Music in the Early Childhood Classroom

Entering an early childhood classroom, it only takes one glance around the room to know that the students are engaged. The children intently watch their teacher as they belt out the words to a song and move their hands up and down in unison. One song finishes and they stand up and begin stomping to the beat of the next one, singing a song about numbers. There are smiles and happy whispers as the teacher then passes out egg shakers. Five minutes pass and the students are still engaged, participating, and learning.

Music is a powerful teaching tool!

Importance of Music in the Early Childhood Classroom

Music in the early childhood classroom provides children with opportunities for movement and reinforces academic learning.

You can use music as

  • a morning greeting
  • part of your lesson
  • a cue for transitioning from one activity to the next
  • a way to get energy out between activities
  • an exploration of other cultures

Music and Movement

Many songs in early childhood lend themselves well to movement. “Cindy Circle” is a shape song from the Frog Street Press Sing and Read Literacy Series. It is a catchy tune that teaches the math concept of what is a circle.

You can introduce the song with a video. When the children become familiar with the words and the tune, add in the movements. Print the words to this song on a large sheet of chart paper or on sentence strips to help children connect the spoken words with the written words. You can also use the big books included in the Sing and Read Series.

Sing and Move with Circles

Show children how to make a circle by putting together their hands, or give each child a small paper circle and have them dance around with it. These paper circles can be used in later craft projects to provide even more repetition.

Cindy Circle

Cindy Circle goes around and around. (spin the circle around)
From the sky to the ground she goes around. (make your circle go up and down)
She is on the Ferris wheel. (move the circle in a circular motion)
She’s a beach ball for the seal. (bounce your circle)
Cindy Circle goes around and around. (spin the circle around)

Cindy Circle is available HERE.

Paper Circle

Music and Learning

There are songs about shapes, counting songs, color songs, and alphabet songs. There are songs that teach children about how plants grow and others that name the animals in a specific place. Other songs have words that rhyme. These are all academic concepts in the early childhood classroom. Singing and interacting with these academic concepts provides children with repeated exposure and additional opportunities to learn.

Are your students having a hard time with a particular concept? Make up a rhyme or a silly song about it to help them remember.

Sing and Learn with “The Itsy Bitsy Spider”
Use this song to have children practice position words. Show children how to slide a plastic spider ring up and down on a straw, or have children pretend their fingers are a spider and move them up and down.

The Itsy Bitsy Spider

The Itsy Bitsy Spider went up the water spout.
Down came the rain and washed the spider out.
Out came the sun and dried up all the rain,
And the Itsy Bitsy Spider went up the spout again.

Itsy Bitsy Spider is available as a big book, in our Nursery Rhyme Flip Chart, and audio CD.

Music is a powerful tool for teaching and learning

Music is a powerful learning tool in the early childhood classroom. We would love to hear how YOU use it to keep your students moving and learning. Tell us about an activity or a favorite song your class likes to sing by leaving a comment here on the blog or stopping by our Facebook Page.

Read more about the Frog Street Press Sing and Read Literacy Series.

Infant Activities for Healthy Development

Infant Activities: The Importance of an Infant Curriculum

Infants begin to learn about themselves and the world around them at birth. They start to look closely at people, mimicking smiles, and cooing at sounds. Babies continue to grow and develop, reaching new milestones at a rapid rate.

Parents and childcare providers can use these natural curiosities to provide opportunities for infants to learn and grow. They can stimulate babies’ development with meaningful infant activities each and every day. These meaningful infant activities should start at birth and continue throughout childhood.

Infant Activities (1)

Meaningful Infant Activities for Growth and Development

  • Strengthen the relationship between the child and the caregiver
  • Provide opportunities for developmentally appropriate playtime
  • Help babies make positive connections with peers
  • Nurture brain development with language rich vocabulary

 

How to Start Making Meaningful Interactions with Infants?

