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.

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. 

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.


How long is a preschool music lesson? Program planning

Recently I was asked how long one of our Lesson Plans lasts.  The short answer is it’s up to you.  That’s the beauty of having a whole series of Music Activities that you can run in any order.  However, if you want some structure to get you started you can follow our suggestions.

In a setting such as a church hall with parents and children I generally do a whole lesson lasting 45 minutes with ten or so activities.  Then I repeat the whole lesson the following week.

If you think 45 minutes is too long you are not alone.  However, we do have a successful time together because there is so much variety in a Musical Child Lesson Plan with games, movement, dances, props and instruments. Towards the end of each lesson I include a short music appreciation activity, generally dancing to classical music with scarves followed by a restful times with lullabies, nursery rhymes or story songs with illustrated books.

Importantly, the children are given many opportunities throughout the lesson to exercise agency and think and do for themselves so the time flies. I run 40 lessons a year for each age group that way.   When I first started to develop the programs I used to do five different lesson plans over five weeks and then repeat them all but I soon found that repeating the lesson the very next week gave better learning outcomes.

In a childcare or kindergarten setting for toddlers or kindergarten I might not get through a whole lesson plan in one session so the next week I’ll do the bits I missed and drop activities I did the first time.

Sometimes I’ll work with a group of mixed ages and do most of a Bounce and Sing lesson plan for 1-3 yr olds and then after 30 minutes take the older children away for more complex musical tasks from Sing and Play such as dances or songs with puppets or props.

If I have a group of babies I’ll run a twenty minute activity session and perhaps take my guitar and sing nursery rhymes for the last ten minutes making the whole session no longer than thirty minutes in all.  The working year goes for more than 40 weeks in child care settings so I might do three or four lessons for three weeks or else I’ll make up playlists of favourites activities rather than following one of my Lesson Plans.

For a children’s party I’ll make up a playlist with the parent to suit the guests ages and the interests of the children.  They usually like the traditional songs and games so they and the other adults can join in.

A music lesson can last for one activity or ten activities, it’s flexible and depends on the needs of your learners and the time/place constraints.  Once you have the individual activities you can string them together in any order you like. Just make sure you provide music education regularly and often.  Musicality is one of the things that distinguishes us from the other species and it needs to be nurtured.

Here is the format for 1-3 years-old Bounce and Sing Part 1 We Play Music. 

Here is the format for 3-5 years- old Sing and Play Part 1 Beautiful Farm 

Remember music – there’s nothing quite like it!


Planning a music lesson for daycare 3-5 year olds: Uh-oh!

Here’s an outline for an intriguing music lesson for your older children in child care.  It’s called Uh-oh! Part 12 from Singing Just for Fun and it’s full of humorous songs and activities designed to encourage problem-solving when faced with tricky situations.  In our experience we’ve found that the activities work best in this order:

Body Percussion  When I Was One

Warm up body and brain with this action song.  You can do this activity with or without tapping sticks but it’s more fun with. Children of the grand old age of three or four or even five like to feel superior to younger children whom they regard as “babies”.  This song plays on the notion of “age status”.

Fingerplay  Where is Thumbkin

You can do this one with finger puppets, two per child – one for each hand.  There is a little interlude between verses just long enough to swap the puppets from one finger to the next (hopefully!)

Memory Song (numbers)  The Ants Go Marching

When I first recorded this there were ten verses.  I soon learnt my lesson.  We revised the track and now there are only five, not too much marching!

Rhythm Instruments  We’re Going On a Bear Hunt

Children love this song.  Works really well with actions and even better with instruments (bells, finger cymbals, shakers, guiros).

Melody and Harmony Instruments Diddle Diddle Dumpling

Who wouldn’t love the duffer who fell asleep in his clothes!

Drama and Movement   Monkeys on the Bed

Because it’s so naughty!

Games and Dances  Can You Dance?

Try silly instructions. Ask them to do what you sing, not what you do.  Not for the faint-hearted, some will “get it”, other will do what you do and still enjoy the song.

Story Song  The Three Billy-goats Gruff

This is one of my favourite stories and I’m also a wee bit biased towards this song because I wrote it.  It’s a “long sing” but worth learning to hear the big sigh of relief from the group when all three brothers make it to the “fresh green grass on the other side”.  You can use the lyric chart or make a flip book with illustrations to guide you.  I’ve also seen it done with felt cutouts on a flannel-board.  I especially like the traditional ending:

Snip, snap, snout,

This tale’s told out.

Want to save yourself hours of preparation time? Click on any of the links to go to the store and buy the activities.  Each song title comes complete with

  • a written activity – including a simple score with chords and the song lyrics on a chart
  • one or more quality backing tracks so you can sing live
  • one or more vocal tracks so you can teach yourself the song

Leave a comment about this lesson plan so we can share.  Remember to play music with your children every day because there’s nothing else like it.

