Toddlers love to dance to music and play games, so providing opportunities to do both at the same time is a win-win. As your child jumps, skips, shakes his body and sings to melodies, he will be making memories and learning valuable skills that encourage creativity, improvisation and physical activity. From competitive dance games to sing-offs, show your toddler just how fun games can be when you add a little music.
It’s no surprise that toddlers like to bang on everything from plasticware to toys. Challenge your tot to a friendly drumming duel to help him exert energy and make music at the same time. Stage the game by breaking out a small drum set or plastic buckets turned upside down. Then, begin by tapping out a short rhythm, and challenge your toddler to mimic the drum pattern. Each time your toddler correctly mimics the rhythm and drum pattern, he stays in the game, while an incorrect drum eliminates him until the next round. As your child is drumming away his energy, he is also channeling his creativity, says Dan Barrenechea, Massachusetts-based educator and lead musician at Kidville Wellesley, an enrichment center for children. “Drumming is an excellent way to encourage imaginative play,” he says.
Expose your child to a variety of melodies and genres of music while getting her to work off some energy with physical activity. The classic game of musical chairs is ideal for toddlers, as they often enjoy moving their hands and arms to music. Simply fire up your playlist and choose a genre for each game. One game may include all country music while another may focus on rock songs. Switching genres of music exposes your child to different sounds, dances, rhythms and emotions, says Barrenechea.
Just play the songs for a minute or two, and let your toddler and friends dance around the chairs. Once the music stops, each child must find a chair. The child left without a chair is eliminated from the game, and a chair is then removed. The game and the music continue until one chair and one child are left in the game.
During the toddler years, your kids often respond best to music when they can rock, roll, tap, clap or march to the beat. Even though it may seem early to expose your toddlers to technology, video game systems have launched several musical games that help teach toddlers dance moves and lyrics to age-appropriate songs that will keep them moving.
Simply slide in a dance or sing-along disc into your video game console, and let your toddlers follow the dance moves or sing along to the songs on the television screen. Many interactive systems offer remotes your child can hold that will calculate the accuracy of the steps or the notes sung into a wireless microphone, offering the opportunity for a competitive game that incorporates music into your child’s daily routine.
Jingle Bell Rockin' and Rollin'
Help your little one create a craft and turn it into a musical game on a rainy day. Start with an empty coffee can with a lid, and put jingle bells inside. Glue or tape the plastic lid onto the coffee can, and have your toddler decorate the outside of the can. Mark a starting point in the garage with sidewalk chalk, or a use a strip of colored masking tape if you are staying indoors. Once she's ready, ask your tot to roll her can to see how far it can go. Then, let her create her own music by shaking her handmade instruments.