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Creative Movement in Early Childhood Education

creative movement

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 Children who may be a bit more shy and withdrawn, while they may hesitate at first, will in most cases be joining in with their peers without much delay.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. 

creative movement

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:

  1. 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.
  2. 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.
  3. 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

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.

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Why is Music Important in Early Childhood Education?

preschool music education

Music enhances all areas of children’s development including school readiness, academic performance, language development, social/emotional development, gross and fine motor development and phonological awareness.

Research: Musical Experiences Enhance Childrens Development 

The University of Southern California conducted a study in 2016 and concluded that early music education enhances brain development in the areas of language and reading. 

Children Are Attracted To Music From Infancy Onward

In my three decades as an early childhood music educator I have had the privilege to work with thousands of children of all ages. I have seen how infants respond to rhythmic music by bouncing and moving long before they are able to understand the words of a song. 

Toddlers become entranced by interactive music activities when teachers model movement along with the music. 

Preschoolers enjoy moving and dancing with interactive music as well as playing hand percussion instruments like shakers, bells, scrapers, triangles and drums. They can begin to learn to read and play music notes using specialized materials such as Rhythm Sound Cards. 

preschool music kids

Nothing Engages Children Like Lively, Interactive Music and Movement Activities

Children need to move. The boundless energy of young children is something that many adults find amazing. When children arrive at chool at the beginning of the day they are likely bringing with them a vast amount of energy that needs to have an outlet. Many teachers find that their students are better able to focus once they have been given the chance to move and dance in creative ways and thus expend much of the excess energy that they have been carrying.  

No Better Tool for Children’s Learning Than Interactive Music and Movement 

Children retain information and language when it is presented in the context of interactive music and movement activities more than in any other medium. 

Imagine a group of young children sitting passively while an adult recites or lectures to them. What do you think the level of retention will be for most of those children? Now imagine the same group of children dancing, singing and moving in creative ways to songs and activities that present the same information. It’s easy to conclude that the level of retention will be much higher for the children involved in the music activities because they are experiencing the subject matter on a more visceral level and so will incorporate it into their consciousness in a much more profound way. 

preschool music education

Choosing the Right Music Curriculum 

There is no shortage of music intended for early childhood classrooms. Much of it is very low quality or lacks the vital interactive element. Music is not for children to listen to while sitting passively. There are many ways that children may interactive with music. Some songs are great for children sitting and singing while making hand gestures that coordinate with the music. Other activities involve the children moving their bodies like various animals or modes of transportation. We call they Imaginative Movement. Still other songs will direct them to move their bodies in various ways like tapping feet, wiggling shoulder, hopping and stomping.

Nick Young

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.

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Music and Language Learning

What We Know As Teachers

As early childhood educators we know from experience the benefits of early music experiences for the children that we work with every day. We see the joy and enthusiasm they feel when engaging in interactive music and movement activities. We know that moving and interacting with music helps children to express their creativity, and put their abundant energy to use in a positive way. We have seen first hand that regular interactive music groups result in social and emotional development, self regulation development and physical development. We also know that fun, high energy music activities help to create a positive atmosphere in the classroom, positive interactions between children, their peers and their teachers but is there a connection between music and language learning?

What Does The Science Say About Music and Language Learning?

Are there other benefits to children’s development beyond what we are seeing in our real world interactions? Here is a link to a peer reviewed article that combines the results of 20 years of studies on the effects of music instruction on emergent literacy capacities among preschool children:

To paraphrase the summary of this article: Several studies conducted over the past 20 years have shown a significant connection between music and language learning. These studies indicate that children who are involved in musical activities and develop awareness of music and melody benefit from a boost in phonological awareness and pre-reading abilities. Children who participate in early childhood music benefit from accelerated development in word recognition and spelling abilities. Finally, musical activities promote the development of auditory perception, phonological memory and metacognitive knowledge, three components that are vital to the development of linguistic abilities.

Music Has A Profound And Diverse Benefit On The Development Of Children In Early Childhood

Music is something that children are intuitively drawn to. As educators we see the excitement, engagement, creativity and joy that music activities inspire in our students every day. I submit that there is no other activity that has such profound and diverse benefits on the development of children in early childhood. We owe it to our students to make music and movement activities a part of our daily classroom activities.

