Saturday, September 2, 2017

Piano Technique: How Much Do We Need?

Let's Play Music is intentionally different from traditional piano lessons. It's so different that we don't even label it as a piano program but a three-year complete musicianship program.  

That might leave pianist parents wondering: 
Will my child learn proper piano technique in Let's Play Music!?

A Piano Dilemma

First, a quick reminder that Let's Play Music was created in large part to solve a specific dilemma.  We know piano has a star role in early musicianship education (post), but children don't have full development and control of motor function in their hands until about age 8.  Should we avoid teaching piano to children until they are 8?

But, children are most sensitive to hearing pitches and laying neural foundation for ear training when they are babies. The sensitivity decreases as children age and settle into language and environment. We need to start teaching music as early as possible, and using the right tools. That means playing instruments, and piano is the place to begin.

If we put our 4 and 5 year olds on pianos so they can learn what the brains and ears are ready to learn, the fingers will be frustrated.  Let's Play music solves the finger-strength-dilemma in two ways.  

First: we spend a year playing the auto-harp and bells. Students have a whole year to let the brain and ears lay a foundation of how music works, how notes work, how chords work, how rhythm works.


Second: when we teach piano technique during years 2-3, we go very light on technique drills.  We DO teach technique exercises including relaxation, posture, and several 5-finger drills (technique post) but we can't shake a stick at how a private teacher will train an older student. 

So, should we avoid teaching piano to children younger than 8? No! We should simply avoid expecting perfect technique from children younger than 8, and instead put our focus on every other aspect of musicianship. (Musicianship)

Right now you might be a little sad that there's not much focus on technique. Trust me, the grass is greener on this side. After graduation, most students are less-than-excited that private lessons focus on technique at the expense of time spent on the rest of musicianship skills.

Did you know? Presto!, a new course from Making Musicians, teaches students ages 7-11 the same skills as taught in Let's Play Music. The program is heavy on technique training... because the students are ready for it!

Why Chords?

Little fingers are not super strong. So, does it seem surprising that we ask students to play intervals and chords right away?  That's even tougher than playing single-note melodies. What gives?

From a musical perspective, chords are the right place to start.  Most music that the children know can be harmonized with the I, IV, and V chords. It makes perfect sense that the most effective way to hand them the awesome power of creation and the joy of real music is to show them how to take these chords and make them work!  

By playing chord harmonizations on the piano and singing along, students experience success and joyful performance from day one.  In class, your teacher will sing songs (Old MacDonald, etc.) and have the students decide which chords to play.  That's power! That's creation! That's what we teach.

So, the tradeoff: Some tiny hands might not be able to manage playing these chords this year.  We allow students to play just the root and 5th, or just the root, or other modifications if they have particularly small or weak hands. Nobody is held back for not being able to execute "perfectly" on songs.

Her brain learned it. Her ear learned it. She felt inspired. She felt joy.  She has the rest of her life for her hand to catch up. We're not overly worried.

The Graduate and the Novice

When a private teacher receives an 8-year-old LPM graduate, the teacher should expect the graduate to be advanced in theory, composition, ear-training, reading notation, transcribing, and improvisation. Plus, she knows how to practice at home for 30 minutes each day. Let's Play Music has really paid off!

BUT, the graduate is probably equally novice in technique as his peer 8-year-old friend who is beginning piano with no musical background.  This presents some interesting challenges to the teacher, which is why we have our connections program, offering free materials to teachers to help them work with our graduates.  If you give both students exactly the same assignments for the first year, one of them will be unhappy.

At age 8, students are very flexible in their ways. They are only just coming into full dexterity and muscle control.  What I'm saying is, if your LPM student has been playing with slightly less-than-perfect technique, there is absolutely nothing permanent or incorrigible about that student. She can still be a competitive pianist when she's 9.  

Actually, the fact that the 8-year-old has been trying to use and control those muscles has strengthened them even as they were still developing.  If your child could not take ice skating lessons until age 5, you wouldn't prevent her from walking and running at age 4.  If you want your child to play with perfect form at age 9, be easy on her as she wends her way through LPM.

