My kids just finished up their year of preschool. We’re super excited about summer and all of the fun activities that it brings. But, suddenly, we’ve lost the rhythm and routine of our normal schedule. When we have long days at home, I always try to break up the day with a few activities, whether we’re out and about or just in our living room. Music activities are always a hit!
Here are a few ways to keep your little ones engaged with music on long summer days:
1. Concerts, Story Times, Literacy Events
I’m really fortunate to live in a city with a great library system. They put on wonderful, free story times for children all of the city that almost always include music and singing. In the summer, they bring in some great children’s musicians to put on free concerts. Sometimes they are outdoors at a park and sometimes they are at different libraries.
If you don’t have access to a big library system, I’ve noticed that a lot of churches and even retail stores host story times for children. I’ve seen them at Whole Foods, Pottery Barn and several local childrens’ boutiques.
My kids’ preschool puts on a monthly literacy event called Talk Read Sing. It usually includes crafts, music, a story, and lunch. Sometimes a character from the featured story makes an appearance which is either fun or terrifying for kids! 🙂 A highlight of this event is that we get to bring home the featured book to add to our collection. We’ve discovered one of our favorite musical books, Pete The Cat, from this event. (Related: Read this post for musical story ideas! You can read more about Pete the Cat there!)
Piano Preschool is an at-home music program to introduce preschoolers to piano concepts. It is a cute little yellow “adventure case” that includes a DVD, CD, book, scarves and instruments. The DVD tells a story to teach 10 important musical concepts: Treble, bass, left hand, right hand, patterns of 2, patterns of 3, middle C on the piano, middle C on the grand staff, staccato, legato, rhythm and finger numbers.
Piano Preschool gifted my kids an adventure case a couple of months ago, and they’re still hooked on it! Paul is totally pleased with himself whenever he gets a sound out of the harmonica and Sophie mastered the goodbye song on the piano. They still asks to watch the DVD regularly.
I’m really impressed with the quality of the video and the songs. (Trust me, I’ve heard my share of kids songs, and the songs featured in this programs are ones you won’t mind hearing over and over!)
But, I’m even more impressed with how well it teaches the musical concepts. Sophie is pretty immersed in music for a 4 year old. She takes Suzuki violin lessons, I teach her piano, she attends my weekly preschool music class, and she learns about music at her preschool. Now that she’s been using her Piano Preschool Adventure Case, she has really mastered using the terms treble, bass, staccato and legato correctly. These are all concepts that she had heard of before and understood, but she hadn’t quite caught on to using those vocabulary words correctly.
In fact, last week, she tagged along with my to my church choir practice. During part of the rehearsal, the basses were running over their part and Sophie leaned over to me and whispered, “those bass notes are really low!”
She has also gotten really quick at finding Middle C on the piano. Previously, she would have to hunt around for it and sometimes she’d accidentally find and F instead of C. Now she goes right to it!
For kids who haven’t yet had much exposure to musical concepts, Piano Preschool would be the perfect way to get started. It’s also a great way to fill in gaps if you have a break from any of your regular music activities.
If you need some ideas for musical activities to do on your own at home, Kerrie at Learning By Step is your girl! She’s uses her elementary music education experience to create meaningful music activities for young children. All of her ideas are easily adaptable to a variety of ages, so if you have a mix of younger children and older siblings, the big kids won’t find the music too baby-ish.
Every month she publishes seasonal appropriate playlists so that you can build a great collection of kid-friendly music. I love that she includes all genres of music so it’s not just “kiddy” music, but also music that the whole family can enjoy.
She also has Listening Lessons that give parents everything they need to teach their children about specific songs. The most recent one is for Brahm’s Lullaby, which most kids already know and love. Learning some facts about it and having some experiences with the music help kids to deepen their understanding and appreciation for songs they regularly hear.
Kerrie’s blog is a wealth of resources for books, rhymes, songs, activities and more. I’d encourage you to browse to find a few things that might resonate with your family. Be sure to check out her resources page for all kinds of neat stories, props and instruments you can use at home!
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