Thursday, February 16, 2012

The Music Imperative

 Hello Everybody!  Miss Carole's at it again!  

  Whew – all done with the hearts and flowers, but Miss Carole’s still singing and dancing!  WHY?  Because music lifts my mood, increases my energy and gives my brain and body a workout! 

     Through my company, MACARONI SOUP, I sing, dance and learn with teachers, parents, librarians, performers, and CHILDREN on a daily basis.  How lucky can a person get?!?

   This month I’d like to talk a little about what makes a song or musical activity developmentally appropriate for Early Childhood students?
  •          Is it FUN?  It should be!
  •          Does it help a student DEVELOP SKILLS?  I sure hope so!

In over 20 years of teaching music and movement I’ve found that the most successful music encourages participation by using skills children have mastered, or allows them to practice skills they need to acquire or refine.  Such music usually increases physical and/or intellectual “vocabulary” and taps into a child’s imagination and sense of adventure.

Sounds like high expectations for singin'n'dancin'?  NOT!  In Early Childhood, music rarely stands alone.  We can teach science, art, drama, math, PE and all the early literacy skills while sharing a tune or doing a dance (following SEQUENCES and PATTERNS).  Studies have shown that retention is increased by 50% when a movement component is added to the learning sequence.

QUICK!  WHAT’S THE LETTER BEFORE “G”? (hum Jeopardy tune here)  Got it?  How’d you get it?  Did your brain run the ABC Song quickly up to G and then you knew it was F?  (you did get “F”, right?)  Well, it works because that ABC song is hard-wired into our brain from an early age and we can access it like that! – SNAP!
                                 I CONSIDER THIS “THE MUSIC IMPERATIVE!”

We must expose our children to developmentally appropriate music every day.  Here’s a song to start with – “DOWN I FLOP!”  It’s in a minor key, which is not as common in EC music, and has lots of opportunity to practice self-control, gross-motor skills, and good social interaction and spatial awareness.  AND IT’S FUN!  You can hear it here - it was the Song of the Month in April 2011.

Lyrics:                  Clapping, clapping, see me clapping
                             Clapping, clapping, all day long!
                             Nobody knows I can clap so well
                             Nobody knows I can stand  so  still.
                             Clapping, clapping, see me clapping
                             When I am tired, down  I  flop!

Do some stamping, jumping, walking, running (yes, RUNNING!), tiptoeing - or whatever skill you want to work on!  Make sure everyone stands VERY still on those lyrics (model the behavior), take a breath, and continue!  It's a blast!

 Yes, you can purchase my cd that this song
  is on, "BALONEY!", or you can learn it and 
  sing it acapella with your kids.  I always do it
  first without the recording, then with - to allow
  for changes in lyrics and tempo to fit the 
  children with whom I'm working.

Now get flopping! ... and if you're in the Massachusetts area, come see me at the MassAEYC conference.  OR in the Midwest - both days at the IL-ASCD -PreK and K Conference.  Both conferences are in March.  For details check my Events Calendar.

Yours for a Song!
                     "Miss Carole" (Peterson) Stephens


  1. I LOVE songs like that ... fun, active, and having a catchy tune! Music was always one of my favorite ways to reinforce skills and concepts, too. Thanks so much for sharing the audio to your song. I pinned your post to my Educational Songs, Rhymes, and Fingerplays Pinterest board at

  2. Thanks, Deb! I am definitely seeing less music and movement activities in many early childhood classrooms. It seems that value is placed on "intellectual education" - that which teaches reading, counting, letters, numbers, etc - when learning those skills through music and movement can be so effective and enjoyable to children of all abilities. About a year ago a K teacher stopped by my booth at a conference and asked if any of my cd's were "educational". When I answered yes - they all have movement, vocabulary, early literacy skills like rhyming, pattern, rhythm, story, etc. "Oh, we don't have time for that fun stuff - I teach Kindergarten." OUCH! And how sad. I hope her students find joy in First Grade!


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