Why we celebrate Music in Our Schools and National Reading Month throughout the year

Today officially marks the last day to celebrate both Music in Our Schools month and National Reading Month. However, in Kindermusik classrooms (and homes!) around the world, we celebrate the benefits of music on early literacy skills every single day. After all, children actively involved in music classes experience the benefits of music throughout the year. It’s one of the many reasons we know that music belongs in our schools.

Earlier this month, we asked the Kindermusik Facebook community why music belongs in our schools and they responded with some of the immeasurable benefits of music:

Why Music belongs in our schools

New partnership with Reading Rainbow gives us more reasons to celebrate Music in Our Schools and National Reading Month

Of course, the benefits of music on early literacy skills offer measurable reasons why music belongs in our schools, too! So, we loved celebrating both Music in Our Schools Month and National Reading Month by officially announcing and kicking off a new partnership with Reading Rainbow. Here are some of the highlights from this month:

  1. Music Mountain Reading RainbowWe announced the partnership between Reading Rainbow and Kindermusik International that will build early literacy skills in children. This partnership brings Kindermusik’s more than 35 years of experience in early childhood curriculum development with the #1 children’s reading adventure app!
  2. We celebrated National Read Across America Day with LeVar Burton and Reading Rainbow at a live event at Thomas Edison Elementary School in Burbank, CA featuring a live reading by LeVar Burton of a beloved Kindermusik book, The Drum Circle, and Kindermusik activities led by Educator Kelsey Springsted with Jamie Sterling. (Be sure to read how music in schools impacted Kelsey Springsted in Music: A prescription for healing.)
  3. The Kindermusik “Music Mountain” island goes live on the Reading Rainbow mobile app for kids. The Music Mountain island features Kindermusik’s music-themed content, including children’s books, music, and video field trips alongside other newly produced content from Reading Rainbow. Free to try, the educational app is available on the iPad and Kindle Fire.
  4. Kindermusik provides a guest post, “Music Makes Kids Hungry for Learning (and Reading!), on the Reading Rainbow blog.
  5. LeVar Burton and Reading Rainbow posted, Reading and Music…Hitting All the Right Notes,” on the Minds on Music blog.

Did you miss these studies and presentation announcements that show even more benefits of music on early literacy skills?

ThePathToReading_PuzzleGraphic_KindermusikIn our early literacy curriculum, ABC Music & Me, we know that the benefits of music on early literacy include the development of active listening, vocabulary, print awareness, comprehension skills, auditory discrimination, and phonological awareness. We wanted to make sure that you did not miss these new research studies and presentations that we mentioned this month.

  1. New study shows that if children memorize eight nursery rhymes by the age of 4 years old, they are usually among the best readers by the time they are 8 years old. Read more.
  2. Talking and singing with babies promotes more that just bonding. It also supports vital brain development in young children. Read more.
  3. The independent 2013 research study on our early literacy curriculum and its’ positive effect on early literacy development was recently presented at the SITE (Society for Information Technology and Teacher Education) 2014 Event.
  4. Kindermusik will present at the Head Start’s 12th National Research Conference on Early Childhood – Collaboration and Coordination in July!

Keep reading our Minds on Music blog for all of the latest research and news on early childhood education. You can also follow us on Facebook, Twitter, Google+, and Pinterest!

The Picture-Reading Connection

ABC English & Me - A Trip to the Farm - Educational Activity for ChildrenThey say that a picture is worth a thousand words, but in ABC English & Me, Kindermusik International is using the research-proven technique of using a picture to help a child learn to read a word.  In fact, a recent study by Chinese researchers again confirmed the impact of a visual-rich context on literacy.
Along with music, movement, and interactive @Home Materials, the ABC English & Me curriculum actually utilizes a variety of pictures and visuals to help reinforce the learning that happens in class and at home including:

  • illustrated rhymes
  • illustrated stories
  • posters
  • flashcards

You may not be enrolled in an ABC English & Me program, but you can help enhance your child’s literacy development in other simple ways.  Here are a few ideas and resources to get you started…

  • Build your own library at home.  From e-books to traditional books, you can buy books new, put them on a birthday or Christmas list for Grandma, or find gently used books at local bookstores or online at sites like Amazon.
  • Spend time reviewing this great list from The Children’s Book Review: 20 Sites to Improve Your Child’s Literacy
  • Point out the letters and words that surround us.  Whether it’s a box of cereal, a menu at a restaurant, or a sign on a building, opportunities abound to highlight the connection between letters, sounds, and words in every day, casual conversation.
  • Label things around the house.  Make some simple signs and label objects around the house.  You can use sticky-tack so that the signs are temporary.  Include a picture with the word for extra benefit.
  • Read aloud.  There’s no better way to bond with your child, create memories for a lifetime, AND increase their love for books and interest in learning to read for themselves.

