There is no doubt that children respond best to music when they are actively experiencing it. Looking for opportunities to get your child rocking, rolling, tapping, clapping and moving to the beat will not only help to promote their love for music but will help to enhance other forms of development as well.
Like I mentioned in my last few posts, the steady beat is an essential component to baby music. This one concept can be executed in so many ways. A fun and exciting way to teach the steady beat is to move your baby’s body to the pulse of the music. And while you are at it, why not throw in some fun rhymes to help promote their language development.
In my music classes, we do at least one or two action rhymes/beat activities after finishing our massage rhymes. It is a great way to keep that parent/child bonding moment going while offering a new way to connect.
Some of my favorite action rhymes and beat activities are songs like Head, Shoulders, Knees and Toes, Itsy Bitsy Spider and Wheels on the Bus. Their repetitious verses are a great way to enforce language development as well as introduce action words such as up, down, high, low, etc. Not only are they hearing the words of the rhyme, but parents and children are making a music demonstration of the content in the rhyme which means they are learning through doing as well.
When practicing these action rhymes with your little ones, they are learning the steady pulse through your rhythmic speech. The rhyming words in the rhymes help in learning new words and sounds which will eventually assist them with reading and spelling down the line.
But beat activities are not just limited to songs with words. Sometimes throwing on your favorite tune and allowing your little one to explore how their body moves is a great way for them to experience the steady beat. Here is a fun and easy activity you can practice with your baby at home.
Exercise to the Beat
You can perform the following beat-keeping motions to the steady beat of any favorite song while your baby is lying on their back, sitting in your lap or however else they are comfortable. Do each motion several times before going on to the next. Feel free to make up your own too!
1. Gently holding baby’s wrists, move them to the beat in a bouncing motion: up, up, down, down (repeat), or out, out, in, in (repeat).
2. Gently move one wrist and the opposite ankle to the beat, diagonally, toward each other and away. Tap ankle to wrist on the beat. Switch to baby’s other rise and other ankle. Repeat many times.
3. Hold both ankles and tap feet together, keeping the beat.
4. Hold both ankles and move in parallel motion, bending and straightening baby’s knees.
5. Hold both ankles and move in a bicycling pattern.
Babies will let you know which of the movement routines they like best. And who knows, they might just teach you a few moves of their own :)
If you find yourself having trouble remembering the words to the songs or rhymes, make it up as you go along. Get creative and silly. Come up with your own hand motions and gestures. The most important thing is that you are having fun.
Or you can always check out MusicRhapsody.com, where you will find a variety of music for you and your little one to dance and sing along with.