Preschool is a great time to introduce children to music from around the world. Lucky for you, we have compiled some activities that will make exploring Latin American music fun and approachable. Check out these activities to help you and your little ones learn a little about Latin American music, and pick up some Spanish vocabulary while you’re at it!
La Bamba is a classic song written by Ricky Valens, a Mexican American musician. This song will introduce your students to clave rhythm, a distinct rhythmic pattern often heard in dance and instrumental music. Listen for this rhythm with your students and try to play and sing along!
Looking for ways to introduce your little ones to jazz music? These activities are all great places to start. They introduce concepts like syncopation, scat singing, and jazz rhythms in a way that is fun and approachable for both you and and your students! Check out these activities and tell us which ones are your favorites!
Check out this instrument activity featuring a syncopated beat! Encourage your students to play and dance along with this peppy song and learn to identify this interesting style of music.
Introduce your students to scat singing, an improvisatory style of singing, through this call and response activity. Scat singing is great to try with young children! If your infants and toddlers aren’t quite speaking yet, use this song to encourage them to vocalize and try new sounds.
Circle time is a great opportunity to develop motor skills like balance, hand-eye coordination, grasping, throwing, and ambulation.
If you’re looking for more information on what makes circle time so beneficial, check out our blog post on the 5 benefits of circle time! You might be surprised by all the learning opportunities circle time provides to your preschoolers.
Check out these activities and use them with your class to help your little ones hit their developmental milestones!
Balancing Boogie is a great activity that helps your little ones develop balance and coordination. Help them balance bean bags on their bodies and see how long they can keep them there!
Try this song with some simple sign language. That will give your students the opportunity to practice fine motor skills, as well as learn a brand new language! Check out this video to see how it’s done!
There are many unique learning benefits to having children learn together in a group setting.
It may seem like a simple daily ritual within the classroom, but when you look closer, there is so much learning happening just beneath the surface. No matter what you call it (circle time, morning meeting, ect.) this gathering is extremely valuable for the development and education of your children.
The 5 benefits we will explore in this post are community building, social skills, emotional skills, physical development, and language development. Read on to find out how circle time can aid your students’ development in these crucial areas
1. Community Building
What is the first thing that comes to mind when you hear the word “community”? Is it your town and the people in it?
Maybe it’s a group of people you know from a social or volunteer group. Often times when people come together for a shared cause, there is a sense of belonging and connection.
Our preschoolers experience the same thing when they are in circle time. Circle time allows our class to come together for a shared experience.
The act of coming together will help them to build a sense of community and belonging in the classroom.
2. Social Skills
Circle time offers a great opportunity for students to practice their social skills and social competencies.
Social competencies refer to skills like self-regulation, interpersonal knowledge, and self-identity. During circle time, children see others practicing these skills, or maybe even struggling with these skills.
Seeing and understanding the experiences of others will help them develop the social skills that will be vital to forming healthy relationships with others and with themselves later in life.
3. Emotional Skills
With the social aspect of circle time comes the emotional aspect. Interacting and collaborating with other as a group will bring about new feelings that children can learn to address and understand during circle time.
One great example of this is when passing an item around the circle for each student to hold for a little while before passing it to the next student. Students will feel excited when they see this object, and may reach and try to take it right away.
However, they begin to develop impulse control and learn to wait their turn. They get to see others playing and enjoying the item, helping them develop empathy. Then when they have had their turn and it is time to pass the item to the next student, they begin to understand that it is ok for things to come to an end and sometimes it is time to move on, even if we wish it would last just a bit longer.
Learning these skills early in childhood sets your preschoolers up for success as they grow and continue in their education.
4. Physical Development
While dancing and movement activities during circle time may just look like play time, it is truly play with a purpose. Children are more willing than adults to try new things, so it is the perfect time to introduce them to new movements.
Physical activity during circle time promotes healthy growth and development, a healthy body composition, a the development of motor, concentration, and cognitive skills. The mind and body are one, so when students are given a chance to move their bodies and practice physical skills like balance and body awareness, they come back to circle time ready to sit and listen.
