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Favorite Preschool Action Songs

by Ashley K. Alaimo, studioD

Music and movement are an important part of a child's early learning years. Children learn best when information is presented in an upbeat, multi-sensory fashion. Pairing motion with song lyrics can not only improve your child's memorization, but also teach sequencing, coordination and literacy development. Engaging in singing and dancing can be a fun learning experience for the whole family.

'The Hokey Pokey'

Singing the "Hokey Pokey" with your child teaches spatial awareness, and the difference between the right and left side of the body. Because the lyrics are instructional, listening skills are also exercised in this song. If you have more than two people participating, stand in a circle. Otherwise, position yourself next to your child. Sing, "You put your right foot in, you put your right foot out. You put your right foot in and you shake it all about." Act out the directions, encouraging her to follow. Turn in a circle and sing the next line, "You do the Hokey Pokey and you turn yourself about. That's what it's all about!" Repeat the lyrics, substituting with the left foot. As you continue the dance, ask your child to name a body part to include in the lyrics.

'If You're Happy and You Know It'

"If You're Happy and You Know It" teaches emotions -- a lesson that is important to address in the preschool years. Talk to your child about feelings such as being happy, sad, angry, scared and sleepy. Ask her, "What do you do when you are happy?" and demonstrate smiling and clapping your hands. Sing the following lyrics together: "If you're happy and you know it, clap your hands. If you're happy and you know it, clap your hands. If you're happy and you know it, and you really want to show it. If you're happy and you know it, clap your hands." Each time you refer to your hands, clap two times. Continue the song with different emotions, such as saying "boo hoo" when you are sad, or stomping your feet when you are angry.

'The Wheels on the Bus'

A bus is a fascinating method of transportation to preschoolers because of its size, color and ability to carry multiple passengers. "The Wheels on the Bus" works well while traveling with the family. It also teaches repetition, rhyme and observation. While rolling your arms in a circle in front of you, sing with your child, "The wheels on the bus go 'round and 'round, 'round and 'round, 'round and 'round. The wheels on the bus go 'round and 'round, all through the town." The next verses follow other actions, such as people that go up and down, doors that open and shut, and wipers that go "swish swish swish." You can also encourage your child to write her own lyrics and add silly sound effects to the song.

'Head, Shoulders, Knees and Toes'

Learning body parts is a fun early science lesson for preschoolers. The tune "Head, Shoulders, Knees and Toes" uses lyrics and motions to break down easily recognizable parts of the body. Stand in front of a mirror with your child and slowly sing, "Head, shoulders, knees and toes, knees and toes. Head, shoulders, knees and toes, knees and toes." Point to each part being named as you sing. Next, focus on the face area by saying, "Eyes and ears, and mouth and nose. Head, shoulders, knees and toes!" As your child becomes more confident in matching her movements to the words, speed up the tempo each time you sing the song. This is also a fun song to use during bath time while using soap to get clean.


About the Author

Ashley K. Alaimo is a writer, blogger and certified teacher in New York. She has a master's degree in elementary education and early childhood education from Medaille College, as well as a bachelor's degree in music and theater from Buffalo State College. Alaimo has also worked as an education specialist with ages birth to 12 years old, creating classroom and enrichment curriculum for various early childhood centers.

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