Try A Free Kindermusik Class
See for yourself how Kindermusik can benefit your child in so many ways… including literacy development!  Try a free class today.

Music & Movement Benefits: Naturally Speaking, Of Course!

Kindermusik prepares your child for schoolThe more you expose your child to language, the stronger his verbal skills will be.  Language acquisition is a gradual process that involves many facets of development including listening, imitating facial expressions, playing peek-a-boo, and babbling.  Your child will learn language naturally by hearing it used in context when you sing, read, talk, and listen to him.
Kindermusik tips for…
Your Baby: At two months, he coos and babbles.  In his first year, he’ll begin making vowel sounds (oohs and aahs) and then move to new sounds and vowel-consonant combinations.  Your baby is also learning the art of conversation.  Bring your face close to his, and talk to him.  Ask him a question and let him respond.  He is learning that conversation is a two-way street.
Your Toddler: In a verbal growth spurt, your toddler’s vocabulary expands from about 50 to 200 words.  When your toddler displays emotion, give him the language to identify it:  “You’re happy!” or “I can see you’re sad.”  You’ll enhance his emotional intelligence as well as his vocabulary.
Your Preschooler: Playing rhyming games is a fun way for a preschooler who is developing phonemic awareness – the recognition that sounds make up words.  Encourage him by making up rhymes and laughing together.
Enrolling in early childhood music and movement classes is one of the very best ways you can enhance early literacy development in your child.  We happen to believe that Kindermusik is the best choice!  But don’t just take our word for it… come try a free preview class on us.

Reading with children and why it matters to early literacy development

Story timeIn the world of early literacy development, reading with your children matters more than reading to your children. It makes sense. When parents read with children, adults and children both become active participants—rather than passive participants—in the reading process. Try some of these early literacy tips the next time you read together!

5 tips for engaging toddlers and preschoolers in reading

  1. Read with an expressive tone. Children’s books provide ample opportunities for parents (and children!) to try out silly voices, make funny noises, or read LOUDLY or quietly.
  2. Ask questions. What is going to happen next? Why won’t he try green eggs and ham? Do you like to try something new?
  3. Make connections between the story and real life situations. Did you just read a book about a farm? On your next visit to the grocery store, point out the different fruits and vegetables mentioned in the story.
  4. Read throughout the day. Of course, as creators of an early literacy curriculum, we recommended marking the end of the nighttime routine with a snuggle and a quiet reading time together. However, reading together can happen throughout the day.
  5. Read it again…and again. Children learn through repetition. Reading a favorite book over (and over!) again supports a child’s early literacy development. In repeated readings, children recognize new details and begin to make more connections between the words spoken and the printed page.

“One of the things that I really hope for, and have found, is that these things spill over into other areas,” explained Bradford Wiles an Assistant Professor and Extension Specialist in early childhood development at Kansas State University. “So you start out reading, asking open-ended questions, offering instruction and explaining when all of a sudden you aren’t reading at all and they start to recognize those things they have seen in the books. And that’s really powerful.”

We couldn’t agree more!

A musical twist to early literacy development

Early Literacy gains with ABC Music & Me

At Kindermusik, we use musical learning to support early literacy development and engage the whole family in the process. Children participating in our early literacy curriculum, ABC Music & Me, for just 30 minutes a week experience a 32 percent

literacy gain. In class, children participate in music and movement activities that emphasize steady beat, rhythm and pitch, practice active listening skills, and build social-emotional skills. Plus, each month families receive access to the music from class, the storybook, and other ideas on continuing the learning outside the classroom.

For more information about bringing our early literacy curriculum to your school, preschool, or daycare, email us at info@abcmusicandme.com

14 ways to celebrate 2014 with early childhood music and early literacy

(Source: She Knows Canada)

At Kindermusik, we celebrate new beginnings throughout the year—from new babies being born to new families discovering our early childhood music classes to even launching new curriculum for babies and toddlers. However, whenever a new calendar year rolls around, we look for even more ways to celebrate! We invite all of our Kindermusik families to help ring in—or shake or sing or dance in—the new year with one of these ideas.

