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Montessori Baby-Ed: Musical Development in the First Year

DID YOU KNOW YOU CAN ENCOURAGE YOUR CHILD'S MUSICAL DEVELOPMENT FROM THE VERY BEGINNING?

(photo credit)
If you look closely at the classic stages of development in Baby's first year, you can see that they correspond beautifully with creating a solid foundation in music.


And, it's just about effortless!

Baby's respond to sound even before they are born. 
Ask any pregnant mom, when she goes to a live music concert if she feels her baby moving to the music!

After Baby is born, we find that she continues to respond to music, and she especially loves the sound of her family members when they sing her a lullaby at night.

In fact, almost every toy that is engaging for a baby has some kind of jingly sound or rattling noise inside. 

And, what baby doesn't love the sound of a sweet and gentle hand crank music box?

THE IMPORTANCE OF A RATTLE
Photo from Adobe Stock

Very early on, your baby will begin to grasp objects, and one of the first things we offer her is a rattle.

I like the nice wooden ones that have a gentle sound, not harsh and loud, but soft like the rain falling.

Emilio, a Montessori Baby-Ed participant, enjoying his rattle at age 2 months. 
When you offer your baby a nice wooden rattle, you are giving him/her the first opportunity to "make music." You probably have learned by now, that early musical experiences have the most benefit for the child when she is given ways to make music. Listening to music is fine, but making music builds the brain!

When your baby makes music with a rattle, she begins to explore the concept of "cause and effect." 

She also develops the small muscles of the hands and fingers, that are so important for writing, for cutting with scissors, and later for playing an instrument like the piano.

The sensory experience of shaking a rattle, gives Baby opportunities for developing auditory discrimination skills that play an important part in language development.

You can enrich the musical experience for your baby by shaking a percussion instrument along with her. Then, you can play a steady beat which will stimulate her senses to recognize and eventually to play a steady beat herself.

If you sing a simple song along with playing the instrument, then your baby gets the added benefits of hearing your voice (which she loves) and also how her home language sounds.

Photo from Adobe Stock

And, the sound that a little percussion instrument makes, will entice your baby to creep over and check it out herself!

WHEN BABY CAN SIT ON HER OWN, THEN HER HANDS ARE FREE TO WORK & PLAY

Photo from Adobe Stock

In the next classic stage of the child's development, your baby has become mobile and can sit up on her own. She will spy an object and then head right for it! (especially if it makes a fun sound)

As sitting becomes more and more refined, Baby discovers that s/he has her hands free to manipulate the object that she crawled over to explore.

Emilio, at age 8 months, playing his Chime Bar from MONTH FOUR of Montessori Baby-Ed 
Providing musical objects (instruments) in Baby's environment, gives her the opportunity to not only use her large motor skills to get over to the object, but also to practice with her small muscle development as she "plays" the instrument. 

There is hand-eye coordination developing, along with sensory learning through auditory & kinesthetic experiences.

Once again, you can enhance the learning by playing and singing along with your baby.

WHEN BABY CAN STAND ON HER OWN, SHE CAN 
DANCE TO THE MUSIC

By the time, your baby has arrived at the next classic stage, the standing/walking stage, s/he has celebrated her first birthday! 

She has also passed through a major milestone of life. She is an independent being and she now realizes it!

With more and more confidence in her abilities, Baby responds to music by not only singing along, but also by dancing to the beat. 

You can encourage Baby's musical development by inviting her to move to the music. You can model how to stomp, or march, or tiptoe when music is playing in the environment. Eventually, baby will have mastered the moves of her own little dance. 

Invite your baby to twirl a colorful ribbon while she moves to the music (Photo by Jeri-Jo Idarius)

Spontaneously moving to music offers your baby practice with the large muscles of the legs and back that are important for walking, for running, and later for all kinds of athletics, including things like swimming, gymnastics & dance!

When you put on some of your favorite music and then dance, dance, dance...you not only release the stress of the day, you also bond with your baby in a sweet and happy way.

Want to learn more about what you can do to enhance your baby's musical development in her first year?

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You can enroll in just one month...six months... 
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Thank you for visiting my blog today. I hope you got some inspiration for making music with your baby!











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Montessori Baby-Ed: 12 Musical Learning Activities For Your Baby "Month by Month"

TRY THESE 12 MUSICALLY MONTESSORI ACTIVITIES WITH YOUR BABY EACH MONTH! 