There are many developmental activities that childcare providers can do to encourage learning with infants. We know that singing songs and reading books to babies is beneficial to vocabulary development and developing strong relationships with caregivers. Making music with instruments, watching a puppet show, and exploring movement are also on our babies “must do” list. Playing peek-a-boo is also a favorite of many infants.

Caregivers and infants alike benefit with the use of meaningful learning activities on a daily basis. Many infant classrooms provide several playful learning opportunities for babies throughout their day. Depending on their little ones sleep schedule, these activities may work best first thing in the morning and after naptimes.

Infant Activities

 

The Importance of an Infant Curriculum

Although there are many infant resources available for childcare providers, using a comprehensive infant curriculum has added benefits for both providers and infants. Choosing a carefully designed infant curriculum with easy-to-follow lesson plans, built in assessments, and parent communication ensures that babies are provided with a well-rounded variety of daily activities. These activities will help babies develop critical language, cognitive, physical, social and emotional skills. A curriculum that is easy for caregivers to follow and implement will increase the amount of meaningful classroom interactions.

The Frog Street Infant Curriculum provides detailed activities at each age and stage for little ones ages 0-18 months. This curriculum was designed around the latest scientific brain research and emphasizes all developmental domains.

The Frog Street Infant Curriculum includes: activity cards, photo cards, board books, posters, puppets, 5-piece music band, easy grip ball, and 3 music CDs.

 

Are You a Parent of an Infant?

When looking for the best matched classroom for your child, make sure to ask the childcare facility what infant curriculum they are using. Talk to the teachers about what a typical day might look like for a baby. Your baby is never too young to play and learn!

*Remember, a schedule of eating and sleeping is different from daily lesson plans and activities that encourage learning and developmental growth. A good childcare facility should provide parents with both.

 

Here are some questions you might ask when touring a possible childcare classroom for your infant:

  • How are care givers developing positive connections with each baby?
  • What activities are being done to enrich learning throughout the day?
  • Can you describe one of these activities that might be done with my child?
  • How are you ensuring all areas of learning are being addressed?
  • How will I be notified of my child’s developmental progress?

Curriculum cards

Are you a Child Care Facility looking to purchase Frog Street Infant Curriculum
The Frog Street Infant Curriculum is aligned to Head Start School Readiness Goals for Infants and offers complete support to equip caregivers to optimize the growth and development of the children in their care. It includes activities to support growth and development in all learning domains and features Dr. Becky Bailey’s Conscious Discipline®.

Read more about the Frog Street Infant Curriculum and see Sample Activity Cards

Building Relationships in the Early Childhood Classroom

Building Relationships in the Early Childhood Classroom

Early learning classrooms are bursting with children eager to learn.  These children come from diverse backgrounds, but the one thing they all have in common is the need for a safe learning environment. Building relationships is an integral part of creating a safe, unified early learning classroom.

Building relationships in the Early Childhood Education Classroom

Building Relationships in the Early Childhood Classroom

How can you get the children to work together and take turns?

What do you do when little Jackson has the blue marker and Sophia wants it right now?

How do you get children to line up without pushing and shoving?

A child’s social skills, emotional state, and sense of value affect his or her academic learning. Yes, it is important for children to learn their letter sounds, count, and identify numbers. But it is also important for children to learn how to build relationships. An early learning classroom should help children establish secure relationships with adults and help them learn how to:

  • Help, share, and work together in a group.
  • Take turns.
  • Participate in activities with the class.
  • Trust and respect responsible adults.
  • Engage and communicate with teachers and students.
  • Develop friendships with peers.
  • Cooperate with others.
  • Be mindful of people and of the classroom environment.

All of these learning goals are part of building relationships in the early learning classroom.

The teacher is responsible for keeping the children safe. 

Teachers guide learning and foster a  safe learning environment.

– PreK Teacher

Positive Effects of Building Relationships

When building relationships is at the center of an early childhood classroom, the quality of student-teacher interactions and academics improves. Teachers and parents notice children using kind words with each other.  They see children working together as a team towards common goals. There is a decrease in aggressive behaviors and negative attitudes. There is an overall improvement in the classroom climate.  Academics and school readiness also increase.

