Singing With Children
        For Teachers

by Nancy Stewart
(206) 232-1078

Above all else, music time should be fun, for you and your children. If you don’t look forward to it, or if children don’t seem to be listening (you’re spending too much time disciplining), change the way you’re doing things! This sounds obvious, but we humans tend to get into a rut! Different classes respond differently to music. Some do well with the challenge of problem solving, or movement. Some need less stimulation. Some can stay with one song for a long time, making it stretch and grow with their imaginations. Others need short simple songs with lots of visual aids. Find out what your group needs, and make that the base of your technique. This may change several times during the school year, and of course changes as children grow. When you stop having fun, re-evaluate and change!

Music time:

Have a space where children can sit in a circle. Make sure there is enough room to wiggle!

A circle taped on the floor works well, and this is helpful when you want to start singing circle games, or walk around in one direction or another.

Signal the start of music time with a "theme" song. Give everyone until the songs ends to get into a circle. It works well to have an activity song next, to give everyone a chance to clap, shake, and wiggle.

You might choose a music helper each day, who can sit beside you (it’s a good idea to always have the helper sit on the same side, to avoid arguments!). Your helper can choose a song, wear a special necklace, and help pass out instruments or help with the flannel board. This way shy children are always given a chance to shine, and you can get to know them better.

Have a plan for songs to sing, and be ready to abandon it if the songs you’ve chosen aren’t working!

Suggested Songbooks:

Wee Sing series-
book and tape series, each one in the series is a collection of a type of songs, like lullabies, silly songs, camp songs, multicultural, etc.

A Song is a Rainbow , by Patty Zeitlin
a comprehensive and very well done guide to music in the preschool

Your Baby Needs Music, by Barbara Cass-Beggs.
If you care for babies and toddlers, this is an excellent resource. Includes a lot of songs and information on infant and toddler development

Musical Games, Fingerplays, and Rhythmic Activities for Early Childhood, by Marian Wirth, Verna Stassevitch, Rita Shotwell, and Patricia Stemmler. an excellent collection of songs and singing games with very well done instructions and pictures

Suggestions for those "hard" days!

There are some days when children can’t seem to focus, or you don’t have a lot of energy. On these days, I like to get out "books that sing". They seem to always work magic on a restless group, and generate interesting conversation. My favorites are:

Old Macdonald’s Farm,

Go Tell Aunt Rhody, illustrated by Aliki

The Farmer in the Dell, illustrated by Kathy Parkinson

Lizard’s Song, by George Shannon ( I changed the melody to the song)

Spider on the Floor, illustrated by True Kelley

Mama Don’t Allow , by Thacher Hurd

Down By the Bay , illustrated by Nadine Bernard Westcott

Mother Hubbard’s Cupboard, illustrated by Laura Rader (collection of nursery rhymes)

Old Mother Hubbard and her Wonderful Dog, illustrated by James Marshall

Oh A Hunting We Will Go, by John Langstaff

Recycle songs you know!