Monday, November 06, 2006

Making Do on Mondays: Sing into Reading

I had the privilege of going to a kiddy concert at our local library where Nancy Stewart came in and played and discussed the impact of music on children's lives. I wanted to share a bit about this topic here.

Have you ever noticed how children pick up on the words to a song quicker than everyday conversation? My two year old barely constructs two word sentences... but he can sing "Twinkle twinkle little star, how I wonder what you are." I was blown away when I first heard that 10 word phrase come from him! But it makes sense. Children naturally love to sing... there is no teaching involved... they just do it! Singing brings to them an awareness of words since each syllable gets a different note.

There are so many ways we can incorporate singing into our little ones' lives. All of us probably at least sing a lullaby or bath song. But we should be singing to our kids throughout the day! (I have a terrible voice, but my kids still love to hear me sing.) Doing this will help them build early literacy skills especially when you incorporate activities to match your songs. Oh, and don't be fooled into thinking that kids need "kid music" only... complex music, such as classical compositions, stimulates the areas of their brain that will develop math skills and spatial reasoning. Here are some ideas on games to play with your kids... courtesy of Nancy Stewart (whose CDs are available on her website... our favorite is the "Bee Bopping Bugs"... another thing I like about her site, is that she gives activity ideas to accompany each of her CDs.)

  • Make up songs and substitute your own lyrics to familiar songs so they become personalized to the child... you can sing "Wheels on the Bus" using family members' names for example.
  • Make up songs about foods as you prepare them... exaggerating letter sounds.
  • Sing as the word sounds: if this fish is long... stretch out the words... if this fish is big... use a big, deep voice... etc.
  • Try putting stuffed animals in a box and pulling one out at a time and sing the sounds the animal makes.
  • Sing about the groceries you pull out of the bag when you get home. At the store, have the children make up songs about food items or try to spot certain letters, etc.
  • Make rhythm instruments! You can glue plastic Easter eggs, filled with rice together for shakers... or staple paper plates together, filled with beans. Even just clapping helps to engage young children.
  • You can sing your way through a favorite book! Even forget about the printed words sometimes and make up your own story to the pictures.

At any rate, children thrive on rhyme, rhythm and repetition. This is why they have a favorite book they want to hear over and over again, even though they already know all the words! They just like the reinforcement of what is familiar to them. This all helps to catapult kids into phonological awareness and reading readiness better than almost any non-musical approach taken. The more music we make with our children, the better!

-Ellie: Oak Harbor, WA

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one of us :: 8:11 AM :: 1 Comments

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