A great trick to use in circle time is after having your students sit for a listening activity, offer them a chance to stand and move with a movement activity. This will keep them engaged and eager to see what will happen next in circle time.
5. Language Development
During circle time, students are gaining exposure to vocabulary, speech, rhyming patterns, and sentence structure. All of this valuable information is preparing them to be readers later in life. Songs are a great way to practice these things, as a familiar tune might be just the thing that helps your students feel confident enough to try singing or speaking with you.
Communication skills are so valuable, and our children are able to practice them when they themselves talk. It may feel like an interruption when your children start talking during circle time. However, when they talk about something related to the activity, they are forming connections between this experience and their own world. The other children in the circle are also able to learn more about the student who is talking, helping them build community. If you feel like your circle time is getting off track because all your students want to share their thoughts, try using something like a talking stick to keep everyone focused and listening respectfully.
The learning opportunities created by circle time and group music making are like no other within the classroom. We know facilitating an engaging circle time can be challenging, especially when children all have their own unique needs and interests that need to be addressed.
That’s why we here at Musically Minded strive to create activities that will keep your whole class engaged and excited about learning.
We even include full activity guides with each of our downloads so you know exactly how to use each activity. Visit our store and check them out! Music adds such a unique element to your circle time. When participating in music, there is no wrong answer, so students are free to explore and engage in any way they like. We would love to hear which activities have been most popular with your students, and how circle time has changed the way your students learn!
Don’t Forget the Music!
All great teachers know that fresh ideas aren’t just great for kids, they get teachers excited too! If you don’t have Musically Minded’s Circle Time Success CD, it’s time to grab your copy today!
Transition songs are songs that can be used to help your students move from one activity into the next.
They send the directions of what you are asking the students to do, but by using music rather than your speaking voice, the children are more likely to pay attention.
Why Does Music Work So Well When It Comes to Transitions?
Because music is processed in many different parts of our brain. If that thought intrigues you, check out Your Brain on Music to learn more.
With transition songs, we are giving the direction we want our students to follow in a song rather than using spoken language which they’ve been hearing all day. Because it is something “different” in their environment, the alerting network tells the brain to pay attention rather than tune it out.
The Best Times to Use Transition Songs
Transition songs are your secret tool to use many times throughout the day. Below are a few of those occasions.
When you need to get everyone’s attention during free play and give a direction
When you need to regain the attention of your students if you lose it at circle time
To quickly explain what to do next ie. line up, wash hand, sit down etc.
Check out some of favorite transition songs and give them a try in your class! Remember, you can always write them yourself using a piggy back tune! Not sure what that means? Learn more here.
We’re Cleaning Up
This simple song will make clean up time a breeze! Your students will immediately recognize this song when you play the recording or sing it in the classroom. It’s that auditory cue that says it’s time to put our things away and move on to something new!
The song can be used at the end of free play or to clean up shakers, scarves etc. at circle time.
Make it a Game!
Children love challenges. Challenge them to see how quickly they can clean up the room. The recording of the song is about 57 seconds long. Can they clean up by the time the song is finished? If not, put it on repeat and keep a movin’!
Let’s Make a Circle is a great song for transitioning to circle time. Clapping along to the song while singing gives them that added layer of engagement. Before you know it, everyone is at circle time and ready to begin!
At circle time it’s so much fun to pass something unique around the circle. Children get to build impulse control, patients, and awareness of other all at the same time.
But sometimes children don’t want to give up their turn. That’s where “Takin’ Turns” does the work for you. Listen to the song below and you’ll hear the short transition music that happens indicating to the child that it’s time to pass it along.
This auditory cue makes managing taking turns a breeze!
Best way to use it:
Explain to the children you will be passing around an object and each person will be given an opportunity with it.
Everyone will be allowed to hold the object while the song is being sung. They will pass it to the person next to them when they hear the four repeating taps.
Turn on the recording (or sing the song a cappela and clap 4 times to indicate the time to pass). For larger groups of children, hit repeat on the song!
