Sunday, July 24, 2011

Musical learning with your preschooler

One thing I've found in the last few years-homeschooling is a misnomer. We're never at home!  What I've discovered is that the car is a great place to reinforce whatever skills my daughter is working on at the time. Obviously, Kindermusik songs were (and are) a big part of the playlist, as are recorder and piano practice CDs now, but there's a lot of academics out there, too.

My favorite way to use these is on an iPod. Set up playlists, then put the playlist on shuffle so you don't have an hour of math, but instead have it mixed up a bit. The iTunes software shows the number of times a song has been played, so if you think that you've heard that particular one a few thousand times, you can check and find that you're right, and take it off the active playlist for a little while.

Here are a few of my favorite resources. Many of these are available for digital downloads.

Dr. Dr. Jean is a noted presenter at early childhood workshops for her ways of making early learning fun for kids. If your child came home from preschool singing "Tooty-Ta", blame Dr. Jean. I'm not thrilled with her singing voice-it's too low pitched for children to sing along with in their most comfortable range well, and she's not a trained vocalist, but as far as concepts go, these are wonderful. You can download whole albums or individual songs. Her CDs are often available at teaching stores as well. Make sure you check for support materials, too-she has a lot of printables to go with the songs on her website.

Sesame Street-sometimes, the traditional is the best. Lots of nice songs, often ones that parents enjoy as much as children, that reinforce academic concepts and social skills.

Leapfrog-you know the videos with the cute frog singing "The A says /a/"? Well, he has a CD, too! I found mine at Dollar General, of all places. Amazon has it for digital download.

Handwriting Without Tears Get Set for School CD -this is one educational CD that is actually very well done musically as well as content wise, and is great at introducing early concepts. There's a second one for reading and math on the website as well, which I don't own, but if it's by the same people is worth considering.

Classics are always the best-both Ella Jenkins and Hap Palmer have recordings of songs that you probably remember singing when you were a child. Or, in the case of Hap Palmer, marching around the room to a scratchy record recording. Because these are mostly re-releases of material recorded years ago, they're not as high of audio quality as some of the other CDs out there, but they're sweet, fun, and often bring back memories.

Twin Sisters These are kind of a "you love 'em or you hate 'em" type set up, because all their recordings have a lot in common-a lot of familiar melodies used to teach concepts, a lot of repetition, and mostly the same voices singing. However, they've got a CD for ANYTHING. If you subscribe to Discovery Education, most of their songs are available as Digital downloads (one song at a time, which gets tedious) so you can find songs that match whatever your child needs at the time. Most teacher's stores sell these, too, and the boxed sets often appear at Big Lots.  is the Kindermusik download site. Not surprisingly, there's a lot of great children's music here, downloadable one song at a time or by albums. The "Loony Libs", "America the Musical", and "Dem Bones" CDs have all made it onto our playlists for more academic reasons, plus lots of fun songs.

And special for blog readers-the first 10 people to mention this blog to me at the UM Open House on August 13 (10:00-11:30 on the Park Avenue Campus)  Parent information night on August 16 (7:00-8:30 at the main Music building at UM), or at the first day of Fall classes will receive a digital download card which will let you download 10 songs (or one album, in most cases) from the site.

Get listening and have fun!

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