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10 Activity Ideas That Incorporate Music and Arts

by Jackie Silberg
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Book Cover Image. Title: The I Can't Sing Book:  For Grown-ups Who Can't Carry a Tune in a Paper Bag...But Want to do Music with Young Children, Author: by Jackie Silberg, Jackie Silberg

The I Can't Sing Bookby Jackie SilbergJackie Silberg

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When you incorporate the arts in the activities that you do with your children, you are stimulating and developing their imagination and critical thinking. The arts also teach life skills like problem solving, self confidence, self discipline, and accepting responsibility. Try these ideas with your little ones.

Rhythm Ideas: Using rhythm instruments develops fine motor skills, listening skills, and instills a sense of pride in a young child. The song "This Old Man" is excellent for rhythm experiences. Sit on the floor with your child and give him a rhythm stick. Sing the first verse of "This Old Man," "This old man, he played one," then hit the stick on the floor one time. Continue singing the song and after each number, hit the stick on the floor and count out the number as you sing "He played knick knack on my thumb / With a knick knack paddy whack / Give your dog a bone / This old man came rolling home."

Your name has Rhythm: Another rhythm game is to tell your child that her name is very special and has its very own rhythm. Say your child's name and clap your hands on each syllable of her name. Clap either your name or your child's name and see if she can identify which name you are clapping from listening to the rhythm. Continue the game using rhythm instruments instead of clapping your hands. Use rhythm instruments for specific reasons, like a substitution for a word or as an accompaniment to a familiar song.

Recommended: Beginner Band Set is full of wonderful instruments for these activities.

The Rain Games: This game involves body movement and is very effective in creating a mood. Once you have taught this to your child, she will ask to play it again and again. Say or sing the following words:
"Rain, rain, go away / Come again another day / Everybody wants to play (you can substitute a child's name for "everybody."). Sing or say the words again and do the following actions: Make soft raindrops—tap your fingers softly on a surface. Make louder raindrops—tap louder. Make very loud raindrops—slap your hands on your thighs. Make thunder—stamp your feet. Make lightening—clap your hands sharply. Now, reverse the procedure until you have come back to the soft raindrops again.

Microphone Singing: Little children love to pretend they are singing into a microphone. Anything can become a microphone: a plastic glass, a paper towel tube, a rhythm stick, an empty can, etc. Your child will find many more things to add to this list. Turn the microphone singing into a production. Introduce your child: "Ladies and gentlemen, let's put our hands together for (child's name), who will sing ( let your child pick his favorite song."

Recommended: LeapFrog Learn & Groove Preschool Medley Microphone

Where is Thumbkin: The popular song "Where is Thumbkin" is a great favorite of little children. A very creative way to sing this song, is to change the voice of Thumbkin, Pointer, etc. "Where is Thumbkin / Where is Thumbkin / Here I am, here I am (sing this in a different kind of voice, e.g.: happy, grumpy, sad, funny or whiny) / How are you this morning? (regular voice) / Very well I thank you (different voice) / Run away, run away."

Animal Singing: Pick a favorite song and sing it with your child. Maybe, "The Wheels on the Bus" or "This Old Man." Ask your child how she thinks a cow would sing the song. Making a cow sound of "moo," sing the song again using the word "moo." Continue to sing the song in other animal voices. Try to make your voice really sound like the animal. Rather than just say the word "moo" as you sing, make the "moo" really sound like a cow. In addition to being a lot of fun, this game takes a lot of cognitive thinking on the part of your child.

Recommended: 500 Five Minute Games Quick and Easy Activities for 3 to 6 Year Olds

The Announcement Song: Teach your child how to sing announcements. Instead of saying, "it's time for breakfast," why not sing it!! Think of all the announcements that you can make with a song. The following could be common verses: "time to take a bath," "dinner is ready," "it's time to get in the car," and "Grandma is coming today!"

Sequencing Songs: Sometimes called "add on" songs, sequencing songs prepare children for reading and other academic skills. Math uses sequencing, history employs sequencing, and memory is developed with sequencing. Songs that have a certain part that keeps repeating and always going back to the beginning for the repeat is a sequencing song. Here are some of my favourites: "I Know an Old Lady Who Swallowed a Fly," "There's a Hole in the Bottom of the Sea," "The Twelve Days of Christmas," "Old Macdonald Had a Farm," "The Farmer in the Dell," "I Had a Rooster" and "She'll Be Comin' Round the Mountain ( the "hi babe" part)."

Be a Color: Help children associate colors with animate objects. Give them ideas to act out that are associated with a color. With each color, let them take a crayon and draw a picture with that color. Be a yellow buzzing bumble bee, growl like a black bear, eat some red cherries, carve an orange pumpkin into a jack-o-lantern. Be creative and make up your own.

Recommended: TriWrite Crayons

Dancing with Crayons: Lay a large roll of paper on the floor. Start with one crayon using the color of choice. Talk about fast and slow music. Show your child how to draw fast and slow. Play some instrumental music that goes both fast and slow. Each time the music gets fast, say the word "fast." Each time the music is slow, say the word "slow." Soon your child will recognize the fast and slow parts as well as having created a lovely picture that you can display in a prominent place.  
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Meet Our Expert
Jackie Silberg
Early Childhood Specialist
Jackie Silberg is an early childhood advocate and popular keynote speaker. Her expertise is in brain and literacy development for young children and developmental games using music.

Also known as "Miss. Jackie," she has a BA in Education, an MS in Child Development, and many graduate hours in piano and music composition.

Jackie founded and directed the Jewish Community Center School of Music in Kansas City, Missouri, and worked for KSHB television, planning the music and performing her original music for a children's program called "41 Treehouse Lane." She wrote and produced a television show for Time Warner called "Just Kids," which addressed children's needs and interests. Jackie has worked as a consultant with the Discovery Channel, setting up their music-streaming website. She gives workshops, keynote addresses, seminars, and family concerts throughout the U.S., Canada, Australia, Germany, Kuala Lumpur, and Singapore. Jackie has served as an adjunct instructor at both Emporia State University and the University of Missouri at Kansas City and lectures at Johnson County Community College in Kansas. She received the Distinguished Alumna Award from Emporia State University, in recognition of her educational achievements.

Her books have been published by Gryphon House Books in 34 different countries, and both her books and music have won many awards including: Parent's Choice, Mom's Choice Award, NAPPA Gold, Parent's Council, Early Childhood News Director's Choice, iParenting, and more.

Jackie is also the owner of Miss. Jackie Music Company in Leawood, Kansas. You can find out more on Jackie Silberg's website.
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