Children of all ages enjoy music by dancing to it. The radio, CDs, MP3 files, and other sources can provide excellent background music for creative and energetic movement. It is a good idea to expose children to a variety of musical styles in their dance — classical, rock, folk, and country are examples. Each will encourage a variety of movement possibilities.
Sometimes a simple prop or costume can encourage dance. Soft, flowing scarves are especially good. Your children many enjoy wearing leotards, hats, or sashes around their waists. Skirts that swirl are fun, too.
Both boys and girls should be supported in their dance activities. Dance can be a wonderful means for developing physical coordination and strength and is a great way to release energy and express feelings or ideas.
Dance and movement, as well as musical appreciation can also be encouraged through creative play with musical instruments. Children are eager to explore the sounds that instruments produce. While real instruments fascinate young children, instruments made especially for children can be used more actively with better sounding results.
Sturdy, homemade instruments can be a welcome addition to a child’s creative play materials. There are many possibilities for making instruments. Here are just a few.
Shaker — Using two Styrofoam cups, fill one with a material such as rice, oatmeal, pebbles, beans, or sand. Tape the two cups together. I have even done this with two small tomato paste cans connected with duct tape.
Drum — Large empty oatmeal containers make ideal drums!
Sand blocks — Secure coarse sandpaper on one side of two small pieces of wood using thumbtacks. Fasten a small door knob on the other side.
Hand bells — Sew bells securely to a hoop made of elastic or heavy ribbon.
Have you discovered any other creative musical instruments in working with the children in your care? Do share with us!
Some parents have enrolled their children in structured programs that encourage creative movement and musical exploration. Here are links to two that come recommended by folks I trust and respect.