Christmas activities for toddlers

Christmas activities for toddlers

Getting toddlers ready to enjoy Christmas

Christmas activities for toddlers – bounce and sing

Toddlers may not have been around for long but they certainly enjoy celebration times.  This is how I run a Christmas music session for children under three.  The Lesson Plan is called Christmas Tree and you can listen to previews of all the songs here. Christmas activities for toddlers should be engaging and age appropriate so read on to find out what works.

After our customary Hello Song we have a little bounce on our haunches or on someone’s lap if you are a lucky child and have a handy adult to sit on.   The song is Riding on a Reindeer and our version plays three times each time faster than before – great fun and warms them up to the idea of following the recorded music as well as my voice.

Next is a game called Where is Santa? It’s like Two Little Dickie Birds, or Where is Thumbkin?  I make little Santa pop sticks or simply little cones of red paper and put them on my two index fingers.  I hide them behind my back and bring them out one at a time.  The children can do this too if you prepare enough props in advance.

The second called Cheeky Chops requires you to provide each child with a paper plate decorated with a picture of a Christmas tree.  Demonstrate how to hide your face behind the “Christmas tree” and pop out on the word “Boo!”  If the children like it you and the other adults can tickle them at the end of the song.

A simple and elegant instrument song is O Christmas Tree.  It is one that your children will hear for many years to come.  Having a pair of finger cymbals to play enables them to concentrate for longer so they can listen to this slow song a couple of times.  Then the lovely melody seeps into memory.

For a joyous instrument song I love to use Ring the Bells It’s Christmas Time.  The lyrics tell the body what to do.  You can easily substitute the name of any instrument you have handy.

Jingle Bells is an all-time favourite and of course we all get out the bells but I like to put them on my hobby horses noses so we get the full effect of “dashing through the snow” (even though it’s usually a heat-wave where I live!)  If I don’t have real horses, we can use our scarves for tails and still dash around the room playing and singing and moving – the best of multiple learning modes for this age.  I make a great show of singing “Oh what fun” because I have heard children of eight singing “On that farm” and once they’ve learned it wrongly, it sticks!

The Christmas Tree Dance is a pretty little song with easy actions as long as you have enough adults to keep the circle wide.  I had to cut out the verse “Chop down the Christmas Tree” because it made some children cry, so now in my book it has three verses instead of the original four and everyone is happy.

I love to do Ring Bells Ring with an adult for every child because you can pick them up under the arms and swing them like a ringing bell and it’s fun.  Then, for the second verse, you can grab them by the hand and “run, reindeer, run, stop”, and that’s fun too.

After all that energetic running they all need a rest so our lullaby in this lesson is the beautiful Czech Rocking Carol.  Its unfamiliar tonality provides an interesting change from the normal major scale melodies of early childhood, and now, in early childhood is the time to introduce the music of the World.

It’s difficult to find nursery rhymes about Christmas but Little Jack Horner fits the bill and teaches the phrases “What a good boy am I” which may be useful as excitement around Christmas builds up in families.

As a final song we have a slightly adapted Twinkle Twinkle by adding a Christmas star, one you can show with a real or illustrated Christmas Tree topped with a star. The star is an enduring symbol of inspiration and always fascinates young children.  This melody with its even phrases and satisfying form calms children and makes them peaceful, a great mood in which to finish ready for our Goodbye Song.

Have a safe and peaceful Christmas season and enjoy the season’s special music.

Making Christmas memories – use songs and activities

making Christmas memories

Christmas is Coming

Making Christmas memories with songs, rhymes and activities

Do you remember the songs you sang or heard as a young child? Give the children in your care something special by making Christmas memories through musical activities this year.  This post tells you what activities are in our 45 minute preschool music Lesson Plan – Christmas is Coming.  You can save yourself hours of preparation by purchasing it from our website. (Christmas is Coming.)

Christmas is coming, the goose is getting fat,

Please put a penny in the old man’s hat,

If you haven’t got a penny, a ha’penny will do,

If you haven’t got a ha’penny then God bless you.

Mother Goose Nursery Rhyme

Nursery rhymes are always a good idea for young children but they are especially charged with meaning at Christmas time when emotions are heightened.  It’s then that these little poetic gems go deep into memory and there they stay for a lifetime.  Christmas is Coming is one of our “story songs”.

This is the list of songs and activities for the lesson we teach to kids 3-5 years-old in the early part of the Christmas season.   These songs and accompanying activities are about preparing for the main event with allusions to Christmas trees; kindness and sharing; Santa and gifts; Mary and her Baby; and singing angels

making Christmas memories

Ten Little Angels

Body Percussion- Five Little Christmas Trees (funky rhythm with a hand jive pattern).

