Joyce Bibzak, M.Ed., M.S. Using Music and Movement to Help Little Ones Develop Language. Introduction. My background: School Counselor Graduate Degree in Early Childhood Special Education from Elmhurst College Currently a Developmental Therapist Working with Toddlers and Their Families
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Joyce Bibzak, M.Ed., M.S.
Using Music and Movement to
Help Little Ones Develop Language
We know that movement and music seem to help children learn---especially language. WHY?
What is it about this particular combination of activities
that fosters the development of language in young children?
What Do ALL Finger Plays
Have In Common?
So, how do all these elements come together to teach language?
Listening to (and processing) music involves
discriminating timbre and pitch and recognizing familiar melodies.
Timbre: How we hear the differences between the
sounds of different instruments or voices
Pitch: How we hear the tones move up or down as we listen
How we remember familiar songs and
Right Frontal Lobe = Timbre
When there are auditory/language processing
problems they may present as:
Now we know how our brain hears.
How does our brain move our fingers,
arms and legs to music?
Brain Synapses: Connections and exchanges
of information from brain cell to brain cell
This is how the different parts of the brain
Vestibular (balance) skills
(awareness of where our bodies are
in the space around us)
If all the systems work together
this is what it looks and sounds like…
Video of “Days of the Week” and/or “Head, Shoulders, Knees, and Toes”
Physical Therapists can help children with balance and
motor planning difficulties.
Speech and Language Therapists and Learning Specialists can help with
auditory processing delays
WE can help children put all these pieces together to
help them learn language.
By teaching them to use music
In 1949, Dr. Donald Hebb determined
that when many senses are used at the
same time to learn a skill, there are more synapses firing simultaneously in the brain.
The more synapses fired, the more brain connections are made and the more learning is retained.
This is referred to as “associative learning”.
In other words,
“Cells that fire together, wire together”.
Remember the elements of a finger play?
Movement of Body
Usually Passed on Orally
Of all those elements,
which do you think
is the most important
to the learning of
Dr. Jenny R. Saffra:
“Both music and language require the ability to track
consistent patterns of sound and rhythm.”
Dr. Phyllis Weikart:
“Being able to keep a steady beat helps a person to feel the cadence (rhythm) of their
Dr. Weikart found that using rhythm sticks to tap out
syllables in words helped children develop language.
What is it about rhythm sticks and kazoos?
Phyllis Weirkart: Tapping and acknowledging
each word’s syllable is one important part
of helping children develop language. The other part is the incorporation of the movement
of the child’s hands and arms.
Brewer and Campbell (1991): “Movement and rhythm
stimulate the frontal lobes and enrich language and
That’s the rhythm sticks part… now for the kazoo!
One of the very best ways to facilitate rhythm and movement is to
stimulate the balance (vestibular) system.
One of the very best ways to stimulate the vestibular system is
the use of…
Children as young as 10 months can produce sound with a kazoo.
Video of Small Children Playing Kazoos
The vestibular system is also crucial
to the development of language for
It enables us to move from side
to side in a coordinated fashion
also to move our eyes from
left to right in a functional
and coordinated way.
As in READING.
Neurophysiologist Dr. Carla Hannaford states that,
“the vestibular (inner ear) system and the cerebellar (motor activity) areas are the first sensory systems to mature. These systems interact,
conveying information back and forth from the cerebellum to the rest of the brain, including the visual system and sensory cortex…This interaction helps us keep our balance, turn thinking into actions, and coordinate moves.”
Here’s an example of children using
associative sounds, pictures, and body movements to
help them remember letter sounds.
Video of Jolly Phonics
And this method of helping little ones learn language
is not limited to English-speaking countries…
Video of Pakistani children and teacher here
Video of Asian children with music and movement here
So, to pull it altogether…
We need to involve as many senses as
possible to help the brain and its
interrelated systems stimulate
language development in our smallest
As more parts of the brain are being used,
more synapses are being fired, links are
being made, and senses, information and
This is learning.
Human beings learn:
10% of what we read
20% of what we hear
30% of what we observe
50% of what we see and hear simultaneously
70% of what we discuss
80% of what we experience
95% of what we’re taught using all channels.
Dr. Carla Hannaford, 1995
References and Acknowledgements
Campbell, D. & Brewer, D. (1991). Rhythms of learning.
Tucson, Arizona: Zephyr Press.
Hebb, Donald. (1949). Quoted in online article, Hebbian
Hannaford, C. (1995). Smart moves: Why learning is not all
in the head. Arlington, VA: Great Oceans Publishing.
Saffran, J. (2003). Musical learning and language development.
Annals, New York Academy of Sciences. NY.
Tallal, P. & Gaab, N. (2006). Dynamic auditory processing,
musical experience and language development:
Trends in Neuroscience (2006).
Weikart, P.S. (2009). The Movement Foundation for Music:
A Brain/Body Connection. Presentation delivered to
Missouri Music Educators Pre-Conference.
Illustrations and Photographs
All illustrations and photographs used in
this presentation are available at googleimages.com
All videos used as part of this presentation
are available at googleimages.com or You Tube.
The Jolly Phonics video featuring Victoria Carrolton is available for viewing at You Tube under the search heading, “Jolly Phonics”.