Emilio, at the age of 8 months,  playing the Melody Harp 

Having musical fun with your Montessori baby brings lots more than family togetherness!

~DON'T MISS MY GIVEAWAY to celebrate my newest eCourses~  
(See how to enter at the end of this article.) 

Dr. Maria Montessori developed an amazing and historical educational method for working with children from birth all the way to high school age. After the birth of my third grandchild, I discovered the most endearing "curriculum" for baby learning that I've ever studied...from Montessori, of course! 

I found myself asking, "Why didn't I know about the 'Montessori Nido Environment'?" What took me so long to discover the many activities for creating a Montessori environment for the child from birth to the beginning of toddlerhood? I guess I've been a little preoccupied with my decades of working with the Montessori Preschooler! 

Even so, I began to really research how to set up a lovely baby environment that nurtures Baby's social, emotional, cognitive, and spiritual development, when my grandchild Jules came along. (now that has been more than 3 years ago!) 


My grandson and I playing and singing "The Little Rooster Song"

My Montessori-raised daughter asked me to send her a basket each month of activities she could do with her little one to nurture their family bonding and her baby's cognitive development. That is when I started developing the Montessori Baby-Ed "Nido Baskets"  for each month of Baby's first year.

Montessori Baby-Ed "Nido Basket" all packed up to send to my daughter

Eventually, I saw that these monthly Activities would be difficult for me to curate and actually sell to families, which was the first thing my entrepreneurial daughter suggested! I also discovered that the families I was sending these "Nido Baskets" to, (my daughter and also an old friend of hers, Amanda) were needing instruction about how to set them up and engage their babies, as well. 

So, I developed Montessori-style Lesson Plans to go along with the monthly "Nido Basket." Next, the feedback I got was: "Can you create an Instructional Video to go with each month's basket?" I realized that I wasn't dealing with Montessori teachers here...I was offering the Montessori Baby curriculum to parents, busy parents!

That's how my Montessori Baby-Ed eCourses evolved! And, these "Month by Month eCourses" are finally being offered to parents and caregivers. In my eCourses, I have created Instructional videos and some useful downloads for each month of the Montessori Baby's first year of  life. Click here to LEARN MORE about my eCourses.

I AM CELEBRATING my new eCourse!
Don't miss my Etsy Gift Card Giveaway. 
See how to enter at the end of this article.

Here are some of the Activities I have curated for Baby's musical learning (and fun!) in the first months of life:




I have been so fortunate to have Amanda taking my first version of the Montessori Baby-Ed month by month Lessons. She happens to be a wonderful photographer and she beautifully documented her family enjoying the monthly activities in photos and videos!


Emilio, when he was an infant, making music with his family

1. Play an instrument for your baby so s/he can hear and feel live music. In MONTH ONE of my Montessori Baby-Ed eCourse, I demonstrate the delightful and easy-to-play Mbira, "Kalimba" or "thumb piano." These are about the size of a cell phone, are played with the thumbs (much like texting) and have a beautiful sound. You can easily carry it around like a phone, yet make music instead of texting! And, if you happen to play the guitar, piano, flute...or any musical instrument...your baby will greatly enjoy (and benefit cognitively) when you play & sing for her!

2. Hang the Montessori-style Visual Mobile, "The Dancers" and play some ballet music while Baby watches the sparkly Mobile catch the light as it delicately moves in the air. There are actually four different "Montessori Visual Mobiles" and they are all very beautiful. They seem to "dance" in the air no matter where you hang them. A beautiful way to engage the youngest of babies! 

3. Invest in a sturdy baby-sized"Chime Ball" (or jingle ball) to play rolling games with your baby. There are so many ways to play little ball rolling games with your baby at any age. A soft, cloth ball with a chime or jingle bell inside, just adds to the musical quality of singing a simple ball rolling song while enhancing your baby's large motor development, too.


Here is a very delightful ball rolling song:


4. Offer your baby a Montessori style "Tactile Mobile" (wooden bells) that makes a sweet sound when Baby kicks or grasps it. In the 3rd and 4th months, the Montessori baby is given "Tactile Mobiles" to explore by kicking or grasping. Choose one that makes a nice sound when pulled or kicked like this one. 


HERE is an amazing little video of one of my eCourse family's baby, Emilio. You can see just how long he stays engaged making his own music! 