Transition songs are an incredibly valuable tool in the classroom, and we hope that these will help your circle time run smoothly. Do you have your own transition songs you use in your classroom? Tell us in the comments!
Let’s be honest. You have no time to waste finding that CD with that one song on it that would fit perfectly at circle time. Why? Because that’s a recipe for “adios teacher, I’m off to play with the blocks!”
Below are the 5 steps to make it happen. If you are a visual learner, then watch the video just below the steps.
Step 1. Click here toaccess Beautiful, Bountiful Birds audio file and activity guide. It is a great song to teach bird sounds and it will be a perfect one to practice putting songs on your digital device.
Step 2. Check your email to access the songs in Google Drive.
Step 3. Move it to a new or existing folder in Google Drive where you know you can quickly find it.
Step 4. Download or open the Google Drive app on your phone.
Step 5. Find the recording where you saved it in Google Drive and play it!
Step 6. Connect a speaker to your phone or digital device where the song is stored. If you don’t already have one, I really like this bluetooth speaker I found on Amazon.Click here to check it out.
Ready to see the steps in action? Simply click on the video below.
Hunting for fall circle time songs? You are in the right place!
Because children will be seeing lots of fall colors and decor the next few months, they’ll be especially interested in finding out how you just might be using that pumpkin at circle time.
While this might be interesting enough to get them to circle, keeping them there means providing activities that are actively engaging.
That’s just what you’ll find in the 3 activities below. You will need to source just one item for all 3 songs.
Do you know what it is?
You can purchase a fake one at the dollar store, get yourself the real thing (I’d suggest choosing one on the small side so children can hold it), or print my FREE song pack below that includes 5 printable pumpkins!
Ready for the 3 fall songs for circle time?
1. Walk Around the Pumpkin
Using the traditional tune, “The More We Get Together” makes this activity a perfect way to bring movement to circle time. Add different ways to move around the pumpkin like hopping, jumping etc.
Grab the freebie and you’ll get the digital audio track!
Let’s walk around the pumpkin,
the pumpkin, the pumpkin,
Let’s walk around the pumpkin
and then we’ll fall down.
2. Who Stole the Pumpkin from the Pumpkin Patch
A spin on the traditional chant, “Who Stole the Cookie from the Cookie Jar” makes this activity a perfect one for fall. Print the pumpkins in the free download and write your students’ names on them. It’s a great way to practice name recognition and build community!
Who stole the pumpkin from the pumpkin patch?
Jimmy stole the pumpkin from the pumpkin patch.
3. Pass the Pumpkin
Circle games are always a hit and this one is no exception! Children may take awhile to get used to the idea of keeping the pumpkin moving and not holding it the entire time. But with practice they’ll realize it’s fun even if it doesn’t “stop on you”!
Be sure to grab the free download with the digital audio track. You’ll love the song as it does all the heavy lifting for you.
Pass the pumpkin all around.
Listen to the spooky sound.
Ooo, oo, ooo, oo,
Will it stop on you? Boo!
Grab the lyrics Lyrics Below!
Want the lyrics for your circle time binder along with a pumpkin printable? (if you don’t have one yet, I strongly recommend starting one).
Keeping theme organized by seasons and themes is a great way to always have new and familiar songs at your fingertips.
Download the lyrics, pumpkin printable and QR code to play the digital audio tracks below. 👇
Music is a vital part of the human experience. When we teach music skills in our classroom, we are also building community, teaching social skills, and encouraging creativity. Music is everywhere in our environment, and music making is a behavior that is present in all cultures. So teaching your children music skills will in turn teach them to better understand their world. Even without a music background, these music activities are easy to learn and teach to your class. Maybe you will learn something new along side your students. Help your class experience the joys of communal music making while teaching them music theory with these action packed and engaging music activities!
#1 Musicians, Musicians
This listening activity is a great way to introduce your students to new instruments while helping them hone their listening skills. They will learn to identify different tones and timbres in music while they try to name each instrument. Listen to these musicians while they practice and see if you can name each of their instruments.
