Action Songs


Action Songs

© Commonwealth of Massachusetts, Department of Early Education and Care (Jennifer Waddell photographer). All rights reserved.

Singing action songs is a fun way to help toddlers expand their vocabularies. But it can be a challenge for them to learn the words and coordinate the movements at the same time. Fortunately, toddlers also love repetition so you can sing a song over and over again!

Try the following ideas when you introduce an action song.

  • Take it slow when you introduce a new song.
  • Let each toddler participate in his own way and at his own pace.
  • Give toddlers lots of chances to practice over and over again.

Pair words with actions and gestures to make it easier for toddlers to learn and remember the words. When words are part of a song, toddlers may be able to sing them easily. But they still may not be able to speak them or understand what they mean.

To help toddlers master the words in a song, follow the same pattern you would to help them learn new words from books.

  • Talk about key words.
  • Point to objects and pictures that show what the words mean.
  • Offer lots of opportunities for toddlers to show off their knowledge and use the words in play.
  • Sing the song again when a child requests it.

Action songs and games can also help toddlers practice concepts. For example, you can introduce numbers by acting out “Five Little Monkeys Jumping on the Bed” or review body parts by acting out “Head, Shoulders, Knees, and Toes.”

  • Once children learn a song pattern, make up a new verses. For example: “Old MacDonald had a zoo . . .”
  • When you notice that a toddler is interested in something, make up a new song about it. For example: The compactor on the garbage truck goes squish, squish, squish.
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