Children live in the world of play and that is why we design our music activities to meet them where they live; in the world of imaginative play and movement. Children of different ages require activities with varying levels of sophistication in order to stay engaged with the music time. When we create an imaginative movement activity we are giving the children a scenario such as “crawl like a spider” and inviting them to interpret that movement in the way that they choose. We may give a suggestion and model the movement of crawling on the floor and different ways to mimic the movements of the spider but we remind them that they get to choose how they would like to move like a spider. Then we move onto moving like a snake, a dolphin, flying like a bird and then inviting them to choose what animals they would like to move like. All the while we are engaging and modeling the movements along with the children.
Thought and Preparation
Like a lot of things related to the education of young children the idea of creative movement in early childhood education can seem deceptively simple. But to create an effective program there is a lot of thought and preparation that goes into it. One of the challenges can be to make the songs and activities simple where they need to be simple but with a well-thought-out plan based on many hours working with children in the classroom. One of the advantages that we have is that children are very enthusiastic about participating in creative movement in early childhood education. Children who are naturally outgoing take to it very easily. Children who may be a bit more shy and withdrawn, while they may hesitate at first, will in most cases be joining in with their peers without much delay.
Developmental Benefits Are No Joke
While we approach creative movement with a light hearted enthusiasm the developmental benefits for children who participate in these activities are no joke. There is a large body of research that is been done on the subject. You can read about this research on our website and in our other blog posts.
A Balance Between Freedom and Boundaries
The most effective and engaging creative movement activities are a balance between giving the children the freedom to move in the ways that they choose and maintaining boundaries to keep they and their peers safe during the energetic music groups. We use a tool called the “invisible bubble” to remind the children to move where there is room to go without bumping their friends. This is also an opportunity for the children to gain skill in the area of impulse control and social emotional development. Of course, they will be developing their language skills, gross and fine motor development, understanding of spatial relationships and mathematical concepts, and so much more.
What To Look For When Selecting Your Curriculum
There are many resources available for teachers who want to bring this enriching activity into their classrooms. Here are a few elements to look for when choosing your creative movement curriculum:
- Interactivity: Without this it’s impossible to lead an effective and engaging Music group with young children. Choose songs, stories and rhythm games that invite the children to interact and engage with the activities.
- Enrichment: choose materials with themes and learning opportunities that you can coordinate with your monthly classroom curriculum. Some good themes to consider are transportation, science, pre-math skills, phonemic awareness, family and friends, fitness and exercise, Spanish language, engineering concepts, and nutrition.
- Fun: This is very important. For young children fun is serious business! If it’s not attractive and engaging then the children won’t be participating when you’re presenting the movement activities.
Nick Young has been an early childhood music educator for 25 years and is the creator of PlayMotion Music©. PlayMotion Music is an interactive music and movement program that gives teachers the ability to lead enriching and engaging music and movement groups with their students.