How Can Teachers Without Musical Training Create A Rich And Effective Music And Movement Program?

In order to achieve these benefits it takes more than just putting on music and encouraging the children to engage with it. With the right resources it is fun, easy and rewarding for teachers without musical experience or training to lead engaging and enriching music groups with their students. When teachers have access to intentional and well designed tools and curriculum, daily music groups become intuitive and natural. Music time is the highlight of the day for many students and their teachers.

Try this interactive song and a musical story with your students: click here and enter password: music&movement1

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.

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DRDP: School Readiness Assessment Tool

preschool-hands-drdp-school-readiness-assessment-toolDRDP: Desired Results for Children and Families

How important is Kindergarten readiness?

We have learned a tremendous amount about how important kindergarten readiness is. There are a variety of skills that children need to have in order to make a successful transition to TK or traditional kindergarten. School readiness is a key indicator in determining a child’s eventual academic success. DRDP: School Readiness Assessment Tool

Kindergarten readiness observation is an invaluable tool as students enter TK-12 system, school readiness is a critical data point in student trajectory.

• Focusing on student needs early is key

• Approaching student success historically, across learning and developmental domains is also key

Five Basic Building Blocks of Readiness for Kindergarten

  1. Self Care & Motor Skills

2. Self Regulation

3. Social and Emotional Skills

4. Academic Skills

5. Mathematics

click here to learn more

preschool-kids-drdp-school-readiness-assessment-toolWhy Kindergarten Readiness Matters

Early, timely data on students is important to providing a continuum of support and resources, starting in TK and K.

• Need valid, reliable tool alignment with Early Learning Foundations

• Value of assessing social-emotional development

• Understanding/implementing the recent changes in K-12 standards and assessments is challenging but the gains are valuable

DRDP Is A Powerful Tool

The DRDP: School Readness Assessment Tool paints a holistic picture of where children are as they are leaving 0-5 experience and where they need to be as they move into K-12.

The DRDP IS A Tool For Communication

Traditionally there has been a separation between the world of preschool educators and TK to 3rd grade elementary teachers. The DRDP: School Readiness Assessment Tool provides a great opportunity for facilitating increased communication between those two worlds that have previously been separated. The DRDP can provide a “warm handoff” as the children are transitioning from preschool to kindergarten. This results in a much more integrated approach as the children enter their early elementary years.

Ready Children, Ready Families, Ready Schools, Ready Communities

The DRDP does a great job of helping us know that kids are ready and helping our schools be ready to receive those ready children.


preschool-music-drdp-school-readiness-assessment-toolEarly childhood music education addresses the following categories under the DRDP:

• Social Emotional Development
• English Language Development
• Cognition
• Language Development
• Gross Motor
• Fine Motor
• Music and Movement

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Three Tips For Great Preschool Music and Movement

preschool music education

how to teach preschool musicThree Tips For Great Preschool Music and Movement

After 27 years of working with preschoolers and music I have discovered the three simple factors needed to create successful music and movement time in the early childhood classroom and I want to share them with you now. Here are my Three Tips For Great Preschool Music and Movement.

Energy and Attitude

When presenting a music and movement activity for young children, you must be energetic and enthusiastic! You energy and your attitude about what you are presenting is key in determining how it will be received by your students. When you are cheerful and excited the children will reflect that attitude. They will be interested and they will be active and engaged. I can’t overstate how important this is.

Class Management Tools

The flip side of Tip #1 is that it can create a too energetic and even out of control group. You must balance the energy of your presentation with appropriate boundaries and limits on the children’s behavior. I have been training teachers in how to teach ECE music groups for decades and I know from experience that striking this balance is vital. If the energy is too low the children will lose interest. If the energy is out of control, the children will be too manic and you may even create an unsafe environment with children colliding with furniture in the classroom and with their fellow students. Here is a link to my Ultimate Guide To Preschool Music Time Class Management.

The Music & Curriculum

There is a lot of great (and not so great) preschool music available but what you need is an effective, high quality and intensional program and system. A collection of Greg and Steve CDs is a good start but at best you will be scattered, disorganized and find your self going in circles instead of progressing an a path toward greater development, enrichment and achievement with your students. Some of the programs that do exist tend to err on the side of being too academic and restrictive. Others my be too fluffy and lack substance. I, of course recommend my own system: Play Motion Music™. You can sign up for a free trial membership here.

