ABC and 123: A Learning Collaborative: Musical Monday: Singing With Your Kids

Monday, February 15, 2010

Musical Monday: Singing With Your Kids

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I think we've all probably heard that singing to your baby is beneficial--that it stimulates his or her brain by creating a multi-sensory environment. Music experiences help children build vocabulary and listening skills, as well as facilitate language acquisition.

I've even read recently that there is research to support the idea that singing helps strengthen our immune systems! An apple a day and a song a day may just keep the doctor away!

And even though I know all those things about how music makes you smarter, I don't really sing with Juliet for that reason. I do it because it's just plain fun. (Although, I'll take the extra smarts any way I can get them!)

I love the idea of passing down treasured songs from my own childhood to Juliet. All those songs that my Dad put into my head and heart when I was a child are just now bubbling to the surface--I'm remembering things I haven't thought about in years. And with those songs come memories and emotions and STORIES. Stories of places I traveled to, people I met, and experiences I had. I am able to share these with Juliet as we sing songs together each evening.

It makes me smile to think that one day Juliet will be sharing these same songs with her children and that she will have her own stories to share--stories that we are building together now.

I've shared a list of 100+ songs to sing with your child and also how to incorporate music into your child's daily routine. Today, I wanted to share some ideas for making song time a little more fun (for when you need a break from just sitting there and singing!)

Let your child sing.
Sometimes I just say, "Hey, why don't you sing to ME tonight." Sometimes this works and sometimes I get a very polite, but firm, "No thanks, mom." I can't guarantee the results, but it is worth a try!

Take turns singing lines.
Sing the first line and let your child sing the next. You follow with the next, and so on.
Leave out one word and pause--waiting for your child to fill it in.
For example, "Oh, I come from ___________ (Alabama) with my _________(banjo) on my ______ (knee). Let your child fill in the blanks--Juliet thinks this is VERY fun.

Sing it WRONG!
This idea was suggested to me from Chronicle of an Infant Bibliophile. She says that she will sing a song and deliberately say the wrong word--her son loves to jump in and correct her with the right lyrics! For example, "The itsy bitsy bullfrog..." "NO! Spider!" etc. The possibilities for this game are endless. She mentioned that this was a fun car game for her family to play together. I can't wait to try it with Juliet.

Sing it kitty, puppy, or birdie style. (Or any other animal, for that matter!)
We like to sing our favorite tunes in our animal voices such as, "Meow, meow, meow, meow, meow, meow, meow" (That's Twinkle, Twinkle, Little Star for those of you that don't speak kitty) and "Cheep, cheep, cheep, cheep!" (That's O Susanna for those not fluent in birdie.)

Add your child's name to the song.
You can insert your child's name at any point in almost any song. Replacing names is the easiest, "Old McJuliet had a farm" or "Juliet pounds with one hammer, one hammer, one hammer" work well. But you can also add names where they don't appear in the original song, "You are my Juliet, my only Juliet, you make me happy, when skies are gray" (You are My Sunshine). It's also easy to replace the word "you" with your child's name, "Oh, Juliet can't get to heaven, on roller skates, because she'd roll right past, those pearly gates" (Oh, You Can't Get to Heaven).

Turn it into a dance party.
Sometimes, Juliet will jump up and just run up and down the hall and flail her arms (her version of dancing) while I sit and sing. It makes me laugh and definitely adds a bit of fun to the moment. We find ourselves giggling more than singing, but I think that's okay.

Let your child act out the songs.
I've never actually told Juliet to do this, but noticed that she sometimes does this on her own during one of her dance sessions. When I was singing the "fly in the buttermilk, shoo fly, shoo!" part of Skip to My Lou the other night, she suddenly threw her body down on the floor and began rolling around and flapping her arms. It took me a few minutes to realize that she was pretending to be a "fly in the buttermilk." A few days later, when we were singing it again, I said, "Oh, wow! Are you being a fly in the buttermilk?" And she said, "No, mom. I'm LYING in the buttermilk." Turns out she thought I was saying lie in stead of fly this whole time. I think she still thinks that, actually.

Change your volume from normal, to loud, to soft.
Sometimes I'll sing parts of a song really loud and then suddenly switch to very, very soft. Juliet thinks this is crazy fun. She'll join in, but mostly just on the loud parts.

Add some tickles.
One of my favorite ways to make song time more fun is to add tickling to the mix. Juliet has come to expect being tickled during Skidamarink right when I say, "I love you!" She gets a big belly tickle.

Add sound effects.
Some songs just beg for sound effects. Pop Goes the Weasel comes to mind right now. You can make a popping sound with your mouth or smack your hands together in a loud clap. Keep an open eye and you can find ways to add all sorts of sound effects to songs. Just tonight, we were singing Baby Beluga together and at the "see the water squiring out of your spout" part I made a loud swooshing noise and reached over and tickled her belly.

So, that's what we do. What about you? How do you make singing fun with your children? We'd love to hear your ideas!
Thank you so much to Vanessa at Silly Eagle Books for this third and final post in her Musical Monday guest post series!  We have really appreciated her great wealth of knowledge and willingness to share her resources.  To read this post with content links, and to see Vanessa's book suggestions and activities, be sure to check out her blog!


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