A good private teacher will be so delighted to have a gifted musician that she won't balk at needing to train the fingers and arms to catch up to the amazing mind and ears.

Igniting the Passion

Back when my daughter was 3, we joined a class called Storybook Ballet.   As we walked down the hall of the studio, I saw older ballet classes doing what I would expect in ballet class: proper technique with everyone lined up seriously. 

But Storybook class was nothing like that.

All of the 3-year-olds enjoyed warm-ups in a circle, then copied the teacher, prancing around the room with pre-ballet moves. They listened to a short storybook; one time it was Little Red Riding Hood. Finally, each day had the best possible ending: dressing up in a new costume and performing some loosely-choreographed moves to act out the story for parents.  

Storybook Ballet was a huge hit with our family. Obviously, it was age-appropriate. My 3-year-old couldn't tolerate long drills or high expectations. The class did introduce some ballet steps and terms, but mostly it captured the fun and exciting elements of ballet: dressing up, telling stories, creating moves, and performing!  

The role of storybook class wasn't to drill in technique, the purpose was to ignite the passion for dance.  It worked! Dance teachers could have spent time focusing more on getting those babies to do it 'right'.  But why? But instead they chose to share the joys of performance in every class.

Let's Play Music reminds me of that ballet class sometimes.  We show our students how to create music right away with chords. We don't tell them that they need perfect technique and a degree in theory before they start composing. We want them inventing. They're not just executors of music, but creators of it. We let them be silly. It should feel like play.

There will be time later for perfecting technique, but the best time for fanning the flames of passion is now.  Students who have an amazing experience in Let's Play Music build up passion and excitement that carries them through the next several years of (potentially boring) technique perfection.

So go out there and have fun! Good enough technique is good enough for now.

-Gina Weibel, M.S.
Let's Play Music teacher

Saturday, August 26, 2017

Oh No! My Child Is Playing By Ear!

In the 2nd and 3rd year of Let's Play Music, students play and pass off dozens of repertoire pieces. During some daily practice, you'll likely have the experience of noticing, "Hey! She's not reading the music!"  You might feel a impressed, then a bit worried.

Is She Even Reading the Music??

In Let's Play Music, we train those little ears so incredibly well that most students become great at playing by ear.  They hear the song a few times, and they've got it! It's easy to accidentally forget to train the eyes, too.

Every student has strengths; some rely heavily on their ear skills and others are more visual learners.  Whichever type of learner you have, there are things you can do to bolster their skill in reading notation. 

How We Teach Music Notation

Just as a reminder, this is how we teach music notation (full post) in Let's Play Music:

1. Expose students to lots of simple tunes: so they can find meaning in what they decode. It's fun to realize you're reading something familiar.

2. Show how notes work: up, down, step, skip. Bells an keyboards are the best for teaching since each note has one definite physical bell corresponding.

3. Learn common patterns: quickly recognizing common patterns and chords is similar to quickly recognizing sight words. You can read faster because you recognize these melodies and chords at a glance.

4. Read anchor notes: Middle C, treble C, bass C and a handful of others are the first notes students can read, then go find on the keyboard. Starting from an anchor note, they can read the rest of the song with skips/steps.

5. Find any note: that's note-spelling. Musicians don't read a whole song that way, but at the beginning of each phrase or chunk, we check to make sure we're starting on the right note.

6. Start with success: Reading chords and reading familiar tunes means they will sound awesome from day one. It's very motivating.

7. In loving arms: The emotional atmosphere of our teaching has a big impact on how well children learn!

Don't Look at Your Hands

Sometimes in class we encourage students to look at their hands when teaching keyboard geography or tricky fingering.  Looking at the keys as she hears the sound they make also strengthens neural connections between those keys and the way they sound.  Looking at hands is not all bad!

