Home Toolkit

The activities provided here come from the Serenade Parent-Child Music Class Program, a research-based music curriculum that provides parent training and peer interaction through musical play. Through these activities, parents and children build a musical toolbox of strategies for fostering shared experiences.

Each “Video Playlist” is ~15 minutes long and provides a mini music class set of song activities and suggested strategies for at-home music engagement. You can listen to a whole playlist or only select songs. You can also apply these strategies to your child’s favorite songs.

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Tips
Playlist 1: Share the Experience Together
Playlist 2: Musical Games to Influence Emotion
Playlist 3: Musical Games for Pretend Play
Playlist 4: Musical Games for Speech and Language Skills
Playlist 5: Musical Games and Pre-Academic Skills
Musical Interaction Games
More Movement Songs
More Lullabies
Additional Resources (Audio Recordings, Visual Supports, Handouts, and more)

Tips

When learning new songs or if shared music making is a new at-home experience, here are some strategies that might help you and your child engage in music together:

  • Set aside a dedicated ~5-minute special music playtime every day. During this time, focus on being present with and engaging with your child.
  • Provide positive support for your child during music time together by being enthusiastic and expressive through your smiles, song gestures, and movements.
  • Use the visual icons to help your child know what music activity you are doing together. You can set up the icons to make a visual schedule (schedules for each of the Video Playlists are provided below) or let your child choose the icons for what songs they want to do that day. You can download visual icons for the song activities here.

Playlist 1: Share the experience together

Musical games provide an opportunity for a shared experience with your child and to provide your child with positive attention by looking at them, singing with or listening to them, and imitating their movements and gestures. Songs with hand gestures or body movements provide a platform for parents to naturally follow their child’s lead during musical games. This shows your child that you are paying attention to them, approve of their activities, and want to be a part of their activities.

Playlist 1 Songs and Suggested Activities:

  • Hello Song: Share smiles and wave hello together.
  • Rum Sum Sum: Change the size of the hand movements or the speed (tempo) of the song. Take turns making choices about the song and imitate each other. Some children enjoy if you change one of the hand movements to giving (or getting) tickles!
  • The Dinosaur Song: Marching songs are a great way to imitate movements and gestures.
  • Happy and You Know It: Familiar songs provide an opportunity to participate together in an activity. Add new verses with additional motions that your child likes or let your child choose motions and copy them. For example: If you’re happy and you know it… jump around! Spin in circles!
  • See You Later, Alligator (Goodbye Song): Tap along to the rhythm of the song and take turns waving.

Playlist 2: Musical games to influence emotions

The main reason people engage with music is because of how it makes them feel. Parent-child music making experiences impact the mood and arousal levels of both children and parents. With lots of changes in schedules and routines during these times, activities that help regulate mood are particularly important.

Playlist 2 Songs and Suggested Activities:

  • Hello Song: Share smiles and wave hello together.
  • In Our Band: Notice how we can use music to match how we feel. Play along with instruments loud and fast to show you are excited or soft and slow to show you are sad.
  • Happy and You Know It: Sing about different emotions and what to do when you feel that way for different verses (When you’re happy and you know it, clap your hands! When you’re sad, get a hug! When you’re angry, take a breath!). Change your tone of voice and facial expressions to match the emotion. Note that learning these coping strategies in song won’t make your child an expert when the real emotions strike. But it’s a fun game and practicing coping strategies when you’re calm helps them to become more automatic when you need them over time.
  • Go to Sleep, My Angel (Lullaby): Lullabies can be relaxing at any age. Cuddle or rock your child or provide soothing touch while singing a lullaby. Older preschoolers might find it fun to tuck in their parents and sing a lullaby to them.
  • See You Later, Alligator (Goodbye Song): Share smiles and wave goodbye together.

Playlist 3: Musical games for pretend play

Songs provide opportunities for pretend play and imaginative play. Some children love pretending and will be excited to use toys or stuffed animals to act out different songs. For other children, pretend play is a harder skill; familiar songs can provide a structure for learning pretend play routines. Some adults also find pretend play to be challenging; songs can help provide a comfortable way to pretend and be silly with your child.

Playlist 3 Songs and Suggested Activities:

  • Hello Song: Share smiles and wave hello together.
  • Slippery Fish: Use your hand motions to act out the different fish.
  • We are the Dinosaurs: Pretend to be dinosaurs as you march, eat, rest, and ROAR!
  • Fire Truck: Use your imagination as you pretend to be fire fighters and act out this song.
  • See You Later, Alligator (Goodbye Song): Share smiles and wave goodbye together.

Playlist 4: Musical games for speech and language skills

There are many ways to promote speech and language skills through music. Emphasizing the rhythm of the song helps children pay attention to specific words. For younger children or those whose language skills are developing, you can pause when singing to encourage children to vocalize or fill in a word at the end of a phrase. For older children with fluent speech, you can use echo songs or call+response songs as a fun variation on turn-taking in conversation.