5. Play a high quality hand crank "Music Box" for Baby to have a sweet and intimate experience with live music. Young children, especially babies, have sensitive hearing and this is why it is important to offer your baby music (and experiences with sound) that is real as compared to electronic. The simple music that is produced by a nice music box is more appropriate for a baby to hear because it's real and not synthesized. 

6. Set up your Montessori Style shelf with baskets and include a basket with 2 or 3 small rolling toys that make a sound that will entice Baby to creep after when the toys are rolled across the floor.  I like the rolling ball toys from Plan Toy Co.

Emilio choosing a sound-making activity from his Montessori style shelf


7. Invest in 2 or 3 baby-friendly "instruments" that are made of wood and that sound nice. I like the ones from Plan Toys and also Hape Toy Co.

8. Display a high contrast photo of a musical instrument at Baby's eye level. In MONTH EIGHT, I suggest the Violin and I include a downloadable high contrast photo in my Montessori Baby-Ed eCourse along with an Mp3 music download of delightful & playful violin music to play for your baby's enjoyment. My daughter hung her pictures each month by her baby's diaper changing table.

9. Offer your baby some baby-friendly Montessori style "Sound Boxes" to explore. I found these really fun small wooden sound blocks that had things inside them that made sounds when shaken. Turns out they can be made into a matching activity,  almost like the Montessori Sound Cylinders in the Preschool classroom. 

10. Play a meditation bell/chime (or a recording) for Baby to hear a sustained sound and develop auditory & listening skills. I like this sweet and clear sounding Woodstock brand "Zynergy Chime."  Amanda's little ones learned to play it quickly. Her baby played by the time he was 10 months old! 

11. Provide nice sounding pitched percussion instruments to challenge Baby's small motor development. The ones that have been successful with the Montessori Baby-Ed families I've worked with are: "Stirring Xylophone" and "Melody Harp." 

12. MAKE MUSIC! Provide 2 or 3 high quality rhythm instruments, such as a small tambourine, small sand blocks, small maracas/chiquitas, or small stick bells for playing and singing with your baby. Be sure to keep that steady beat while you sing, so that Baby gets used to hearing it! I like the high quality child-size Rhythm Instruments from West Music Co.

Yes...Baby can pluck the stings of this sweet-sounding Melody Harp!

BONUS
A Few More Helpful Resources

13. Marc Brown's Favorite Fingerplay Songs & Rhythms.  This is a fun board book (eBook, too) that has just a few simple but lovely rhythms/songs that have hand motions you can do with your baby. Since it comes in board book form, you can read it to your baby and toddler!

14. "You Are My Sunshine" music album by Elizabeth Mitchell. One of my all-time favorites because I love the song choices and the sweet, sweet way that Elizabeth and her family band performs them! Great listening and also wonderful songs to learn to sing together with your family.

~ "Month by Month" Mp3 Music and an Instrument Photo ~ Each month, you can display a realistic and high contrast photo of a musical instrument at your baby's eye level. Then you can turn on some baby-friendly, playful music that features that instrument! I know this seems to be very subtle, but we all know that the young child has that "absorbent mind!" (a phrase coined by Dr. Montessori in the early 1900's) And, it's a lovely way to listen to music with your family.


Montessori Baby-Ed eCourse downloads "Month by Month" (Mp3 music & high contrast picture)


**** You can see my recommendations for collecting items for creating your Montessori Baby Environment in my Sample Free Lessons from my Montessori Baby-Ed "Month by Month" eCourses. CLICK HERE to check them out!

Thank you for visiting my Blog today. I hope you found some fun activities to do with your little ones!









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Musically Montessori: Start the Year with Songs. The Importance of Movement.

THE WAY CHILDREN LEARN IS THROUGH MOVEMENT! At least according to Dr. Maria Montessori.
You can engage your groups right away with planned Movement Activities at your Circle Time. 


“To have a vision of the cosmic plan, in which every form of life depends on directed movements which have effects beyond their conscious aim, is to understand the child’s work and be able to guide it better.” – Maria Montessori, The Absorbent Mind
This is the second article in my Blog series "Start the Year with Songs."

Click HERE to read the first article, "The Importance of the Hand."


TRY YOGA!
Put on some relaxing music and show your groups some simple Yoga poses, such as "Mountain", or "Waterfall" or "Tree Pose." These can all easily be done at Circle while standing up and the poses take less than a minute to do!

