To wrap up the #WeekoftheYoungChild, we’ve got a #FamilyFriday update on the musical activities we’ve been doing here at Prodigies HQ with our 16 month old daughter Lillian!
She’s come a long way since our post last year (when she was only 4 months old) and we hope you get some good ideas for engaging your little ones with music!
1. Intra-verbals and Song Completion
One of the most fun, hilarious & engaging activities for Lil is completing the words to her favorite songs.
So for example, we’ll sing ” Twinkle Twinkle Little ______” and then we’ll pause.
That’s where Lil chimes in to complete the lyric with “star” (which sounds a bit more like “sta”).
The other one she really loves is “Mr. Golden Sun” where the intra-verbal is “me,” something’s she been saying for almost a year now.
She’s also got the hang of it with “The Itsy Bitsy Spider” and a few other little rhymes and songs we’ve made up around the house.
We started practicing this with the numbers 1, 2 and ______, and she started filling in the blank with 3 around the time when she was 6 or 7 months old. These days, when I try to do it with her, she just says “Ah ah ah” – which is her best imitation of Sesame Streets The Count.
More recently, we’ve been doing it with “four five _____” and “seven eight nine ______” (to which she can complete “six” and “ten”).
And even more recently, we’ve been doing it with “Do Re _______” and she’ll finish it up with “Mi.”
Usually when she gets it right, we clap and laugh and have a good time with it, and the positive reinforcement seems to have made her proud of her little verbal skills!
2. Free Play with the Bells, Piano & More!
It goes without saying that Lil has a lot of musical instruments at her disposal.
From playing with daddy’s Ableton Push, to pots and pan percussion jams in the kitchen, to her own set of deskbells, handbells, xylophones and Boomwhackers, Lil has a lot of fun free playing on all kinds of musical instruments.
She even has a little digital piano that has a built in microphone that’s hilariously cute once she gets going.
Her attention span is still pretty short, but she’ll play the bells or her piano for 3-5 minute at this point. With the bells, sometime she’ll pick one or two notes and go to town. Other times, she moves back and forth playing the lowest bell and then the highest bell.
3. Movement Songs & Games
I’ve been known to rail against Music & Movement here on the Prodigies Blog, but that’s mainly because I wish pitch education and music theory had a bigger place in early childhood music curriculum.
That said, kids love movement songs, and Lil is no exception, despite my attempted doctrinarian 🙂
When I run music classes, I have three go-to movement songs that I use in almost every class (Tooty Ta, Dino Dance, Have a Smile).
And then with littler kids like Lil, more finger play games and body part songs tend to be more successful (Where Is Thumbkin, Head Shoulders Knees Toes)
At this point, Lil knows the majority (if not all) the actions that go with…
- “Baby Shark”
- “Itsy Bitsy Spider”
- “Head Shoulder Knees and Toes”
- “Horsey went to London”
- “Mr. Golden Sun”
Getting her to do it on camera though is a different story!
Camera shy or not, these songs have really helped to explode her language development with their simple and repetitive nature. She still mixes up things like eyes and ears, which IMHO makes it even cuter.
Not only does she learn a lot from these songs, but they’re amazing at redirecting her away from things she wants to do (like slamming her hand in the freezer drawer or putting her toothbrush in the potty).
She even taught some of her friends the motions recently, which was about as cute as it gets!
4. Singing & Bouncing on a Yoga Ball
If you have a yoga/gym/birthing ball in your house, you can have a lot of fun bouncing and singing together.
Plus, it’s a decent workout for your legs and abs, and your kids will think it’s hilarious.
This is where we love to do “Horsey Went to London,” which you can see in the above video! Normally I have Lil facing me, which makes the dipping part a little easier.
Plus, yoga balls make excellent drums if you’re looking for something big and soft to play!
5. Structured Musical Play with Playtime & Preschool Prodigies
Lil has obviously watched all of the Playtime Prodigies videos many times over, and she loves seeing herself on the TV.
At this point (16 months) she can hand-sign with “Do Re & Mi” inside of “Campfire Song,” though she usually only sings and hand-signs one or two at a time. She’s only gotten all three in a row 2-3 times at this point, but she can sing each syllable, recognizes the hand-sign and even “Ooh’s” along in the bridge of “Campfire Song.”
She also loves Sweet Beets, especially the newer “Beet & Shh” episode. Kids LOVE to make the “Shh” sound and it’s something that even infants can imitate to some extent. At this point, Lil is “Shh”-ing with the best of ’em.
She’s also been clapping along with “I’m a Nut” for half a year now and we’re looking forward to making more Playtime Prodigies videos for her (and all the little ones out there) in the coming months!
