This month we will be looking at incorporating musical activities in the classroom. All children naturally like to move to music, and it also helps children develop the following:

  • Areas in the brain that involve language and reasoning;
  • Spatial intelligence: the ability to perceive the world accurately and to form mental pictures of things. This is vital for areas such as solving maths problems to being able to pack a school bag with everything that will be needed for the day;
  • Thinking creatively and to problem solve: there is no one right answer or way to do things;
  • Enhances teamwork skills and discipline: class all work together;
  • Creative expression: music helps children express themselves creatively and in different ways.
  • Music also helps children explore rhythm, encourage listening and social skills, stimulate imagination.

There are numerous musical activities that parents, teachers and therapists can use. Here are some ideas to try:

  • Keeping the Beat: without using words or singing, one child begins by tapping out a beat on a body part/lap-tray etc. Children can use hand, fingers or toes to tap. The rest of the class need to copy the beat. The teacher then selects another child who selects a different beat on a differing body part. If a child is having difficulty modify the activity such as letting them open and close their mouth to the beat, click the rhythm pattern with their tongue, sway to the beat, lift legs up and down to the beat etc;
  • Musical Ball: is similar to musical chairs except children get points and no one ever gets “out.” Attach some bells to a large colorful beach ball and seat children in a circle. Give the beach ball to one child. Select some music and instruct the children to begin passing the ball around the circle when the music begins. Allow the music to play for 30 seconds or more, and then stop the music. The child holding the ball when the music stops gets one point. The children begin passing the ball again when the music is restarted. Continue playing until one player reaches five points.
  • Action Songs: such as “Incy-Wincy-Spider” or “Ram-Sam-Sam” can be sung and acted out by children seated or standing so it is ideal for children in standing frames or wheelchairs. This type of song helps with fine-motor development too.
  •  Animal Sound Songs: such as “Old MacDonald Had a Farm.” Children love making the differing animal noises such as “a moo-moo here” for Old MacDonald’s cow. Children who are unable to sing the song can sign the corresponding animal.

In some instances instruments and other musical items need to be adapted so they can be used easily by a child with a physical disability. These include:

  • Adding a piece of sponge wrapped around a handle of an instrument (maraca or a xylophone beater) which will increase the grip size;
  • Mounting an instrument onto a flat board or child’s lap-tray so it remains still, or clamping it to a table so that it doesn’t slip and is at the appropriate hight;
  • Adding a piece of elastic to a handle of an instrument so it is not dropped by a child who has problems maintaining a strong hand grip;
  • Laminating a page of music or sticking it to a piece of cardboard and using a nail brush to act as a holder to keep a piece of music upright for a child who is unable to hold it.

The most important thing is that music should be fun and children given the opportunities to express themselves freely.