Friday, May 3, 2013

Do you have a music shelf? Music instruction for toddlers and preschoolers.

One of the greatest ways to teach children about music is for them to have hands-on opportunities to MAKE music.  The easiest way for me to make sure I have instruments available to my kiddos is by having a touchable music area--I have one shelf in our playroom that always has instruments on it, and I rotate out what is there.  Pictured is our current shelf.
Here's a bit of a description:
wooden xylophone--bought for $2 at Goodwill--I always keep my eyes
open for instruments when thrift shopping.

Next is a metal pan and wooden spoon for percussion, then a basket of smaller
instruments--harmonica, maraca, metal triangle, and tambourine.  The
little basket holds cards with a bunch of different song titles
written on them so we know what songs we might want to sing.  (I made them to look like cookies--they fit into a cookie jar I used for circle time when I taught preschool.) 
We take turns drawing a song then sing/play along with it.  The triangle was
$1 at Michaels and the harmonica was $2 at Target.

We also have a nice metal glockenspiel that the kids got for Christmas.

Other ideas I sometimes use for music shelf--jar of beans (taped
closed) for shaking, empty oatmeal (or cornmeal) tub for playing with
hands like a drum, old baby toys that make noise, other cheap music
instruments ($1-$3 at dollar stores, etc.) like recorders, train
whistle, slide whistle. bells.
The two large bells are from dollar store and i put them on ribbon
with velcro.  Kids like to attach them to their legs and dance with
them on.  Also work on wrists.  These are great for babies, too, but
big kids really love dancing with them.
We also have some nicer instruments--we ask for them for gifts at
birthdays/ etc.
2 blocks--can be hit together.

Tambourine--I bought these at dollar store.  They had Pooh and Cars on
them (which I didn't like) so I covered the tops with some scrapbook
paper I had.

Metal pans for drumming on.

 Glass salad dressing bottle with clothespins inside and plastic syrup
bottle with straws--for shaking along to the rhythm of the music.

Wooden bowl and spoon for drumming with.

Keyboard--ours is a hand-me-down  but I see these at thrift
stores often.

My kids also love empty toilet paper or paper towel tubes to sing into
like microphones, so we also often include these in our music area.

So--a music area can be set up without even purchasing any
instruments--just using stuff around the house.  This encourages
creativity, and instrument playing also fosters fine motor development
when children use their hands and fingers.

When I put out new instruments I always sit with the kids for a "jam
session" and model how each new instrument is used.  We take turns
playing all the different instruments along to our favorite children's
songs (which we sing).

I have an acquaintance who has her master's degree in early childhood music education and I was asking her for some ideas on music instruction.  One of my favorite ideas from her was to gather up a basket of several objects, sit down with your kids and ask "What kind of instruments could we make with these?"  

So.....hopefully you've been a little inspired to carve out a music nook in your learning space if you don't already have one.  And if you do, maybe you'll do like I did (giving away my secrets here) before I took these photos--rotate some items, dust your shelf and get that music shelf back into shape again!  Of course there are TONS more ideas for music instruction, but these are just a few tips that work for us!