Time out or time in?

Time out or time in

Loving touch is what’s best

Time out or time in? “In a brain scan, relational pain—that caused by isolation during punishment—can look the same as physical abuse. Is alone in the corner the best place for your child?”

This is the question asked by Daniel Siegel and Tina Bryson in their Time article, “‘Time-Outs’ Are Hurting Your Child.”

Most of the advice given to parents and early childhood educators is that time out is the best way to discipline a child but is it effective? “Not according to the implications of the latest research on relationships and the developing brain.”

Discipline should be about teaching and not about punishment.  A child is continually being disciplined in early childhood and studies in neuroplasticity show that the brain structure changes when experiences are repeated. Repeated experience of the ‘time out’ teaches the child to feel abandoned and isolated when what they are in need of is attention and connection. Their intense emotions have got the better of them and they don’t have the internal resources to regulate the big feeling or intense desire so they act in a way that is disrespectful, aggressive or uncooperative.

“When the parental response is to isolate the child, an instinctual psychological need of the child goes unmet.  In fact, brain imaging shows that the experience of relational pain — like that caused by rejection — looks very similar to the experience of physical pain in terms of brain activity….”

The young child has a profound need for connection – a need to belong. ‘Time out’ means that this very need is unmet, the parent or carer is giving the message “You don’t belong to me!” so not only is the rejection experienced in ‘time out’ painful, it is actually the opposite to meeting the needs of the child.

“On top of everything, time-outs are usually ineffective in accomplishing the goals of discipline: to change behavior and build skills.  Parents may think that time-outs cause children to calm down and reflect on their behavior.  But instead, time-outs frequently make children angrier and more dysregulated, leaving them even less able to control themselves or think about what they’ve done, and more focused on how mean their parents are to have punished them.”

So what should a parent or carer do? Time out or time in? There definitely needs to be a time for calming down. Playing some soothing music in the background can help regulate those ‘out of control’ emotions, but then time is needed to sit with the child and reflect on the behaviour that requires disciplining – teach them how to pause – give them the words to describe what they said and did and what it means to others. There are nursery rhymes about behaviour. Singing Ding Dong Bell can take the focus off the child in your lap and divert it to a boy “who tried to drown poor pussy cat”, giving you a chance to discuss the behaviour at hand. Loving touch is part of the connection needed at these times. A “blow-up” is a teaching moment and a time for togetherness – not for the punishment of isolation that teaches rejection and leaves a brain scar akin to physical pain.

“And all of this will make parenting a whole lot more effective and rewarding in the long run.”


Siegel, Daniel J. and Bryson, Tina Payne, ‘TIme-Outs Are Hurting Your Child’ in Time Ideas Sept 23, 2014 (retrieved 23rd April, 2016).

Daniel J. Siegel, M.D., is clinical professor of psychiatry at the UCLA School of Medicine, the founding co-director of the UCLA Mindful Awareness Research Center, and executive director of the Mindsight institute.

Tina Payne Bryson, Ph.D., is the co-author (with Siegel) of the best-selling The Whole-Brain Child.

Music lesson plans for kids in daycare: how to plan for preschool

Bells on wrists

Using Internet search to plan a daycare music program

Are you struggling to plan a music program for the three, four and five year-old children in your daycare center?  Is your head spinning from trying to make sense of what you have found in your Internet searches?

Here is a way to structure your search.  Look for the following 9 kinds of activity.  These are the things I do from our own Lesson Plans over at Musical Child, Early Learning through Music.  I know from years of experience that these specific activities work with ages three to five.

1. Hello Song.  Before you sing hello to each child, ask her/him to choose an action for everyone to follow.  That keeps all the children involved until their turn comes around.   This is highly repetitive but strangely it works and seems to settle everyone into the idea that we are going to be singing for a while.

2. Body Percussion.  These action packed games internalise the strong driving beat of the song so that it’s a sensation on the body of the child.  Body percussion songs, chants and raps involve actions such as patting the knees, clapping the hands, pounding the fists and crossing each arm or hand across the body.  This wires the left and right brain together aiding the coordination so necessary for a good day of learning.

