If an older baby or young toddler likes the music playing or is familiar with a song being sung, there are signs of communication.
- eye widening
- looking to where the music is playing
- feet kicking
- arms flapping
- jumping up and down
- actions from the song
Beyond Action Songs
Fingerplay and action songs have been the most well known way of allowing young children to participate with a song without actually singing the words. Thus, when singing the "Itsy Bitsy Spider", a child will bring his/her hands down to represent rain or turn his hands around and around to make the "Wheels on the Bus". But, there are still other ways that young children can communicate through visual presentations about what songs they want to hear.
Letting the Child Choose
With each option, a baby or toddler can choose the song to sing or listen to. One of the easiest ways of offering the choice is to place an item in each hand and then presented the items for a baby to choose from. Look for the baby's communication, such as a pointing gesture or smile. Following are some suggestions:
1. Song Cards: cards with pictures/symbols which represent the song, such as a star for "Twinkle Twinkle Little Star". These cards work well as magnets.
2. Felt Stories: felt pieces on a flannel board illustrating the song, such as "Old Macdonald Had a Farm"
3. Songs Books: Many musicians publish their lyrics into a book format. A good example is Raffi's "Baby Beluga"
4. Puppets: Glove puppets and other similar props can be presented for a baby to choose.
Singing songs with repetitive lyrics encourages language development with babies and toddlers. Listening to the same word again and again in an appealing format of music, will encourage the process. Many children's first words come out of classic songs as the melodic sounds can be very conducive for learning. Music is an integral component of creating a rich environment for children of all ages.
Further Reading Suggestions:
Action Songs for Toddlers