I feel my first proper post as The Music Mummy should be about my favourite thing. Singing! I have seen first hand the value of singing in the lives of children (because its what I do for a job). Anyone can google the benefits of singing and find countless articles about how good it is…for everyone, not just children. I can honestly say I have seen how it can improve self esteem, boost moods and actually help children with learning.
Babies and toddlers love singing and it is so helpful in developing language. My daughter could say some really random words quite early that I think she had picked up from songs e.g. door, pull and clap from ‘Wind The Bobbin Up.’ Although she doesn’t properly speak in sentences yet (I think her record is 4 words when she said ‘man fix Zara’s car’ to a man fitting my brake light at Halfords), she can ‘sing’ several different songs. She does the right amount of syllables in each phrase and it just shows how much singing is having an effect on her language development.
“Music assists in the development of a child’s speech, Singing nursery rhymes and simple songs teaches children how language is constructed and assists with the acquisition of language. Singing songs with your child will also teach them about tone, beat and rhythm.” (Taken from article ‘Singing to children may help development of language skills).
Here are 5 ways you can sing with your baby or toddler.
- For entertainment. Singing is important for development but also is great for fun! We regularly crack out a few action songs to keep busy. When Zara was a baby and didn’t really move I would lie her down and kneel down facing her so she could watch the actions, as she got older she would sit up and watch and then gradually started joining in more and more. I can honestly keep her entertained for half an hour or so with a range of songs if she’s in the right mood. This also works really well in the car when she’s getting fed up. Here are a few favourites that we enjoy singing together.
- The Wheels on the Bus
- Baa Baa Black Sheep
- Sleeping Bunnies (absolute favourite…today when I picked her up from her childminders she was ‘hopping’ around being a bunny with two others)
- Row the Boat (We do this with her sitting on my knee and I tip her backwards when we get to the ‘scream’ bit. This is apparently the funniest thing ever).
- 5 Little Monkeys
2. As part of a routine. Songs can also be fantastic for routine and this is something that carries on in the early years at school. At school we sing songs about getting into a circle (believe me even Year 1 and 2 struggle) and lining up. At home I make up silly songs all the time about changing her nappy, brushing teeth, putting on clothes etc. This is the way we brush our teeth/hair/put on shoes etc. etc. (sung to the tune of here we go round the mulberry bush) works well. Singing at bedtime can help with a bedtime routine. We used to always sing ‘The Wheels On The Bus’ as a distraction whilst nappy changing. I did different actions for each verse such as cycling her legs round and swishing them from side to side.
3. Singing groups. I’m sure most areas have music groups you can take your baby/toddler to. In our area the libraries have Wriggle and Rhyme which is a half an hour free group where you sit in a circle and sing nursery rhymes. Even I learnt some new ones so it’s a great place to go if you need to brush up on your nursery rhymes. There are also all sorts of different music and sensory classes. Singing as part of a group is something that continues to be beneficial through to adulthood. I’ve made friends with other mums through going to groups like this and Zara was benefitted from seeing older children doing all the actions and singing along. I remember taking her when she was tiny and lying her on a blanket on the floor. I’d watch the older children crawling/toddling around and could not imagine Zara being that age. She’s the one dancing around in the middle trying to join in with the actions.
4. Singing with instruments. I am going to write a whole separate post about using musical instruments with babies/toddlers but you can use simple musical instruments whilst singing. Zara adores shakers/drums/bells but will also make a musical instrument out of anything she can get her hands on. She just loves to make a racket. Mostly I just let let them her go for it and shake/bang away but sometimes I encourage her to respond to the music. For example, shaking in time to the beat or as part of action songs such as ‘The Grand Old Duke Of York’, shaking the instrument high and low.
5. Create a singing basket. I’ve seen lots of people talk about treasure baskets where they fill a basket with random items from around the house for their child to explore. You could create a singing basket and fill it with items relating to the nursery rhymes your child loves. This gives them a great opportunity to express themselves and choose their own songs even before they are able to speak. You could also include musical instruments for them to choose.
This basket include a bunny (sleeping bunnies), a turtle (I have a little turtle), a duck (5 little ducks), a tambourine, a beater, a drum and what appears to be a water bottle but actually is a shaker I made with Zara (by filling the water bottle with rice). Zara usually just wants to play with the instruments but did actually cuddle with the bunny earlier and lie down on the floor for Sleeping Bunnies.
I’m really thinking about whether to start making some videos with ideas for songs/musical activities. It’s quite hard to explain just by writing it down! Do let me know in the comments if that is something you would be interested in.
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