How to teach Musicians, Musicians:
Begin by printing out the visuals you receive when you download Musicians, Musicians. Cut out each instruments and laminate them to use on your felt board.
Show each instrument to your class and teach them the name of each one.
Begin the song and encourage your students to listen to each instrument and figure out which one it is.
Crescendo and decrescendo are terms that refer to changing dynamics in music. A crescendo identifies music that starts off quiet and gets louder, while a decrescendo identifies music that starts off loud and gets quieter. Use this song to help your students learn to identify dynamic changes and copy these changes with their own instruments.
How to teach Sand block Crescendo Decrescendo:
Pass out sand blocks to each of your students and demonstrate how to play them quietly and loudly.
Explain the concepts of crescendo and decrescendo and let them practice on their sand blocks.
Next, just start the song and help your students follow the cues telling them to crescendo or decrescendo.
Scat singing is a type of improvisation done by singing nonsense syllables instead of words. This style of singing is popular in jazz and cabaret music. Try listening to songs with scat singing with your class before trying this activity so they have some context for scat singing. Your students will have a blast singing in this imaginative and fun new way.
How to teach Sing and Scat:
Explain scat singing to your class and give them a few examples. Encourage them to try coming up with their own improvisations as practice.
Begin the song and help your students sing along with the scat phrases.
Beepin’ Boppin’ is a great rhythm exploration activity to play with your students. They will learn about syncopation and practice playing to this advanced beat. They will move and groove to the music while following along with musical cues teaching them to play their instruments in new ways!
How to teach Beepin’ Boppin’:
Pass out small rhythm instruments to your class and demonstrate how to play them.
With older students, explain the concept of syncopation, telling them that sometimes the beat isn’t where we expect it to be.
Begin the song and help your students play to the syncopated beat and follow along with the cues in the song.
Tap Tap Clickety Clack is a great instrument exploration activity to try with students of all ages. Try this activity with musical spoons, unique rhythm instruments made with actual spoons! No musical spoons in your classroom? No problem! Try giving metal or plastic spoons to your students to tap together, or use any other small rhythm instrument. We hope you and your class have fun playing along with this silly rhythm activity!
How to teach Tap Tap Clickety Clack:
Pass out musical spoons or other small rhythm instruments to your class. Demonstrate how to play these instruments and give your students some time to practice and explore.
When you are ready, start the song and help your students follow along with the cues to play their instruments in different ways.
We know music theory isn’t in everyone’s wheel house, and it can be a confusing subject to learn on your own. That’s why we create activities like these to teach music concepts in a fun and approachable way. Anyone can be successful in these activities, including the teachers using them! And Musically Minded is always here has a resource if you have any questions while teaching these activities. Give them a try and let us know how they go in your classroom!
These 5 song for infants are a great place to start if you are looking for ways to involve your very young children in circle time. Infants may not participate the same way as older students in music activities, but they still benefit from being exposed to music. Music offers a great vehicle for practicing skills that are vital to their development. For example, music activities offer opportunities to practice visual tracking, fine and gross motor movements, social skills, and tactile skills. Don’t feel discouraged if your infants don’t actively participate by clapping or dancing. Passive engagement is just as valuable, and will still allow them to benefit from the experience. Try a few of these activities with your little ones and let us know how they go!
#1 Who is Here Today?
Hello songs are a valuable tool for creating routine in the classroom. While infants may not understand the idea of beginning and ending circle time, they will begin to recognize the song and anticipate what is to come next. This hello song uses name cues to gain the child’s attention and to involve them in the activity. The child will recognize their name paired with eye contact and your happy facial affect, and understand that this is a positive experience. Sone children will participate immediately when given this kind of attention, while others may just look at you. Any level of participation is fine, so just let your students engage in a way that works for them.
How to use Who is Here Today:
Spread out some shakers and other small rhythm instruments in front of your class. If they don’t pick them up, try handing them an instrument, but don’t worry if they aren’t interested in the instruments right away.
