From the time a child is born, they are exposed to music. From lullabies at night to the radio in the car to banging pots and pans when they start crawling, music is a part of their life.
Fortunately, there are a variety of benefits from music for preschoolers, from accelerated brain development to improved motor skills, so we recommend encouraging it as much as possible. If you’re not sure how to add music to your child’s life in a way that is engaging and supports their development, we’re sharing five music activities for preschoolers.
1. Play “Name That Tune”
This is a great way to incorporate music activities when you’re in the car or waiting at the doctor’s office. Take turns humming, tapping, or even singing the lyrics to a song your child is familiar with and see if they can name that tune. It’s not only good for passing the time, but it’s also a good way to encourage active listening skills and memory skills.
2. Make Musical Instruments
Research has shown that making music can be even more beneficial to brain development than listening to it. Plus, engaging children in the process of making their own instruments to play encourages creativity and problem-solving. Challenge your preschoolers to make their own music by creating their own instruments!
- Add dry beans to an empty container
- Add rice to an empty tube and seal the ends with tape
- Explore the sounds when blowing across empty water or soda bottles of different sizes
- Make a xylophone from different sizes of wood scraps
Use the instruments to keep the beat with songs or even make up their own songs and tunes. This can help with sensory development and hand-eye coordination. Plus, it may even be a valuable exercise in patience for both you and your child.
3. Musical Painting
This is a great way to get creative! Simply put on a song or music and let your child paint how the music makes them feel or how they visualize the music. This activity often works best with music that doesn’t have lyrics, like jazz or classical, because it lets them interpret what they imagine or think of when they hear it. For a truly sensory experience, use fingerpaints, or for a less messy activity, go with watercolors or even crayons.
4. Repurpose Songs to Teach New Skills
Music is an excellent way to teach and reinforce concepts, ideas, and skills, as any parent and child who has watched Daniel Tiger can attest. Get creative and replace nursery rhymes and songs with:
- Breaking down chores into simple steps
- Ways to regulate emotions
- Morning “checklist” of how to get ready for the day
- Evening “checklist” of getting ready for bed
For example, to the tune of “Wheels on the Bus,” create a song to get ready in the morning:
“After we get up we change our clothes, change our clothes, change our clothes. After we get up we change our clothes and put our pj’s in the laundry.” Then “After we get dressed, we eat breakfast…” And so forth.
It doesn’t have to be perfect at all, but it will make chores, getting dressed, and those challenges easier to remember and more enjoyable!
5. Explore New Genres of Music
Exposing your child to different kinds of music is like exposing them to new foods. It may take a few tries to get them to enjoy something, but it’s okay to keep trying. Pop, rock, country, jazz, classical, R&B, rap – pull up channels on Spotify or another streaming service or play your favorites from different genres. You can simply play it as background music as you go about the day, explore new ways to dance to different genres with your children, or discover the types of instruments and sounds used in the music.
While it’s true that some genres have been shown to be better in certain circumstances for children — classical music for learning, for instance — it’s equally important to explore diversity in the kinds of music they listen to.
Benefits of Music for Children
Why is it so important to incorporate music into everyday experiences? Well, because the benefits are impressive and extensive.
- Accelerate brain development: A 2016 study at the University of Southern California found that an emphasis on musical experiences in childhood can aid brain development, especially in language acquisition and reading skills.
- Improve math skills: The National Association of Music Merchants (NAMM Foundation), has found that students who have learned to play an instrument can improve mathematical learning.
- Help the body and mind work together: Music often goes hand in hand with dancing, and both have been shown to help children understand the mind-body connection and improve their motor skills.
- Engage executive functions: Music can help improve executive or cognitive functions such as planning, working memory, inhibition, and flexibility.
- Develop auditory skills: Rhymes and rhythms like those in songs help children pay attention to and identify sounds, which can help them become better readers and spellers.
- Improve health: Music has been shown to reduce anxiety and stress, ease pain, and promote good moods.
And while these points are all reason enough to emphasize music in everyday activities, arguably the most important benefit of music in children’s life is its role in their moods and self-expression. Listening to a favorite song over and over, watching a musical they love, and coming up with their own rhymes all bring joy and help improve the overall quality of life.
What Kind of Relationship Do Preschoolers Have With Music?
You also might be wondering how your preschooler should be interacting with music at this age. After all, if music is so closely tied to brain development, you want to be sure you are exposing them to this artform in ways that engage them, and in ways, they can understand. Most often, children of preschool age develop their relationship with music by:
- Singing short phrases of a song or the entire song
- Understanding rhythm and tempo through movement, like swaying side to side or tapping their feet
- Playing rhythm instruments
- Singing lyrics with ease and joy
- Matching the beat of the music
- Memorizing lyrics
- Identifying instruments
Engaging in more musical activities can help foster these behaviors and improve their relationship with music.
Learn How Our Raleigh Preschool Incorporates Musical Activities
At Primary Beginnings, we use musical activities all the time to teach new ideas and information to children, as well as simply have fun. If you’re looking for five-star child care for your preschooler, call us at our Spring Forest location at (919) 790-6888 or our North Hills location at (919)785-0303 to request a tour of one of our North Raleigh child care centers or fill out the contact form below.