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Tuesday, February 16, 2010

Using musical instruments in the preschool classroom

There are a variety of ways you can use musical instruments in the classroom.

Create a music center and try adding...
  • Baskets of musical instruments
  • A CD Player
  • A pretend microphone
  • A mirror
  • A little platform for a stage (square)
  • Posters and books about music, composers, notes, and nursery rhymes.
  • Staple together little books of notation paper and add drawing tools for children to create their own songs. 
  • Baskets of movement props like paper plates, ribbon sticks, and scarves
  • Home made instruments: Check out these awesome homemade drums and drumming activities from Irresistible Ideas for Play Based Learning!
  • See this music book from Fleet of Fun

Music Box

Create a music box. Choose a different type of instrument to put in the music box each week. If you choose to use a music box - make sure you have plenty of instruments to go around because it will be a big hit.

Rhythm Stick

In your circle time, add musical instruments to a familiar song. Here are a few examples:
  • Add a rainstick to the song "Itsy Bitsy Spider".  Let the children shake the rain stick back and forth to make the sound of the rain.
  • Add a rythm stick for tapping noises to songs like "Johnny Works with One Hammer" or "One Little Hammer Went Tap Tap Tap!"
  • Add instruments to songs like ... "If you're happy and you know it" (ring a bell) (tap a drum) (shake a maraca).
Telling stories
Try adding musical sound effects when retelling favorite stories or making up new ones.  For example, "Polar Bear, Polar Bear, What do you hear?  I hear a tambourine shaking in my ear!"

Instead of children telling you a story - try having them dictate to you a song.

Instrument Games
Play an instrument and see if the children can guess what it is.

How else do you use musical instruments in your classroom?

Before you go - read this article written by Lorri at PreK 360: Music Center: Open Daily


Ayn Colsh said...

Great post!
I also include a box with materials for "make your own instrument". There are coffee cans, toilet paper roll, beans, etc. Of course instrument making is not limited to what is in the box---art and other classroom materials are available as well! The kids love to make their own and the are amazingly inventive!

homeschool101 said...

What a great post idea. I added musical instruments this year since I have my soon to be 5 year old schooling and now my just turned 4 year old will begin his schooling soon. I already love it. They enjoy playing the music free hand making up their own rythm as they go, plus we will play music and and dance and they clang clang all the way. Lol. Great ideas. I even like the comment above I think I will make some addings. lol. Thanks for sharing.

Teacher Tom said...

One of my frustrations about musical instruments -- aside from the fact that I don't play one -- is that many of the best ones involve blowing. For obvious reasons it's impractical to have horns, harmonicas, etc. in class. This leaves us mostly with percussion instruments, which are fun, but add a great deal of cacophony to an already cacophonous classroom.

That said, we break our collection out purposefully to use for celebratory days (like Chinese New Year) when a little extra noise is okay. I also like to lead parades around the room, especially with the 2-year-olds. Each time we loop back to our starting point, everyone exchanges instruments and we start again.

My favorite classroom instruments are our marimba (percussive, but melodious) our accordian (loud, but challenging to play) and our full-sized electronic piano with two sets of headphones to allow the kids to bang away together without drowning out the rest of the room. And, of course, rhythm sticks.

We also have an old karaoke box that no longer plays music, but the microphones work. I like to bring it to circle time and let the kids take turns singing songs or telling jokes to one another.

Deborah (Teach Preschool) said...

"... add a great deal of 'cacophony' to an already 'cacophonous' classroom."

As soon as I look up those words I will comment back:) LOL!

I think that the point is to view music as something more than just noise. Find ways to bring instruments and music in general into the classroom that compliment an activity rather than compete with it.

Launa Hall said...

Great post! Love the idea of incorporating instruments into literacy activities, such as retelling a story!

Here's an activity that's a big hit: Read or tell a short story to your children that references a lot of sounds. (Journey stories often work well.) Then, let them have a go at your instrument collection. Ask them to work together to decide which instruments should represent which sounds in the story. Then tell the story again with the "sound track" at all the right spots in the story. Be prepared to tell the story many, many times, so that they can rotate the instruments!

A marimba? Awesome, Teacher Tom! Glockenspiels and resonator bars are also great. Look for glockenspiels that have detachable bars (like the ones at Kindermusik). Then, you can remove some of the bars, leaving only the ones that sound great together. This makes it easier for adults to listen to, and is more satisfying for the child. For example, take all the Bs and Es off ("bacon and eggs").

Resonator bars are even more wonderful for the littlest hands. They are really just xylophone bars separated out, so they're a big easy target. When hit with a rubber mallet, they make a clean, true, gorgeous tone. Again, you'd only set out resonator bars that sound great together--a chord, such as C, E, and G.

Sorry for the book! Music in the early childhood classroom--hurray!

Deborah (Teach Preschool) said...

No - please go on!! I love your idea for telling stories with the "sound track"!

karen Nemeth, said...

I would just like to announce that I actually played the glockenspiel in the marching band when I was young. Hah! I also want to announce that one thing I love even more than this post is the great ideas it collected in comments. What a wonderful musical world you all make for little kids!!

Teaching Heart Mom said...

Here's a link that I refer to often when speaking with parents.

I really believe that music is such an awesome teaching tool and does make kids smarter.

Great post with such nice ideas!

Deborah (Teach Preschool) said...

Haha Karen - I can't believe you played the glockenspiel in the marching band!

Teaching Heart! I am going to check out that site!!

Kim said...

Okay, I'm not a preschool teacher, but I am my children's first teacher. :-) We love music at our house and have an instrument box. We also use other things around the house to make instruments. I like to use that opportunity to introduce science. Like glasses with different water levels make different noises. Different size metal mixing bowls make different pitched sounds. Great for comparing, listening, and learning.

Deborah (Teach Preschool) said...

Kim - Absolutely you are the first teacher - and love having you share your ideas:) Great idea to use glasses and bowls!!

Anonymous said...

Hey, everyone..please visit ~ specializing in all things musical for kids. I am a former Music Together teacher/director in NJ, and I developed this site to be the most specialized website for early childhood musical instruments.

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