3. Finger Play. By choosing the right finger play, you can make a delightful moment in the child’s day.  A child who knows how to perform a finger play can play alone, with another child or show a loving adult at any time of the day.  It’s a gift for the child’s mind, body and social status.

4. Memory.  Memory songs are about those things children just have to learn by heart – the sequence of the numbers both forwards and backwards; the days of the week; or song lyrics in a language other than English.  Memory training is an important aspect of early learning.

5.  Rhythm Instrument Songs.  You will need activities that direct the use of rhythm instruments (sometimes known as “untuned percussion”) so you don’t end up with cacophony. It hurts everybody’s ears and is particularly disruptive to children who suffer from sensory overload disorder.  I suggest a series of songs that engage the imagination.  That way the children have a reason to concentrate on each of their rhythm instruments- e.g if their bells represent sheep in a song.  You should always allow time for play and exploration.  After a short free play time, you can come in with suggestions for playing a particular instrument on your given signal.

6. Melody and Harmony Instrument Songs.  These are songs that can be played or accompanied on melody instruments, sometimes known as “tuned percussion” (e.g chime bars, resonator bells, xylophones).  Once again you need to allow playtime and exploration well before you expect the child to follow the suggestions for playing particular sounds differentiated by a letter name or sometimes colour.  The children will not be at the intellectual level of being able to play the “right note at the right time” in the early stages of engaging with tuned percussion.  However, this simply doesn’t matter.  If you carefully choose simple pentatonic songs, the gentle sounds of children playing whatever notes they choose will sound beautiful and will give much pleasure.   Over time, most children become more and more selective about the sequence of notes they choose to play.  Some, particularly at age five, will even be able to play the melody by reading and following letter name notation charts.

7. Drama and Movement.  These activities make use of props and/or actions to dramatise the lyrics. In this way the children are physically and emotionally engaged allowing them to deepen their understanding of the lyrics.  Often, this is the kind of activity that children want to do again, again!

8. Games and Dances.  These sociable movement activities are achievable and often quite wonderful.  Especially when you have enough adults helping the children to hold hands and keep the circle in shape or making sure that partner-dancing is working well.   It is worth persisting with dancing with young children so that you can have the pleasure of witnessing the moment when two or more of them spontaneously dance together during free time.

9. Story Songs.  Story songs allow for focussed time and are rich parcels of language that develop vocabulary and prosody (the rhythm of the vocal patterns in a language).  Stories in song-form fulfil the growing need for narrative structure as children develop awareness of people, time, event and place and the ways these elements interact to make a good story.

So that’s it, nine different activities to cover all the music learning your children need.  Supplement these with some good classical and World music for movement and rest times and you are well underway to having a successful music program.  If you want to save hundreds of hours of preparation, I invite you to follow the complete music curriculum at Musical Child.

I wish you every success and would love to help you achieve great results.  Simply post here or email me on the contact form.

Preschool Music Program Sing and Play

Music Program Sing and Play –  for 3-5 year old children

If you are too busy or not confident enough to write your own music lessons, you can get this easy to read, simple to use, complete prepared music program, with all the music you need… and you can start teaching it straight away no matter how much experience you have-
and the best part- there are no ongoing licence fees…

Description of the Music Program Sing and Play” 

The preschool music program Sing and Play is designed to support you leading warm, sociable group sessions where the children sing, move, dance, dramatise, improvise, create, listen and play instruments. Usually, one educator leads the group encouraging children and any other adults present to fully participate in the songs, music and their related activities.  A similar structure is behind every lesson so each time the group gets together the children become more powerful at predicting which activity will happen next, much to the surprise of the adults who aren’t usually so aware.

The songs are based on traditional melodies, many of them consisting of extremely simple tonal materials that are found in many cultures.  They offer the perfect basis for developing an appreciation of music in its cultural and aesthetic diversity.  The songs teach melodic shape, rhythm and timing, emotional expression and song structure.  They provide familiar, repetitive musical forms that are easy to remember.

