Allowing preschoolers to experience music has so many benefits! With the help of some wonderful music themed picture books and a fun preschool music craft, children can get those benefits while exploring so many musical skills.
When my oldest was a toddler, he loved silly songs, and we had several CDs of them, too. One Thanksgiving we were traveling back home from visiting family across the state and a snow storm hit us so badly that it turned a four-hour drive into a seven-hour drive. That’s a long time for a kiddo who was just barely two years old, and being that we could barely see 100 feet in front of us, we couldn’t safely pull over, either.
But, you know what got us through it? Silly songs. And lots of them. One CD one repeat for seven long, intense hours, because my son loved (and still loves) listening to music!
So when Christmas rolled around I thought I’d be that awesome mom and purchase my kid some of those band in a box sets. Both of them. So then we had silly songs blasting all day long and maracas and tambourines adding to the noise.
And that’s what it was.
Noise. And as our family has grown, it gets noisier and noisier at our house!
If you are looking for some excellent kids’ music that won’t drive you bonkers, you should see this post here.
But something I always look forward to is my annual music play date I plan for my current preschooler and his friends.
A Music Lesson and a Play Date
I have to say, the parents who attended this play date loved it because it was totally hands-off for them as they sipped herbal tea on my couch. And that’s the way I planned it.
Songs for Preschoolers
We began by singing some familiar children’s songs that include actions, like The Wheels on the Bus, Miss Mary Mack, and My Aunt Came Back.
These songs were all based on books. I showed the pictures to the kids while we sang so that children who weren’t super familiar with the words had something to follow.
Picture Books About Music
I Know a Shy Fellow Who Swallowed a Celloby Barbra Garriel is a fun spin on the familiar story and cadence of There Was an Old Woman Who Swallowed a Fly. This story, as the name indicates, is about a man who swallows a series of musical instruments until his stomach is so full he burps them all out, making music while doing so.
Here are some other pictures books we enjoyed as well as some of our favorites from preschool.
FYI: any of these books will pair nicely with some of these musical crafts!
Following the reading, I shared with the kiddies some toy musical instruments and allowed a few minutes for the children to experiment with the different sounds. I have these two sets: Band in a Box and Deluxe Beginner Band Set, but we also enjoyed dancing scarves, egg shakers, and maracas.
More Songs for Preschoolers
Next, we sang If You’re Happy and You Know It, but kept to actions that could make “music”, such as clapping hands, stomping feet, slapping knees, patting cheeks, etc.
My purpose was to demonstrate to the children that you don’t necessarily need an instrument to make music. This is always fascinating to the children!
Teaching Musical Rhythms to Preschoolers
Then, I modeled for the kids rhythm patterns by clapping my hands and knees, and challenged them to repeat the same pattern. This is one of my favorite exercises to do in preschool, too, because it has so many great implications. For examples, following musical rhythms teaches kids to be good listeners and to listen for differences, which is a skill we work on in phonological awareness.
You can get my phonological awareness lesson plans here!
And, it teaches that patterns are more than just colors. See more of my pattern preschool unit here.
Another Favorite Music Book for Preschoolers
We read the book Max Found Two Sticks by Brian Pinkney. This happens to be one of my all time favorite books! This is a clever story of a boy who uses two sticks fallen from a tree to make a variety of sounds. He bangs them together, then bangs them on a bucket, or glass bottles, or hat boxes. The rhythms imitate the weather in the story.
As I read the story, I used chop sticks to imitate the sounds and rhythms in the book, and after each allowed the children to try as well.
How to Make the Preschool Music Craft
Finally, we made our own set of musical sticks: bell sticks. This is such an easy preschool music craft that was so pleasing to the children! And parents, too, which I’ll tell you why later on. 😉
Twist the end of a pipe cleaner onto the tip of a chopstick, leaving the majority of the pipe cleaner unused. Invite the child to thread some beads onto the pipe cleaner, about five to eight, slightly spread out. Then add a small bell. Do this three times, so at the end of the pipe cleaner you have a pattern of beads and a bell done three times.
Then twist the pipe cleaner around the chopstick. Secure the top and bottom of the pipe cleaner with some hot glue (adults only, please). Return the bell shaker to the child who created it and watch them shake away. (Be sure it is completely cooled before handing it back to the child!)
This preschool music craft is perfect because the bells are not super loud. They get the enjoyment and benefit of exploring music with an instrument without being crazy loud! Which is kinda’ a blessing, right? Well, all the parents who attended the playdate appreciated it. 😉
Do you have a favorite preschool music craft to make with the kids?
Some of Our Favorite Musical Toys
I’m Sarah, an educator turned stay-at-home-mama of five! I’m the owner and creator of Stay At Home Educator, a website about intentional teaching and purposeful learning in the early childhood years. I’ve taught a range of levels, from preschool to college and a little bit of everything in between. Right now my focus is teaching my children and running a preschool from my home. Credentials include: Bachelors in Art, Masters in Curriculum and Instruction.