“Oh, you can go first.” – 4 year old Sarah said to her friend.

Building Relationships in the Early Childhood Classroom

How to Start Building Relationships

It is important for classrooms to have a curriculum embedded with building positive relationships into everyday play and learning.  The Frog Street Infant, Toddler and Pre-K programs (FSPK), are comprehensive programs that are not only child-centered and aligned to the Head Start Early Learning Framework, but also have a focus on social emotional development featuring Becky Bailey’s Conscious Discipline®.

From the beginning of the year, children in classrooms using the Frog Street Pre-K program are taught strategies during morning circle time such as S.T.A.R., an active calming technique to self-regulate with breathing.  They learn that, if they are feeling angry or feeling frustrated, they smile, take a deep breath and relax.

Make your own breathing star from Conscious Discipline® with the directions here.

Teachers lead group discussions, model, and practice building relationship skills such as how to kindly get a friend’s attention, how to take turns, and how to solve friendship squabbles.

These opportunities to learn and practice within each day help children connect with others, disengage stress, and commit to making positive, kind choices.

“Children need to learn how to be positive community members who are responsible to themselves and each other. “  Mom to 3 year old.

Learning More about Building Relationships in the Early Childhood Classroom

Admittedly, teachers and staff must first learn and implement strategies to create a compassionate classroom environment that encourages students to problem solve and self-regulate before they are able to teach them to children.

Even for experienced classroom teachers, it is important to continue to learn, and to make changes to routines in order to create a more effective learning environment.

Choosing a curriculum such as FSPK provides detailed lesson plans for teachers to follow. To learn even more about building relationships, teachers, staff, and administrators can:

  1. Read books on building relationships.
  2. Visit education websites for activities and information.
  3. Request and take in-service classes on building positive classroom relationships.
  4. Attend webinars on building relationships.
  5. Register for early childhood educational conferences that include topics for classroom management and building positive relationships.

Register for Frog Street’s Splash Conference July 30th – August 1st, 2015, where Jill Molli will be presenting Conscious Discipline classroom techniques. Join us!

 

FREE Building Relationship Webinar:

We invite you to join in a FREE webinar: From Chaos to Calm: Help Children Learn How to Self-regulate, Pay Attention and Care for One Another presented by Becky A. Bailey, Ph.D., award-winning author and Founder of Loving Guidance, Inc. This event is sponsored by Frog Street and will take place on Tuesday, January 20, 2015 from 2:00 PM – 3:00 PM (Eastern Time).

This free webinar makes a great staff development.  Be sure to tell your education team, have them register for the edWeb event, and mark it on your calendar.  A CE certificate will be emailed to attendees within 24 hours of the live event.

edweb-january

Join Frog Street’s Early Childhood Learning Solutions community to access the webinar recording and even more educational resources.

Are you a school, Head Start center, or child care facility interested in purchasing our books, materials, or early learning curricula for Pre-K, Toddler, or Infant classrooms? Please contact us at 1-800-884-3764 for more information.

Gang Leader to Graduate: A Conscious Discipline Transformation

Born in LaCombe, Louisiana to a 14 year old mother and a 16 year old father, DJ Batiste was raised by his grandmother. From a very early age, he demanded the attention of those around him. From an early age, fighting became his favorite past time. Any opportunity for a disagreement turned into a physical altercation for DJ. He loved the attention that fighting drew. The crowds at school were specifically enticing because DJ was amongst his peers.  At age four, he was kicked out of Head Start. At thirteen, he found himself in Juvenile Detention. Throughout his early teenage years, he was leader of a violent gang in Mississippi. The Criminal Justice Center couldn’t reach him. Being expelled from alternative school was not enough to get his attention.  Each experience presented a greater challenge and platform for DJ to seek the type of attention that he thrived for… until he met “Mrs. P.” his senior year.