Designed for children aged from three to five years, the music program Sing and Play offers four action-packed courses with songs, games, simple musical instruments, dramatic play, mimicry, movement, dance, relaxation and literature as focal points.

The songs, games and music develop

  • social awareness and social conventions
  • language and literature through song
  • coordination, timing and rhythm
  • emotional self-regulation
  • tactile learning
  • reasoning and mathematics
  • musical concepts (rhythm, melody, tempo, style, expression, timbre and form)
  • practical musical skills (listening, singing, playing instruments, moving to music, improvising)
  • drama, dance and mimicry
  • multicultural music appreciation
  • relaxation and well-being
  • visual learning

Within the music program Sing and Play there are over 170 songs.  Most of them are traditional to the English/European cultures with a smattering having been written to suit our purpose when a traditional song could not be found e.g. a helicopter song.  There are five songs in Languages other than English.  There is also a wide selection of well-known nursery rhymes and some stimulating rhymes that are less well-aired.  We include time-honoured nursery rhymes and songs believing that they are toys for the mind – indestructible, enduring cultural icons shared with adults and peers, siblings and cousins.  The expressiveness of the English language is encapsulated in its nursery rhymes.  They are significant too as cultural fragments that bind societies through shared meanings.

The program is presented as four courses:

  1. Singing All Day Long
  2. Singing in My Heart
  3. Singing Just for Fun
  4. Singing to the Sky

Music Program Sing and PlayInside the Music Program Sing and Play

Each course contains Educator’s Notes, five sets of MP3s and lyric charts showing the lyrics to all the songs.  A course can be used over a period of ten or more weeks.


There are five lesson plans called parts per course.  The intention is that each part is repeated at least once (if you choose to use it as we do for a ten-week period).

The five parts have topical titles such as ‘Cooks in the Kitchen’ or ‘Over the Sea’ allowing the grouping of songs around a rich driving concept to aid concentration and support language development.  The content has direct appeal to the children, because it is within their range of experiences either directly or vicariously through books and other media.

Each part can be presented as a 45 minute session once a week or divided into smaller chunks and used daily.

The program is flexible but it also has a strong developmental core to it based on the recurring activities.  Ten developmental activities are presented in each part under headings such as ‘Body Percussion’, ‘Rhythm Instruments’ or ‘Games and Dances’.

Each of the five parts shows:

  • the part number and name e.g. Part 1 – Beautiful Farm
  • activity heading: Social Conventions; Body Percussion; Fingers; Memory; Rhythm Instruments; Melody and Harmony Instruments; Drama and Movement; Games and Dances; Music Appreciation Suggestions; Story Songs with Visual Media
  • learning outcomes for musical concepts: rhythm, melody, tempo, style, expression, timbre and form
  • a rationale or “Why?” section giving the writer’s reason for choosing the piece as well as extra historical or cultural notes
  • a suggestion for staying alert to opportunities for Language and Speech Development by mining the lyrics for repetition, rhythm, rhyme, alliteration, onomatopoeia
  • a suggested way to introduce the activities and songs
  • the lyrics
  • a simple score

Within the whole Music Program Sing and Play  there are 20 parts and over 170 songs.  The notes are laid-out in an easy to read format with a lesson overview in the front.  Each course is colour-coded for ease of differentiation.

All of the song accompaniments and vocal tracks are provided as MP3s.

All of the song lyrics are provided as lyric charts. Songs that are repeated – Hello Song, Pack Away Song, Goodbye Song and the ‘horse-riding song’ – are provided once.  They appear in the lyric charts for the first part but also pertain to the following four parts in each course.

This description is based on Sing and Play 1: Singing All Day Long Educator’s Book.  To read more from this book download the Excerpt.  Find out more about how to buy the complete preschool music program Sing and Play for children aged one to five published by Musical Child – Early Learning through Music.  

The Old Grey Cat preschool music activity

preschool music activity

OLD GREY CAT preschool music activity

The old grey cat is sleeping, sleeping, sleeping,

The old grey cat is sleeping, in the house. 


preschool music activity


The little mice are nibbling, nibbling, nibbling

The little mice are nibbling, in the house.



preschool music activity


The old grey cat comes creeping, creeping, creeping,

The old grey cat comes creeping, through the house,


preschool music activity


The little mice all scamper, scamper, scamper,

The little mice all scamper, through the house.