But, looking at hands excludes the student from looking at notes, a skill necessary for note reading. It also means the student is linking their proprioceptive skill (ability to move body parts and know where they are in space) with visual input-- a habit we want to break.  

Don't worry, she learned to walk without looking at her feet. Eventually she can play without looking at her fingers.  

A gentle way to strengthen proprioceptive skill is to have her put her bubble-shaped hands gently on top of her head (so she can't see her fingers), then sing the bubble hand song so she'll tap the fingers without looking at them.

Covering hands by hovering a book or sheet of paper a few inches above is perhaps the best way to break a habit of looking down instead of up, but can be scary for nervous students.  At first it will be challenging and the student won't look at anything.  She'll be imagining her hands and visualizing the fingers moving.  Once she can move her fingers without needing to visually imagine it, her eyes and brain will be available to look up at the notes as she plays them.

Whenever possible, remind your child with a "DO" action instead of a "DON'T" action.  "Don't look at your hands" leaves a child with a few steps of interpretation...what should I do!?  Instead, remind "Keep your eyes up on the notes."

Matching Eyes to Ears

A big part of reading is wiring the brain to recognize that the written notes correspond to the sound coming from the keys.  Even if your child is already playing a song perfectly, it is still very valuable to follow the notes visually as they are being played.

A parent can sit next to the child and point a finger or pencil at each note as the student plays it.  

I recommend sitting on the child's LEFT SIDE so that your arm is not blocking notes to come- we want her to be able to see what's coming in her peripheral vision and start processing it before she even gets there.



A slightly more complex way of pointing is the V-Fingers. Hold your left hand in a "peace" sign and tip sideways. Now one finger points at the treble clef while another finger points at the bass clef, sliding your < left-to-right as the music plays.  This is a good way to point to music when students need to match up two-hand playing and time them correctly.


Another game for matching eyes to ears is laser beam eyes.  Tell your child to imagine lasers coming out of her eyes.  She can shine a laser onto each note as she reads it.  Only when the eye-laser is shining on a note AND the note is sounded will it explode and she can move on to the next one. It's like playing the game ASTEROIDS.  As she plays, watch her eyes to make sure they stay on the book, going note-to-note.



Books On Tape, PBJ Sandwiches

Now let's get to the crux of reading music.  Your child might have perfect laser-beam eyes AND play the song perfectly but still not prove that she's reading. What?!

If she can play the song by ear, having her look at the notes is parallel to enjoying books on tape and following along with a print copy.  You're looking at the words and you're hearing the words, which is helpful for learning to read, but you're not forced to decode the words.

Is it really surprising that kids 'cheat' on reading if they think they don't need to?

Imagine that I show you once or twice how I make a peanut butter sandwich.  Then I show you a printed step-by-step procedure and tell you it's your turn to make a sandwich. With a huge eyeroll you *completely* ignore my instructions and swiftly create a really tasty sandwich.  For some inexplicable reason, I'm shaking my head and complaining,  "you didn't even look at my instructions!" 

You're thinking, "Crazy lady, I can make a perfectly good sandwich without instructions."  Our awesome musicians are like you, awesome parent who cooks food. They CAN make great music without bossy instructions.

So, next time I take you in the kitchen, I hand you a new recipe.  "Today you can make my gourmet DoReMi casserole that you've never had before. It won't  DoReMi casserole unless you include all of the secret ingredients, so be sure to get them all."

THIS time are you motivated to read my recipe?  Those very strong ear students are the same way.  By providing them something novel and surprising and including elements of a game (did you notice where the melody had a tricky change?) they will be motivated to practice reading skills.  They cannot rely on the ear because they've never heard this new thing before.

Find Sightreading Material

Sight-reading is looking at notes, decoding, and understanding how to execute on the keyboard.

Even better: looking, decoding, and hearing in the mind, then executing. When sight-reading is most proficient, students are STILL playing by ear, right? 

I love my strong ear students because I feel like they are going to be some of the most gifted readers if I can just get them to want to eat casserole.  You know what I mean.

