Many parents often ask “what can I be doing now to teach my young child and bond with them while having fun?” My answer is always – Use music! Music is not only playful but can be used as a tool for learning, movement, and bonding between parents and children. In this post I have 9 of my favorite songs that I use in sessions and different ways each song can be used at home for working on academic goals, self-expression, and parent-child bonding.
*A recorded version of every song is in a Spotify playlist; the link will be at the bottom of the post!
An easy song, right? Yes! The alphabet song can be utilized to learn not only the letters of the alphabet for the English language, but to be a great introduction to American Sign Language! Many videos on YouTube will show a person or a drawing of the ASL sign for each letter.
We Are the Dinosaurs
This is a song my students often request in school sessions! The song includes portions in which children can pretend to be dinosaurs and march around! To take this song to the next level, asking the child how the dinosaur should move next (running, jumping, etc.) or developing your own version in which the child follows can build upon self-expression and following instructions.
Stop and Go
Ella Jenkins, dubbed “The First Lady of the Children’s Folk Song”, sings this song with so much soul and fun! This song is great for our little learners who are working on impulse control and movement. Ella sings different movements such as jump, stomp, clap your hands, then….. Stop! See if your child is able to stop on their own and give them a lot of positive verbal praise when they’re finally able to stop on cue!
If All the Raindrops
A fun classic from Barney, but you don’t have to tell your kids that! This song is great for pre-speech sounds, with the “aaah-aah uh aah, ah uh ah….” easily changed to work on whatever sound or syllable you want to practice! Some common sounds I use with kids are “uh, buh, mmmm, and wa”. It’s silly, but fun!
If You’re Happy and You Know It
Another familiar tune that can be used in a plethora of ways! I especially love this song when teaching sign language. All the different emotions are easy to learn through sign language. I also like to ask students what action they complete when they’re feeling a certain emotion (i.e. when you’re sad and you know it…. Student responds with covering their head, or looking for hugs, etc).
Matilda The Gorilla
A fan favorite! This tune can be used to build on creativity, where the child can name each animal (when using a visual aid) and create their own sound for the animal! For younger kids, the tune can be used to identify animals and learn their corresponding sounds.
Duérmete Niño Bonito
Lullabies? In Music Therapy!? Yes! Sometimes clients are extremely excited during the session or we’ve had high activity and I don’t want to send a child home full of energy- that’s like giving a kid candy and giving them back to the parent. To help transition into a calmer state in the session before goodbye, I often sing a lull-style song to initiate relaxation and transition towards leaving out the session. Lullabies can be used when transitioning between activities at home, whether getting ready for a nap, waking up gently in the morning, or to slow down energy. The words of Duérmete Nino Bonito essentially say “Sleep, my little handsome one, la la la…/ Sleep, my love, with this song. I am with you; sleep.” The minor tonality can be fascinating for kids, and if you don’t feel comfortable with the Spanish lyrics, feel free to sing it on “dooo” or “la”.
Non-sense syllables are my favorite to use when working on pre-speech skills! Biddy Biddy has a fun Caribbean Style swing to it and can gather almost anyone to stand on their feet and start dancing. The non-sense syllables make the pre-speech sounds feel less like work and more like play, encouraging participation across the board! If the words “biddy biddy bum bum “ are too much initially or you’re focusing on different syllables, change them up! I often use “la la” or “doo doo” when singing this song in session.
YOUR FAVORITE TUNE!
Whatever you jam to as a family at home! The best way kids learn is through you, so whatever you use at home jam out together! This is a great way to bond together, actively making music with familiar tunes. Make sure you notice what movements or sounds your child makes, and mimic them back. This will show the child “Hey! My guardian is interested in me and supports what I am doing!”, and will encourage them to express even more!
Click here to find the Spotify playlist and share below how you incorporated this playlist into your home!
NOTE: This person is a past employee or intern of the STAR Center. Their name and authorship is preserved for posterity.
Originally from Birmingham, Alabama, Rayma N. Williams completed a Bachelor of Music in Music Therapy from Mississippi University for Women in Columbus, Mississippi. She completed her Music Therapy Internship at Star Center in November 2014, followed by completion of the national Music Therapist-Board Certified credential while working for a private Music Therapy agency in Evansville, IN with individuals on the Autism Spectrum. Rayma joined the Star team full time in September 2016. In addition to serving numerous clients from various backgrounds, Rayma has completed certification in Neurologic Music Therapy and is a Registered Music Together Teacher. During her four years of professional practice and discovering her love for early childhood developmental intervention, she completed the Neonatal Intensive Care Unit-Music Therapy certification in August 2017.