Tuesday, March 20, 2012

Music in Kindergarten & Preschool with Giveaways

Daria with Shekere
The National Association for Music Education has named March as Music in our Schools Month. Parents, I hope you will support the music teachers in schools as funding is being decreased in every state. For many children, public schools offer the only musical opportunity for children to learn traditional and multicultural songs, playing instruments, and to participate in chorus, bands or orchestras. Daria is a musician, singer, songwriter, and author and I am excited to have a guest post by Daria's World Music for Kids with 20 poster giveaways as well as other free offers. Her website was given a 2009 Parent's Choice Award as a best family-friendly site on the web for children's music. I am truly amazed at her diversity and talent and know that you will be too.


Children with Musical Sharing Bowl
Some may think of March as a time to focus on formal music instruction, such as learning a new musical instrument or performing in a band or chorus, but it is also a great time to discover how music can be a powerful force in the early education classroom, or at home with young children. Not only are children having fun while learning music, but songs and simple musical instruments teach in the follow ways:

  • Songs can teach numbers, letters, or build memory and vocabulary
  • Learning music enhances creativity, resourcefulness, and playing with a language
  • Music develops listening skills
  • Children learn to cooperate while bonding with a larger group
  • Children can learn about world cultures or share first songs in other languages
  • Music fosters math and reading skills through repetitive patterns in songs or dance
There are a host of benefits that can come from the simple act of having fun while making music with young children. Here are a few simple ideas which are great ways to bring music into the world of young children. 


Recycled Rattles and Shekeres
Ask any preschool or kindergarten teacher - mixing arts and crafts with music makes a big hit in the classroom. One fun activity perfect for this age group is creating really quiet rattles. The project is very simple. Have each child bring in any recycled container, preferably a see-through one, and have a few extra so that no one is left out. They can decorate the outside with stickers or wrap it with pipe cleaners or yarn before filling them. Here is the tricky, but fun, part. Encourage the children to find lots of different things to put in the rattles that are to be quieter. The teacher can have some examples of rattles that are not so quiet for comparison and then challenge the children to fill theirs with something that will make noise, but still be very quiet (suggestions offered below). 

Each rattle will make a different quiet sound that will help teach children the art of listening. When the children are finished making their rattle, seal them with a strong tape such as electrical tape. Then the children can use their new instruments to play along to quieter music while learning to pay attention to rhythms of their rattles and how it fits into the music they are hearing.

You could even have a contest in the classroom asking the children for their suggestions about which of the teacher's rattles would win a “Quiet Contest.” Stack up a variety of rattles and the class can guess which might make the softest sound. (Isn't this every teacher or mom's dream - to have quiet, yet musical, sounds?)
Favorite Choices for Rattle-Making:
  • Quiet Rattles: Sand, salt, sugar, confetti, cotton balls, craft puff balls, paper bits, Q-tips, tiny pasta such as pastina or acine de pepe
  • Medium Rattles:  Paper clips, small pebbles, birdseed, small beads, small dried beans, rice, smaller buttons
  • Loud Rattles:  Dried macaroni/pasta, large pebbles, large beads, coins, large dried beans, larger buttons

Young Child Enjoying His Washboard
Creating a simple guiro can be a fun way to share the Latin-American culture, a bit of Spanish language, and music-making skills at the same time.  A guiro is any small percussion instrument that has ridges which are scraped or rubbed, creating rhythmic patterns. See, Hear, Color or Make a Guiro from an unsharpened pencil, recycled water bottle (with ridges) and some string or other decorating material.

When you’ve completed making your instruments, the children can play along with simple songs in Spanish such as "The Spanish Counting Song:" Uno, dos, tres amigos (one, two, three good friends) or the Spanish version of the "Itsy Bitsy Spider" (La Araña Pequeñita). The children would also enjoy "La Cucaracha?" Here is a video of my version of La Cucaracha with Spanish and English Lyrics, complete with dancing cockroaches (cucarachas) that actually play their guiros! (Susan's comment: I LOVE this video. It actually took me back to my kindergarten days when we learned this same song while shaking tambourines or maracas).


What can be used to make music? Practically anything! The musical washboard is proof that people have found creative ways to make music from all kinds of interesting objects.You can See, Hear, Color or Make a Washboard from easy classroom materials. Once you’ve made the washboards, the children will enjoy playing along to any music. They sound particularly good with old-timey music and classical songs like "Grand Old Flag," "You Are My Sunshine" or "This Little Light of Mine." These songs can be heard for free on Grandchildren’s Delight.

You could make some best-loved songs new by singing “Oh Susannah” using the names of your students instead - or by singing a different version each day - or with a new student’s name, then including everyone, so no one is left out and the students can  learn each others names. 

Do you have a folksong or popular kid’s song that you want to teach your class? Playing along with an instrument is a great way for children to learn new songs, words, and rhythm. There are no limits as to how the powerfully fun tool of music can be used in the classroom at any time of year. Feel free to inspire children through music and everyone will benefit from a happy and harmonious classroom or home.

* * *
Daria's Talent Reaches Many Areas:

Some people think music education is a privilege, but I think it’s essential
to being human. ~ Jewel – singer, songwriter, and instrumentalist

Would you like a glimpse into Kindergarten? See Kindergarten: Tattle-Tales, Tools, Tactics, Triumphs and Tasty Treats for Teachers and Parents. Moms of Preschoolers - let me help save your sanity, one project at a time with The Happy Mommy Handbook: The Ultimate How-to Guide on Keeping Your Toddlers and Preschoolers Busy, Out of Trouble and Motivated to Learn. Both books are bestsellers and are also available on Barnes & Noble and Kobo.

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  1. This is brilliant and just the info I needed for my son who struggles to sit still long enough to listen and for a daughter who needs a little extra help in math. Thank you.

    1. J. Thank you so much. Little ones love the rhyme and rhythm of music especially when they can actively participate. Thank you for visiting.

  2. Thank you for sharing such an insightful and informative post about music! I try to have Instrument Petting Zoo posts at Mom is the Only Girl for moms to see the basics of some instruments. (My hubby is a music teacher, string bass was his professional instrument.) I love that you have a different approach. May I reference this post in a future post of mine?

    1. Tricia - I'm your newest follower. I love your blog. Yes, I'm thrilled you would like to link or reference my post in one of yours. Thank you very much. Daria is amazing and I think you'll like her blogs too. Glad we connected. I LOVE music and books. Have a great day!

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