Natalie is my 6 (and 11/12ths she insists on adding) year old first grader. This being my third time around teaching 1st grade, I’ve come to the solid conclusion that early learning centers around patterns, and that children who are unable to understand patterns aren’t going to advance very far in reading, writing, or math, not to mention music.
That makes sense, because we know that the job of your child’s brain from birth to 7 is to organize all the sensory input it receives. At about the age of 7, brains are ready and eager to learn (If their brains have been able to properly learn to process the sensory information. If not – these are the kids we consider on the “sensory scale”).
So it’s no surprise in the early elementary years that most learning is based on patterns. Patterns of number combinations, patterns to pencil strokes in handwriting, patterns to learning adverbs, patterns to sounding out letter combinations.
But before they are Kindergartners and First Graders, babies and small children alike enjoy patterned activities. Their brains actually crave them.
Simple games that are predictable and have an element of anticipation, as well as stop and go songs help your child remember, recognize, and anticipate specific patterns in sounds, words, and songs. These first steps of pattern recognition will lead toward understanding more difficult patterns in areas such as math, literacy, and music.
We’ve collected some of our favorite stop and go or highly predictable songs, with download links for the ones you might not know or haven’t had in Kindermusik class yet. I probably don’t have to tell your children what to do with them. They listen for the “stop” and stop, and learn to anticipate the “go”, whether dancing, swishing scarves, or playing instruments. (Weekend craft project – homemade shakers and drums!)
I am a Clown
Riding in the Buggy
Shake Your Eggs
Move and Freeze
Bells are Ringing (find some thing to make noise with – keys, spoons, hands – and make up new words. Pause each time after “listen to them jingling/tapping/clapping” before you jingle, tap, or clap)
Walk and Stop
In the City
Aiken Drum (when you sing this, put a “freeze” after every time you sing “moon”)
Stop on a Dot
Giddy up Horsey
Games like Red Light, Green Light and all sorts of Knock-Knock jokes are great, too.
So, this rainy Seattle Thanksgiving weekend, when the tryptophan-laden turkey has the grownups sleepy, but has had no effect on the children, load your iPod with stop and go music, shut the door, and let them have at it. They’ll have no idea they are getting a brain workout, while you are getting a nap.
-posted by Miss Analiisa, who prefers stop and collapse music at the end of a busy Thanksgiving Day.