The National Association for Music Education has named March “Music in Our Schools Month”. It’s a great time for taking a look at how music can be a powerful force in the classroom – especially the early learning classroom. Aside from being used to teach (songs that share numbers, letters or build memory), music and simple musical instruments can teach kids how to be creative, resourceful, play with language, listen to each other, and how to cooperate and bond with a larger group. They can be used to expose children to world cultures or share first songs in other languages. There are a host of benefits that can come from the simple act of having fun making music with your class!
So how does this work? This week I’ll share some simple ideas that are great ways to bring music into a classroom of young children. Here is the first idea …
THE QUIETEST RATTLE – SHARING MUSIC AND LEARNING TO LISTEN
Ask any pre-k or kindergarten teacher – mixing arts and crafts and music generally makes for a big hit in the classroom. One fun activity perfect for this age group is creating really quiet rattles.
The project is simple. Have each child bring in any recycled container, preferably a see-through one and have a few extra on hand so no one is left out. They can decorate the outside with stickers or wrap a handle with pipe cleaners or yarn before you are ready to fill them.
Here’s the tricky part. You want to find lots of things to put in the rattles that are really QUIET. The teacher can have some examples of rattles that are not so quiet for comparison (see our suggestions below) and then challenge the children to fill theirs with something that will make noise but still be very quiet. Q-tips, salt, tiny pasta, cotton puffs, confetti? Each makes a different quiet sound that helps teach kids to practice the art of listening.
When you’re done, make sure you seal each rattle with a strong tape (such as electrical tape) which ensures the contents will not get out. Then your class can use their new instruments to play along to quieter music. The kids can pay attention to how the rhythms of their rattles fit into the music they are hearing.
You can even have a contest in the classroom and reward all entries or ask the kids for their suggestions about which of the teachers rattles would win a “Quiet Contest”. Stack up a variety of rattles and the class can guess which might make the softest sound.
Here are some favorite choices for rattle-making:
Quiet rattles: sand, salt, sugar, confetti, cotton balls, craft puff balls, paper bits, Q-tips, cut-up straws, tiny pasta (such as pastina or acine de pepe).
Medium Rattles: paper clips, small pebbles, birdseed, small beads, small dried beans, rice, smaller buttons.
Loud Rattles: dried macaroni/pasta, large pebbles, large beads, coins, large dried beans, larger buttons.
Award-winning children’s performer, DARIA (Daria Marmaluk-Hajioannou) has five cd’s that have won national honors. She has the most awesome job of traveling the world to sing for kids and peace. Her website; located at dariamusic.com, was given a 2009 Parents Choice Award for its musical and cultural content. Read more about Daria. Images used here with permission from Daria.