Circle time also known as mat time in other parts of the world is often a key time to initiate music and movement. Playing music and moving to a beat provides stimulating experiences for a child’s brain.
I’m always on the search for new songs and its a matter of trial and error as to whether its a big hit with the children. Let alone trying to learn or figure out actions for the songs.
Here is a list of songs that the children at my preschool have been loving! Most of the songs tell you the actions throughout the lyrics or are shown in the video, however, there are a few where you’ll have to get creative. Click the name of each song to be linked to a youtube video or the itunes store.
- The Penguin Song – Jack Hartmann
- Jump Jump Star – The Fairies
- Rubber Ball – Kids Music Company
- North South East West – Hi-5
- Tony Chestnut – The Learning Station
- Throw The Bean Bag – Tessarose
- Cross Over – Kids Music Company
- Goldfish – Laurie Berkner
- Wiggle Song – Lifeway Praise Kids
- Fire Truck – Ivan Ulz
- Singing in the Rain – Tessarose
- Jack in the Box – Love to Sing
- Mrs Bunny – Kids Music Company
- Rock-a-bye Your Bear – The Wiggles
- Bean Bag Alphabet Rag – Tessarose
- The Airplane Song – Laurie Berkner
- We’re Going On A Bear Hunt – Kids in Action
- Feathers – Kids Music Company (give each child a single feather)
- Stretchy Lycra – Kids Music Company (if you have any Lycra fabric this makes for the perfect song)
Music and Movement Fingerplay / Transition songs
Between circle time (mat time) conversations, and going from one task to another you often need a transition song. Children can sometimes become restless or their attention drifts elsewhere. Here are a few helpful movement songs that I find work for capturing their attention. I’ve done my best to find youtube videos to each song. Click the name of the song to be linked to the video.
- Hammer Hammer Hammer – I like to add different moves like; beep beep beep (tap one finger on your nose), flap flap flap (flapping arms like a bird).
- Dinosaur, Dinosaur
- Down in the Jungle – I often sing this song myself without the music.
- Ram Sam Sam – I sing and do the actions just for the chorus without the music.
- Baby Shark
- One Little Finger – Another song I do without the music.
- Slippery Fish
- Willaby Wallaby Woo – “Willaby Wallaby [name]. An elephant sat on [name].”
- Open Shut Them
- Tiny Tim
- Stand up: “Stand up [name], stand up [name], turn round. Touch the ground. Reach up really high now. Jump up to the sky now. Wash your hands, wash your hands”
- Tidy Up Time – Album song #21. The perfect song to encourage cleaning up play areas.
Music and Movement Activities For Infants, Toddlers, And Young Children
Although playing a song is a great way to get children involved in moving their bodies. Music and Movement can stem from different activities as well. Here is a list of music and movement activities for infants, toddlers and young children.
- Musical chairs
- Freeze dance. Find a popular song that the children love to dance to and pause it to get them to freeze. This is a creative way to build their listening skills and control of their bodies.
- Movement games with a parachute
- Instruments. Let the children have the freedom to choose an instrument. Sing songs they know like “twinkle twinkle little star’, allowing them to create the backing track.
- “Doggy, doggy, whose got your bone? Somebody stole it from your home. Wake up doggy and find your bone!” Sit all the children in a circle and use a block as a ‘bone’. With the chosen dog not looking hide the bone behind a child’s back. Make sure everyone has their hands tucked behind. As the ‘dog’ goes around the inner circle he approaches each child and says “woof woof”, the child opposite responds with “not today doggy” and shows their empty hands.
- Role Play ‘Old McDonald had a farm’ or ‘Wheels on the bus’. Often we say to the children “who else was on the farm” or “what else happened on the bus”. The children love to be involved in suggesting the next animal or bus movement.
- Adding music to everyday stories or conversations. Classical music often comes in handy. If you are talking about the weather you may pretend to be blowing in the wind, or falling down like rain.
Why is Music and Movement important for Young Children?
Music and movement is beneficial for developing a child’s memory, cognitive functions, social skills, expressive ability, and balance and coordination. According to the Early Childhood Music and Movement Association, 85% of a child’s brain development occurs by the time they reach the age of 3. Highlighting the importance of children having opportunities to move their bodies.
Often in dance, you have movements that enable both sides of the brain to work together. A movement in which the arms or legs cross the midsection of the body. This is known as ‘cross lateral movement’ and enables both sides of the brain to work together, helping the body to develop neural pathways and strengthen connections. Music also stimulates a child’s frontal lobes, which are important in developing language and motor development.
How to teach music and movement to preschoolers?
When teaching music and movement to preschoolers it’s important to remember that it’s about being expressive and creative. If children want to change up the moves go with the flow. I’ve had my share of songs where one or two moves have been changed for the better. Here I am going to suggest a few steps you can use to teach new music and movement songs to your children.
- The simplest step of them all. Make it fun! Children love adults who aren’t afraid to be silly. Overexaggerate dance moves or speak the lyrics in a funny voice.
- Break the song down into chunks whether it is learning the lyrics or dance movies. If you are wanting children to learn the lyrics begin with listening to the song from start to finish. As you say each line slowly, ask the children to repeat after you. I find its best to do this part without any music playing. If you are learning the dance moves the key is knowing them yourself. Children will copy what you do. Without the music playing go through each move.
- Build their confidence! Children love praise and a few may be a bit nervous to get moving or are worried they aren’t doing it right.
- Last of all its okay if children don’t get the moves quite right. Let them express themselves any way they want.
- Sometimes I skip step two and just learn the full song with the music over a few days. Often I do this with songs with are very simple and have repetitive moves.
If you have any amazing songs that your children love comment below. I would love to check them out!