Submitted by Jennifer Bailey
Teacher of Early Childhood and Elementary General Music - Farmington, Michigan
Published in ECMMA Perspectives — “Fine and Gross Motor Movement 2” Issue
Volume 3 Number 2 Spring 2008
Early childhood educators and parents alike understand the importance of movement in a young child’s life. During music classes, music teachers provide numerous opportunities for children to move to music and play instruments to music. But, what are these activities teaching young children about movement and music?
We all want young children to be coordinated in their movement and to demonstrate beat competence as it relates to moving to or playing along to music. Providing other movement opportunities for young children may also enhance their development of beat competency. In Round the Circle, Phyllis Weikart lists a variety of movement expectations for young children: creeping and crawling, starting and stopping, identifying parts of the body and knowing how they move, moving in space without bumping into others, imitating simple sequences of movement, responding to movement directions, walking to a musical beat, and locomotor movement (e.g., walking, running, jumping, galloping, etc.). All of these movements are integral in a child’s musical development. The simple act of crawling provides a readiness for bilateral movement. Body awareness provides a readiness for coordination and locomotor movement. Exploring the space around us affects how we place a beat in time and how we make music between the beat.
As early childhood educators, we need to ensure that we provide developmentally appropriate movement activities for young children. Keep these points in mind as you develop your early childhood lessons:
- Provide a movement model for children. If you move, they will move too.
- Allow children to explore their bodies without an expectation of correctness.
- With preschool-aged children, allow opportunities to talk about, describe/ label, and analyze movement as they relate to music. (For example ask them, “Is quick movement appropriate for slow, lyrical music?”)
- Make movement magic! Encourage imaginative, creative play in movement.
With all of these suggestions in mind, what might a movement activity look like for young children? I like to use my Balloon chant (below) with children. I’ve listed questions, which are also appropriate for preschool children, to guide you as you perform the chant and model the activity for your students.