive vocalizations when directed toward them.
Researchers learned that how the mothers respond makes a big difference in the language development of their babies:
Babies with mothers who responded to what they thought their babies were saying showed an increase in developmentally advanced, consonant-vowel vocalizations.
The babbling of these babies became sophisticated enough to sound more like words.
Over time these babies also began directing more of their babbling toward their mothers.
Babies whose mothers did not try as much to understand them and instead directed their infants’ attention to something else did not show the same rate of growth in their language and communication skills.
Bottom line: Respond to all that baby babble!
How to Answer that Baby Babble with Music
Babies love the sound of their parents’ voices. Parents can feed that love and grow their babies’ use of language at the same time by singing, listening, moving, and dancing to music. After all, music is a language parents and babies both understand. Musical activities, such as those included in every Kindermusik class, help parents engage with their children and be responsive to them. Here are ways for parent-baby pairs and other caregivers and teachers to use music to support the early language development of babies. 1. Engage in vocal play—one of the earliest stages of language development. Vocal play is how babies’ learn to use the tongue, gums, and jaw muscles needed to produce vowels and consonants. When caregivers participate, too, they expose babies to the sounds that make up our language and encourage them to practice taking turns communicating. Vocal play works best when a parent and baby can see each other’s faces, making it easier for a child to mimic mouth movements. Plus, this eye contact also helps parents and babies bond. Parenting Tip: Sing “Old MacDonald Had a Farm” with your little one. Pause after key parts of the song, such as “E-I-E-I-O” and wait for your baby to respond. You can also explore the different sounds the animals on the farm make like these families did in Kindermusik class:
[youtube]https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=lsLil1s_wbE[/youtube] 2. Let babies experience steady beat by bouncing to music. The brain processes music in a similar way to how it processes language. Research even shows that children who can repeat and create a steady beat show increased neural responses to speech sounds when compared to other children.Steady beat competency relates to a child’s ability to speak and read fluidly during the school year. Parenting Tip: Put on some music and bounce to the beat with your baby on your lap or on your hip. This lets babies experience steady beat with their whole bodies. Try one of our favorite lap bounces: Pizza, Pickle, Pumpernickel. 3.Rocking the way to language development. Gently rocking babies throughout those quiet moments of each day gives parents the opportunity to combine vocal play and steady beat—and receive 2x the benefits! Parenting tip: At the end of the day or after a feeding, hum “Hush Little Baby” (or another favorite lullaby) while you gently rock or sway your little one to the beat. As with “Old MacDonald,” pause during key phrases and wait for your baby to respond. Before too long, your baby will grow into your toddler and be able to “rock” in a new way, like this Kindermusik toddler does at home while listening to music from class!
Throughout the Kindermusik experience, we use music to help parents engage with their children, be responsive to them, and gain developmental insights and practical tips along the way. After all, a parent is a child’s first and best teacher.
Patterns surround us and recognizing and understanding patterns is a foundational math skill. Music gives children the opportunity to experience patterns through movement, listening, and playing instruments. When children step, step, step, stop responding to the music or ta, ta, ta, rest with rhythm sticks, children are learning rhythm patterns (quarter note, quarter note, quarter note, rest), a basic musical concept. Rhythm patterns are combinations of long and short sounds and silences.
Try these two math games for kids from Kindermusik@Home that combine music and math!
This activity for kids introduces the concept of visual and auditory patterns created simultaneously (e.g. the sounds of with the visual representation of).
Patterns are incredibly important, both to music and math. Children first notice and recognize patterns, then develop the ability to complete partial patterns, duplicate patterns, and eventually to extend and create patterns. The patterns also go from simple (ABAB) to more complex (AAB, ABB, AABB, AAABB, AABC, and so on).
The Ti-Ti Ta pattern includes another layer of complexity: duration. Rather than a simple red-red-green pattern in which all components are equal, a Ti-Ti Ta pattern contains the concept of short-short-long within it. When the pieces are rearranged, the “notes” are rearranged as well. Ta, ta, ti-ti, ta is more complex than green, green, red, red, green because the concept of a pair of eighth notes (each of which is half as long as a “ta,” or quarter note) is embedded in the ti-ti.
There is nothing routine about a routine. In fact, we think routines get a bad rap. After all, people often refer to routines as being “stuck in a rut” or “same old, same old” or even boring with a capital B. However, from a child’s perspective, routines are anything but boring and can be especially beneficial during the back-to-school season.
Routines help children predict the future and feel safe and secure. Pair a routine with a ritual and children receive the added benefits of continuity and connectedness. For example, giving a child the same instruments to play with while you get a snack together each day, let’s the child know that it’s almost time to eat something yummy.
During the back-to-school periods of childhood, routines help ease children through transition periods, whether it’s adjusting to a new teacher, a new school, or even navigating through a growth spurt, which somehow always coincide with a new school year. The best time to introduce children to routines and rituals is NOW.
Turn up the music during routines and rituals and you will never use the word boring again when referring to routines! Try these tips for adding music into the back-to-school routine.
6 Ways to Add Music into the Routine and Get Kids into the Rhythm of Back-to-School
1. Wake children up or welcome them to the classroom by singing a favorite song or by listening to a playlist with songs about the morning time. “Morning Sun Has Risen” is one of our favorites. Take a listen (and look):
2. The rhythm of the morning routine naturally lends itself to a little musical play. Sing songs or chants about getting dressed, brushing teeth, eating breakfast, or even getting in the car to go to school.
3. On the drive to school, listen to music and sing along! Children will begin to look forward to this special ritual in the morning. Download this free Kindermusik road trip playlist.
4. For teachers, add music throughout the day to let children know it is time to clean up for recess, to mark the beginning of circle time, or even to get the class ready to walk down the hallway. We love how this teacher uses music to remind children how to be quiet in the hallway.
[youtube]https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Tn-wGrhb5d4[/youtube] 5. Add music to the nightly routine to help children recognize that the day is over and it is time to settle down for bed. Make a “quiet music” playlist and start playing it right after dinner or just before bathtime. Helping children settle and fall asleep carries over into the morning routine. A well-rested child is easier to get moving than a sleepy one.
6. Reading to children 20 minutes a day makes a significant impact on their early language and literacy development. When added to the night time routine, the right book can help a child get the wiggles out or calmly relax a child. Need some reading suggestions? Add a few musical books from the Kindermusik Pinterest Board ~ Books for Kids We Loveto the nightly reading routine.