Here is a link to the music, lyric chart and activity booklet for Old Grey Cat a preschool music activity from Musical Child’s Lesson Plan Are You Sleeping?

This activity is really good for young children because they have to wait for a change in the music before the cat can chase the mice.  If you have a child in your care who finds it hard to wait, cue her/him in to the music and repeat the activity many times so s/he can learn when to “let loose”.  I’m sure it will become a favourite.

Try this activity with a small group of children from age two years up to six or seven.  If you have a large group, simply repeat the preschool music activity several times taking turns to hold the stuffed animal toys.  If you don’t have any toys, make the cat and mice from recycled materials.  It will be doubly fun if the children make their own.

If you like this song and drama activity, please comment below and please share with your friends and colleagues – press the button below Share This.  For more musical inspiration, like our Facebook Page- musicalchild.earlylearning.


Preschool themes – Cars Trains Helicopters

preschool themes

Making sound effects for helicopters is fun!

Sound effects matter to kids so let’s give them the best audio we possibly can so that their imaginations can soar free – like the sounds of cars and trains and helicopters.

Excellent sound reproduction has a short history in terms of human affairs  with the first recording made just a little over a 150 years ago. Great advances have been made since then. I recently read that Ray Dolby died on September 12, 2013 at his home in San Francisco. He is the engineer who invented the Dolby system that makes our audio experience so great in cinemas and in our homes. Ray once said “All my life, I’ve loved everything that goes; I mean bicycles, motorcycles, cars, jeeps, boats, sail or power, airplanes, helicopters.” In that respect he’s very like most of the children we teach in the age range 3-5!

As a tribute to a man who spent his life improving our auditory experience, today I’m taking a pledge to champion excellence in the sound systems used in child care centres, nurseries, preschools, kindergartens and anywhere that people play music and sound tracks to young children. I want children to hear high quality sounds.

Here’s a sad little story that will have music teachers all over the world sympathising with me.  Yesterday I left home with my head in the clouds and forgot to pack the speaker dock for my iPhone where I store all my tracks and playlists.  Fortunately I was carrying backup CDs (working on the “be over-prepared” motto in one sense at least!)   When I arrived at my regular weekly gig, presenting the Musical Child program to 1-5 year olds, I had to use the centre’s CD players.

Alas, in each room, the Toddlers’ and the Kindies’, the CD player was faulty.  I couldn’t easily repeat or skip tracks because the controls stuck and both players missed whole chunks of audio so the rhythm of the song was lost far too many times.  But the greatest woe was the sound coming from the thin, tinny speakers.  In our recording studio, we had spent hours on each track making it sound rich, full and the best we could possibly achieve.  At the centre of my lesson, here was our music sounding like it was played through a kitchen sink with the plug out!

Please, please in memory of the great engineers who made audio playback such a pleasure, buy a decent CD player or sound dock for your room!  The children deserve it and you deserve it too.  Only then can you hear the “great” in great music and all the lovely sound effects that make up the richness of sound recordings.

So, that brings me to Ray Dolby’s obsession – “everything that goes”.  Here is our Helicopter Hovers song with sound effects.  First, read the lyrics and then hit the play button.  Jan and I wrote it because there weren’t any traditional songs about helicopters.  We put in the panda reference because our local zoo in Adelaide had just taken in two pandas, Wang Wang and Funi, and it was a hot topic in the media.  We figured lots of kids had been to visit them.  We hope you like it – here’s a short preview and some lyrics.

Helicopter hovers over the zoo,

See the pandas eating bamboo,

Lion snatches its meat with a growl,

Baboons scratch and let out a howl,

Otters are playing on the waterslide,

Snakes are wriggling, then they hide,

Emu nods to kangaroo,

Helicopter hovers over the zoo.

