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

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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') 

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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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