Adults can help children develop strong language skills by incorporating music into everyday routines and activities. Musical activities can help children develop an awareness of sounds that may help with phonological awareness, or awareness of sounds found in speech. Singing and listening to songs can give children an opportunity to practice using and listening to words. Musical activities may also enhance children’s language development since they can provide an opportunity for dialogue between teachers and children.
What Research Shows
- Musical activities are linked with improvements in children’s communication skills.28
- Songs and musical activities have been shown to increase children’s vocabulary.29
- Children with stronger musical skills are more likely to have greater phonological awareness.30
Working with Infants and Toddlers
- Sing simple songs with gestures (e.g., “Twinkle, Twinkle, Little Star” and “The Wheels on the Bus”).
- Change the words of well-known songs to make new songs (e.g., sing “Happy snack time to you” at the beginning of snack time).
- When singing well-known songs, pause to let children fill in the blanks (e.g., “Twinkle, twinkle, little ______.”).
- Use songs to tell stories. Try using props like puppets, photos or pictures.
- Have children act out parts of the song that involve body movements (e.g., “I’m a little teapot.”).
- Create little songs to sing during transitions or routines (e.g., “Brush, brush, brush your teeth before work and play. Brush your teeth twice a day and keep the germs away.”).
- Sing songs in children’s home languages.