Welcome the New Year through early childhood music and early literacy

  1. Make a musical time capsule of your family’s current favorite music with a 2014 playlist. Include your child’s favorite lullabies, get-up-and-go songs, or theme songs from beloved television shows or movies. Expand the playlist beyond early childhood music, too. Be sure to include your own favorite songs that you share together.
  2. Read musical storybooks together. Try some of these Kindermusik favorites to support early childhood music and early literacy development.
  3. Go on a letter sound treasure hunt. Show your child a letter. Make the sound of the letter together and then go on a treasure hunt around your house to find an object that starts with that same sound.
  4. Make a personalized alphabet eBook. During your letter sound treasure hunt, take a photo of each object: M for Mommy; S for stuffed animal; K for Kindermusik. Then support your child’s early literacy development by creating a personalized alphabet eBook with the photos.
  5. Try one of these websites or mobile apps for kids that support early literacy development. The Reading Rainbow app will soon include a music-themed “Kindermusik” island. Stay tuned to hear more!
  6. Read (and memorize!) a favorite nursery rhyme. Nursery rhymes build phonemic awareness as your child begins to hear the differences between rhyming words like “Humpty” and “Dumpty” or “wall” and “fall.”
  7. Play alphabet musical chairs. Here’s one way to combine early childhood music and early literacy skills with a familiar childhood game.
  8. Sing together. One study says talking (or singing) to your young child is the most critical aspect of parenting a baby or toddler. Learn more about the child development benefits, including vocabulary development and early literacy development.
  9. Dance together. The ability to move to a steady beat is linked to language skills. Plus, it’s fun and great exercise for the whole family and gives your child the opportunity to practice all those growing gross motor skills!
  10. Make music and reading part of your daily routine. Routines and rituals help young children make sense of their world and predict what comes next. Each day signal to your child the end of the day by listening to (or singing!) lullabies and reading books together after bath.
  11. Hold a Freeze Dance party. Children love freeze dance. However, as creators of early childhood music classes and early literacy curriculum, we know there is more behind a game of Freeze Dance than giggles and silly moves. Children practice inhibitory control by learning how to tell their bodies when to dance and when to stop. Inhibitory control prepares a child to sit still and pay attention during the school years.
  12. Get out some instruments (or pots and pans) and hold a family jam session. Your child will practice steady beat and rhythmic abilities. Rhythmical abilities show a strong positive correlation with decoding skills, both in reading accuracy and reading prosody. Plus, being able to keep a steady beat helps a child feel the cadence (rhythm) of language.
  13. Play “Name that Sound.” Gather different instruments or objects that make sounds. Take turns closing your eyes and naming the instrument or object. That same sound discrimination helps your child hear the minute differences between letter sounds or phonemes, which supports early literacy and language development.
  14. Enroll in Kindermusik classes! Our classes for babies, toddlers, big kids, and families are loved by more than 2 million families in over 70 countries.

    Contact a local Kindermusik educator today! Ask to visit a class and see for yourself why parents and children around the world love our early childhood music classes.








9 reasons why teachers love our early literacy curriculum

Early Literacy Curriculum with Research-Proven Results

Music and early literacy development go together like peanut butter and jelly, cheese and crackers, or to quote the final song from Grease, “Rama lama lama ka dinga da dinga dong.” When used as part of an early childhood curriculum, music can increase phonemic and phonological awareness, boost vocabulary acquisition and print awareness, and more.

Early Literacy Curriculum with Research-Proven Results

Our early literacy curriculum, ABC Music & Me, uses music and movement to teach young children early language and literacy. A new independent research study proves using this early childhood curriculum just 30 minutes a week delivers a 32 percent literacy gain. SEG Measurement, an independent research firm, conducted the comprehensive study of the effectiveness of ABC Music & Me during the 2012-2013 school year using

both quantitative and qualitative methods. The study shows that children participating in ABC Music & Me experienced significantly greater gains in language and literacy skills as compared to students in classes not participating in this early literacy curriculum.

Teacher perceptions on the effectiveness of early childhood curriculum on student skills

Early childhood educators love teaching ABC Music & Me. In fact, both teachers and parents would strongly recommend the early literacy curriculum to others. As part of the study, teachers identified nine specific areas they perceived to be especially effective on their students’ abilities:

  1. Listening
  2. Vocabulary development
  3. Phonemic and phonological awareness
  4. Pattern recognition
  5. Coordination
  6. Cooperation
  7. Engagement in classroom activities
  8. Attitudes toward learning
  9. Following directions

One participating preschool teacher noted: “The most effective aspects of ABC Music & Me are that the children all participate and have fun doing the different activities each week. The lesson plan is easy to follow. The assessment forms from Fall to Spring show growth in many areas….Overall, I feel that ABC Music & Me has now become a daily part of my lesson plan. I look forward to using the program next year!”