This is a very helpful way to get children organized at Circle Time with a Movement Activity that is challenging and also calming. I have found that Yoga poses are a nice complementary activity to the "Montessori Silence Game." These types of activities help your newbies gain body control skills as well as develop ways of calming and relaxing during the first weeks of school. (or anytime!)

After you have introduced 2 or three Yoga poses at Circle Time, you can set up a shelf work with Yoga Cards, a card holder, and 2 child-size yoga mats. You can keep a music recording of quiet yoga music near the shelf where you store the Yoga Cards. Then, 2 children can practice Yoga poses together during work time. 


THE BENEFITS OF A YOGA CARDS SHELF WORK
Using the Yoga cards, the children will not only be sharpening their coordination skills, they will also be gaining some pre-reading experiences by choosing the card, interpreting the pose that is pictured, and even "reading" the name of the pose and the yoga poem on the back of the card.

I really like this set of Yoga Cards for children from Kaplan. Click here to see a darling video of children doing the poses and reading the poems on the back! 


ALL-TIME FAVORITE "YOGA CLOCK SONG"/ACTIVITY

And here is one of my groups' all time favorite movement songs for Circle Time. "Yoga Clock" 

I've included links for 3 different youtube videos (see below) of this really fun song. This song is only available in cd version from Karma Kids Yoga at Amazon.

This is the way my groups do this activity:

 

Here is another way to enact the Little Yoga Clock Song:


Yet another version of this fun activity:


FREE FORM DANCING: FUN ANYTIME!
Looking for some lively and engaging activity for Friday afternoons? Put on your favorite dance music and have a dance party! Guaranteed to make the afternoon fly by...


Photo credit


HAVE YOU TRIED THIS FUN VERSION OF 
THE FREEZE DANCE?
1. Set out several hula hoops in the middle of your large movement space

2. Explain that you will play some Freeze Dance music for the children

3. Invite the children to dance when the music is playing, but remind them that they must be listening for when the music stops!

4. When the music stops, the children must hop into the hoops and FREEZE!

VARY "WALKING ON THE MONTESSORI LINE" WITH MUSICAL EXPERIENCES FOR THE CHILDREN


Playing Rhythm Sticks

Have you ever tried having children move along the "Line" while playing rhythm sticks in various ways? (Ex: playing them behind their backs, or up high...down low, etc.)

You can also sing some familiar nursery songs (ex: "A Marching We Will Go") while marching and keeping a steady beat with the rhythm sticks.

Of course, you can also use musical recordings to guide children in how to play the sticks while moving along the line. (Ex: fast music=play rhythm sticks quickly)


Carrying a bell on a string

My groups have always loved having objects to carry while walking on the Montessori Line during work time. You can always have bells on the end of strings for a bit of a musical experience.



Simply moving on The Montessori Line while listening to recorded instrumental music

Whenever the children request, you can play some simple instrumental recorded music while they move along the Montessori Line during work time.  Adding beautiful music keeps the activity focused and calming.

DON'T OVERLOOK MOVEMENTS 
THAT GO ALONG WITH MANY CHILDHOOD SONGS

Hand and finger plays that go along with nursery songs have long been an old standby of the seasoned teacher. (Think: "Itsy-Bitsy Spider") During these first weeks of school, my groups have been greatly enjoying the motions we use with the lively favorite, "Ram Sam Sam song"!

Check out my Newsletter for more activities!

If you are a subscriber to my Newsletter, you will enjoy my "Fun & Free Activity" in this week's email.   I describe the motions we use to go along with the Ram Sam Sam song and also how I add music concepts to further enrich the cognitive value of the song activity. 

How about starting your baby out with this upbeat little nursery song that adds large motor exercise to enchant any little one who happens to sit upon your lap! 


Learn how I do it,  in my latest email Newsletter!

Not an email subscriber yet? It's easy. You can sign up right here on the sidebar of this blog. Or scroll down if you are using a Mobile device.

SUBSCRIBE TO MY EMAIL LIST

When you become a subscriber, you will gain the access code to my Subscriber's Freebie Collection with more than 30 free downloadable resources including my eBook, "Musically Montessori: First Lessons."


Did you know that my Montessori Baby-Ed eCourses are open for enrollment? 


Stay tuned for my early bird specials I will be offering to my Subscribers. 

You can check out some of my Free Sample Lessons at these Links:



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Thank you again for visiting my Blog today. I hope you have gotten some fun and useful ideas for music with your children!