Pick up a rhythm instrument of your own while you sing the song, making sure to sing it to each child. Play the instrument in different patters , moving it around in front of the child to encourage visual tracking.
Encourage each child to play their own instrument while you are singing to them.
Scarves are a great prop to use with infants. Their bright colors and the way they flutter in the air will keep your infants totally entranced. Give each child their own scarf for tactile exploration and to place over their head for peekaboo. Some children may not like having the scarf over their face, so pay attention to their reaction to be sure they are enjoying the experience.
How to use Higgelty Piggelty Pop
Pass out scarves to each child, helping them hold the scarf in their hand.
Scrunch your own scarf into your hands, then toss it in the air while saying “pop”. Watch your your students track the scarves with their eyes.
Begin the songs and encourage your students to throw their scarves in the air. You can also place a scarf over their head and pull it off on the word “pop” to turn this into a peekaboo game.
Ladybug Jamboree is a sensory experience using ladybug finger puppets. Walk the ladybugs over your infant’s body to offer tactile stimulation. The ladybug will be a bright visual stimuli that is easy for them to track as you move it across their body. As your students learn this song, you might even notice them putting their ladybugs on other students to play along.
How to use Ladybug Jamboree
Begin by giving each child their own ladybug finger puppet. Help them hold it in their hand and let it fly around.
Walk your ladybug over different parts of their body, saying the body part out loud as you move the ladybug.
Begin the song, and move your ladybug across your infant’s body when you hear cues in the song.
To help your infants participate, ask them questions like “Where are your toes?” or “can you show me your tummy?” then help them move their ladybug across their body.
Lap rides are a great sensory activity to try with your infants. Just place them on your lap and bounce your legs to the music. Watch them light up as they bounce with you, helping you bond and build rapport with your class. Whoa Jack will get faster and faster, making this activity even more exciting and engaging for your little ones.
How to use Whoa Jack:
Place the infants in your lap. Have them facing you if they are older and have stronger neck muscles, or lean their back against your chest so you can support their body.
Bounce them along to the beat, and when you hear “Whoa, Jack!”, lean them back or roll back with the child against your chest.
Little Peter Rabbit is a great movement songs you can try with your infants. With your help, they can bounce along like a little rabbit! This is also a great song to use with finger puppets. Bring them out and let your infants watch the rabbits hop along. Your infants are too young to understand pretend play, but the fuzzy rabbits offer great tactile and visual stimulation.
How to use Little Peter Rabbit
Begin the song and hold your infant under their arms and bounce them like a rabbit. Help them follow along with the different movements in the song.
If your infants are not interested in being bounced, give them each a rabbit finger puppet and encourage them to make their puppets run and jump. You can also have your own puppet hop around on different parts of their body.
Your infants will participate in a very different way than your older students. So don’t be discouraged if you feel like you are just performing these songs for your infants instead of playing with them. This passive engagement is so valuable at this age, and once they begin to understand and anticipate what is happening, they will be more actively engaged in each song. Watching them learn and begin to participate is so exciting and rewarding, so just be patient and follow their lead. If you have any questions at all, leave them in the comments. We’re always here to help!
These animal songs for toddlers will add some fun and imagination to your circle time. Your toddlers will love playing along with the silly characters in these animal songs so much.
While they sing and play, they won’t even realize they’re learning valuable skills like active listening, rhythm matching, and gross motor movement.
Additionally, they will be learning music skills that will last them a lifetime.
Try out any of these animal songs for toddlers written and recorded by Musically Minded!
#1 Spotted Owl
Spotted Owl is an imaginative action song where your students will follow along with the owl. While your toddlers dance and fly with the owl, they will learn music vocabulary like staccato and legato. By hearing these words in a context they can relate to, like tip toeing and flying smoothly in the sky, they can begin to understand how these words apply to music.
How to teach Spotted Owl:
Begin by asking your students how an own would move. Demonstrate how to tiptoe and soar in the sky like an owl.
Next, turn on the song and help your students listen for cues to move along with the owl.
