How Music Teaches Kids to Self-Regulate

Kindermusik | How to Calm an Upset Child with Music

He’s so whiny. She’s a hitter. He cries non-stop. She can’t stop talking…if this sounds like your child(ren), they’re not wild—they need help learning how to self-regulate.

When grownups are overstimulated or don’t get their way, we (usually) use tools like taking a deep breath or a walk to make sure we don’t lose it. When we self-regulate, we balance our nervous systems. That helps us access our prefrontal cortex, where logic lives.

When it comes to self-regulation in children, they’ve got two things working against them:

1) They aren’t born with the tools to regulate their nervous systems, and

2) Their prefrontal cortex isn’t fully formed, so they need extra help to reach and dissect that logic.

Enter music!

Continue reading “How Music Teaches Kids to Self-Regulate”

Thanksgiving song and activities: Over the River and Through the Woods

Do you remember this song?

Over the river and through the woods
To Grandmother’s house we go.
The horse knows the way to carry the sleigh
Through white and drifted snow.

It’s hard to say when this famous American poem became so synonymous with the Christmas holiday, but the tune truly belongs to Thanksgiving.

Written by journalist, poet, and human rights advocate Lydia Maria Child, the poem first appeared in Child’s Flowers for Children, Volume 2, in 1844.

It was originally titled “A Boy’s Thanksgiving Day,” and celebrates Child’s childhood memories of visiting her Grandfather’s house.

As an advocate for Native American rights, anti-slavery laws, and women’s voting rights, Child raised her voice on many issues flaring in the in the 1840s, but refused to raise a fist. Her writings urged people to find a peaceful, non-violent way to progress.

The song can be a great holiday tradition for your family, too. We’ve put together a few simple ways to adapt the song to your child’s learning ability.

Learn more about helping families create musical traditions together in online Kindermusik Educator training. Click here to receive FREE information on becoming a Kindermusik Educator.

Baby (newborn to 2)

Hold your baby close and bounce in rhythm to the music, or pat the steady beat of the song on her back as you sing the song. Studies show a baby prefers the sound of her mother’s voice, and the sound of your voice paired with rhythm of the words – as you gently rock baby, or pat her on the back – helps your baby begin to identify the patterns of language.

Toddler (2 to 3 years)

The “giddy-up” tempo of this song makes it a great lap bounce for toddlers. Exaggerate the movement words, and make the weather and animal sounds mentioned in the lyrics to help your toddler better connect the vocabulary word to the physical movement.

Preschool (3 to 5 years)

Sing the song together and ask your preschooler to draw a picture of the story, and act it out: Pretend to ride a sled, ride through the wind, and ring bells!

Big Kids (5 to 7)

Engage your big kid’s active imagination and write your own lyrics about your family’s Thanksgiving tradition. Use the “Over the River” melody with lyrics about your own journey to Grandma’s house. What do you see? What does the weather do? Do you go over a river? Write your own lyrics.

Click here to see the long and short form of the lyrics.

Play Kindermusik @Home

Talk with your family about the meaning of the Thanksgiving holiday. You’ll find several folk and Americana songs in this collection of Kindermusik songs, “America the Musical Vol. 1 and 2.” Lydia Maria Child would have loved the song, “Follow the Drinking Gourd,” a song used to help people find the Underground Railroad.

Alvin and the Chipmunks

The Andrews Sisters and Danny Kaye

ABC English & Me proven classroom tips: Repetition with a twist increases learning

Kindermusik Educator Jane Denizot in France
Jane Denizot is an ABC English & Me Educator in Calvados, France. This week, she shares a few tips on how she incorporates repetition with a few activity twists in the ELL classroom for young children.

I find it is essential to have repetition and the proof is that they are learning fast. I just try to spice up things that are repeated to change it a little. I am on week two “1, 2, 3, GO!” and have followed the units as prescribed, just adding in an extra song when I thought we needed more movement.

Jane’s tips on giving repetition a twist in the ABC English & Me classroom

  • Add simple play props. At first we had no steering wheels for the Grandad’s farm activity, then later, we added coloured paper plates.
  • Repeat familiar movement and language concepts with a new song. I used the “Blue Danube” to follow on from “Clever Cows” repeating the “Up, Up” and “Down, Down” in time to the music with our scarves and they loved it.
  • Add in some silly moves for the “Hello” and “Goodbye” songs.
  • Play a new song. I also added in another activity, “The Morning Sun has Risen,” with instruments and lots of cock a doodles!

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Make it a musical, TOGETHER Christmas!

Although this is the time of year when many Kindermusik programs take a brief holiday break, no one has to take a break from musical, family-oriented activities over the holidays!  In fact, the holidays are the perfect time to take a few minutes here and there to de-stress, make a memory, and enjoy all that the holidays were meant to be.  Here are a few ideas and resources to get you started:

Favorite holiday-themed books (teacher-tested and kid-approved!)
Dream Snow by Eric Carle
The Snowy Day
by Ezra Jack Keats
by Lois Ehlert
Flannel Kisses
by Linda Brennan
Llama Llama Holiday Drama by Anna Dewdney
The Mitten by Jan Brett

Favorite music downloads  from
Jingle Bells Play-Along
Rudolph, the Red-Nosed Reindeer
Over the River
The Jolly Snowman
The Little Drummer Boy
Ding Dong Merrily on High
The Night Before Christmas

Family activities to bring a smile and create a memory!
Pretend Sleigh Ride: Turn on “Over the River.” Pull a laundry basket with a sturdy rope or slide it around.  Add bells to the side of the basket to get the full effect.
Make a Snowman out of Dad: Play “The Jolly Snowman” as you use toilet paper to wrap up a family member like a snowman.  Add a hat, scarf, mittens, etc for fun.  Don’t forget to take LOTS of pictures.

Pots and Pans Play-Along: Get out some wooden spoons and some pots and pans.  Play along to “Jingle Bells” or “Rudolph.”

Easy food crafts
Marshmellow snowmen
Gingerbread house from graham crackers
Homemade Hot Chocolate Mix
Reindeer Hand Print

Posted by Theresa Case, whose Maestro Kindermusik program at
Piano Central Studios in Greenville, SC, is proudly among the top 1% of Kindermusik programs world-wide.