ABC and 123: A Learning Collaborative: Musical Monday: Music for Toddlers

Monday, November 9, 2009

Musical Monday: Music for Toddlers

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Recently we were reading through MaryAnne's blog archive at Thrifty Crafty Mama and came across a great post she wrote that we really wanted to share with you. She has graciously allowed us to repost it her, thanks for guesting MaryAnne! Join MaryAnne at her new blog Mama Smiles, for more from one of our frequent contributors.

Music has always played a large role in my life. Here are a few ways my kids and I enjoy music together:
  • Children’s CDs: Some of our favorites to sing and dance along to are The Best of Kindermusik, Signing Time! Songs, and the Wee Sing series (our favorite is the "Best of Wee Sing” collection). These CDs have been a lifesaving distraction for my car-hating children.
  • Classical music: My kids enjoy dancing to some classical music, and sometimes Emma will make up a story to describe what an instrumental piece is about. You can also have your child draw a picture to go with a piece of music.
  • Mainstream music: Mike is good at finding songs by mainstream artists that put our kids to sleep, and he likes to dance with them to more upbeat songs. As an infant, Emma had a “magic” song written and recorded by a college friend of ours. She was a pretty fussy baby, but this song nearly always calmed her down up until she was six or seven months old. She also liked Jewel, James Blunt, Eric Clapton, and Sting. Johnny has a strong preference for Bruce Springsteen, particularly “The River”. Emma did not like classical music at all as an infant; Johnny does. Ironically, I listened to a lot of classical music while I was pregnant with Emma and hardly any with Johnny. Actually, Emma threw out the entire “your child will like the music they hear in the womb” theory, because she didn’t like many of the mainstream artists I listened to while pregnant with her either.
  • Make your own musical instruments: Valerie has a great post on using recyclables to make musical instruments on her Frugal Family Fun Blog.
  • Exploring real instruments: Johnny started “playing” our piano when he was a few months old. I also let my kids play around with my guitar (under close supervision), and I have two small violins that I let them try out every once in a while (again under close supervision). We also have a set of children’s percussion instruments that they can play with any time. Just be aware of your own noise tolerance limits when you chose instruments – if you buy your child a whistle, be prepared to hear it all day long. We do have whistles, but they conveniently “disappear” most of the time because I’m just not that into high-pitched noises – especially in our tile-floor home.
  • Musical Games:
    • Classic musical chairs
    • Freeze when the music stops playing
    • Beat out the rhythm of a song using your hands, feet or a percussion instrument
    • Move fast/slow according to the pace of the music
    • Play or sing a few notes or even just the rhythm of a song and have your child guess what it is.
  • If you don’t have a large music collection of your own, is a great, legal, free resource. You can create your own stations, and it learns and tries to cater to your musical preferences based on your ratings of songs.

I don’t know that playing Mozart will raise your child’s IQ, but here are a few benefits I think music can have for toddlers.

  • Opportunities for self-expression and non-verbal interaction
  • Development of a sense of rhythm
  • Source of creative inspiration
  • Calming effect (obviously only true for certain pieces of music)
  • Motivator: I sometimes play a fun, active song to help my kids garner the energy to clean up
  • Learning/memory tool: Emma knows the sounds of the letters of the alphabet largely due to the theme song from the Leap Frog - Letter Factory DVD. And I can still recite the states in alphabetical order because of a song I learned when I was 11 or 12 years old. There are songs out there to help learn or memorize just about anything, just try a web search or make up your own song.

What role does music play in your home?


  1. Music as a stress reliever. Totally changes everyones mood to rock out to your favourite tunes.

  2. Also takes them to far away places. We've just got a Putomayo kids CD and love it!

  3. We find a lot of good songs on