For more information on DJ’s transformation, take a moment to watch this video:

 http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=RXJGcqcJckA

Our very own Gerald Cahee had the opportunity to personally listen to DJ Batiste’s testimony at Mississippi Early Childhood Education (MECA) in Jackson, Mississippi. “It was a truly inspiring and positive experience to personally listen to his testimony.” Gerald went on to say that DJ was excited to hear that Frog Street’s curriculum incorporates Conscious Discipline.  According to Gerald’s experience as a Frog Street employee, “Frog Street’s research-based Pre-K Program nurtures a child’s social-emotional behavior while enhancing their academic experience. Frog Street Pre-K is comprehensive, integrated, and intentionally focused on building specific skill sets in children. To take it a step further, Frog Street Pre-K integrates Conscious Discipline into the program. In essence, children are equipped with a well-rounded program that meets and exceeds state standards across the nation. Going back to DJ’s testimony, we see that his story is one of strength. It is important to understand that Mrs. Porter was equipped to reach DJ due to the elements and principles of Conscious Discipline. In terms of my personal experience, I was excited about Frog Street’s curriculum, but also their incorporation of Conscious Discipline. I have witnessed to the impact of Frog Street’s program on children in the classroom, where many of these practices take place. I’m a firm believer that practicing something in repetition enforces a habit. Habits become part of one’s lifestyle. I can definitely see value in the instillment of these disciplines through early childhood education. For that reason, Frog Street will continue to grow its footprint in education.”

Gerald Cahee is a Sales Representative for Frog Street. His role allows him to spread the news about Frog Street, while building relationships with school districts and Head Start Programs across Louisiana and Mississippi. For more information on his experience with DJ, he can be reached at gcahee@frogstreet.com.

For Donna Porter’s work with Conscious Discipline, she was honored at the John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts. This honor was a result of DJ’s nomination of her close work with him. The prestigious teaching award is given in the name of Broadway icon Stephen Sondheim. In a CBS interview, DJ’s testimony brought tears to Sondheim’s eyes. As Sondheim wiped away his joyful tears, he said, “You watch in action what a teacher can do. Look at the pride on his face…. that joy… I don’t think that I’ve ever been that happy in my life.”

 

 

 

Meeting the Standards with Nursery Rhymes

Rigor, standards, and testing- oh my! Somewhere along the way nursery rhymes have fallen by the wayside. Did you know that nursery rhymes provide opportunities to develop many important academic skills? Their rich language, rhythm, and rhyme help young children develop an awareness of sounds that creates a strong foundation for future reading success.

Nursery rhymes are usually very short, which also makes them perfect for teaching skills such as identifying characters and setting, problem and solution, and beginning, middle, end. Do you know what else is very short? The attention span of a young child- it’s a win-win!

Here are some ways you can use nursery rhymes to teach academic skills:

Problem/Solution- Jack and Jill

Ask children what the problem is in this rhyme (they fell down). Ask them to brainstorm some things Jack and Jill might do to prevent them from falling next time. Record their responses on a large sheet of green paper cut in the shape of a hill. Look out- their answers just might surprise you!

Beginning, Middle, and End- Humpty Dumpty

  • What happened in the beginning of this rhyme? Humpty Dumpty sat on a wall
  • What happened in the middle? Humpty Dumpty had a great fall
  • What happened at the end? They couldn’t put him together again

4 Corners Printable Game

I created this printable activity to help teach characters and story details to young children using nursery rhymes. Click on the image above to download your copy with instructions. The adorable images in this document are courtesy of Frog Street Press.

If you find this printable helpful leave some comment love below, pin it, like it and shout it from the rooftops! Don’t forget to check out the great nursery rhyme resources here at Frog Street Press. Maybe if you’re really nice they will consider creating a nursery rhyme app!


Vanessa Levin is the creator of Pre-K Pages and author of the book A Fabulous First Year and Beyond: A Practical Guide for Pre-K and Kindergarten Teachers. She has more than two decades of teaching experience and enjoys helping young children and teachers through her professional development sessions. You can follow Vanessa on Facebook, Google + and Pinterest.