Finger Play – Here is the Chimney (funny ending).

Memory Song (number) – Angel Band (also good for instrument playing)

Rhythm Instruments – I Saw Three Ships (traditional – a lovely melody)

Melody and Harmony instruments – Mary Had a Baby (traditional – an easy melody)

Drama and Movement (locomotor) – I Want to Go to the North Pole (a little bit different and so much fun)

Drama and Movement (props) – I’ll Sing You a Song (traditional – a great song for talking about kindness)

Games and Dances – Here We Come a’Wassailing (traditional – a jaunty rhythm and rare intriguing words)

Story Songs – Christmas is Coming and Santa Claus (thoughtful lyrics – a good way to end the lesson)

Music at Christmas – there’s nothing quite like it!  And to get this prepared lesson plan go to  Christmas is Coming.


Sea theme preschool music activities

Here’s a lesson plan called “Over the Sea” for you to try.  It’s all about watery places lagoons, salty seas and stormy oceans.  It’s inhabited by sailors, fish, sharks, dolphins and ocean-travellers pining for their loved ones.  The people travel in dinghies, rowboats and sailing ships in calm or wild weather and they have adventures so there’s lots of opportunities for movement to the music.

BODY PERCUSSION. For a warm-up we sing A Sailor Went to Sea, Sea, Sea with lots of verses and different actions to remember.

FINGER PLAY. This time it’s the delightful old Dutch song All the Fish and we add an exciting shark verse  with a different mood.

MEMORY SONG. Next is a song for training memory by singing in a language other than English.  This time it’s the language of the Torres Strait Islands off the north-east coast of Australia.  The song Taba Naba Norem.  Our version is very laid-back and is great for seated slow-rowing which gives a gentle spinal stretch.  We use a backing track to sing it live but you could also listen to the version by Islander-heritage Christine Anu and the Wiggles.

RHYTHM INSTRUMENTS. For learning to play untuned percussion, our song is My Bonnie.  It’s in 3/4 time which is unusual as most kids songs are in 4/4.  We simply play along to the beat with using different instruments for each time we invent a new verse.  We substitute grannie, poppa, yaya, auntie and cousin etc for “Bonnie” depending on who is in the child’s extended family.  We might even substitute “over the border” for “over the ocean” – it’s adaptable.

MELODY AND HARMONY INSTRUMENTS.  If you haven’t tried doing pentatonic songs with your children, Charlie Over the Water is a good one to start with because it’s slow and has an easy rhythm.  We use a wall chart with the notes names which is great for a child who is gaining confidence with reading.  Those who can’t read can play any note on their prepared instrument (with the notes CDEGA), they all sound harmonious when played together.  That’s the beauty of working in a pentatonic scale.

DRAMA AND MOVEMENT.  Here’s the opportunity to really stretch out those limbs and try all the different whole body movements suggested by the verses in Alley Alley Oo.  You can be the large ship with either a pointy bow or pointy sails.  You can whirl around like the wind, shake your fist at the story clouds and sink like the ship, resting when you reach the sea-bed.

GAMES AND DANCES.  For a more social experience of the wild and windy weather, join hands and dance to The Gallant Ship.  It’s an exciting sea shanty excepted from a much longer song “The Mermaid”.

STORY SONG. After all that movement children are tired and need to rest with a story.  Our story song, Dolphin Smiles was written by me about the Port River dolphin colony near my home.  It started life as a long straight song but it was too wordy for this young age so I shortened it into this rap version.  Kids get excited when they hear the strong rhythms, Here’s a little sample.  Dolphin Smiles Vocal Preview

This lesson takes a good 45 minutes if you include everything.  Of course you can split it up and do a few songs a day over the week but make sure you do them all at least twice in a fortnight so the learning can deepen.  We hope you enjoy the lesson.  You can find all the music backing tracks, vocal tracks, lyrics, written activity suggestions and wall charts over at our music curriculum website, Musical Child.

Playing at Pirates: the development of children’s moral sensibility

Is that a pirate ship?

Grey, green, greasy – that’s the look of the water in the Port River near my home.  It’s a working river so there’s always a hint of oil slick.  It’s also home to a large number of dolphins strangely enough. Occasionally I can hear a long and exceptionally loud siren which makes me wonder what it’s like if you live up close, right in Port Adelaide, because I’m a good thirty minute walk away.

At night there’s a luminous blue streak flying right across the river.  That’s the neon decorative stripe following the gentle curve of the ultra-modern cantilevered opening bridge. It’s an eerie sight.

When I first read about calls for groups to participate in the very first Port Adelaide Festival I knew I wanted Musical Child to be a part of it.  It’s such a soulful, complex place and a festival would help cement my environment in the minds of arts lovers as a destination for local tourism and a historical treat.  A live performance would also enrich our standing with parents and teachers in the local area.