Not all kids and parents want more to do at home, but if you have a strong-ear child who could benefit from sight-reading exercise, you can provide new music notation that she hasn't seen, and likely only plays a few times. A constant, steady supply of new notation will do the trick.

I always give students sight-reading material that is a few levels easier than what they play for repertoire.  It is either simpler music, or I let them play just one hand, or let them play at a slow pace.  The material must be easy because I expect them to get it correct (or 99%) on the first try!

In class, Edna and Edison (those lovable puppets!) play sight-reading games with students, but maybe you need more.


  • Songbook Snippets: Yes, your child can play everything in the songbook. BUT! If you pick a measure in the middle of a song and ask her to begin there... wow, it's suddenly sight-reading!  Jump through the book and play 2-3 measures of snippets.  Have a parent or sibling listening nearby see if they can guess which song is being played. Songbook snippets may be all you need to get your sight-reading boost.
  • Songbook Staff: In the back of your book is a staff. Here's another copy (LINK) that you can laminate and write on with EXPO markers. Anyone can write some notes! Write a few and say "I wonder if this will be an interesting tune? Let's find out!" then have your child play it to see.  Erase and repeat a few times for each practice. Tips: Start with an anchor note your child can find. Move with steps and skips up and down. Include chords and intervals she knows.
  • Teachers are genius at jotting out quick melodies. If you are struggling to come up with some, you could talk to your teacher and see if she's willing to write a couple to get you started, either on your laminated card or on a strip of paper.
  • Purchase items for sight-reading like this book on Amazon, or these flash cards. This Dozen a Day series provides technical drills, but they are also great for sight-reading steps and skips. If she plays a different one each day, she will really have to read. 
  • Recycle If you are in a musical home, you may already have some very easy piano sheet music, or might be able to pick some up at a thrift shop. Have your child play those tunes. Start with just one hand, or just snippets of tunes.  Just a 2 minutes of practice each day on reading can make a difference.
Skills Take Time

During the few minutes each day that you decide to work on just reading, remind your child that TEMPO can be slow. The goal of the game is to play the notes and rhythms correctly.  

Help keep sight-reading fun by presenting it as a game:
"I wonder what the composer is trying to say to us? Let's see if you can read his message."  "You did it! You solved the mystery!"

Eventually tie sight-reading and listening together. After playing a line of notes for the first time, ask your child to sing it.  Can she remember what she just played?  

Don't worry if she can't yet.  Beginning readers have the same struggle- they'll read a line of text successfully, "The dog jumped into the big old bag" but then can't repeat the sentence back...they were so focused on decoding that the meaning didn't sink in yet!  Over time, your child WILL be able to read and find meaning.

That's when you know it's time to introduce slightly more difficult music for sight-reading :)

Sight-reading is a skill that takes practice and focus to learn.  Since your child is already showing great progress with ear training, I'm confident that she will learn to read sufficiently as well.

Finally, for you, Parent: I probably wouldn't use this resource with my 6-year-old students, but advanced students and parents who really want to improve sight-reading might enjoy the sight reading mastery site, where you can learn to sight read by having hundreds of brand new compositions created just for you so you have something new to read every day!  Enjoy!

- Gina Weibel, M.S.
Let's Play Music teacher






Wednesday, June 28, 2017

Composition Contest 2017 Winners

Each year we have the glorious opportunity to hear AMAZING compositions from young students who've only been taking music classes for three years (and only been working on the piano for 2 years!) and we find them full of expression, creativity, and skill.

These compositional highlights are nothing short of FANTASTIC, but what's even more amazing... this year over 500 compositions were created by third-year Let's Play Music students across the USA! 

A tiny little army of creative, musical composer-children has just been released into the world. Happy Day! Teachers had the opportunity to send us one student's work from their studios and a panel of judges chose these favorites to share with you today:



Best Melody: 
Mermaid Tales by Chloe D
This is a story of a shark chasing mermaids!




