Playing musical games is a fun and effective way to prepare young children for reading and math. Check out these simple activities that will help your kids recognize syllables, rhymes, numbers and more.
- Chant the ABCs. Break out the drum (or turn over a bucket) and pound out a steady beat. Invite your kids to chant the ABCs along with you. Many kids think “LMNO” is one letter. This activity helps to clarify each letter name.
- Sing rhyming songs like Down by the Bay. Comment on how the words at the end of each verse sound the same. Experiment with your own rhymes. Encourage your children to make up lyrics. If a child suggests a verse that doesn’t rhyme, don’t make a fuss. Sing it joyfully and continue on. They’ll catch on to the rhyming with some practice!
- Clap your children’s names. Kids love songs about themselves so this is sure to be an attention getter. Clap once for each syllable in a child’s name while you speak the name in rhythm. For example, the name Angela has three syllables. So, you’d clap three times saying “Ang – el – a” along with the clapping.
- Sing counting songs like 5 Little Ducks and Once I Caught a Fish Alive. These songs will help children get the hang of counting up and down. Make a simple visual aid to accompany 5 little ducks. Seeing 5 ducks while singing about the number 5 helps children learn the meaning of numbers.
- Play a call and response game to practice listening and matching skills. Make a silly sound, sing a short melody or clap a rhythm. Invite children to repeat the sounds you make. Once everyone has mastered the game, invite your children to take turns being the leader.
- Check out Alphabet Action Songs (affiliate link) at your local library. I recently discovered this program which teaches phonics through music, movement and stories. My daycare kids had a blast with it so I bought my own copy when I had to return the one I borrowed from the library. Just using it a few minutes a day has increased the children’s knowledge of letter sounds as well as their ability to recognize letters on the page.