Playlist 4 Songs and Suggested Activities:

  • Hello Song: Share smiles and wave hello together. See if your child will fill in the name of the person they are singing hello to or even sing a verse by themselves.
  • Rum Sum Sum: Emphasize the rhythm and words in this song as you tap and sing along. You and your child can also echo each other during the repeated phrases.
  • Brown Bear, Brown Bear: For younger children, pause to let your child fill in the color or the name of the animal. For older children, take turns singing by following the question and answer pattern in the lyrics. If you’re not seeing friends or extended family members during this time of social distancing, use a fun variation of this song when looking through a photo album or during a video chat (e.g., [Child name, Child name] who do you see? I see Grandma looking at me!”).
  • In Our Band: Practice listening skills (language comprehension) in this song by following directions for each verse about how to play (fast or slow; holding instruments up high, holding instruments down low, etc.).
  • The Busiest Zoo: Some children love to echo or follow the call+response pattern during this song. You and your child can take turns for who goes first and who echoes each time you sing this song.
  • See You Later, Alligator (Goodbye Song): Share smiles and wave goodbye together. See if your child will fill in the name of the person they are singing goodbye to or even sing a verse by themselves.

Playlist 5: Musical games and pre-academic skills

With schools out, many families are looking to provide learning experiences for their children. Musical games and songs can be a fun way to spend time together that is also educational. Many children’s songs provide opportunities to practice skills like counting, colors, and letters, as well as listening and following directions.

Playlist 5 Songs and Suggested Activities:

  • Hello Song: Share smiles and wave hello together. Set up a music class at home with dolls or stuffed animals and your child can be the teacher and sing hello to each friend.
  • Down by the Bay: Rhyming skills are important for literacy development. Use this song to help your child learn about and create rhymes as they pay attention to letter sounds.
  • Instrument Shop (orig. Flower Shop): Practice counting skills and making choices during this turn-taking song about buying items at a store. We sing about an instrument shop here but you can change the shop type to match whatever items you have available (Toy shop! Train shop! Grocery Shop!).
  • In Our Band: Practice listening skills (language comprehension) in this song by following directions for each verse about how to play (fast or slow; holding instruments up high, holding instruments down low, etc.).
  • Five Green and Speckled Frogs: This is a fun song to review counting skills. You can use toys or pictures to act out the song as you sing.
  • See You Later, Alligator (Goodbye Song): Share smiles and wave goodbye together. Set up a music class at home with dolls or stuffed animals and your child can be the teacher and sing goodbye to each friend.

Musical Interaction Games

Hands are for Clapping

Musical activities provide a great way to share in activities through imitation. Imitation shows your child that you are paying attention and sharing the experience with them. Take turns being the leader and follower during this imitation game; you and your child can add new movements and gestures to imitate.

What Are You Thankful For?

Music provides an opportunity to share experiences with your child. This song is a chance to share about what makes you and your child feel happy and thankful. It’s a way to call attention to what good things are going on in your family or house or neighborhood. There will be some pauses in the song so your child can fill in what makes them feel thankful and good. Be sure to share with your child about what makes you feel thankful, too (e.g., I am thankful for…you! Family! Coffee!).

I Spy…

Take turns playing “I Spy” in this musical game and see if you and your child can guess what the other one is noticing. You can play this while exploring your neighborhood, while hanging out at home, or even with friends over video chat! Shared musical games show your child you are paying attention to them and validates what they are doing.

Zoom Zoom Zoom

Songs provide opportunity for creative word play. In this song, your child (and you!) can come up with ideas for places they want to go and you can work together to come up with silly rhymes to complete the song. Rhyming activities help children pay attention to letter sounds and is important for literacy development.

Movement Songs

Moving and dancing along with your child is a great way to have a shared experience with them and to show them you approve of what they are doing. Shared movement experiences like dancing together promote positive feelings and social behaviors like helping and cooperation.

Shake Your Sillies Out

Come On Everybody

Lullabies

Routines with lullabies can help both children and parents calm down and relax. The lyrics of the Thank You Lullaby provided here call attention to the positive experience of sharing music together and praise a child’s positive behavior through a calming song. Especially during these unusual times, it’s important to call attention to positive actions by your child.

Go To Sleep My Angel

Thank You Lullaby

Additional Resources

Video/Song Credits

Videos recorded by Lauren Booke, MT-BC based on the Serenade curriculum designed by Miriam Lense, PhD and Sara Beck, PhD

We are the Dinosaurs by The Laurie Berkner Band
Octopus (Slippery Fish) by Charlotte Diamond
Fire Truck by Ivan Ulz
Down by the Bay by Raffi
See You Later Alligator (Goodbye Song); In Our Band; Go to Sleep My Angel by Adam Summers
The Busiest Zoo lyrics adapted by Sara Beck
Thank You Lullaby; Hands are for Clapping; Zoom Zoom Zoom; What Are You Thankful For?; I Spy… by Sara Beck
Come on Everybody by Frank Leto

Visual icons by Valerie Muñoz
Video editing by Lauren Booke and Michael Burchesky
Website design by Talia Liu

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