Music is a universal language. I love that music can elicit big emotions, and allow the imagination to soar. Music can be tied to art, movement, math, writing and more. Even before babies can talk, they can react and respond to music. There is so much they can learn from it. Today I’m excited to share some fun activities and a series of musical board books that encourage young kids to experience classical music in an exciting way.
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The Benefits of Music
It has been proven that introducing young kids to music can help them in so many ways. In addition to the educational benefits that students get from music, there are emotional and social benefits as well. One of my favorite bloggers to follow is Jessica Peresta over at The Domestic Musician. In her post on the importance of music lessons, she stated, “Music helps us feel, develop into our personalities by finding our likes and dislikes, helps us express ourselves, gives us a sense of purpose, is highly emotional, and can reach us to the very core”. Music gives us another way to connect and express what we are feeling, which is so important for young children!
Music is a Part of Life
From very early in life, I have been a fan of music and dance. My grandfather was in a swing band, and I remember dancing to their music when I was a toddler. My sister and I learned pop music and the standards from our mom, and classical music, classic rock and rare oddities from our father. (We also both still know all of the words to almost every Disney song as well). The first CD I ever owned was Peter Ilyich Tchaikovsky’s The Nutcracker, so my music tastes are definitely eclectic.
When my daughter was born, I knew that I wanted to introduce her to all of the various genres of music that I have grown to love. She swayed and clapped along to all kinds of music, but she was especially taken by the classical music she learned from Disney’s Little Einsteins. I had heard all kinds of studies about children listening to classical music. But the way that my daughter has fallen in love with classical composers and symphonies blows my mind. Before she was two, she would say “Mozart”, “Tchaikovsky” and “Beethoven”. The music from the Nutcracker became some of her favorites. I’m not kidding, our doorbell is even set to play it.
Interactive Musical Board Books
I was so excited when I was given the opportunity to review My First Ballet and My First Beethoven from Jam Jam Books. These colorful musical board books are written by Elizabeth Pen and illustrated by Alenka Vuk Trotovsek. Not only are these books fun ways to teach kids about musical instruments and famous composers, but the books include buttons on each sturdy page which play a piece of classical music. The quality of the music is great for a board book, and the sensors are easily activated by my daughter.
In My First Ballet, the reader follows a little boy and little girl as they travel around their neighborhood and learn about different ballets. Each two page spread shows different animals performing scenes from famous ballets. The small music buttons react to a gentle touch and play a small snippet of music from that ballet. The name of the composer and the piece of music are both listed at the bottom of the page for reference. The colorful illustrations and adorable animal characters will draw kids in, and they may be inspired by the small snippets of music to try out the dance moves on the page.
In My First Beethoven, the instruments from the orchestra are illustrated as people. As the book moves along, the family of instruments gets into an argument, leading the wind and string instruments to break off from each other. The short story introduces kids to the concept of what can be accomplished when a team works together, as the instruments come together to create beautiful music. It is also a great way to introduce young kids to the different families of instruments. Each page includes a snippet of a piece from Beethoven. The music is well suited to the illustrations on the page and the action in the story.
Check them out in action!
Getting Kids Involved
Music Note Freeze Dance – Cut out several large music notes or draw them onto paper plates and place them around the room. Have kids move around the circle, from music note to music note while you play a song. When you pause the music, they have to stop on the music note they are on and perform the activity listed on it.
This could be something simple like hopping on one foot, or it could be tied into your music lesson. Have them pretend to play a guitar, a violin, or a piccolo. My daughter thinks it’s funny to perform “Twinkle Twinkle Little Star” like a duck. Her ability to keep the rhythm and tune while quacking helps with lots of skills, so one of our spaces was to perform the song as an animal. When the music starts again, they can continue along the music path until it stops again.
Music and Art – The illustrations in these books pair so well with the music on the page. Encourage kids to try to illustrate music on their own! Provide them with blank paper and art supplies and play a piece of music for them. Have them listen to the music and get a feel for it. Ask them to draw or create artwork that shows how the music makes them feel. For older kids, have them write and illustrate their own story for a particular piece of music. Talk to them about the way the illustrator in these books used the music to create the artwork.
Instrument Sort – The instruments in the My First Beethoven book separate off into different families. Talk to kids about the different instruments in an orchestra. Show them pictures of the various instruments and have them listen to the sounds they make. Use descriptive language to describe the look, feel and sound of the instruments. You could also have kids sort them into the correct families.