Mish Bown, Maggie Fiddian and Merrilyn Greer

So I looked through our songs and found a heap of water songs and sea shanties.  There wasn’t much to bind them together in a narrative so I took the strongest character, the pirate and the most treasured local animal, the dolphin and started weaving the songs into a story-shape.  My colleagues sharpened up the plot and script during the rehearsal period and “Pirates Ahoy!” emerged.  The local Maritime Museum agreed to be the venue and gave us the use of their sloop, the Active II as a “stage”.


The season of performances was thrilling, brilliant, well-attended and loved by all.  Since then various combinations of staff have performed in childcare centres, kindies, outdoor events. Very soon, October 2nd 2012 in fact, Michael and I will perform it in at the Goodwood Community Centre as part of their school holiday program.

is something scary happening?

There’s something to be said about bringing young children face to face with someone as terrifying as a pirate.  Since the days when feature films first started showing us stories of swash-buckling adventure on the high seas, the idea of the Caribbean pirate has stuck.  Johnny Depp’s outstanding performances in recent times have given us the “look” and any reference to here-and-now piracy is overshadowed by a romantic idea popularised by film-makers.

However, the fertile fantasy-driven mind of a three, four or five year-old can still ignite a frisson of fear at the mere mention of the word “pirate”.   Archetypes are very strong at this age and pirate is synonymous with “baddie”.

Would you trust this person?


My take on this is to make our pirates morally bad, after all they steal from people and threaten their victims, including each other.  But we also give them a lovable dimension.  This allows the children to fear, condemn and like them all in the same short time-span.



There’s room for a nuanced response, for a bit of questioning of the behaviour, motives and rationale driving such reprehensible characters as Cap’n Carol and Pirate Mikey.  Perhaps someone who is afraid of sharks and loves dolphins might be human after all?  How would I behave?  Do I like people who do bad things?  Can they also be funny?  Do they bleed?

We do have one thoroughly nasty character, One-eyed Jack, but we play him with a puppet so he can be feared and sneered at.  Being a one-dimensional monster, he allows us as story-tellers, to provide an appropriate resolution to his law-breaking.  His fate is sealed when he is caught and put in gaol.



Meanwhile our two slightly-lovable pirates sail away to look for more dolphins and to chase each other around the deck.



One-eyed jack the pirate chief was a terrible, fearsome ocean thief.


If you want to play at pirates with your children and see what sort of moral dilemmas arise, here are links to a couple of great songs with suggested activities.  Play hard, wallow in the speech and language development and find out what happens to your child’s moral code when there’s the thrill of thievery and skulduggery involved.  Arrr!

Three Pirates

One-eyed Jack

Emergent literacy: Sing more silly songs

How silly is this?

What floats a preschooler’s boat?  Silliness.  Here’s a silly song, One Two Three Flea that will have them roaring with laughter and wanting to learn the lyrics.  Meanwhile you can give a big tick to ‘rhyming words’ in your program with their function of hooking children into predicting what comes next in a sentence.

One, two, three,

Mother caught a flea,

Put it in a teapot,

And made a cup of tea,

The flea jumped out,

Mother gave a shout,


And in came father,

With his shirt hanging out.

When I introduce this song, I show them a teapot and talk about putting  tea in it and then adding boiling water.  The danger element has them fascinated.  Then I bring in the idea of the family dog scratching his flea bites under the kitchen table.  If I’m feeling particularly silly myself I might mime that for them by getting on the floor, twitching one leg and snapping into my ‘fur’ chasing fleas.  Next they need to imagine one flea jumping onto the table near the teapot and mother catching it, stuffing it into the teapot, putting on the lid and reaching for the kettle of boiling water. Aaaah! Poor flea!  In my dramatisation the flea escapes through the spout (which incidentally is another rhyme with ‘out’ and ‘shout’ so why not use it?)  Mother (that’s me too) shouts ‘Dad’ and then I slap both my hands hands hard and fast on my legs to make the sound of father running in.  They love the fact that his shirt is hanging out so embroider that into the scene.

Once they know the story, show them a body percussion pattern and sing the song slowly at first so they can match the actions and then faster once they know it.  It’s exciting, silly and simple enough that they can learn the whole song with those one syllable rhyming words ‘three, flea, tea’ and ‘out, shout and bonus word spout’ leading them on.  You’ll find the whole activity including music tracks here.

This song is part of a pre school music lesson plan called Cooks in the Kitchen available from our webstore Musical Child with all the activities you need for a fun music session where things go absolutely bonkers.  There are exploding sausages, Five Fat Sausages, a boy with a pumpkin instead of a head, Nicholas Ned, stolen tarts, The Queen of Hearts and a pie made with live blackbirds, Sing a Song of Sixpence. 

Have fun and remember, there’s nothing quite like music!