Congratulations! You are on your way to creating great preschool music and movement groups! You are sharing a wealth of enrichment with the children that you work with. Please let me know how your music groups are going. I am always happy to share my experience with fellow teachers. 

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The Joys Of Early Childhood Music

Music For Your Fall Classes

Fall school year is about to start and that means new faces in our early childhood music classes! Every year I look forced to meeting the new students, reuniting with the friends I have been working with and getting back into the groove of teaching a weekly schedule of early childhood music groups.

I’ll be teaching a mix of my tried and true songs, musical stories and rhythm and note teaching games as well as all the brand new material I have been developing over the summer months.

The Summer Is A Time For Creating

The summer has been an active time of creating new early childhood music curriculum and performing interactive kids concerts with my collaborator, performing partner and wife Jen Stillion-Young. We performed almost 60 kids shows this summer at schools, libraries, festivals and other venues.

20 Years Of ECE Music

I have been teaching early childhood music for over 20 years. All this time I have been creating new songs, stories and musical games to get young children involved in music. I have also been refining my approach to early childhood music education. Teachers who observe my classes are often amazed at how the children stay engaged with the curriculum for the entire 30 minute music group.

Play Centric

My approach is play centric. I combine fun and accessible songs with interactive elements and a brisk flow to hold the children’s attention. I am excited and enthusiastic about the material that I am presenting. I create a rapport with the students. I challenge their abilities and I never underestimate what they are capable of.

The Benefits Of ECE Music

Through regular exposure to and evolvement with a variety of musical experiences children will improve their social skills, academic performance, pre literacy skills, language skills and so much more. Music time is the highlight of the week for many children. Bringing music into the lives of children is my mission, my passion and my life’s work. I’m thankful every day for the gifts this work brings to me and the gifts I am able to share with my students.

If you would like to learn for about my early childhood music curriculum and teacher training program and sign up for a free trial membership to try out the curriculum in your own classes please click here.

Thank You,

Nick Young


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Preschool Music Activities for Fall

Want to start the new school year with interactive, entertaining and enriching music and movement activities for your students? Nick Young here. I have been bringing music and movement into preschool classrooms for over 20 years. Now, I want to share some great songs from my preschool music teacher training and curriculum program: PlayMotion Music™ that will make it easy for you to make music and movement a regular part of your preschool class curriculum. Here are some great preschool music activities for fall.

Preschool Music Activities for Fall

Let’s start with a directed movement song with some simple movements. This one’s called Shake Shake Shake Your Hands. It starts with the children sitting in the group circle and shaking their hands.

Shake Your Hands Song Card back
Shake Your Hands Song Card back

Now let’s try an imaginative movement song

In this song the children will be moving their bodies together in the group space like different kinds of animals. I use a tool called the Invisible Bubble to help the friends to enjoy the song safely. Before you start the song, ask the children to put on their invisible bubble. Then say, “That means that you will not bump your friends. Move where there is room to go without bumping your friends.”

Animals on the Move Song Card back
Animals on the Move Song Card back

Benefits of Music & Movement

You will find that bringing interactive music and movement into your preschool classroom will bring many benefits. Music and movement helps you to be in alignment with important Preschool Standards, it helps the children to develop language skills and social skills. It helps the children burn off excess energy and improves academic performance. It gives you an opportunity to move and interact in a creative environment with your students. The list of benefits goes on.

Ready for more great Preschool Music Activities for Fall?

These two preschool music activities for fall are from Module #1 of my PlayMotion Music monthly curriculum series. You can sign up for a free trial membership here.


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Preschool Music Lesson Plans

preschool music education

In search of preschool music lesson plans? You’ve come to the right place! I have been teaching preschool music for 25 years. Now I’m giving you my preschool music lesson plans, step by step, teacher training videos, big color song cards that put everything you need at your fingertips, audio tracks with me singing and playing the guitar to lead the groups and special Rhythm Sound teaching materials.

Online Videospreschool-music-lesson-plans

I’ve been training teachers to teach preschool music for decades. I used to have the teachers come to my music classes in preschools to learn how to do what I do. Now I’ve taken everything and put it on videos for you to stream online.