Best Use of Chords: 
The Last at Bat by Jace C
You'll hear the pitch, a strike-out, and a big finish!




Best Use of ABA Form:
A Walk in the Forest by Carson B
In this song you'll hear 4 animals: a fast and choppy chipmunk, a happy working beaver, a low and slow moose, and a bear.



Most Original:
Rodeo Heart by Kassie C
You can hear horses' hooves in this tune. Kassie loves horses!



Best Story:
Tuki's Island by Bella B
A toucan named Tuki has lots of adventures, including this one when she's chased by a leopard and is almost eaten! Want to see if she survives? Listen to the end to find out:




Best Overall:
The Dark Wizard by Brady E
This evil wizard casts evil spells and you can hear how mysterious he is:


Congratulations to these kids AND all who have successfully composed, published, and performed their very first piano piece!

We'll be looking forward to another batch next Spring.


Tuesday, June 6, 2017

Nursery Rhymes Teach Coordination, Social Skills, and MUSIC!

Here we are in Part 3 of a post series on what your child learns from nursery rhymes. Hop over and review Part 1 (Speech and Vocabulary) or Part 2 (Reading and Math) if you missed them. 


This is the final post where I get to give you a BONUS PRIZE for reading all 3 parts! (keep going!)


Coordination

When we learn nursery rhymes in Sound Beginnings class, we like to incorporate movement and finger plays that naturally lead to development of coordination and whole-body control.

Jumping over a candle like "Jack be nimble" or using the fingers to show "One, two, three, four, five, once I caught a fish alive" give practice for large and small-motor control and lead to improved coordination.

Just speaking the rhymes and forming the words quickly and with rhythm is a workout for the mouth, tongue an vocal chords! (Go back to part 1 for more mouth workouts)

It takes even more practice to do actions to the beat. Chanting and acting with fingers/arms/body builds neural pathways for coordination!

Social Skills

Sharing rhymes that we memorize as a class and chant together is extremely social.

Children really feel that they belong to the group when they participate in a shared experience like reciting or singing together.  "I know how to do this. I belong to this group. I know what we do here. I am safe here." 

Holding hands and making simple games from the rhymes (Ring around the Rosie) helps children connect with their parents and peers. Positive physical touch with parents (clapping hands, dancing, hugging) during rhymes also strengthens bonding through play. 

When your child is bored or sad, holding her in your lap and whispering a nursery rhyme is a fantastic way to soothe, comfort, and bond. Memorize some rhymes!

How else do rhymes help with social skills? Characters in rhymes exhibit different emotions, giving children a larger vocabulary for identifying and labeling their own emotions.  Rhymes can give a platform for imagination and creative play acting out the characters.


Why did the little dog laugh when he saw the cow jump over the moon?
How did Jack and Jill feel when they fell down the hill?
How would you feel if a fish bit the finger on your hand?
Why do you think the two little blackbirds go everywhere together?

MUSIC!

Did you see where we were heading with this? 

A broad musical foundation requires students to have control of the singing and speaking mechanisms. To have an ear practiced in hearing pitch, volume, and rhythm. To have coordination of the hands and body that will be used to play an instrument. To socially connect with other musicians and family members through music.  

Those are the skills we just itemized as being strengthened through nursery rhymes! Nursery rhymes teach fundamental music skills.

When we chant rhymes in class, we always love to establish a steady beat for the children to match and maintain. Adding words is the next-level: addition of rhythm to a beat. Yet another fundamental skill gleaned from rhymes.

Sound Beginnings students will be ready to excel in music!

BONUS:Finger Plays Library!


You know there are MANY reasons to enjoy rhymes with your child, so here are several nursery rhymes with actions/ finger plays for you to enjoy with your child.  Yes, you'll be teaching all kinds of amazing things, but you'll also be having fun, preventing boredom, and sharing love with your child!  ENJOY!




In case you missed Part 1: Speech and Vocabulary in Rhymes
or Part 2: Reading and Math in Rhymes
you can circle back and read them!

