I have taught early childhood music and movement classes for several years. My favorite way to plan sessions is to base the session on a book I know my families will love. The following is one of the lesson plans for my 0-3 class that I’ve used with the book Animal Boogie.
Welcome and Beginning
Hello Song- Welcome to Blooming Rhythms
I wrote a hello song specific to my early childhood program, Blooming Rhythms, and that’s what I use to open every class. I greet each child by name within the song.
Lap Bounce- I Took a Walk to Town One Day
I took a walk to town one day,
and met a cat along the way
What do you think that cat did say?
MEOW, MEOW, MEOW
You can repeat this with any animal, take suggestions from the class, and even incorporate hand puppets for an added visual element. This is also a great rhyme to incorporate ASL for the animals and encourage vocal play with the animal sounds.
I use either an instrument like a from guiro that looks like a specific animal, or an instrument that can be used to imitate animal sounds. Some great options for animal sounds are a gobbler for a turkey sound, castanets or wood block for a horse galloping, or a large drum for an elephant stomp. To help with sharing and transition, I give each child a visual and verbal count down (5, 4, 3, 2, 1, and pass). This has helped limit melt downs when the it’s time for the child to pass the instrument to the next child, and it ensures that each child has the same amount of time exploring the instrument.
Choreographed Movement Activity to Saint Saens: Carnival of the Animals (The Tortoise)
For this activity, I have the group stand in a circle. Each adult/child pair has the option of either allowing the child to walk next to the adult or be held. The movements are simple: 4 steps right, 4 steps left, 4 steps, 4 steps out, and I occasionally will throw in a 4-step turn. I give verbal cues to the group to let them know which movement is next. Any order of movements works with this piece, just repeat movements until the end. For the in and out, I encourage parents who are holding their children to face them into the circle so they can see and interact with the other children.
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Story time is a much loved part of my class routine. Even the youngest children know when the blanket comes out, it’s time for a story. Animal Boogie has been a big hit in my classes. It’s a sing-able story with a catchy tune that also encourages movement. My students love identifying the animals and doing the movements.
Interactive Song: 5 Little Animals Jumping on the Drum
I love Rachel Rambach’s Five Little Monkeys Jumping on the Drum, but instead of using five monkeys, I use five different animal puppets on my drum. I do this activity a few different ways depending on how many children are in the class. If I have five or fewer children, I let each child take a turn helping one of the animals “jump” off the drum. If the child is old enough, I will ask them to identify the animal and make the sound. If not, I will have the entire class help identify the animal and everyone make the sound. If I have a larger group, I will choose which animal “jumps” off and ask the class to help me figure out what the animal is and what sound it makes. Occasionally, I will just change the number of animals to match the number of children in the class.
Free Movement to Saint Saens: Carnival of the Animals (The Aviary)
For this movement activity, I give the children and caregivers scarves and encourage them to “fly” around the room like birds. At the end of this activity, I instruct the children to fly gently to their caregiver for quiet time.
The song I use for this varies greatly depending on the mood of the class. Sometimes I will use recorded music and other times I will invite the adults to sing a lullaby with me.
Goodbye Song- Goodbye Friends
My goodbye song is the same tune as my hello song, only I slow it down a bit and accompany with finger picking instead of strummed chords. After I sing goodbye to each child, I give them the opportunity to strum my guitar.
What are some of your favorite themes and activities that you use in your early childhood classes? Share your thoughts in the comments.