Early years practitioners know about the value of storytelling and shared reading with children. In this part 4 of our parent involvement blog series, we consider how music can be used to enliven stories, making them more engaging, entertaining and educational. Once you have tried our ideas you can share them with parents via our parent information sheet on this subject.
Do you work with children who find it challenging to sit still at storytime?
Listening at storytime is something that some children find easier than others. As childcare professionals you will have lots of tricks for engaging fidgety children, but do you use music to enliven storytime? Incorporating music and movement into storytime not only helps hold their attention, but will also contribute to many other areas of development.
We asked our partners in India to describe how Boogie Mites music has enriched the story sessions for their early years family groups. This is what founder and expert storyteller Rohini Vij told us:
“I have always believed in the immense power of stories and music in the classroom. As a story educator, I am always looking for new and exciting ways to engage young learners. I usually start a lesson with a warm-up activity, this could be a game, a breathing exercise, fun facts or a song. This initial onboarding activity ensures that the students are hooked at the outset. This mostly works for children above six years of age. However, for children in the early years it’s musical engagement at the beginning of a lesson that alone captures their attention.
When we started NutSpace in 2014, we were using popular rhymes that we grew up listening to. Though they were a good start to the lesson, there was always something amiss. I was looking for something fresh and catchy and something that could align with my lesson goals. NutSpace uses stories at the core of a lesson to build life skills in children.
When I discovered music by Boogie Mites, a few years ago, I knew I had to integrate it into my lessons. These songs were not the usual rhymes, they were music stories, the missing ingredient in my lesson! Before long, the storytelling class for toddlers turned into a music stories lesson. We now start all our lessons with an active body movement and music routine where children use a variety of props as they move and shake along with peppy beats and catchy words. The rhyme and rhythm quality and rich vocabulary along with an active body movement routine fosters early language development, numeracy skills, fine and gross motor control, imagination and general awareness, among others.
The usual format of a NutSpace early years class has about 30 minutes of musical engagement, 10 minutes of storytime and 20 minutes of sensory activities.
The children and parents of NutSpace are hooked on Boogie Mites!”
Whether children are developing typically or not, including music-making into literacy strategies increases engagement and provides many other benefits for all children.
You can find out more about NutSpace by watching the video below or by heading to their website: https://nutspace.in/
Our tips for bringing a story alive!
Using junk percussion to enliven your storytelling!
What you need – ‘rubbish’: a cardboard box, plastic bag, paper, tubes, food packaging, foil… look for anything that would make an interesting sound. Parents could perhaps make this a rubbish treasure hunt, raiding the recycling bin, exploring the sounds that different rubbish can make.
What to do – Empty all the rubbish collected onto the floor. Let the children explore it – some may mimic sounds, use it for role play, others may start folding, stacking or packing things away. See how they interact with it. Give them wooden spoons as beaters to tap the different materials.
Pick a favourite song with the children and encourage them to keep the beat with their rubbish. For example, I Hear Thunder using an upside-down shoebox and hitting it like a drum, with a drum roll for the thunder and light pitter-patter for the rain.
Now ask the children to describe the sounds they are making: loud, soft, scrunchy, scratchy, high, low etc. What animals do they sound like? Could crunchy paper be the sound of the sea or rustling leaves, mice or snakes in the grass? Once the children have explored the materials, introduce the junk percussion to your storytelling.
Move along with an action song to get the brain ready for a focused storytime. An action song can work as a brain gym to wake up the brain and tire the body ready for sitting and listening time.
Telling the story – This may be done with a picture book or a book with written text and pictures. Look at the first picture, ask the children; ‘what’s going on in this picture?’, ‘what do you think that sounds like?’, ‘how can we make that sound with our rubbish?’
Is it a picture of a dinosaur? Maybe stomping noises on a box. Or a butterfly? Maybe rustling paper in the air for fluttering wings.
Pick an action, rhyme or song for one or more of the characters. Sing it/act it together and link it to the character.
Observe how the children match pictures to the sounds they are making – these can be verbal as well, such as roars, or squeaks. This gives a clue as to the extent to which the child can think about the picture.
Having decided on sounds, actions, rhymes or songs for the different characters or actions in the book tell the story giving them cues to make the sounds, sing the rhymes or make the actions at the right times to help with telling the story.
There is no right or wrong way that children can participate in these musical activities! The main aim is creative engagement: at which point they will be having fun problem solving and developing their communication and language skills through playing with sounds and communicating ideas through actions.
We hope that you have enjoyed our parent involvement blog series throughout November and find the parent information sheets useful. If you have any feedback on the information sheets please email Sue Newman and we will update these resources based on the feedback.
We can support your parent involvement efforts further in various ways:
- Leading a parent education course or workshops, where we have a teacher in your area
- Practitioner training for delivering parent educations workshops
- Annual renewable licence arrangement for sharing parent digital resources for one or more of our programmes for parent access at home
- Referral partnership arrangement for signposting parents to our website shop for purchasing resources for home use at a discounted rate which also earns funds for the nursery.
Contact Sue to enquire further: [email protected]