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Wednesday, January 6, 2010

Preparing to sing with preschoolers

One of my most favorite things in the whole wide world is using music in the preschool classroom. I could sing and dance all day if given the chance - starting with morning greeting right through the late afternoon wrap up!

Years ago, I stumbled on the secret to building my knowledge of preschool music and fingerplays. This is something you won't be taught in early childhood education classes and you won’t read it in books either so be sure to get your pen out and write it down...


Yep, when you’re driving around - turn off the radio and just start singing preschool songs! At first it may seem awkward. When you pull up at a stop light and the guy in the car next to you is looking at you like you've lost your mind, just pretend to be coughing or something.

Use a tape recorder
Another thing I carry around is a little hand held tape recorder. I sing the song into the recorder when I am first learning it so when I get into the car and can't remember the words or tune, I just flip out my recorder and hit play. Then I turn if off and sing it without the help.

Years ago I was returning to Indiana from a trip to an early childhood conference in New Orleans. I had to drive straight through and didn't arrive in Indy until the next morning. What saved my life and kept me awake all night? That little tape recorder with all the Jean Feldman songs (this was before she had any recorded music you could buy). I had taped her singing at the conference and sang them over and over again all the way home. I still know every one of those songs by heart. Try singing for 12 straight hours or more in a row and you will remember them too!

Are you kidding?
No, the reality is that the better you know a song the better you will be able to use it successfully in the classroom. You can use music all throughout the day to give directions, teach concepts, and entertain but you have to really know the songs to do them well. 

Why practice?
The better you know a song, the more you will like it and the more you will use it. When you sing a song that you know well -  your students will pick up on your enthusiasm and grow to love the song too. Besides, after putting in all that practice, your going to want to make sure your students learn those songs:)

Not a Singer?
It doesn't matter. Just sing anyway. In fact, practicing in your car will help you build your confidence and your skills. Don't forget to also practice those chants, poems, and fingerplays too! But don't eliminate the music - your students will pick up on your attitude about singing so give it your best shot and just have fun!

I have a CD player so why do I need to sing?
CD's are fabulous too - they provide wonderful opportunities for music and movement as well as learning new songs to sing. However, there is nothing like being able to whip out a tune when you need your students to give you their attention, clean up the classroom, or wash their hands. Singing gives you more control over when, where, and how you can use the music and it role models a love for music.

Remember...You have the power to influence student attitudes about singing - so use it to help children love to sing!


Miller Moments said...

Hi! Just wanted to let you know that I really enjoy your blog and great ideas.

Also, I gave you an award today on my blog, so pop over and take a peek!

Teacher Tom said...

Thank you for this post, Deborah!

I love listening to your songs over on Little Fingers That Play. Unlike you, I have an awful singing voice, but I make up for it by singing loudly. Luckily, one of my parents is an excellent singer and he sits near me to help get me on key.

Singing is my favorite part of preschool as well. As we've discussed before, ANY TIME is a good time for a song.

I'm really looking to expand my repetoire right now. I'm learning a lot of new ones from you, but I've also started adapting some of my favorite pop songs. I use part of a B-52's song, for instance, which I learned by singing along in the car.

Another thing I like to do when introducing a new song that has no obvious hand/body gestures is to let the kids come up with their own. We did one today for which the children have added a body motion that is rather, shall we say, suggestive. This causes the adults to laugh, which naturally makes the kids do it even more! Wee!

Deborah (Teach Preschool) said...

Ha ha - I love it! Until I found out you can't carry a tune - I was planning on asking you to be a guest singer:)

Like you, I consider myself to be an educator who likes to sing rather then a singer trying to educate. I have been keeping the songs simple because I hope it will encourage teachers or parents to at least try.

But you have the best idea ever. Take your own style and make it work for you. Create your own words to your favorite tunes.

I happen to be a country music fan in my real life:) Comes from growing up in Houston!

Deborah (Teach Preschool) said...

Miller Moments - that is the sweetest thing ever. I will head over and check it out!

Launa Hall said...

Love this post, Deborah! Mindless household chores are another great time to practice songs for the classroom, or make up new ones. I love your reminder that you don't have to be a great singer. When we sing in class even if we're not professionals, we teach our students that they, too, can MAKE music, not just listen to it. Music belongs to everybody. We don't have to be a professional to go out and enjoy playing soccer; likewise, we don't have to be a professional to enjoy and reap the benefits from singing.

Deborah (Teach Preschool) said...

"Music belongs to everybody. We don't have to be a professional to go out and enjoy playing soccer; likewise, we don't have to be a professional to enjoy and reap the benefits from singing."

You got that right Launa!!

MsJessi said...

One of our favorite things to do in class is make up songs as we go. If we are sitting down and doing an art project we will sing what we're doing. Sometimes I won't talk all day, just sing what I want to say. They listen better and they join in. We also practice songs we are going to sing at a play during snack time, outside, art, free play, etc..

Deborah (Teach Preschool) said...

Making up your own songs is what I love to do too:)

Dawn Ginese said...

How refreshing to find some other songster out there. I must be a preschooler teacher in nurses clothing, not that I wear anything that would let you know I am a nurse.
I like you, always think of ways to make the task fun and entertaining. My most recent song/poem was a little poem about a snowman. My SMA patient is being taught to count to 3, so I made up the little snowman diddy. He is non verbal so he has to go eh, eh, eh. If anyone is interested I can post the words here. No melody yet, but poems have there own melody and rhythm. For Healthy Kids, Dawn, The Singing Nurse

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