To learn more about bringing our early literacy curriculum—and a 32 percent literacy gain—into your classroom, email us at info@abcmusicandme.com.

6 websites and mobile apps for kids that support early literacy development

iStock_000002617208XSmall mom-boy readingTalking to babies, toddlers, and preschoolers throughout the day, reading together, and playing learning games for kids all help support early literacy and language development. When babies react to their mothers’ voices, they are responding to the familiar cadence of the language. While sitting in a parent’s lap listening to a story before bedtime, toddlers begin to see and recognize letters and sounds and the proper way to read a book. As preschoolers practice writing letters—and

even their names—they foster phonetic awareness. Throughout this process, children look to their parents as their first and best teacher!

As creators of early childhood curricula, including an early literacy curriculum, ABC Music & Me, we know just how important family involvement in education can be to a young child’s early literacy skills and language development. So, we pulled together six of our favorite websites and mobile apps for kids that support early literacy development and a parent’s role as a child’s first and best teacher. Enjoy!

6 websites and mobile apps for kids that support early literacy development

  1. Reading Rainbow: We love Reading Rainbow! LeVar Burton started RRKidz when the beloved show was canceled so he could continue to bring reading and education to kids using the newest and best technology. This mobile app for kids offers a trusted library of books and video field trips to visit fascinating people and places. New books and videos are added every week expanding the collection. Kindermusik will be partnering with Reading Rainbow to bring a “Musical Island” to the app!
  2. WeGiveBooks: We Give Books supports parent involvement in education and early literacy skills by providing online books for families to read together. Using any device with Internet access, parents can read books to children at home or on the go. The available children’s books include selections of fiction and non-fiction for children through 10 years old.
  3. PBSKids Island: Together, you and your child can visit PBSKids Island and play learning games for kids that feature PBS favorites, such as Sesame Street, Martha Speaks, and Super WHY! While not an early literacy curriculum, these educational activities for kids support early literacy development through letter recognition, rhyming, and even spelling challenges.
  4. Backyard Phonics Adventure: This mobile app for kids uses letters and pictures to teach letter recognition and beginning phonics. Children match a beginning sound to a letter or a beginning sound to another picture with the same beginning sound.
  5. Starfall.com: Many preschools and elementary schools use Starfall.com as a supplement to an early childhood or early literacy curriculum. This free website includes learning games for kids that teach letter recognition and the corresponding sounds, phonics, and more.
  6. Kindermusik@Home: Available as part of enrollment in Kindermusik, Kindermusik@Home supports a parent’s role as a child’s first and best teacher while also providing fun learning games for kids. Accessible Kindermusik@Homefrom any smart phone, iPad, tablet, or laptop, Kindermusik@Home provides educational activities for kids that support early literacy development, such as eBooks, active listening games, virtual field trips, plus an abundance of ideas and developmental insights behind using music and movement to support a child’s early literacy development. The activities connect what happens in the classroom to the everyday routines and rituals of families.

To learn more about enrolling in a Kindermusik class and receiving access to Kindermusik@Home, contact a local educator via our Class Locator.

Schools, preschools, and childcare centers can also benefit from Kindermusik@Home. To learn more about bringing our early literacy curriculum into your classroom while also increasing parental involvement, email us at info@abcmusicandme.com.



Music & Reading: 2 of our favorite things

Yes, it’s true. As creators of music education programs and early literacy curriculum, we love both music and reading. Study after study continues to show how music can support a young child’s early literacy and language development. As Julie Andrews would sing, music and reading are like “raindrops and roses.” It’s no wonder that music and reading are two of our favorite things. After all, research shows music supports a child’s early literacy development in many ways, including music’s impact on phonological awareness, vocabulary learning, listening skills, and verbal memory.

Musical training supports early literacy development

One of the newest studies, “The effects of musical training on the decoding skills of German-speaking primary school children”, published in The Journal of Research in Reading, strengthens the understanding of how music supports early literacy development. Led by Iris Rautenberg, the team investigated the connections between musical skills (perception and differentiation of the rhythmical and tonal/melodic patterns) and decoding skills, and the effects of musical training on word-level reading abilities.
The researchers recruited 159 German first graders. One-third of the children received musical training for nine months. One-third of the children received visual arts training and the remaining group did not participate in any special training. The music training specifically focused on rhythmic skills, tonal/melodic skills, and auditory discrimination of timbre and sound intensity. Rautenberg’s study found two ways that musical training supports early literacy development.