Helicopter Hovers (c) 2010 Musical Child all rights reserved

Helicopter Hovers (voc)

If you want to use this song you can buy the activity sheets with lyrics, backing track and vocal track – Helicopter Hovers or a whole lesson plan packed full of songs on the theme of transport – On the Move in our webstore.

Advice for a beginning music teacher from an expert

Advice for a beginning music teacher to restore your confidence

Have you been asked to teach an early childhood program?  Are you freaking out?  Take a deep breath and read on – this is quick and painless:

 advice for a beginning music teacher

Holly at Brompton

#1. Chill out 

Most importantly, chill out, relax, trust yourself and trust those kids.  After all, you love music, they love music and so you have a lot in common.  Remember that you have something wonderful to offer because no-one can run music sessions more convincingly than a music teacher – it’s your job.  If you are relaxed, and get down on the floor to their level, you will soon have them eating out of your hand. Hey, you were once a musical little kid yourself!



advice for a beginning music teacher

Michael and Mark

#2. Mentor me please

Get a mentor.  Organise an ongoing professional conversation with an expert, even if it’s by email or through a forum.  This person need not be a music educator but s/he will know about how to engage and manage very young children.  If possible, watch her/him in action, ideally with the very children you are going to teach.  If not possible, then watch some other experts working well with this age.  Tell him/her your fears and share your delights.


advice for a beginning music teacher

Music Curriculum for 3-5 year olds

#3. Read all about it

Research.  Read books, journal articles and other academic papers.  Investigate website, especially blogs written by practising professionals.  Be a little wary of some social media posts, videos and pin-boards as persistent errors can be passed around just as easily as can good advice. Go to your trusted music teachers’ associations where you can find links to sub-branches devoted to early childhood music.  Here’s a link to the Early Childhood Music Education Commission for the International Society for Music Eduction -ISME.  And here’s a link to a free excerpt from my Sing and Play 1 Educator’s Book.

That’s it – a little bit of good advice for a beginning music teacher! Good luck. You might find that you love it and you’ll be looking forward to working with your youngest students as the best part of your working week.  To save hours and hours of preparation time, look for our recommended preschool music lessons at Musical Child.

advice for a beginning music teacher

Lesson Plan for 3-5 year-olds Beautiful Farm

Kindergarten music lesson plans

kindergarten music

Sing and Play Book 2: Singing in My Heart

Short on time?  Here are 20 proven kindergarten music lesson plans ready to go . . .

Your children will love these engaging kindergarten music lessons. In every lesson they are active as they play instruments, move, dance, dramatise and learn to sing new songs.  Each kindergarten music lesson follows the same format but with different songs.  For example, after we do a body percussion song, we always do a finger play.

Click on each lesson plan title to read the playlist of songs or download the lesson plan.  If you want a complete program of lessons to last for a year, download all 20.  (See more on discounts for buying a complete music curriculum.)  This is what one teacher wrote:

Hi there! Yes! I’m from Spain, I Run my own business, a nursery School where we teach English through Music and movement. I love your Lessons plans because They are easy to follow and They organise my time!! I usually teach vocabulary with your songs.

Maria Prieto Martin, Causeway Academy,

This is a complete curriculum. There are ten kindergarten music activities:

body percussions; finger plays; memory songs; rhythm instruments; melody and harmony instruments; horse-riding songs; drama and movement; games and dances; story songs and social conventions.

Each activity develops one or more of the following musical skills:

listening; moving; singing; playing instruments; improvising

Each activity develops one or more of the following musical concepts:

rhythm; pitch; melody; harmony; timbre; texture; form; style; and expression – made up of tempo, dynamics, articulation, interpretation.

