|Babies||Walkers to 2||2s to 3s||3s to 4s|
Overview and benefit
Even the very youngest babies respond to beats in music. Scientists even believe that babies find beat more engaging than speech and that beat is the first element of music that babies respond to. Babies find synchronising their movements to a steady beat very soothing, and for those who lack control over their limbs, to have someone else move to a beat with them can produce the same results. That’s why many babies fall asleep whilst being rocked or gently bounced in their parents arms.
- Chosen a piece of music with a nice strong beat to move to.
Up to three weeks
How it works
This activity brings the feeling of the beat of a piece of music to a child through feeling beats through taps on their body.
What to do in the class
Choose any song with a strong beat. First start playing the music and help the parents clap along to the beat so they can tune in to it (don’t assume that all parents will be able to easily pick out the beat themselves).
Have the child sitting on the parents lap and as they sing the song, encourage the parent to tap the beat on some part of their body, such as their back or arms or legs. For younger babies, have them laid down on the floor. Parents could move the baby’s arms or legs to the beat, or tap on the bottom of their feet. For slower music parents could stroke their baby’s tummies or legs in time to the music. It is important and also joyful that the children are held and danced with in order that they can experience the beat guided by their carers body movements.
- Swing Low Sweet Chariot – Eric Clapton with a Reggae beat
- Grand Old Duke of York
- Waltz – Sleeping Beauty or Skaters Waltz
- William Tell Overture – Rossina
- Cachapaya – Incantation
- Isn’t she lovely – Stevie Wonder
Adaptations for older/younger children
For older or more mobile children, you could ask them to bring in their teddies and get them to beat to the music on their teddies tummies while their parents beat on their backs.
What to do in a nursery setting
This will need a minimum ratio of one carer to two babies to be effective in a nursery setting. Carers can either stand with each baby in turn for them to experience the beat, or hold the babies on their laps depending on the age of the children involved.
You could lay babies down in front of parents instead. This encourages the parents to ‘rock’ in order to beat on their baby’s body and exaggerate the movement which helps with keeping the beat.