Big Fish, Little Fish

Posted in Child Development, Music and the brain, Our Time

You’ll very often hear your teacher talk about vocal development in class, and you might wonder what exactly we are referring to…. Are we talking about your child’s ability to sing or speak, or to acquire language?

Are we talking about the minute machinations we all do with our lips, teeth, tongue, and our hard and soft palettes to form phonemes?

Or do we mean the inflections in spoken language that tell a listener we are asking a question or telling a joke?

YES! Vocal development is all of these things.

I have dozens of activities I love to do in class to nurture vocal development, but I’m going to limit myself to just one today.

It’s the little ditty Above the Sea, aka “the song with the bathtub fish”. I love those fish because they open the door to world of vocal development for your child in a tangible and engaging way?

What makes this song and fish so special?

It’s a story song.  Songs that tell stories engage children in a deeper way by growing and developing and changing. They have characters to connect with, so the child’s emotions are brought into play.  This gives us a song the child is more interested in participating with.

Above the Sea has a conversation, and the song’s melodic pattern also mimics that conversation.  When we ask a question, our pitch will naturally slide up at the end of the sentence. When Little Fish asks “What’s above the sea?”, the pitch moves up as well.  So, when we sing this story we are helping our child to understand how people use language to communicate with each other.

Above the Sea also develops your child’s ability to produce spoken words.  Singing is often easier for a child than speaking, because singing is slower and more deliberate.  Syllables are broken down and clearly pronounced when you sing; consonants are enunciated and vowels are drawn out.

What will often times pass by in a blur in spoken word will be clearly heard and understood when sung.   Now they can use those words in other parts of their life, and they can sing along with the song, too.

Each of the sung patterns has visual components to accompany them. The fish face each other when they talk, and I always wiggle the fish who is talking at that moment. When they go up to the top of the sea, we all swim our fish up and sing up a scale at the same time -nice little auditory/visual connection there!

When the fish come back down, our voices descend the scale, too.  The kids can clearly see/hear/feel the patterns in the song.  The more senses we include in the learning process the deeper the learning is!

My favorite part is the verse in the middle whose words we can change.  Does your child love sharks? See the shark- hear him bark, his teeth are so scary!

Dinosaurs? See the dinosaur – and hear her roar, I think her name’s Marie!

What about Lightening McQueen? See Lightening McQueen – hear his engine scream, He’ll win the Grand Prix!

Come to class and sing me your verses. I’d love to hear them!

So go ahead – sing a fishy song with your child today to encourage their vocal development. By all means, play with your words! They are the best and cheapest toys our children will ever have. And, unlike plastic sharks and dinosaurs and Lightening McQueen cars, they will last the longest.

-posted by Miss Allison, who adores words, spoken, sung and written.

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