Many studies have proven that we not only enjoy music and song but that it’s great for our wellbeing and invaluable for child development.
Centre director and CELA trainer Jenny Hind shares how music and rhyme can be beneficial throughout the day provides simple tips on how to incorporate rhymes and songs into a broad range of situations and activities.
By Jenny Hind
When I reach for my teapot, I sing in my head, and sometimes aloud,
I’m a little teapot short and stout,
Here is my handle, here is my spout,
When I get all steamed up then I shout,
Tip me over pour me out.
This rhyme comes to me often because I have such lovely memories of singing it as a young child each time I saw my Mum make a pot of tea. I remember the joy of being able to yell out the last line and tipping myself into an imaginary cup.
Benefits begin from birth
From birth we enjoy and respond to music, parents intrinsically use rocking rhythms and lullabies to soothe and calm babies, toddlers sway, move and clap to musical beats and young children love to repeat their favourite songs over and over. Music and singing is an enjoyable part of everyone’s day.
Think about how often we hear music throughout the day… On the radio, in the car, streamed from our phones, during yoga class, in shops, in advertising jingles, TV show themes, school concerts, or live bands and orchestras.
Children can learn musical elements such as beat, rhythm, pitch, tempo and volume from nursery rhymes and simple songs. You don’t need to use a device or speakers because nursery rhymes are easy to sing and children will learn best when watching and listening to you, and they will never judge your voice.
How many ways do you incorporate rhyme in your days?
How many nursery rhymes can you remember from your childhood?
And how do you share them with children?
As most have simple rhythms, children can clap or tap the beat with percussion instruments. Try clapping to these rhymes:
- Doctor Foster
- Pease Porridge Hot
- Hey Diddle Diddle
- This Old Man
- Humpty Dumpty
Nursery rhymes are also fun to move to and can help develop large muscles and coordination, so they are perfect for active young children. These are a few of my favourites to play with children:
- A-Jump, A- Jump, A-Jump
- A Ram Sam Sam
- Row, Row, Row your Boat
- Jack be Nimble
- Jack in the Box
- Johnny Works with One Hammer
- One Grey Elephant
Singing and rhymes can be great to settle children, but how often do you sing at other times of the day?
Do you sing Pat a Cake, Pat a Cake in the mud kitchen? or Polly Put the kettle On in home corner?
It is delightful to hear children sing while they play, they will often make up or use silly words and we can model singing skills all through the day. Children will respond better to songs than spoken voice, so when transitioning children try singing The Ants Go Marching or Let’s Go Walking.
At routine times try singing Wash You Dirty Hands in the bathroom. It’s much more enjoyable than saying over and over “did you wash your hands?”.
Rhyming with names and numbers and games
Children love attention so including their names in songs such as Willoughby Wallaby makes children feel valued and helps them learn the names of their friends. Silly and rhyming words are fun for children to say and repeat.
Willoughby wallaby wee
An elephant sat on me
Willoughby wallaby woo
An elephant sat on you
Willoughby wallaby wusten
An elephant sat on Justin
Willoughby wallaby woal
An elephant sat on Joel.
Music accelerates brain development in the areas of language, maths and abstract thinking skills. Exposure to music helps children to decode sounds and words and develops listening skills which are essential for learning.
Babies can recognise the melody of a song long before they understand the words and they will try and mimic the sounds and move in response to music. Singing songs also helps develop children’s vocabulary and understanding rhyme will assist in reading skills. If children are able to follow written words of nursery rhymes they know while singing, they will also be reading.
When you teach the rhyme, Twinkle Twinkle, you are also teaching children the tune to the Alphabet Song. This will help them with recalling letter names later.
Twinkle twinkle little star,
A B C D E F G
How I wonder what you are,
H I J K L M N O P
Up above the world so high,
Q R S T U V
Like a diamond in the sky,
W X Y and Z
Twinkle twinkle little star,
Now I know my ABC
How I wonder what you are.
Next time won’t you sing with me.
Songs and rhymes contain sequences that help children learn about patterns which builds numeracy skills. Of course, there are lots of songs and rhymes that teach number skills, just a few are:
- Here is the Beehive
- Five Currant Buns
- Five Cheeky Monkeys
- 10 Fat Sausages and
- 1, 2, 3, 4, 5 Once I Caught a Fish Alive
Traditional musical games are also valuable tools to develop children’s social skills such as turn-taking, following rules and developing self-regulation and resilience when you don’t get a turn or win the game.
Some of the favourites in our centre are:
- The Farmer in the Dell
- Kangaroo, Skippy Roo
- Duck, Duck, Goose
- There is Someone who is Hiding
- Here we go, Looby Loo
- What’s the Time Mr Wolf
You can find many traditional children’s songs with a quick Google search and books such as Merrily Merrily and Catch a Song by D. Hoermann and D. Bridges or The Useful Book by H. Clark is available online.
As well as all the developmental reasons to include music for children throughout the day, the most important reason to sing, rhyme, hum and dance is that it provides joyous moments every day.
Now, where is a biscuit to have with my tea?
Who stole the cookie from the cook cookie jar?
You stole the cookie from the cook cookie jar
It couldn’t be,
Then who stole the cookie from the cook cookie jar?
Jenny Hind has been working as an early childhood teacher and director for 30 years in long daycare, private school and preschool. She’s also been a trainer for Registered Training
Organisations (RTOs) and CELA. She has a Bachelor of Education in Early Childhood, an Advanced Diploma in Community Sector Management and Cert IV in Training and Assessment.
Jenny’s most rewarding career achievement has been building relationships with children and families in community-based preschools and taking delight in the development of each child.
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