Top Ten Movement Songs for Children
I like to start out my children’s groups with movement songs (after the hello song) in order to help my clients get out some energy, connect with each other, and jump right in to working on their goals. I’ve included my top ten favorites below. A lot of the goals I work on with these include imitation, following directions, range of motion, body awareness and identification, imaginative play, and turn taking. I obviously don’t have all of those goals for one client, but may have several different clients who each have different goals that I can address simultaneously through one group intervention. That’s the beauty of music therapy!!
I almost never use recorded music for movement interventions. The only time I do is if a client really loves the original version and I can’t quite get the same response from them with a live version, and at that point it obviously comes down to client preference. I feel like using the guitar live adds so much flexibility to the intervention as you can change the tempo, strumming pattern, lyrics, etc, all in the moment based on the group’s responses. I highly suggest learning your movement songs on the guitar so you can move around with your clients and engage on an incredibly personal level.
You’ll see that my very favorite artists are Raffi and Laurie Berkner. They are my children’s music heroes, I just love them! If you want more ideas I highly suggest looking them up on google or youtube. Raffi doesn’t have as many songs on youtube but you can buy his albums or put on his pandora station and let the ideas flow!
- Song in My Tummy by Laurie Berkner
There is something about this song that kids just love! Especially preschoolers. They get to work on body awareness and vocalization, among other areas. My favorite part is when kids get really into the part where they sing “la la la” and I have a whole group of kids at my feet singing up to me with everything they’ve got!
- The Goldfish by Laurie Berkner
I love this song for SO many reasons. It has a beautiful flow and so many different elements to it where the kids sleep, swim, and do silly things like brush their teeth and ride bicycles, then culminate it with the phrase “wait a minute, we’re fish! Fish don’t brush their teeth! Let’s go swimming!” In every one of my children’s groups the kids have spontaneously decided that “swimming” means running around me while I play my guitar 🙂 Just delightful!
- Shake My Sillies Out by Raffi
This is a classic Raffi tune that gives kids a chance to do a wide variety of actions and prepare their minds and bodies for future interventions which may require them to be in their chairs.
- Dr. Knickerbocker by The Wiggles
A lot of my clients absolutely love this song and their parents report that they hear their child sing parts of it at home on their own. It’s a fun way to incorporate numbers and different kinds of body movement. I’ve even used this song during instrument play…”let’s get the rhythm of the bells”, then build in different instruments so the kids really listen to each other and wait their turn.
- We Are the Dinosaurs by Laurie Berkner
This is a great way for kids to get out energy and engage in pretend play–they become dinosaurs! I’ve used this one successfuly to address emotional regulation when I have kids who are angry or frustrated and need a constructive outlet for their energy. Becoming a dinosaur, stomping feet, and roaring is a great outlet!
- I’m in the Mood by Raffi
I first heard this song on Raffi Pandora (my favorite thing to listen to with my one year old!) and instantly loved it. What I like most about it is that it gives space for kids to do the action if they need more processing time (as opposed to some other songs which change so quickly).
- Can You Move Like Me? Caroline and Danny on the album Shake and Bake: Music of Fitness and Food
I found this one on www.songsforteaching.com and love it. I’ve made up some of my own verses for my clients but use some of the existing ones too. I like to throw in a lot of muted strumming on this one to make it quite percussive and musically engaging.
- Brown Girl in the Ring by Raffi
This song is actually not originally by Raffi (although he does have a recording of it), but is from Jamaica! There are some fun youtube videos that show girls dancing to it. The idea is that the kids get in a circle and take turns dancing in the middle. My clients love it!
- Movin’ Groove by Jaycie Voorhees
I wrote this song using 12 bar blues chords (but not the typical pattern) and I actually still need to record it…so watch for this one to come! It focuses on isolated movements and gives adequate processing time for clients to respond.
- One Head by Jaycie Voorhees
I still need to record this one as well! This one works on numbers 1 & 2 by singing about different parts of our body and identifying how many of that body part we have. It’s very simple in nature and lyric as it just says “one head, I have one head….just one head”. But it’s been great in working on body awareness with many of my students.
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