Within each lesson, the songs have been chosen to interact within rich driving social and environmental concepts:

  1. Farming practices and farm animals: Beautiful Farm
  2. Food: Cooks in the Kitchen
  3. Unexpected occurrences: Surprise! Surprise!
  4. Seas and Oceans: Over the Sea
  5. How to amuse yourself: Holiday Fun
  6. Different aspects of the body: My Body
  7. Insect and hygiene; Shoo Fly Shoo!
  8. Various emotions: In My Heart
  9. Observing and caring for animals: Be Kind to Animals
  10. Use of and care around candles: Candle Burning Bright
  11. Coordination within dramatic play: New Games to Play
  12. Consideration of consequences and problem solving: Uh-oh!
  13. Observing animals’ movements and habitats: Birds and Animals
  14. Raising resilience and overcoming fear: Fun and Adventure
  15. Sleep: Are You Sleeping?
  16. Variety in animal form and behaviour: All Kinds of Animals
  17. Bravery and skill: Brave and Clever
  18. Transport – ways of moving from place to place: On the Move
  19. Christmas season: Christmas is Coming
  20. Christmas Day: Christmas is Here

These kindergarten music lesson plans were written by Carol Biddiss M.Ed and have been tested and refined by the team at Musical Child Early Learning through Music. 

Music activities for preschoolers – 5 Quick tips

Finger Puppets LijaHere are five tips to literally put into the tips of your fingers so you and your kids will have fun during music activities for preschoolers.

After my mini-lecture two days ago, I decided to post something about music activities for preschoolers that’s quick and easy.  This is to remind us all to not take ourselves too seriously when working with little kids.

Thumbkin – remember to have a good intention or a “will to succeed” before you sit down for music time with your kids. To get them on your frequency, try singing Hello to each one by name.  They will be squirming to have a turn – Hello Song.

Pointer – remember that it’s OK to engage in direct teaching as long as you don’t do it all the time.  So you can tell them, “This is how we do the actions.  I’ll do it, now you show me.” Try a body percussion – Shimmy Shimmy Cocoa Pop.

Tallman – remember to get up and stretch, wriggle, jump around for a few breaths, music lessons aren’t just about sitting on the floor concentrating the mind.  Music works in the the whole body so don’t be afraid to stretch out and move.  Try a dance or drama game – Dog Jumps through the Window.

Ringman – remember to touch the sensitive soul of the child with poignant melodies, soft lullabies and beautiful orchestral or instrumental music.  Try a relaxation with gentle music – Tafta Hindi.

Baby/pinkie – remember that preschoolers are not officially “in school” and they need to be treated with tender loving care. If the lesson or session isn’t working to your satisfaction, maybe it’s you that needs to change because in many ways they still need lots of leeway and understanding.  Maybe it would be good to have more playtime today – so instead of struggling on with a full music lesson, sing a quick story such as Sing a Song of Sixpence followed by a Goodbye Song and let them run outside.

So those are my quick tips about running music activities for preschoolers.  To see complete music lessons that worked for us click here.


How to program preschool music lessons

program preschool music

A simple way to program preschool music for 10 weeks

So maybe you’ve got a new job teaching preschoolers music and you’ve got to submit something in writing to the powers that be.  Writing a program of music lessons for a term or a year can be a pretty soul-less task. You might have write it even before you meet the children you will be educating!  Maybe having to program preschool music is something you’re dreading, especially if you have little or no experience in preschool music teaching.

A simple way – just two little words

Before you plan anything, repeat after me, “free play is essential” so make sure you implement opportunities for musical free play to happen frequently, even if you’re not there when it’s going on.  Now we’ve got that clear, let me suggest a simple way to start thinking about programming music lessons for young children.   Spend your efforts on these two words, content and activities.

Content has soul and substance and can be many things: a song- The Farmer in the Dell, or a chant – We’re Going on a Bear Hunt, or a piece of music – Henry Mancini’s Baby Elephant Walk or a story book – I Know an Old Lady Who Swallowed a Fly.

Great content usually has a title, is inherently musical and captures their interest straight away.

Activities can be many but here are a few that are tried and true: body percussion – clap your hands, pat your knees, hand jive, or a dance – moving different body parts in Dr. Knickerbocker, or playing rhythm instruments in an animal sound game – I Had a Rooster, or a finger play – hiding and revealing separate fingers in Where is Thumbkin? or acting out characters in a drama game –  Monkeys on the Bed.

Great activities keep them listening to the music long enough for them to learn what the music has to teach them.

