Submitted by Diane Lange, Ph.D.
Associate Professor and Area Coordinator of Music Education - University of Texas at Arlington
Published in ECMMA Perspectives — “Fine and Gross Motor Movement” Issue
Volume 3 Number 1 Winter 2008
Gross Motor Development
Parents are thrilled when their child reaches a developmental milestone like rolling over, crawling, or walking. These gross motor skills are usually developed in a progression from lifting the head, rolling over, sitting up, crawling, to finally walking. Early childhood music teachers can guide children’s acquisition of gross motor skills when singing songs and performing chants. Encouraging children to move with continuous fluid movement (moving arms, legs, and torso in large circles and flowing movements) or engaging in activities that incorporate tiptoeing, jumping, or galloping support gross motor skill development. These movements engage children in the world of play and form the beginning of stylistic movement. The following activities assist the development of gross motor skills:
- Give children scarves and have them move with continuous fluid movement to live or recorded music that has a flowing feeling.
- To develop body awareness, play an upbeat piece of recorded music. Intermittently, push the pause button having the children move to the music and freeze when the music stops.
- Blow bubbles and have children move through them with flow and then, have them pop them.
- Have children pretend that they are galloping horses on a farm. Play a piece of music that encourages galloping movement.
- Create another scenario in which the children pretend to tiptoe past a sleeping lion to get a cookie from the other side of the room.
- Perform a song or chant about “rolling” and roll balls back and forth. Form a circle and roll several balls across the circle.
Fine Motor Development
Fine motor skills are “…coordination of small muscle movements which occur…in the fingers, usually in coordination with the eyes. In application of motor skills of hands (and fingers) the term dexterity is commonly used” (Retrieved from http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Dexterity). Fine motor skills can also be developed in an early childhood music setting. Props, such as rhythm sticks, chiquitas (small egg shakers with handles), and puppets help children develop fine motor skills, which will allow them to hold a fork correctly or write with a pencil. The grasping that is required when holding the rhythm sticks or chiquitas is beneficial for children to develop the use of both hands. The following activities develop fine motor coordination:
- Pretend to paint the floor with the sticks
Pantomime making cookies with rhythm sticks
- Pretend the sticks are spoons (stir and scoop the cookie dough!)
Roll the sticks
- Use the palms of the hands to move the sticks across the floor
- Use the fingertips to manipulate the sticks
- Drop them and pick them up
- Shake them
- Use child-sized puppets for echoing rhythm or tonal patterns
As one can deduce from the above activities, play is fundamental for the development of children's gross and fine motor coordination. In a fun and natural environment children will develop motor skills that will serve them both musically and for life.