Singing to Learn

By Cooper Webb:Singing to Learn By Cooper Webb As the Idaho weather grows colder, our wardrobes grow larger. Summer’s simplicity – shirts, shorts, sandals – is inadequate. Sweaters and socks are now necessary layers. Don’t forget the coats, snow pants, hats, mittens, scarves, and boots! Winter dressing requires so much stuff. And all that stuff requires organization. Who has time to hunt for a missing left mitten? Not this momma! Singing to Learn

 

To keep our coat closet from looking like the volcano Mount Winter Clothing erupted inside of it, I installed (and by “I”, I mean my grandfather-in-law) several hooks inside the closet, three feet from the floor. I also hung in the closet a canvas shoe organizer, which provides lots of little compartments for storing hats and mittens. Whenever we return from an outing, I tell our children, “Put your coat on a hook and your mittens in a cubby.” This helps cut down on the winter gear clutter significantly. I find it humorous that my preschoolers often say, as we are preparing to leave the house, “Where’s my coat?!? Oh! I know where. It’s on my hook!”

 

While we are headed into a new season, on a much grander scale, our preschoolers are in a new stage of life. A stage of life where they are constantly bombarded with brand new information. Often times, developing brains don’t know what to do with this information.

 

Singing to Learn By Cooper WebbFor example, preschoolers are often asked to spell their names before they even comprehend how the individual sounds of letters work together to create words. My first-born son, Canon, struggled for a long time to memorize the correct order of the letters in his name. I would review with him the letters of his name, and he would repeat them many times over. Despite the practice, he would forget within a few days and couldn’t answer his Sunday School teachers when asked if his name was spelled C-A-N-O-N or C-A-N-N-O-N.

 

My approach to teaching Canon the letters of his name was like taking all of the hats, coats, mittens, boots, etc., and throwing them on the floor of the closet. The items were in the closet – and the letters were in his brain – but retrieving them was a lengthy and messy process. When teaching preschoolers new information, it’s important to provide them with hooks and cubbies to organize the input.

 

Music is a fabulous hook for developing brains to use, as it provides a framework for receiving new information. A young brain might not know what to do with a string of letters, but it knows how to store and file away a song. I had breakthrough with my son when I set the letters of his name to the tune of B-I-N-G-O. The custom song worked instantly, and Canon never again forgot how to spell his name.

 

Music provides highly effective retrieval cues. Familiar melodies provide an automatic sequence and an order for recalling information. With music, the likelihood of skipping or misplacing a portion of the information is decreased. After singing the letters of his name, when Canon was then asked to spell his name, it was as if his brain said, “Where’s that info?!? Oh! I know where. It’s in this song!”

Singing to Learn By Cooper Webb
Here are some simple ways to incorporate familiar tunes when teaching new information to your preschooler.

Name Spelling

 

Three-Letter Names

Tune: This Is the Way

 

This the way I spell my name,

J-A-X, J-A-X

This is the way I spell my name,

J-A-X spells Jax

 

 

Four-Letter Names

Tune: Happy Birthday to You

 

A-L-L-Y spells Ally

A-L-L-Y spells Ally

Ally is my name

A-L-L-Y spells Ally

 

 

Five-Letter Names

Tune: Row, Row, Row Your Boat

 

H-A-Z-E-L

That’s how I spell Hazel

H-A-Z-E-L

That’s how I spell Hazel

 

 

Six-Letter Names

Tune: Baa Baa Black Sheep

 

S-A-W-Y-E-R

These are the letters of Sawyer

An S to start

And next an A

Then W and Y, E

R at the end

S-A-W-Y-E-R

These are the letters of Sawyer

 

 

Seven-Letter Names

Tune: Merrily We Roll Along

 

D-E-S-M-O-N-D

Spells my name

Spells my name

D-E-S-M-O-N-D

Desmond is my name

 

 

Eight-Letter Names

Tune: If You’re Happy and You Know It

 

C-O-U-R-T-N-E-Y

Spells my name (clap, clap)

C-O-U-R-T-N-E-Y

Spells my name (clap, clap)

My name is Courtney and I know all the letters in my name!

C-O-U-R-T-N-E-Y

Spells my name (clap, clap)

 

 

Phone Numbers

 

It is an important safety measure to teach your preschooler your phone number so that they can reach you if ever separated from you. But memorizing a series of seven digits is no easy feat for a 3-year-old. Put the first two lines of the beloved tune Twinkle, Twinkle, Little Star to work in aiding your child’s memory. For example:
5-5-5-6-4-1-2

(Twinkle, twinkle, little, star)

That’s how we call Mommy!

(How I wonder what you are)

 

Calendar Days

 

Days of the Week

 

Remembering the order of the days of the week can be a challenge for many preschoolers. A fun tune to use is the theme song from the old TV show, The Addams Family.

 

There’s Sunday

And there’s Monday

There’s Tuesday

And there’s Wednesday

There’s Thursday

And there’s Friday

And then there’s Saturday

 

Days of the week (clap, clap)

Days of the week (clap, clap)

Days of the week, days of the week, days of the week (clap, clap)

 

 

Months of the Year

 

Sing the twelve months of the year to the tune of Ten Little Indians

 

January, February, March, and April

May, June, July, August and September,

October, November, then December,

These are the months of the year.

 

 

Today’s Date

 

I like to use the 18th century tune Frere Jacques for teaching today’s date since each line is repeated, which is perfect for lyrics that change daily. I sing a line first, and then my children copy me.

 

Today is Monday

(Today is Monday)

November 9th

(November 9th)

2015

(2015)

That’s the date

(That’s the date)

 

 

Scripture Memory

 

I’ve personally found it difficult to match Bible verses with traditional nursery songs, so I was thrilled to discover Steve Green’s recordings, Hide ‘Em in Your Heart, Volumes 1 & 2. The recordings are a mix of various music styles, and all of my children, from ages two to eight years, enjoy this method of memorizing Scripture.

 

Another Scripture resource that our family enjoys is The Singing Bible by Focus on the Family. This four CD set walks listeners through the Bible with a narrator and musical selections. The lyrics of the songs are not specific verses, but rather Bible stories and principles. We utilize the CD’s in the car and at bedtime. As a mom, it’s precious to witness how quickly my children can recall Bible stories that have been set to music.

 

Using music as a mnemonic device is perhaps the most powerful key to unlocking information stored in the brain. So as you sing with your preschooler, remember that you’re not just teaching them to remember how to spell their name, but you’re demonstrating how to utilize a tool that will serve them well throughout their lifetime.

 

 

 

BIO

Copper Webb is a second-generation Idaho homeschooler. She and her husband, Mike, who has written some great bath-time lyrics, life in Meridian with their four children. Copper occasionally blogs with a toddler in her lap at www.copperwebb.com

 

This is a guest blog post. The views and opinions expressed in this article are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the official policy or position of SCAIHS or any employee thereof. SCAIHS is not responsible for the accuracy of any of the information supplied by guest authors.

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