Let’s trust for a moment that choosing excellent content and activities will take care of the musical concepts and skills.  Why? Because other experienced music educators will be your guide when you choose great content and activities and you are going to trust them for a while until you gain enough experience to know what “works” with your particular children.

So, now you can plot, say 10 weeks of content and activities on a simple matrix.  This is one of ours from Sing and Play 3 Singing Just for Fun.  We group our “great content” around five different themes.

You can try it as it is, or change the content by finding other songs or pieces of music. Keep the activities the same, that way you’ll cover all the concepts and skills mentioned earlier.

program preschool music

A not so simple way – especially for music teachers

When I teach this topic to adults in music education courses and training sessions, I rely on a metaphor of a double-layer cake where we sandwich together two ways of organising ideas – the first around a set of musical concepts, the second around a set of musical skills.

Those of you who are musicians will take to this approach easily.  I’ll give a brief run-down.

When talking about the concepts or elements of  music, a standard list might include: rhythm; pitch; melody; harmony; timbre; texture; expression – made up of tempo, dynamics, articulation, interpretation; form; and possibly style although that can be considered to be an aggregate of everything else.

All of these concepts form part of the early childhood music curriculum.  This may sound contentious, but from my reading and  observations, young children show subtle discretion in their listening.  They just can’t perform skilfully because their bodies (including voices) and emotional controls are not ready.

The musical skills are generally listed as listening, moving, singing, playing, improvising (sometimes expressed as creating) and the literacy skills of reading, notating and composing (sometimes expressed as writing music).

The first five of these skills are crucial in a complete early childhood music curriculum.  Reading, notating and composing can be included (be careful not to force literacy).  These are not the things you need to concentrate on “teaching” although they can easily be part of free musical play.

Once we sort out concepts and skills, we have to add the time dimension.  Given, say 10 weeks in a term, 40 weeks in a school year or 51 weeks in a day-care setting, how do we plot those concepts and skills over time?

When should the children sing?  We might need to ask ourselves should we expect them to sing perfectly in tune and get the pitch and  melody right?   Do we program singing for every day or once a week?

How often should the children play instruments? Do we expect them to be able to play rhythms in perfect time?

What about timbre, how do we program for our children to develop a deeper understand of tone colour?  There are, literally, hundreds of questions that lie behind a neat little A4 piece of paper that sets out a block of “lessons”.  We could spend ages philosophising about music education but if you need to get started quickly, you can either write your own program or go with ours over at Musical Child, Early Learning through Music.


Hip hop preschool

Hip hop preschool

Want to liven up your preschool music lesson? Try a hip hop activity.

Here’s a loop-based track and “homie” activity we do to keep our hip hop preschool kids on their toes.  (Bonus points – it’s also great for rhyming and remembering which number comes next in the sequence just so’s you know it’s educational!)  The adults in the room perk up considerably when they hear the opening rhythms and the children look at each other as though to say “This is going to be good” as soon as they register the sound effect of breaking glass.  The best sign of all that it’s going to keep their interest is that people of all ages start moving.

You don’t have to feel like you’re a great singer to perform this to your kids.  You can rap it so don’t be afraid to get into the “down-home” mood and enjoy yourself. And your parents will love it when they hear you were a hip hop preschool today.

When Billy Boy Was One is a body percussion activity designed to balance and centre the children at the start of a music lesson.  There are changing actions for each verse but at the chorus, the arms fold across the body, fingertips touching the shoulders on the lyric “Cross” and then unfold and touch the knees on the lyric “down”. This engages the left and right sides of the brain, left hand to right shoulder and vice versa.  The other action that crosses the mid-line is clapping when each palm comes in contact with the other.  Simple but wonderful and an ancient human pleasure. By the way, when you hear the “kapa-kapow!” sound  effect at the beginning and end of the track, strike a pose like a rapper. They’ll love it and some kids will want to show you their special moves.

Buy this activity here today When Billy Boy was One and use it immediately with your kids. It’s sure to become a favourite and then you can share this post with your friends.

Here’s short sample for you to hear. When Billy Boy Was One Preview

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