Learning and Development

Literacy through music: Learning about the world*

  • Literacy through music: Learning about the world*

Children need to learn about the world and their environment, and music can help them do just that.

It can be used to deliver information: there are songs about the planets, months, weather, transport, animals, feelings and many activities, which can support a child’s learning and memory. For example, Thiessen and Saffran (in ‘How the melody facilitates the message and vice versa, in infant learning and memory’, Annals of the New York Academy of Science, 2009) found that infants learned lyrics more easily when paired with melody and vice versa. Music can also be inspirational and it can fuel imagination.

Although children learn that they cannot fly, they may be able to imagine how it might feel if they could. Children need time to be creative and to use their imaginations. They can do this through movement, story-telling, music and the use of art materials. Combining activities further enriches a child’s experience.

Musical activities

Below is a song I have written to help children to learn the days of the week. In addition to helping children to learn the names of the weekdays, it also helps them to learn the correct sequence – the topic investigated in my previous article. To accompany this song I use British Sign Language signs for each day of the week. Movement, in addition to melody, further helps to embed learning and aids memory recall.

Days of the Week

Monday, Monday, Monday starts the week.
Tuesday, Tuesday, let’s play hide and seek.
Wednesday, Wednesday, the week is half way done.
Thursday and Friday, time to have some fun.
Saturday starts the weekend, time for us to play.
Hooray for Sunday, I can sleep all day!

The song, like many, has rhyming endings to each line of the lyrics. An awareness of rhyme further helps the development of literacy skills.

Creepy Crawly Caterpillar

This is another song I have written – one to help children learn the process of transformation of a caterpillar to a butterfly. The lyrics are set to the tune of ‘Incy Wincy Spider’.
Creepy, crawly caterpillar shed his stripy skin. He became a chrysalis, a home to live within. Out came a butterfly, beautiful and bright. Off he flew into the garden, out into the light. I use a caterpillar puppet that turns inside out to become a butterfly to accompany this song.

The next article will examine how music may help to promote fluency of speech
Maria Kay is the author of Alphabet Book & More – an introduction to the letters of the alphabet, with a musical twist. Available from Amazon, it includes advice on the teaching of reading skills; offers an aid to syllabification, and shows children how to draw the letter shapes.