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Musically Montessori: Start the First Days with Songs! The Importance of the Hand

ARE YOU USING LITTLE SONGS TO CREATE A POSITIVE START TO YOUR NEW SCHOOL YEAR?
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There are childhood songs for just about every part of the day. And children respond to these sweet little songs in their usual adorable ways. 

This post is the first of my Musically Montessori series...
The seasoned teacher already knows that when you sing about what you want the children to do next (ex: "It's Clean Up Time" song), the children will do what you want just about every time! 

In my Montessori training, I learned a wonderful word/phrase for using song to get the message across: "musical messages." You can usually think of a nursery song, play a recording of a song, or simply make up a simple song on the spot that will guide the children to do what is needed to be done. 

So, if you're not using songs and music to help create your lovely little learning community from the very start, you might like to try  some of the ideas I have written about here. My groups have thrived on these musical activities year after year, and they work so well in the first weeks of school. 

 "A child who has become master of his (her) acts
  through long and repeated exercises, and who
 has been encouraged by the pleasant and
 interesting activities in which (s)he has been 
 engaged, is a child filled with health and joy and
 remarkable for his calmness and discipline." (Dr.
 Maria Montessori, 'The Discovery of the Child') 


THE IMPORTANCE OF THE HAND
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One of the first things we teach children when they enter Preschool is how to wash their hands.

One of the most versatile nursery songs I know is the melody from "Here We Go Round the Mulberry Bush." 

You can adapt this song for your environment to teach the children how to wash hands, prepare for snack, put away activities, line up for transitions...the list goes on and on.

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Here is a way to create a song that teaches the children in your group the procedure of washing hands in your environment.


1) Decide on the procedure/sequence for your children to wash their hands (ex: turn on the water> wet your hands> turn water off> dispense the soap> rub hands together (make bubbles)>  turn water on>  rinse the soap off hands> turn water off> choose paper towel> dry hands> throw the towel away.)
  
2) Create the song for doing the activity:

(Sung to the Mulberry Bush Song melody while demonstrating the motions of each line of the song.)

"This is the way we wash our hands, wash our hands, wash our hands.
This is the way we wash our hands, before we eat our snack.

This is the way we turn on the water, turn on the water, turn on the water.
This is the way we turn on the water, before we eat our snack.

This is the way we wet our hands, wet our hands, wet our hands.
This is the way we wet our hands, before we eat our snack.

This is the way we squirt the soap, squirt the soap...etc."

3) EXTENSION: Instead of singing the words, hum them while you go through the various motions of each step of the process.

Another important lesson in the Montessori environment is the art of shaking hands. This is part of the lovely Grace & Courtesy Curriculum in the Montessori pedagogy.

The first time the child is introduced to this foundational lesson is when the child meets her teacher for the first time. 

Next, the teacher will demonstrate how to shake hands and greet someone in a group lesson at Circle Time.
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In the Montessori Preschool classroom, my groups have always enjoyed shaking hands with each other, too. Often, we have a hello song to go along with shaking hands to begin our day. 

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In past years, I have gone around the Morning Circle and shook hands with each child while singing a morning greeting song. Here is the link to one of my favorite Good Morning Songs.

Here, you can sing your favorite traditional greeting or even sing a song about shaking hands. 

You can try this little song I sing for two children shaking hands together.

(Sung to the melody of the song, "Clap, Clap, Clap Your Hands")
  
"Shake, shake, shake your hands
Shake your hands together.
Shake, shake, shake your hands
Shake your hands like this!"  

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Shaking hands is one of my favorite parts of the school day. 

Another way to incorporate shaking hands into your daily Preschool routine is to have a "Greeter" who shakes hands with each child as they enter the classroom.

I have always started out as being the "Greeter" myself. Then, after a few weeks, one of the children is the "Greeter" each day. 

When young children become accustomed to shaking hands as a greeting routine, it becomes an automatic part of meeting anyone new.

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Shaking hands when meeting someone is a lovely tradition that is often practiced all over the world. 

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Being introduced to this important courtesy through songs during early childhood gives children not only practice with an important skill, but also provides warm memories of their first days in a school environment.  



My conclusion for the first days of school: 
"When in doubt...sing!"


If you are looking for ideas for starting your school year with a lovely Montessori music curriculum, I invite you to check out my Musically Montessori resources.







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Thank you again for visiting my Blog today and I hope you have gotten some fun ideas for a musical start to the school year!


















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