6. High Information Music
We also use an app called NURYL to give Lil exposure to lots of High Information Music. The folks from NURYL have shown some pretty remarkable benefits as a result of playing babies (2nd trimester through the 1st year) this type of music, and their app NURYL contains curated playlists and original compositions that make this is a no-brainer.
You can try NURYL for free, or you can also YouTube “High Information Music” for some free playlists and suggested listening. Some of the music might seem a little dark and intense for your baby, and you can feel free to skip those if you’d like (but don’t skip too much!).
A prime example of High Information Music is shown above in the Aydin Essen improv. Lil has seen/heard this hundreds of times at this point – sometimes she dances and watches with a lot of intention and other times it’s just background music while she plays.
7. Make a Music Video
Lil has been in a handful of our videos at this point and it’s always a treat to watch her reaction to seeing herself on screen. #metascreentime
It took a little while, but she finally understands that it’s her on the screen and gets a big kick out of it.
She also loves seeing mommy and daddy on screen with her, which your kids will love too!
There are so many video making apps and programs these days, that all you need is a silly dance and a favorite song and boom, you’re ready for your music video debut!
You can use software like iMovie to make fun family music videos with very little editing experience. Or you can try Adobe Spark or a handful of video making apps to make it easy.
You can do some silly dancing, sing along, or try to tell a story with the scenes and actions in your music video. Whatever you choose, you’ll kids will get the experience of making a video from start to finish, which is not only a fun activity, but a practical and modern skill that’s useful in every industry to some degree.
Then you can microwave some popcorn and toss it on the family room TV for a little viewing party.
8. Play the Recorder
At 16 months old, Lil is too young to really learn how to finger any positions on the Recorder, but that hasn’t stopped us from making it one of her favorite toys.
When you blow into a soprano recorder with no holes covered, you get a high D, which is basically the only note Lil can make.
While that might sound silly or impractical, it’s actually quite endearing and musically practical. A lot of my favorite guitar and piano songs are in D, so we’ll sit out on the porch and jam out on a some D Major tunes together.
Plus, you can dance or march around while you play the Recorder, which is helpful for kids with short attention spans who need to keep moving.
And even though it might sound like a bad idea, it’s a great instrument for her to play in her car seat.
Because she’s just blowing that one higher note, she almost always gets the right sound. In other words, she’s not squeaking the instrument every time she picks it up.
As a result, we’re hoping that she’ll come to understand the sound the recorder is supposed to make, which will help her avoid blowing too hard on the other notes as she gets older.
We’ve got 4 of them in the house, and when her friends come over we bust them all out for a baby jam sesh!
And even if the whole recorder is too big for your baby, you can take off just the top piece and they’ll still be able to play that high D, which makes it even more light weight and error proof!
When she was first learning to play, she’d put the recorder to her mouth and then just hum a note (as opposed to blowing into the recorder), which is basically as cute as it gets.
9. Totigies – Ear Training for Infants (Launches 4/23)
More recently, Lil’s been listening to the new tracks we’ve been working on for Totigies (which is coming out on April 23rd)!
Totigies is a Solfege centric ear-training series for pre-natal infants, babies & toddlers. It features the voice of Prodigies wonder-kid Boo, who takes your babies on Solfege-rich journey of arpeggios, scales, chord progressions & chromaticism.
It has the sound and instrumentation of popular melodic lullabies for kids (slow and relaxing piano & bells), but with an added focus on Solfege and progressions popular in the Taneda method for absolute pitch development.
It also features a bit of high information music and some more improvised chromaticism inspired by Rick Beato & the folks at Nuryl.
We’re putting the finishing touches on Volume I now and have set the release date for 4/23.
And of course, it will be available to download for Lifetime Members as soon as it is ready!!
10. Sesame Street – Healthy Teeth PSA
Lil is absolutely obsessed with brushing her teeth, and we think the video above is the reason way.
It’s a super modern song, so if auto-tuned Elmo isn’t your thing, this might not be for you.
In our house though, we love it, and it’s on at least twice a day. Usually Lil will point at the TV and say “Tee-tees!,” and away we go!
And so much more…
Want more musical activities for your youngest learners, definitely check out…
- Last year’s WOYC post from when Lil was 4 months old
- Our free eBook all about “Raising a Young Musician”
- One of our favorite blog posts, “Teaching Your Kids to Sing In Tune”
- The Prodigies Blog (where we share all kinds of activities like these)
- Enroll in Prodigies to discover 400 video music lessons for kids 2-12
Speaking of the Prodigies Family
For years, Ms. Sam has been behind the scenes working on curriculum, operations & customer success for the Prodigies Team!
This year, she’s breaking into a new role as host of Performance Prodigies, and we’re thrilled to have her on camera to provide lots of female vocal modeling for your kids!