- Gina Weibel, M.S.
Let's Play Music teacher


Nursery Rhymes Teach Reading and Math

You read about how nursery rhymes are powerful tools for helping children develop speech and vocabulary in PART 1. Here in PART 2 I want to show how nursery rhymes teach reading and math skills!



Reading and Phonics

One great part about nursery rhymes is the rhymes. Children practice hearing rhyming words and sensing how vowels and consonants combine to make different words and word families. 

Memorizing nursery rhymes is an important way to build a repertoire of rhyming words!

Recognition of word patterns helps young readers make sense of phonics and bolster their reading skills. Hat, bat, cat, fat...they all sound the same at the end and voila! They have the same letters at the end!

A favorite game I like to play with toddlers is Find a Rhyme.  This usually happens in the car, when everyone's strapped in and needs something interesting to think about.  


Hey! I've got a word: BEE. 


Bee, Bee, what rhymes with bee
Bee, Bee, how about...."  
(child shouts)  TREE
Bee, tree, bee and tree
I like to rhyme bee and tree.

Repeat with new words until you reach grandma's house.  To make this game a little easier, prep your child with a few words that rhyme, or let older kids give hints to your toddler, or let older kids play a few rounds to show preschoolers how it's played. Be sure that everyone cheers when a rhyme is found.

Reading and Reason

Nursery rhymes also often incorporate very short stories with beginnings, middles, and ends. Jack went up the hill, then he fell down, then Jill fell down. These short tales give practice in sequencing events and understanding the flow of stories: more early literacy skills!

At home, make pictures to go with your favorite rhymes (we give them to you in Sound Beginnings class for some rhymes).  As your child recites the rhyme, have her put the pictures in the correct order, like my little daughter does here:



Finally, your rhymes will offer lots of alliteration (Goosey, Goosey, Gander) and onomatopoeia (Baaa, baaa, black sheep), again giving tots lots and lots of experience with words and how they work with phonics.  Words that start with the same letter have the same starting sound. Amazing!

The more words and rhymes your child learns, the bigger her repertoire to draw from while making these connections and internalizing how phonics works.

Math Skills

Nursery rhymes have patterns of syllables and rhymes. It's one of the traits that makes them so enjoyable and musical! You know what I mean...


Doo dum tweedle Doo
Doo dum tweedle Doo
Doo dum diddle dum diddle dum.

Doo dum tweedle Doo
Doo dum tweedle Doo
Doo dum diddle dum diddle dum!


Internalizing how patterns flow strengthens mathematical thinking and helps in memorization. 

Many rhymes also sneak in conceptual math words (none, many, few, plenty) as well as counting numbers, which means even more early math skills to internalize.  


One, Two, Three, Four, Five
Once I caught a fish alive
Six, Seven, Eight, Nine, Ten
Then I let it go again.

One, Two, Buckle my shoe.
Three, Four, shut the door.

Old Mother Hubbard went to the cupboard
to get her poor dog a bone
but when she go there the cupboard was bare
and so her poor dog had none.



If you missed it, check out our post on PART 1: Rhymes teach Speech and Vocabulary: 


Don't miss the bonus gift for you 
if you make it through part 3!

-Gina Weibel, M.S.
Let's Play Music teacher

Nursery Rhymes Teach Speech and Vocabulary

You've noticed that in Sound Beginnings we do many things beyond singing. 

One thing we include in every class is a chance to practice our nursery rhymes.  But why?



Nursery rhymes are POWER-PACKED with educational awesomeness.  In this three-part blog series, I'll walk you through the skills and tell you how you can have more fun at home!

Speech

When children hear nursery rhymes, they practice pitch, volume, voice inflection, and the rhythm of speaking.  

If you consider your own speaking voice, it sounds different when you ask a question or make a statement. You have a different rhythm and inflection when you tell a story than when you place a sub sandwich order. Your child needs to learn how to use all of these to sound like a native speaker. 

Young speakers also must work the muscles of their mouth, lips, and tongue to create all the new sounds and articulate tricky words.