2 ways musical training boosts early literacy development

  1. Rhythmical abilities showed a strong positive correlation with decoding skills, both in reading accuracy and reading prosody.
  2. Children participating in the music classes performed significantly better on reading accuracy in word reading when compared with the other two groups.

Early literacy curriculum uses music as vehicle for learning

ABC Music & Me uses music and movement to teach young children early literacy and early language development. During class, children receive music instruction including active music making and kinesthetic movements to emphasize steady beat, rhythm and pitch, as well as the association of sounds with developmentally appropriate symbols.

For more information about using ABC Music & Me to teach early language and early literacy, email us at info@abcmusicandme.com.

Encouraging children to “use words” supports early literacy

(Source: Carol Read’s ABC of Teaching Children blog)

“Use your words.” Early literacy and preschool teachers, parents, grandparents, and other caregivers can often be heard patiently saying that same phrase to young children throughout the day. Teaching and encouraging children to use words to express thoughts, feelings, and opinions not only supports a child’s social-emotional development, but also increases vocabulary acquisition. Not surprisingly, new data released from the National Assessment of Educational Progress shows a strong connection between vocabulary acquisition and literacy.

Connections between literacy and vocabulary acquisition

The report released last month compares vocabulary results from 2009 with 2011 reading assessments. Both assessments were based on nationally representative samples of fourth-graders, eight-graders, and twelfth-graders.

  • Fourth-grade students performing above the 75th percentile in reading comprehension in 2011 also had the highest average vocabulary score.
  • Lower-performing fourth-graders at or below the 25th percentile in reading comprehension had the lowest average vocabulary score.
  • At both grades 4 and 8, the average vocabulary scores for at risk students were lower than the scores for other students.

Using music as part of an early literacy curriculum

While this report measured literacy and vocabulary abilities of fourth, eighth, and twelfth graders, we know that vocabulary acquisition and literacy begin much earlier. ABC Music & Me, an early literacy curriculum created by Kindermusik International, uses music to support young children’s early literacy and language development, including vocabulary acquisition. Picture vocabulary cards support unit-by-unit vocabulary, comprehension, memory, and pre-literacy skills. The ABC Music & Me early literacy curriculum is full of vocabulary-building opportunities. Our stories, songs, and activities introduce students to hundreds of words and their meanings.

For more information about using the ABC Music & Me early literacy curriculum in your classroom, school, or district, email us at info@abcmusicandme.com.

5 early literacy Christmas activities

Mother Goose could well be called the Mother of Early Literacy. “Hey Diddle, Diddle,” “Little Miss Muffet,” and other nursery rhymes support early literacy by building phonemic awareness through experiences that recognize, repeat, and predict rhymes. Rhyming word play contributes to phonemic awareness as children begin to hear the differences and similarities between words like “moon” and “spoon” and “muffet” and “tuffet.”

Along with favorites from Mother Goose, this holiday season add a penguin to your early literacy activities with Penguin’s Christmas Gift. This story download, created by Kindermusik International, combines rhymes with active listening as children hear the story of a tiny penguin who turns an ordinary tree into an extraordinary one for an extra special Christmas at the zoo.

Download Penguin’s Christmas Gift here and use it in your class next month to support early literacy growth.

4 additional early literacy activities to use with Penguin’s Christmas Gift

If you are like many early literacy educators, your Pinterest boards contain dozens (if not hundreds!) of early literacy activities to use in the classroom. We culled through some of our favorites to use along with Penguin’s Christmas Gift.

  1. Letter P Penguin Craft
  2. Beginning Middle & End Instead of using a candy corn image, use a Christmas tree.
  3. Rhyming Tree Literacy Activity Use branches of a Christmas tree instead. Also for pre-readers, use images and words.
  4. Body Rhyme Early Literacy Activity This early literacy activity isn’t really about penguins or Christmas. We just love the movement and use of rhyming words to support phonemic awareness.

Follow our early literacy and language board on Pinterest for even more ideas.

Early literacy curriculum that uses music as the vehicle for learning

ABC Music & Me, our early literacy curriculum, uses music and movement to teach young children early literacy and language. In addition to the research-based curriculum, ABC Music & Me increases parent involvement in early childhood education by providing families with materials to use together at home.

For more information about using ABC Music & Me as an early literacy curriculum, email us at info@abcmusicandme.com.