Check out this silly rhythm activity! Help your toddlers learn to identify and mimic these rhythms as they play along with a variety of animals. They will use their imagination to hop and swim along with these characters, all while learning valuable listening skills. Add some rhythm instruments to offer a new way to engage with this animal song.
How to teach Rockin’ at the Pond
Demonstrate a few different ways to pat and tap for your students. If you have them, offer some small rhythm instruments for them to try.
Begin the song and demonstrate how to play along to the rhythms of each animal.
Let’s all have a blast dancing along with a little ladybug. Use this song with your ladybug finger puppets to add a sensory element to this activity. Try Ladybug Jamboree with your infants and move the ladybugs over their body. They will react to the tactile stimulation of the finger puppet, and you may notice them tracking the ladybug with their eyes.
How to teach Ladybug Jamboree
Pass out ladybug finger puppets and show your students how to be kind to their ladybugs. Our ladybugs like to stay on our finger. That’s how we can help them fly and dance!
Next, begin the song and show you students how to make their ladybugs dance. Move the ladybugs along with the song and listen for cues to move the ladybugs to different body parts.
Animal Rhythms is an action song that cues your toddlers to move like different animals. They will sway with elephants and gallop with horses, all while practicing gross motor movements and listening skills. Use your imagination to move and grove to this animal song for toddlers.
How to teach Animal Rhythms
Ask your class to demonstrate ways animals move (crawling, galloping, flying, ect.)
Begin the song and encourage your students to follow the cues to move along with each animal.
Bring out those claves and rhythm sticks for with this rhythmic animal song. Listen for cues in La Cucaracha to play your stick in new and creative ways. While playing along with La Cucaracha, your students will learn some Spanish vocabulary! Try adding this song to your unit about world language!
How to teach La Cucaracha:
Pass out rhythm sticks or claves to your class. Demonstrate how to hold the instruments in each hand and play them safely. Hold on tight, because we don’t want any flying sticks!
Next, demonstrate a few different rhythms to play on the instruments. Let your students explore and experiment with their own rhythms.
When everyone is ready, begin the song and follow along with the cues to play our instruments in different ways.
Peekaboo songs are so much fun for students of all ages. Your older students will be able to practice the fine motor skills it takes to scrunch up a scarf and hide it in their hands. At the same time, younger students can practice visual tracking and listening skills. Try this animal song with any class and watch them light up as the scarf pops out just like the weasel!
How to teach Pop Goes the Weasel:
Pass out scarves to your students and show them how to scrunch it up and hide it in their hands. Then, practice making the scarf pop out and fly into the air.
When your students have mastered this, begin the song and help them listen for the word “pop” so they know when it is time to throw their scarves.
Try out this silly freeze game with your class! Help them listen for the music to stop so they know when it is time to freeze. This will help them practice listening skills and following directions. Show off your dance moves as we dance along with these kitties!
How to teach Kitty Freeze Game:
Explain to your students how freeze games work, demonstrating how they will dance when they hear music and freeze when it stops. Let them practice this by cueing them to dance and freeze.
Once they understand how to participate in the game, begin the song and remind them as needed to dance or freeze when they hear the cues in the song.
This bullfrog loves to move and song! Help your toddlers follow along with this action song as they practice gross motor movements, vocal exploration, and following directions. Let’s listen for ways to play with the bullfrog!
How to teach The Bullfrog:
Ask your students to brainstorm actions a bullfrog might do and practice moving and hopping like a bullfrog.
Begin the songs and demonstrate how to follow the cues to dance and sing with the bullfrog.
What kind of animals do you see at your local park? Do you hear them singing in the trees and croaking in the pond? Follow along with this action song to sing with the animals we find at the park. Use the visuals included in the activity guide when you download this song to represent each animal we find at the park!
How to teach Walk in the Park:
Print and cut out visuals for each animal and lay them out for your class to see. Ask them to identify each animal.
Once everyone knows what each animal is, begin the song and encourage your class to pat along to the beat.
When you encounter a new animal, ask your students to point out the animal, then copy the way than animal sings.