Category Archives: early childhood learning songs

Effective Music at Home and in the Early Childhood Classroom

Webster’s New World Dictionary defines the term effective as “producing a definite or desired result; efficient.”  What is effective music?   All music is effective to some degree or purpose in the classroom.  Music can speed us up or slow us down.  Music can make us giggle or bring tears to our eyes.  Music can teach us concepts and tell a story as well as the best storyteller. 

Music is orderly and research shows that students who possess the ability to learn the language of music have a much easier time learning other concepts as well.  Effective music is music which produces a desired learning outcome.  Just as a teacher selects good literature – music should be selected at home and in the classroom to achieve an intended effect.  

Different genres of music promote different responses in children.  What is the desired outcome?  Is it more focused behavior?  Do you want to calm down an overly enthusiastic class or child?  Will children move to the music?  Is the music intended to develop language and/or critical thinking skills?  Reinforce comprehension?  Most important, will the students sing along or merely listen to the music?

Whatever the desired outcome, there are five key elements to consider when selecting the most effective music for young children. The music must have:

1. an easily recognized melody

2. a visual quality (what images does the music bring to mind?)

3. a ‘hook’ or repetitive lines for easy recall

4. an identifiable rhythm and meter, and

5. if the music is for sing-along purposes, written in keys appropriate for a child’s vocal range

Listen to the following segment from a song on the CD “It’s a Nice Day For Ducks.” Are you singing it easily after listening?

A song that is easy to sing along with will more likely be remembered.  One that isn’t will more likely be tuned out.  You’re probably asking, “How am I supposed to tell if a song is in the right key?”  An identifiable clue is – is the child singing on pitch or merely speaking the words? 

Music has an inexplicable effect on young children, not only during music for enjoyment times at home, but during instructional and transitional times in the classroom as well.

Music is an effective part of the early learning experience – not just a filler to use up extra time.  All areas of learning are enhanced through thoughtfully selected music.

For another example of an easily recognized song listen to “Rainbow” located in the middle column…

Music and learning in the early childhood classroom…


Throughout history, music has been used as an instrument of sociality for cultures the world over. Its power has been touted as the great elixir of both physiological as well as emotional ills. Researchers have studied its effect on emotional/social development, physical development, and intelligence.

The role of music in the education of the young child is at the forefront of all other early learning since the child’s musical intelligence overlaps and intersects with all other intelligence defined by Gardner (Thurman, Chase, and Langness, 1987). Music is a precursor to the development of the other intelligence: linguistic, musical, bodily kinesthetic, logical-mathematical, spatial, and personal (Boyd, 1989).

Visualize the following scenario. Ten kindergarten children are singing the song Five Little Bunnies. Their musical intelligence is used as they sway left to right in rhythm with the music. Their logical-mathematical intelligence is piqued in the counting of bunnies. Their linguistic skills are developed when they create their own personal interpretation of the song. Their spatial and personal development is stimulated as they move around like a bunny.

Children love to sing. Singing generates emotional dimension and is extremely important in social/cultural development since it and culminating activities are invaluable to establishing group identity. Ritualized singing at the beginning and end of play periods develops a meaningful bridge between the child’s home life and school life. (Boyd, 1989).

Meaningful, well-constructed songs are easily memorized and will come to mind at any given moment providing the child singing it a comforting reminder of earlier activities or learning experiences.



Music use in the primary classroom…

Music and Multiple Intelligences – Partners in Pre-Reading Success…


According to researcher Howard Gardner, there are nine ways of being smart. Children are “natural” learners and learn best in ways that are “natural” to their innate learning style(s).

Howard Gardner’s Multiple Intelligences…

  • Body Smart
  • Music Smart
  • Picture Smart
  • Number Smart
  • Word Smart
  • People Smart
  • Self Smart
  • Nature Smart
  • Existential Smart

It’s interesting to note that music lends itself to all ways of being smart when it comes to acquiring pre-reading skills in early childhood. Here are just a few examples of integrating “music smart” with “partner smarts” to make learning basic pre-reading skills interesting and fun.

Body and Music Smart

  • Move body to form letter shapes to music.
  • Jump rope to the alphabet song.

Music Smart

  • Sing vowel sounds.
  • Use lyrics to simple songs to find and circle letters.

Picture and Music Smart

  • Illustrate and label pictures to a song.
  • Create an adaptation songbook.

Number and Music Smart

  • Count the number of bunnies in a song.
  • Order events in a songbook.

Word and Music Smart

  • Sing the “Word Family Song”.
  • Find and circle words in a song or lyrical poem.

People and Music Smart

  • Share and teach favorite songs with someone.
  • Sing with a buddy.

Self and Music Smart

  • Sing aloud to a stuffed animal friend.
  • Listen to a rhyming songbook on CD.

Nature and Music Smart

  • Text to real world connections.  Name the living things you see outside?  What songs do they remind you of?
  • Sing and dance to “Here We Go Round the Mulberry Bush” while circling a tree or bush.

Existential and Music Smart

  • Find letter blends in the song “Giving”.
  • SIng a friendship song.  Brainstorm the ways to be a good friend.

Multiple styles can and should overlap in any learning activity but it should be noted that including music turns a not so interesting lesson into one that piques a child’s curiosity and attention span!

“I Will Listen” for classroom transition and listening skills…

I’ve been away from this blog for far too long!  Time to get back to share more of the wonderful world of music available to parents, teachers, and children for learning that’s memorable and fun.  I will be sharing samples from the songs available on my CD “It’s a Nice Day for Ducks” in addition to other favorite learning songs.  Be on the lookout for more information on how important music is to learning and sample lessons for use with the songs.  Let’s get started…

Classroom transition times can be the most trying times of the school day. Does it ever seem to take forever for your students to finish one task and move quickly and quietly to another? For a simple and effective way to encourage on task behaviors, try playing I Will Listen as a feel good reminder and a motivating cue!  Ready to listen?

Feedback is always appreciated.  Please post feedback or comments to this post below.  Need to know more?  See my contact information above.  Thanks so much!