The long, hot summer awaits – and so does the long, hot summer holidays. To help you get through it with your toddler, Sam Moran from Nick Jr (and formerly of The Wiggles) has put together his top four tips for keeping kids active and engaged over summer.
1. Explore rhythm and music by teaching them about volume
Understanding volume is not only a musical understanding, but music certainly provides great opportunities to discover different volumes in a fun way. Using your voice whether it be singing or speaking can be a great way to help with this understanding.
The idea of exploring volume might send a shiver down a parent’s spine, but if you encourage your child to explore different volumes in a constructive way then you may find you have more control over their desire for only loud noise. Allowing your child to be constructive in their noise is crucial to giving them an outlet that they crave for this.
2. Engage your toddler in abstract activities to get them thinking about music and rhythm in a different light by asking questions such as “What does colour sound like?”
As parents and grown-ups, we already associate colours with feelings. Blue is sad, green is jealousy or envy, red is angry, yellow is happy. We take these associations as a given without realising that this is quite an abstract concept that we have learned through the course of our life.
The same way colour can be associated with an emotion, I like to encourage a child to express what colour they think certain music ‘sounds’ like. Young children don’t yet have a mature understanding of feelings/emotions, so I like to use this as reinforcement or a stepping-stone for children to be able to express their emotions.
3. Teach your pre-schooler to count using music!
Two areas of a child’s brain that you would not expect to be in sync are those associated with music and mathematics. Counting is a child’s first exposure to maths and numbers, and to understanding there is a sequence and pattern to them. The easiest way for a child to learn to count is through simple repetition, which is why I write and sing so many songs that encourage children to count along. Find a counting song that your child really responds to and sing it with them whenever you can. Counting songs that your child might like include:
- Ten Fingers, Ten Toes
- Dr Knickerbocker
- Once I Caught A Fish Alive
4. Teach your child about beat
Being able to recognise where the beat is within music helps us learn to dance in time to the music and beyond music also helps a child with pattern recognition. Here are a few tips on how to help your child identify the beat:
- This can be done from birth, and a lot of mums do it instinctively. Whenever music is playing, mothers often hold their baby’s hands and clap them in time to the music. Try to do this on the 1 & 3 beat or on every beat in order to help them identify against something that is most natural for them.
- With older children, you can start clapping with them to the music.
- You can march in time to the music with your child and encourage them to listen and respond to the music.
- Playing pat-a-cake, or an old-fashioned hand game (Patting your knees and clapping the other’s hand in time to a rhyme etc.).
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Sam’s new release Play Along with Sam is out on DVD & Digital and to celebrate, there is a special prize on offer for one lucky child of a Motherpedia reader of playing a part in Sam's next DVD. See the competition and entry details below.
You can also grab a copy of Play Along with Sam from most major retailers: and don’t miss Play Along with Sam’s Christmas special airing on Saturday, 13 December at 8.30am on Nick Jr.