MusicallyMontessori100 Songs Children Love in the Montessori Music Room:The First 20 & How to Teach Them!

Preschooler playing castanets
Playing castanets in preschool music class JJIdarius photography

One of the best things you can give a young child is an appreciation of the arts... and music is an easy sell! Luckily, children hear music everywhere these days, and that can be both a good thing and then not such a good thing. Since young children are in the sensitive period for learning about sound, it's important to give them beautiful music experiences that have a purpose. 

I Love Music child writing on chalkboard

"I Love Music" written on chalkboard Dollar Photo Club

Music is a brain-builder and we've read lots of research to validate that idea. Music can also be enjoyable, relaxing, energizing and full of emotion. To enhance learning, I'm convinced that little children need well-planned as well as spontaneous music experiences. However, I'm definitely not one for playing constant music in the background all day long. I recommend limiting "music in the background" to lunch time and nap times. 

The adults around the young child can do a lot to enhance not only the child's natural love of music, but also the understanding of the components of music that enrich lives throughout adulthood. That's why music is such an important part of the young child's daily life and why we as adults need to create a musical environment that feeds the child's need to be "doing!" After all, we as Montessorians know that children learn through movement...through acting upon (and interacting with) their environment.

Dr. Montessori wrote:
"We then found that individual activity is the one factor that stimulates and produces development, and that this is not more true for the little ones of preschool age than it is for the junior, middle, and upper school children." (The Absorbent Mind, p. 7)
If you haven't discovered Philip Sheppard's wonderful book, Music Makes Your Child Smarter,  you're in for a wonderful treat! Philip Sheppard, a professor at The Royal Academy of Music (London) has presented the rationale for offering children music experiences that engage the child by "doing!"  There is also a cd that comes with the hard copy of this book that is just chock full of engaging music for children from many genres. Lots of activities that invite children to act upon and interact with music! Music that is purposeful and aimed at inviting children to move and to "make music!"

Music Makes Your Child Smarter, book

The first instrument is the voice, and so singing is the natural order of things in the music development of most children. 

My newest grandchild who is 2 months old, is already cooing in such a way that it sounds like a little song coming from his adorable little mouth! And, with the wise and loving mother that he has, he finds mama responding to his little cooing songs with "baby sounds" that make her little one laugh with joy...and sing even more!

Baby cooing music
Baby cooing and singing Dollar Photo Club

These little cooing exchanges between baby and caregiver are some of the most important first "musical actions" of the child. What makes these experiences important to the child's development is the child's action of "making music" and then engaging & being engaged with others "making music!" 

When we share songs, dances, and musical instruments with young children, we give them the experience of actively engaging in "making music." This activity is what gives them what they need for healthy development, as compared to passively hearing recorded music that is constantly playing in the background.

preschoolers playing instruments
Preschoolers playing instruments Dollar Photo Club

Planning music experiences for young children is actually great fun and is a way to introduce them to your own favorite genres of music, your favorite dances, and your favorite instruments. We can enhance the learning by being purposeful with choosing songs for children that encourage active engagement, that introduce music concepts, and that invite children to explore instruments. Well-chosen songs that children learn in toddlerhood can grow with the child and become the basis for later ensemble playing, part-singing, and dramatic performances, such as an opera or musical theater! 

Here's my list of the favorite songs of the Montessori children I've been making music with for over 3 decades! Following are the first 20 songs on my list. 

I have provided links to the songs! Some links are the song tracks, others are youtube videos of activities with the songs, and some are actual lesson plan sites. You'll be able to hear a little (or a lot) of the song and even purchase the download if you want, from most of the sites!

100 Favorite Songs Categorized

  1. Hello, Mary, How Are You? Who Is Sitting Next to You (Sung like a chant *See below)
  2. I Have a Little Pony (*See below)
  3. Twinkle, Twinkle/ ABC/ Baa, Baa Black Sheep (same easy melody & *See below)
  4. Itsy Bitsy Spider (Try different dynamics such as low & high, loud & quiet, etc)
  5. Old Grey Cat (For music concept of slow and fast)
  6. I Wish I Had a Windmill (Use hand motions to act out)
  7. Days of the Week (For Calendar activities: based on the Adam's Family theme)
  8. Clean Up, And Put Your Work Away (From Frank Leto who is Montessori trained)
  9. A Sailor Went to Sea (Lots of large motor movement with this song)
  10. Go Round & Round the Village (Use with miniature flags *See Below)
  11. Skip to My Lou (Second verse: "Going to South America 2 by 2" *See below)
  12. You Are My Sunshine (Great song for end of yr, mother's day or father's day event)
  13. Ole Miss (Lady) Sally (Action song with bow to help children gain control again)
  14. Come, Join the Circle (Perfect cue for children to come to circle)
  15. Months of the Year(Song for the "Walk Around the Sun" Birthday Celebration)
  16. The Continents Song (Connect this to the Montessori Continents Globe)
  17. Old Brass Wagon (Great square dance with moves explained in the song)
  18. Jump, Jimalong Josie (Uses a variety of commands for action)
  19. I Love My Little Rooster (Very interactive for children to add the animal sounds)
  20. Come My Friends and Sing Goodbye  ( Based on a Beethoven melody)
*Hello______, How Are You? Who Is Sitting Next to You..." is an all-time favorite morning greeting song. I like to sing it like a "Hambone Rhythm" as the children go round the circle and say the name of the person next to them. Here's a link to an example of the "Hambone Rhythm" from Ella Jenkins: Ella Jenkins at Amazon.

*I Have a Little Pony is a great song for children to begin to explore STOPPING in music. Start out with legs stretched out in front and keeping beat by tapping shins, then tapping thighs. Also, when ending the song, 
I Say: "Cross your ankles, bend your knees and now criss-cross your legs for sitting at circle." Helpful for children learning how to sit at circle.
There are MANY EXTENSIONS I use with this little song. 

  • I sing it once as a GIRL pony and then as a BOY pony (children have to remember to change the pronoun.) 
  • Later, you can sing the girl pony part in a HIGH voice and the boy pony part at a LOW pitch. 
  • Also, the children love to CHANGE THE NAME of the pony ("Macaroni") and this requires a 4 syllable word that will fit the rhythm. Challenging and fun!

*Twinkle, Twinkle melody is from Mozart's composition:"Ah! Nous Dirai-Je, Maman" 12 variations on a children's nursery song. I like to link this to Music History/Composers Studies in the Montessori curriculum. Read more at this link: Classical

* Go Round & Round the Village is a great song for lots of large motor actions. My favorite in the Montessori classroom is to set miniature flags on a rug in the middle of the circle. Choose 3 children to each pick a flag and then they march around the rug, waving their flags, while everyone sings the song. 

*Skip to My Lou: Invite a child to choose a partner to skip around together in the middle of circle for the first verse. Then ask child/ren what continent they want to skip to, then sing: "Going to S. America (or whatever continent chosen) Two by two (repeat 2 more times) Skip to my Lou My Darlin' "

This is just the beginning! 
Check out the NEXT Hundred Songs Post: Don't Forget the Traditional Ones! with some fun activities, little videos and 20 MORE FAVORITES FROM THE MONTESSORI MUSIC ROOM.

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Want to learn how to teach a new song to your child/ren? Or, how to allow children to "move" in a large group without too much chaos? And, what about playing rhythm instruments in a way that doesn't give you a headache!   

Check out my Musically Montessori eCourses and learn my secrets to a successful Montessori music curriculum for your group!

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