This post is by regular contributor Kate Fairlie of Picklebums.
I am not the world’s best singer and that’s okay. It doesn’t stop me from singing to my kids.
Singing to and with young children is important. It assists language acquisition, can soothe a troubled moment, capture their imagination, make them laugh and introduce new ideas, as well as teaching simple musical concepts.
So I sing to my kids.
I try not to listen to myself too much and I try not to get too hung up on how I sound because my toddler couldn’t care less if I was a world class opera singer or if I couldn’t carry a single note. He just enjoys the moment. He enjoys me being there, having fun and interacting with him.
It can be hard to get over our hang-ups and ignore every off key note so sometimes it helps to have a distraction. Using props or actions when singing with young children is lots of fun for them, it captures their attention even further, and it can help you focus on the task and worry less about how you sound! Some of our favourite songs to sing with props and actions are animal songs (it’s hard to worry about how you sound when you are busy oinking like a pig!)
Here are some ideas for animal songs you can sing and some simple props to go with them…
Using Plastic Animals
I Went to Visit a Farm
I went to visit a farm one day,
I met a pig along the way,
And what do you think I heard it say?
Oink Oink Oink!
Set up a small selection of plastic farm animals on a rug or table. Ask your child to choose an animal and begin to sing. As you get to the part where you say “I met a …. “ hold up the chosen animal and get your child/children to say its name. Then when you get to the part where you make the animal noise, encourage everyone to join in. You can also have fun making the animal dance or walk around while you sing.
Actions using plastic animals also work well with Old McDonald Had a Farm.
I love to make and use puppets when I sing. Simple printed stick puppets, homemade sock puppets and commercially made puppets all lend themselves to singing with kids and taking the focus off you. Older kids love to get involved, using the puppets themselves which also encourages them to sing along.
You can download my Five Green and Speckled Frogs, Five Little Ducks and Three Jelly Fish puppets for free. And just to prove that I am not a great singer but still sing to my kids, here is a quick video of me singing while my four year old plays with the jelly fish puppets!
Using your Hands
All of the songs mentioned above also work well even if you don’t have puppets. You can use your hands in a similar way. Adding actions to a song and encouraging your children to join in adds another level of skill development. There are LOTS of animal songs with simple actions, from the classic Incy Wincy Spider to Three Little Fishes, Five Cheeky Monkeys Jumping on the Bed and Five Little Ducks.
Using Your Whole Body
One of the best things about singing with kids is that it encourages them to move. It can be a great way to dance out the jiggles on a day you are stuck inside, or you could get really wild and dance and move outside as you sing.
I Want Someone to Buy Me a Pony
I want someone to buy me a pony.
Jig jog, jig jog, jigga jog jig.
Not too fat and not too bony.
Jig jog, jig jog, jigga jog jig.
For I want to go for a ride,
Far out in the country side,
With a Jig jog, jig jog, jig jog, jigga jog
Jig jog, jog jog, jigga jog jig.
For little ones, put them on your knee and bounce them up and down as you sing. Older children can gallo around in a circle like a pony!
One Grey Elephant Balancing
One grey elephant balancing,
Step by step on a piece of string
Thought it was such a wonderful stunt
That they called for another… elephant!
Two grey elephants balancing….
Lay a piece of string along the ground or draw a line with chalk outside. One child begins as the first elephant, carefully walking along the line as you sing. Then they choose another ‘elephant’ to join them and so on…
These are just a small selection of animal songs that are easily adapted to use with props or actions. There are many more songs out there, and many more ways to sing and enjoy them with your children. So take a deep breath, let go of your hang ups and sing with your kids… you never know… you might even enjoy it!
What are your favourite animal songs to sing with children?
Did you know that issues 1-3 of Play Grow Learn include a fun, exclusive printable by Kate? Including a set of puppets to use to sing There were Five in the Bed in issue 3!