Teacher Tips Using Music

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Manitas in Motion in the Pre-K Classroom Teacher Tips for Using Music…

Research findings indicate that music functions as a mnemonic aid assisting in foundational learning, retention and retrieval. Specifically, music helps to organize information into smaller chunks, making it easier to encode and retain. If children are exposed to the concepts while singing, it will be much easier for them to remember them when they are formally introduced.

1. Use it to start off the school day

Here are some of the ways I use music in classrooms through Manitas in Motion. To start off the day the Circle Song/El círculo may be used to signal the children to join in the circle. Hearing the music alerts the children it’s time to gather together. While the song introduces many important skills it also recognizes each child by name. The song introduces the child’s name as well as initial phrases/questions the child will learn to speak (e.g., Hello, good morning to you. My name is, What is your name?, We are sitting in a circle.)

2. Use music to emphasize cultural awareness in your classroom

Music is an engaging multi-dimensional and multi-cultural approach that is accessible to students of all ages, abilities, and cultural backgrounds. Each of the songs on Chakuchukuchá CD features an authentic Latin rhythm such as Salsa from Cuba, Bachata from the Dominican Republic, Bomba from Puerto Rico, Flamenco from Spain, etc. These rhythms are familiar to the Hispanic child’s ear embracing their cultural identity.

3. Play music to signal transitions

To the kids that the activities are changing. Use songs to welcome students to class, to say hello, to lead into circle-time activities, to signal when it’s time to clean up, practice ABCs, or read a story. The students will immediately recognize what they’re supposed to do when they hear the music even before they’re verbally instructed to do so.

4. Play music to introduce new language/vocabulary

Each of the songs on the two CD’s are specifically designed to introduce basic pre-academic concepts and vocabulary preschool students need to acquire. Preschool is typically based on thematic units. Choose a song related to the theme that allows the children to use new signs, English and Spanish words. The themes can include some of the following: The Farm Animals / Los animales de la granja, The Animals At The Zoo / Los animales del zoológico, Crazy Over Veggies / Loco con los vegetales, In the Sea / En el mar, Show Me How You’re Feeling/ ¿Cómo tú te sientes?, My Family/ Mi Familia. Don’t limit the vocabulary exposure exclusively from the semantics category. Include other categories such as grammar/syntax including: Describing words or adjectives; Dancing to the “Boogaloo” You’ll Describe it Too / Con este “Boogaloo” lo describes tú, location words (prepositions); Up, Down, and All Around/Arriba, abajo, y alrededor, “wh” question forms to aid in comprehension; Where is “Coco” my Crocodile?/ ¿Dónde está “Coco”?

5. Play music to introduce new concepts.

Because music functions as a mnemonic aid assisting in foundational learning, retention and retrieval utilize it to introduce school readiness skills such as color names The Colors Song/La canción de los colores and Counting From One to Ten/ Contando del uno al diez.

6. Play music to manage the energy level of the class

And provide students with movement break that they may be craving Boogie Woogie/ Chakuchukuchá.

7. Play music for cross lateralization and brain stimulation

Remember that music is multi-sensory and the more senses you activate, the easier it is for information to be processed by the brain.

8. Play music for quick and easy review of language previously taught

We know repetition is the key to learning. Using songs as repetition is much more fun than using worksheets or drills! Music can increase focus, attention, and duration of on-task participation.

9. Use music to introduce the alphabetic principle and letter-sound correspondence.

Introduce phoneme perception/production, letter-sounds, rhyming, alliteration, rhythm through songs. For dual language learners it’s important to point out similarities and differences between Spanish and English. Start with the The ABC’s / Las ABC’s and proceed with The Sound of Every Letter / Las letras y sus sonidos. Challenge your students to a salsa dance with The Alphabet / EL abecedario.

10. Use music to facilitate learning for students with learning challenges.

Because so many students with special needs have talents and interests in music, we, as educators can capitalize on this strength to facilitate and accelerate academic learning. In fact, research tells us that individuals with specific diagnoses; (e.g., Autism, Down syndrome, Williams syndrome, Rett syndrome) may have elevated preference or heightened responses to music when compared to typically developing peers.