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  2. Beyond Twinkle, Twinkle: Using Music with Infants and Toddlers
  3. Beyond Twinkle, Twinkle: Using Music with Infants and Toddlers • ZERO TO THREE

Body awareness. Bilateral coordination or crossing the midline. Bilateral coordination is the ability to use both sides of the body together, like when climbing stairs or playing a piano. Crossing the midline when a child uses one part of the body in the space of the other part is an activity that requires good bilateral communication. Picture a child playing a drum with both hands, passing a maraca from one hand to the other, dancing the Hokey Pokey putting one leg in and one leg out. Teachers can also hold an egg shaker in a way that requires babies to reach across their bodies to grab it.

Music quite naturally provides opportunities to practice patterns, math concepts, and symbolic thinking skills, all in the context of a joyful noise—which makes it an attractive, engaging activity for very young children. There are many ways to participate in music experiences. Thus, they are easily adapted for a range of developmental levels and abilities, making it perfect for mixed-age settings as well as family child care programs.

The rhythm and repetition of songs may make it easier for very young children to remember the name and sequence of number patterns see the next paragraph for more about this concept. Patterns and sequencing. Almost every piece of music has a pattern or sequence built into its melody or lyrics. Learning to anticipate patterns and place objects or events in sequence builds critical early math and early reading skills. Music quite naturally provides opportunities to practice patterns, math concepts, and symbolic thinking skills.

Steady beat. Being aware of the steady beat involves clapping or patting out the beat to a piece of music or a nursery rhyme. Music holds a powerful place in our memory. Providing consistent experiences with the same song at the same time, such as nap time helps young babies remember and link that music with a particular experience. Discrimination or observation of differences. Through experience with different instruments and types of music, children slowly become aware of differences in pitch, timbre, tone, and volume. Even young babies will look surprised when one egg shaker makes a different sound from all the others.

In fact, a very interesting study asked mothers to record two versions of the same song—one version in which the mother sang directly to her child and one version in which she sang to herself the baby was not present. Pretend play and symbolic thinking. If you ask which area of development music impacts the most, the majority of people will mention language skills.

In fact, music activates literacy and language learning in many ways. Spoken language.

Music gives children an easy-to-enter window into practicing language and deciphering meaning. Dual language learning. Receptive language.

Listening to music is an exercise in receptive language skills words that children understand but may not yet be able to say. But remember, music need not have words to communicate feelings or images. Toddlers who are just beginning to develop the ability to pretend play will revel in hearing and acting out this animal parade. Phonemic awareness.

Phonemic awareness describes how well a child can hear, recognize, and use different sounds called phonemes. Children who are able to distinguish different sounds and phonemes are more likely to develop stronger literacy skills over time Ehri et al. Music supports this critical skill because most songs include rhyming or substituting one phoneme for another U. Department of Health and Human Services, forthcoming. Just as children play differently with blocks at age 6 months mouthing than at age 2 years stacking , they also experience music differently as they grow. Thoughtfully planned music experiences can support and nurture each developmental domain— social-emotional, physical motor , thinking cognitive , and language and literacy.

Click to enlarge. Music plays a powerful role in the lives of young children. Through music, babies and toddlers can come to better understand themselves and their feelings, learn to decipher patterns and solve problems, and discover the world around them in rich, complex ways.

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The cost of a parachute? Using music activities to enrich the lives of babies and toddlers? Carlton, E. Learning through music: The support of brain research. Ehri, L. Willows, B. Schuster, Z. Reading Research Quarterly — Flom, R. Infant Behavior and Development 31 4 : — Ilari, B.


  1. Beyond Twinkle, Twinkle: Using Music with Infants and Toddlers.
  2. Musical Play in Early Childhood Centres and Junior Classrooms.
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Polka, L. International Journal of Music Education 24 1 : 7— Trainor, L. Infant preferences for infant-directed versus noninfant-directed playsongs and lullabies. Infant Behavior and Development 19 1 : 83— Music—News you can use. Our journalists will try to respond by joining the threads when they can to create a true meeting of independent Premium. The most insightful comments on all subjects will be published daily in dedicated articles. You can also choose to be emailed when someone replies to your comment.

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Beyond Twinkle, Twinkle: Using Music with Infants and Toddlers

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Beyond Twinkle, Twinkle: Using Music with Infants and Toddlers • ZERO TO THREE

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