Since writing this post about the importance of repetition in early childhood music experiences, I’ve been even more aware of repetition in my music therapy work with young children. Many of the children I work with are hospitalized for extended periods of time. Being hospitalized at a young age can often slow or stop typical child development. It makes sense – kids at home would be having tummy time on the floor, rolling around, practicing pulling up on things, being held often, playing with toys and meeting friends for play dates. In the hospital, depending on what the child is going through, many of these things don’t happen. Enter an amazing team of child life specialists and creative arts therapists, who make it part of our job to give kids opportunities to grow and develop despite their medical challenges.
Some of the most versatile songs to use with infants and toddlers are counting songs.
I almost always incorporate a counting song into a session with my hospitalized infant patients. Young children love short melodies that repeat over and over, because they can learn them easily and predict what is coming next. Also, there are so many things you can do to engage young children in counting songs! Here are some of my favorites:
- Hold up your fingers to show the numbers to the child
- Count on the child’s fingers or toes
- Hold the child and sway or bounce to the beat
- Use other visual aids (example: let the kids explore rubber duckies during “6 Little Ducks”)
- Engage older children by encouraging them to help figure out what number comes next (“The ants went marching 1 by 1 last time…what number comes after 1?”)
“The Ants Go Marching,” “6 Little Ducks,” “5 Little Speckled Frogs,” “10 in the Bed,” “5 Little Monkeys Swinging in a Tree,” and “5 Little Monkeys Jumping on the Bed” are some of my favorites. Many have some great books to go along with them, too!
What are your favorite counting songs? I’d love to hear from you!