Nursery rhymes give an opportunity to practice these skills in a silly, fun, playful way...which is to say, in the native language of children!

Speech Practice at Home

Does your child have a little trouble articulating some sounds? It's a learning process for all toddlers!

Step one: Pay attention to your child- which letters seem most tricky? Plan to do a little practice for those.
Step two: Be very aware of how YOUR mouth and tongue move to create the sounds.
Step three: SHOW your mouth/face/lips to your child as you speak. Point out what is going on. Ask her to copy you.
Step four: Learn some nursery rhymes together and practice saying all these wonderful words together!

Here's a video for teaching 'G' and 'K', from a speech pathologist and here is a podcast for teaching /r/.

Here's a video for practicing T, D, N and L:


HERE is another video for practicing letters 'F' and 'V'. 
And HERE is a video for practicing 'P' 'B' and 'M'.

Vocabulary

Nursery rhymes introduce interesting vocabulary to help expand a youngster's repertoire: Jack and Jill went up a hill to fetch a pail of water.  Mary, Mary, quite contrary. Jack be nimble, Jack be quick.

Research has show that in 1945, the average elementary school student had a vocabulary of 10,000 words. Today, children have a vocabulary of only 2,500 words.  Parents are not reading to their children as often, and vocabulary is suffering. The decrease also stems from children not memorizing rhymes, the bread-and-butter of traditional early children's literature.

Memorize nursery rhymes with your child!

Capitalize on the opportunity to have a "word of the week" and use the new words from Sound Beginnings class all week long: "Can you please fetch your sock and shoes? If your sister is feeling contrary, maybe some tickles will cheer her up. Hop nimbly up into your car seat! Be quick!"

Traditional rhymes are repetitious and allow children to memorize basic structures and patterns in the English language, then they'll want to try it out on their own with longer, more complex sentences.  

I remember the red-letter day when my then 2 year-old son said, "I saw the cat go down the stairs into the basement." It was his longest sentence ever! We were delighted.  

Be on the lookout for your child's construction of similar wonders, and repeat them back. "You saw the cat go down the stairs into the basement? How exciting!"

 It's important that young children learn to memorize through verse!

Fun at Home: Role Play

Get more practice with emphasis, accent, inflection, and vocabulary through role-play games at home.  It's time to bring out your inner thespian! 

Role-play can also help children prepare for and process situations they encounter in daily life. And, of course, your children LOVE when you are silly and vulnerable enough to play this way with them.  Here are a couple of ideas to get you started, and be sure to take turns in different roles.

RESTAURANT: Kids love to pretend they own a restaurant. Act out what you'll say when you go to a restaurant! Here's one family's version of this type of experience (you get the idea):



DENTIST or DOCTOR: When you're the patient, it's hilarious to invent crazy symptoms. "I have purple spots in my armpits. What could be causing that?" Kids will practice speaking in a confident, authoritative way as they answer you.

BUS DRIVER: Set up chairs to set the 'bus' stage, then tell the young driver where you'd like to go. Talk about what you see out the windows. "Driver! Can you please pull over? I see some chickens selling eggs and I'd like to get out and buy some!"

NURSERY RHYMES: Create a storied experience from your favorite rhymes. Have Humpty Dumpty fall onto the sofa, Jack and Jill climb up the stairs, and Teddy Bear run 'round and 'round the kitchen table.  "Hello Mister Dumpty, are you sure you should be sitting up there on the sofa back? I am afraid you are very fragile."  "Jack, will you please bring that pail and climb this hill with me? I need to fetch some water. It's a very big hill."


Want to see the rest of the seven amazing ways nursery rhymes are teaching your child to be fantastic?


We've got a bonus prize for you 
if you make it all the way through part 3!



Keep reading for PART 2, How rhymes teach Reading and Math! 

or jump ahead to PART 3: How rhymes help with coordination, social skills, and MUSIC!

-Gina Weibel, M.S.
Let's Play Music Teacher