Preschool Musical Activities to Try at Home or in Your Classroom
Kids love music. It’s easy to make things complicated when considering all the reasons why kids love music and how music is so good for them – but I like to keep things simple. Kids love music and as adults, we can help foster that love by making music as available and approachable as possible.
There is also a practical, real-world benefit to presenting children with music education from a very young age. According to Kenneth Guilmartin of Music Together, “music learning supports all learning.”
The challenge when presenting music to young children is how to keep it fun while also bringing some structure to the situation. The structure is important, as it will help them learn – and they’ll only enjoy music more as they learn how it works and how they can make their own. So, with this article, I’d like to talk about strategies for teaching music to preschoolers in a way that is fun, engaging, and rewarding for all involved.
How Do You Teach Music to Preschoolers?
Teaching music to preschoolers is an interesting challenge. On the one hand, it should be pretty easy, since they naturally love music and will almost certainly be interested. At the same time, learning music requires focus and attention – and those aren’t exactly traits that preschoolers have developed just yet.
My approach is to keep things simple and teach music just like I would teach anything else to a three- or four-year-old. That means keeping the following points in mind –
It must be engaging. This one should go without saying. Asking preschool-age children to sit still while they are lectured on a topic is a no-go. They need to be involved actively in the learning process, whether it’s learning letters, numbers, or something like art or music. There should be opportunities for them to take part in the music from start to finish.
It should be physical. Going right along with keeping the kids engaged, it’s a good idea to keep them moving. Having some sort of activity they can do during a song – maybe a simple dance or just some hand gestures – will make music more fun and help to hold their attention for longer.
Simple goals. Preschool is not the time for complicated music theory. The goals should be simple at this age, such as learning how to clap along with the beat or repeat a simple melody of notes.
The word that keeps coming up again and again here is simple. It’s easy to over-plan your musical activities and be left with something that is too advanced or complicated for preschoolers.
Three Types of Musical Activities for Preschoolers
Music and Movement for Preschoolers
Preschool Songs With Actions
If you are able to think back to your early years, you can probably remember some of the songs that would fit nicely into this category. Songs with actions are popular kid’s songs that have some specific movements attached to them (not unlike what you’ll have kids do in music and movement sessions). Perhaps the most popular option for preschool songs with actions is I’m a Little Teapot. This song is known by millions of people, and most of them learned it at a very young age – along with the movements that accompany the lyrics.
Preschool Songs and Finger Plays
In addition to songs with actions, fingerplay songs are another great way to teach music to preschoolers. Fingerplays are a popular approach because they combine some of the key elements we have discusses so far. Specifically, this is still a physically engaging activity, even if it is only with the fingers and not the whole body. Also, something is learned here, as the dexterity picked up while learning fingerplays is an important part of the development puzzle.
Even if you can’t think of any off the top of your head, you almost certainly know at least a few popular fingerplay songs that are used for preschoolers. At the top of this list is Itsy Bitsy Spider. The relatively complicated finger motions can take a young child a little while to learn but doing so will feel like a major accomplishment. For a more recent example of a fingerplay song, you need to look no further than the Baby Shark phenomenon.
How to Make Music Fun for Young Kids
Making a topic fun is an ideal way for anyone to learn that subject, regardless of age. People young and old love to have fun, of course, and if they can learn at the same time they are far more likely to retain the lessons. Your number one goal when teaching music at the preschool level is to make it fun – everything else will flow from there.
To help you get started on the right track for hours of fun, consider the points below –
Give the kids options. This is always a great strategy when engaging kids in just about any activity. By giving the kids plenty of choices and letting them take the lead, they are more likely to buy into the process and get engaged in the lesson. This is a far more approachable technique than simply telling them what will happen and expecting them to go along with it. Of course, you can steer your lessons in the right direction by giving them a limited set of options that will all accomplish your goals for the day. For example, allowing them to pick one of three fingerplay songs ensures that they get to choose while you are assured of working on fingerplay skills.
Watch your timeline. Kids have short attention spans, and that’s not just a product of the digital age – it’s always been that way. Even the most interesting, exciting preschool musical activities will only last so long, so set a realistic timeline for the session and then move onto something else.
Get involved. There is something about adults getting involved in child-like activities that is always a hit with the kids. This will be easier for some people than others, but do your best to relax, let go, and dive into the kid’s songs will full enthusiasm. Your excitement for the music will be contagious and it will help the kids relax and get involved, as well.
Download Free Printable Sheet Music
To help you get started teaching music to the preschoolers in your life, I’m happy to offer free printable sheet music. Feel free to download it today!