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Movement Rhymes


These rhymes are suitable for use with children aged 2 to 7 as an aid to develop rhythmic response. They can be used with older people as a way of explaining rhythm but the content is more suitable for children.

Movement rhymes are one important way of introducing basic rhythm patterns.
They can be used as an introduction to recognition and reproduction of these basic rhythms by quite young children in the following ways:

  1. Use your voice to accent the pattern and say the rhyme.
    Demonstrate the desired movement and have the children join you in the movement.
  2. Accompany the reciting by playing the pattern on a body or a percussion instrument or any other instrument.
    Body: hands, feet, mouth, voice.
    Percussion: drum, shaker, sticks.
  3. When an association of movement is made with the pattern drop saying the rhyme and just play the instrument.
  4. When all movements have been practised ask the child to respond to a succession of changing patterns played only on an instrument. Vary the tempo.
  5. Use the one 'word' for the movement instead of the instrument while performing the movement.
  6. Ask the child to play a pattern on body or simple percussion instruments in order to make you, another child or a class respond with the appropriate movement.
    NB.You may find a variance of gross or fine motor skills in the same child.
    Use the body instrument that gives the best rhythmic response at first and gradually work on the response in other ways that involve the less skilled body parts. eg. a child may be able to stamp the rhythm but cannot tap with a specific finger.

The child should become aware that they should listen and measure in their mind the Silence between the sounds. Use the expression 'feel the pattern' rather than saying ' listen to the beat'. If they are listening hard for the sound of impact they may miss the really important part of rhythm, which is the silence between the impact sounds.

Ask them to MATCH the sound pattern with their hands/feet/fingers etc.
If they are not doing this tell them so GENTLY. Most kids absorb the comment and re-think their approach. Praise greatly when they do match.

Presenting a new Rhyme

  1. Say it and have the children JUST LISTEN.
  2. Say it several times and have the children JUST MOVE to it,
  3. Don't expect the children to say it too. They may concentrate so hard trying to think of the words that they will lose the rhythm
  4. When they have heard it over several days encourage them to say it with you WITHOUT TRYING TO MOVE.
  5. Children SAY the rhyme and MOVE to it.
  6. Alter the body part that is to move with the rhyme. This helps to fully internalise the pattern.

Helping Children having difficulty

  1. If children have difficulty picking up the pattern hold their hand and move with them. In a class situation have the children work in pairs discreetly pairing proficient children to hold hands with the as yet unproficient.
  2. For tempo variation use a metronome. Some children respond better when they can see a movement.
  3. Use things that once set in motion maintain rhythm by natural forces eg. swings, pendulums, weighted toys.
  4. Use this phrase often in time to the pattern: 'Make your feet fit the beat.'

  1. Walk
  2. Jogg-ing
  3. Gall-op-ing
  4. Step Hop
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