There is nothing more joyful than dancing and moving to music with your baby. Unless of course you have the pleasure of doing so with a group of parents and babies. Because coming together as a unit to celebrate music together makes it that much more special.
In my weekly music classes, our lesson plans always include a circle dance. Not only is it a great opportunity for our little ones to move their bodies through space and explore different types of music, but it is also a fun way for them to experience social interaction. Through playful activities, babies are able to acquire social skills such as eye contact and appropriate greeting gestures as they observe their parents interacting with other adults.
Circle dances also allow the babies to enjoy movement in relation to others. As we move in towards the circle and out again, babies love to see their friends faces and look for their reactions. Working together with their peers on a common activity, makes them feel a part of a music making group.
Like I mentioned in last week’s post, movement is a wonderful way to help our little one’s develop their vestibular system as well as their spatial orientation. Spinning, changing directions and levels all help to improve balance. Dancing in and out, up and down, and labeling these movements is also a great introduction to language development. The more we repeat these activities, the more we are showering them with familiar language, increasing their vocabulary.
As circle dances are performed to the phrasing of the music, babies are experiencing advanced levels of musicianship such as form, melodic and rhythmic changes. Although we don’t expect them to label these concepts at their age, they are able to easily recognize them later due to their early exposure. As in many of our activities, the concept of steady beat is continually reinforced through movements such as bouncing and marching.
There are lots of wonderful circle dances that are popular in our culture. Think about the Hokey Pokey, or Ring Around the Rosie. Here is a fun circle dance that incorporates a traditional children’s song.
B-I-N-G-O (Click the title to hear a preview of the song)
There was a farmer had a dog and Bingo was his name. There was a farmer had a dog and Bingo was his name. B-I-N-G-O, B-I-N-G-O, B-I-N-G-O, and Bingo was his name, oh. B-I-N-G-O.
A group of parents with babies and toddlers carry their children facing outward as they perform the dance.
Form a circle. Walk to the right (or to the left) to the beat while dancing the first half of the song. Face the center and take little steps forward, one for each elongated letter. “B-I-N-G-“. On “O” everyone shuffles backward to reform the original circle.
No large group to dance with? No worries! Enjoy this dance at home in front of a large mirror. Holding your baby facing outward, walk around the room during the first half of the song. On the slow spelling part of “B-I-N-G-” walk closer and closer to the mirror. Retreat from the mirror on the final “O”.
The reason why the B-I-N-G-O song is so great is that you can change the lyrics from the dog’s name BINGO, to a child’s name. For example: “There was a girl, a little girl, and Harper was her name. H-A-R-P-E-R…” As they grow older, this will be a great tool for them to learn how to spell their name. We tend to remember things better when they are learned rhythmically. Think about how we learn our alphabet as a child or even our country’s states when we get older through “Nifty Fifty“. Put it to music and it magically sticks!
As you can see, dancing to music with your little one can teach them a lot! But it is enough reason to enjoy music for music’s sake alone. So go ahead, crank up your favorite songs and dance away! (Don’t forget to keep the steady beat!)