Song Cardspreschool-music-lesson-plans-song-card

My custom song cards are great for teachers to reference while leading the music group with their students. The song cards give you special instructions on how to lead that particular song or activity, how to introduce the song and the song lyrics. All at your fingertips.

Audio Tracks

Once you have learned the movements by watching the training videos, you are ready to lead the group. Get the children ready in the group space and start the audio tracks. You can stream the songs from your smart phone, tablet desktop computer, Smartboard, Apple TV or any internet connected devise.

Preschool Music Lesson Planspreschool-music-lesson-plans-kids

Get started right away bringing quality, interactive music into your preschool classroom. All the songs, stories and games have been tried and tested in real world preschool classrooms over decades of early childhood music teaching. My preschool music lesson plans are engaging, interactive, fun and enriching.

Preschool Standards

PlayMotion Music helps classrooms to be in alignment important preschool standards such as:


• Social Emotional Development
• English Language Development
• Cognition
• Language Development
• Gross Motor
• Fine Motor
• Music an Movement


• Fine Motor
• Music/Movement
• Staff-Child Interactions
• Interactions Among Children


• Social Emotional Development
• English Language Development
• Language Development
• Performing Arts
• Physical Development


• A secure, supportive base for children’s learning and exploration
• Helps children develop language and cognitive skills
• Environments and experiences that help children develop their abilities

Creative Curriculum

• Musical concepts and expression
• Dance and movement concepts
• Cooperative and constructive group situations
• Phonological awareness

Click here to see options and pricing: Let’s Get Started!

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Preschool Music and Movement Activities Part 1

Preschool Music and Movement Activities Part 1preschool-music-and-movement-activities-nick-young

Nick Young here. I’ve been a preschool music teacher for over 20 years. I am the creator of the Young Music Company mobile preschool music school. Over the last two decades I have been perfecting my approach to preschool music and movement activities. Now I am ready to share some of my best preschool music and movement activities with you.

Tips for An Effective Preschool Music Time

A little preparation goes a long way. Make sure you are familiar with the material before you introduce it to the children. Watch the video below to learn the movements that you will be modeling with the children.

Attitude is everything. Your attitude should broadcast that you are excited and fully engaged with what you are presenting to the children. They will pick up on your energy and follow your example.

Create a flow of activities. Once you start the music time, don’t pause between activities. One should flow into the next so that the children don’t have a chance to become distracted.

Directed Movement

This song is what I call a directed movement song because the lyrics of the song tell the children exactly how to move their bodies.


Shake Shake Shake Your Hands

Shake Your Hands Audio:


Shake, Shake, Shake Your Hands

Instructions: Have the children sit on the edge of the rug facing toward the center. Join the children in the group either on the floor or in a chair. Have your CD player within reach. Tell the children “All right friends, we are going start by shaking our hands.” Shake your hands to demonstrate. Start the audio. Go through the activities with the children as directed by the audio.

Intro: It’s time for a song about shaking your hands. Show me how you shake, shake, shake your hands right now!

Lyrics: chords: A E A D E A
Shake, shake, shake your hands x3
Now get up its time to stand
Jump, jump, jump so high x3
You can almost touch the sky
Jump and clap, jump and clap x3
Now your feet go tap, tap, tap
Stretch, stretch, stretch up high x3
Wiggle your fingers far and wide

 Want more great Preschool Music Lessons and Curriculum?

Sign up for a free or paid membership: Click Here or Options and Pricing

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Top 5 Best Preschool Music Time Songs

Here are Nick Young’s Top 5 Best Preschool Music Time Songs

Top 5 Best Preschool Music Time Songs
Nick the Music Man & Jen The Fairy Dancer

These Top 5 Best Preschool Music Time Songs are guaranteed to get the children up and moving their bodies!


Greg & Steve: Bop ’til You Drop Click Here

Raffi: Shake My Sillies out Click Here

Greg & Steve: Can You Leap Like A Frog Click Here

Hop Little Bunny Click Here

Hap Palmer: Colors Click Here

Great Preschool Music: You don’t have to be a musician to bring music to your students. Luckily, resources exist that will provide you with everything you need. PlayMotion Music is a complete program designed for non musician teachers, and you can try it for free. Click Here