Family Place™ Libraries acknowledge the role of parents and other caregivers as a child’s first true teacher, providing them with the information they need to be the best teacher they can be. By providing a dedicated Parenting Collection and an extensive collection of children’s materials that families can explore, our libraries help your child get an early start gaining important literacy skills.
Music and Movement
Music and movement both play an essential role in a child’s early development. Early exposure to music helps children learn the sounds and rhythms that make up our language. This helps them become familiar with the sounds they need to master in order to communicate as they grow. Before children can verbally express themselves, one of their main methods of communication is movement!
It is important to foster and encourage movement in children for a multitude of reasons. These include promoting good overall physical health, developing and refining both fine and large motor skills, and improving balance and coordination. Encouraging your child to explore music fosters their creativity and imagination. It also helps develop fine motor skills by strengthening your child’s grip through holding musical utensils and developing the ability to control fingers separately by using only a few fingers to tap an instrument. Large motor skills can also be refined and practiced through movements such as clapping, bouncing or stomping. These develop your child’s proprioception, or his or her ability to sense where his or her body and limbs are in relation to both himself or herself and the surrounding space.
Music and movement, especially when practiced in groups, also help foster a sense of belonging and provide practice working with a team, which contribute to a child’s socioemotional development. Encouraging children to dance with their peers, caregivers and teachers helps them work on communication, trust and respect. Music helps us feel connected to our environment and culture, and that is not lost on children. Dance is a great form of self-expression. When you encourage dance and movement, your child practices expressing his or her emotions and boosting his or her self-esteem.
Click here for some common questions and answers about music and movement.
Here are some ideas that you can try at home with your little one!
Infants: Birth to One Year
- Dance to different kinds of music. Try different genres or instrumental music. When you are reading books that have movement elements, move with your child. If your child is too young to do the movements on his or her own, hold his or her hands and arms and help with the moves.
- Sing songs that help identify body parts. Sing a song like “Head, Shoulders, Knees and Toes” and help baby with pointing to each body part as you sing about it.
- Incorporate music into your daily routine. Use it as a way to calm down before bedtime or choose an upbeat song for use during playtime or cleanup.
For more information, check out this resource on using music with infants and toddlers. Learn more about movement milestones for your baby with this resource for birth to three months, this resource for four to seven months and this resource for eight to twelve months.
Toddlers: One to Three Years
- Encourage your child to explore. Try tumbling on soft surfaces to help your child become familiar with the way his or her body moves.
- Move your body in different ways. Ask your toddler to copy your movements.
- Do a pattern dance! Use different movements to create a pattern. Once your child has mastered the first pattern, continue adding on and test his or her memory.
- Sing your favorite songs. Share your favorite songs with your child and encourage him or her to share a favorite song, too.
- Turn everyday household objects into instruments. Make shakers with rice or beans in a container, or turn pots and pans into drums.
Preschoolers: Three to Five Years
- Create an animal dance. Have your child choose an animal, then create a dance using that animal’s movements. For example, if your animal is a snake, try creating a dance that involves wiggling on the ground or shaking your head like a rattlesnake.
- Do a feelings dance. Ask your child how he or she thinks someone who is happy, sad, mad, surprised or scared might look while dancing. Then, dance that way.
- Create movement dice. Create a die using paper and put a different movement on each side. Roll the die and move together. You could make it into a fun game with rules and prizes.
- Listen to music that has different rhythms and beats. Ask your child various questions about how the music makes him or her feel.
Here are just a few resources for additional information about music and movement available at the Plano Public Library.
- Play Today: Building the Young Brain Through Creative Expression by Ann Barbour
- Move, Play, and Learn with Smart Steps: Sequenced Activities to Build the Body and the Brain (Birth to Age 7) by Gill Connell, Wendy Pirie and Cheryl McCarthy
- Balanced and Barefoot: How Unrestricted Outdoor Play Makes for Strong, Confident, and Capable Children by Angela J. Hanscom
- 101 More Dance Games for Children: New Fun And Creativity with Movement by Paul Rooyackers
- Unplugged Play: Toddler: 156 Activities & Games for Ages 1-2 by Bobbi Conner
- Unplugged Play: Preschool: 263 Activities & Games for Ages 3-5 by Bobbi Conner
- The Montessori Toddler: A Parent’s Guide to Raising a Curious and Responsible Human Being by Simone Davies and Hiyoko Imai
- Music and Early Learning
- Music and Movement in Early Learning
- The Power of Physical Play: Development and Effective Learning
Other music and movement resources are available online.
- National Association for the Education of Young Children: Articles for Families on Creative Arts and Music
- National Association for the Education of Young Children: Articles for Families on Play
- Pathways: Motor Skills
- Zero to Three: Play