The Magic Of Music (& Movement)

"Children love to make noise! And they love to move their bodies."

• Music provides a highly enjoyable way to do both.

• Sometimes words by themselves are not enough. Music provides a uniquely freeing opportunity for children to express their feelings and creativity.

Benefits Of Music

Among other things, music helps children develop –

  • creativity and imagination
  • concentration and coordination
  • listening skills (which are pre-reading skills)
  • an understanding of language and symbols from their own and other cultures language and speech.

Dramatic Play & Music

Children often create their own songs or chants to accompany dramatic play.

They may also be inspired by a certain song or style of music you put on.

Dramatic play is important because it helps develop social and language skills; allows the expression of positive and negative feelings; teaches children to negotiate, take turns and resolve conflict; and helps children make sense of the world.

Ideas For Musical Experience

Doing action songs. For example, I'm a Little Teapot
Playing musical chairs
Dancing/moving to a drum beat
Listening to a simple rhythm and trying to copy it
Making an instrument. For example, a shaker or rubber band guitar
Playing some music and getting children to act out what they think it sounds like
Doing children's Jazzercise
Creating a song around a child's schema interest
Listening to and imitating the sounds of things around you (birds, cars, sirens)
Learning a Māori (or other language) song
Learning the sign language for a song
Using ribbons and other props while dancing
Playing the statue game (where children have to dance till the music stops, then be a statue)
Visiting a music shop and looking at the instruments

Essential equipment

Playcentre recommends the following as a minimum for early learning centres:

Storage for instruments
Storage for tapes/CDs
Percussion and/or string instruments that provide different notes/pitch
Cassette tape recorder or CD player
Blank cassette tapes
Pre-recorded music/stories

The Playcentre basic equipment list


Some accessories that will support/expand children's musical experience:

Carpet and cushions to sit on
Tapes/CDs: children's stories, nursery rhymes, Māori and other languages, classical, rhythm, jazz
Books: rhymes and finger plays etc.
Ribbons, scarves, poi or rakau sticks (for dancing and movement games)


  • Sing and play music to children often. Have a CD player handy.
  • Emphasise an enjoyable experience, not a performance of high standards.
  • Ask questions like, "how does this make you feel?".
  • Sing in a soft, little voice. This will encourage children to join in.
  • To help numeracy and literacy, sing songs with numbers and new words in them.

Te Whāriki & music

Music relates particularly to Strands 4 and 5 of Te Whāriki, which are Communication/Mana Reo and Exploration/Mana Aotūroa.

To learn more about Te Whāriki, visit the website.

Our thanks to the Auckland Playcentre Shop for permission to use this article. Great play starts here.