The Powerful Role of Music



By: Angy Talbot (ECFE Blog Writer)

“I would teach children music, physics, and philosophy; but most importantly music, for the patterns in music and all the arts are the keys to learning.” ~ Plato

Children benefit from being introduced to all different types of music. Music is all around us, in the home, and in society. There are many ways we incorporate music and movement into the Discovery classrooms. Whether listening to music from Raffi to classical, singing songs, playing instruments, or musical movement, music is incorporated and created daily in our environment. We teach the children how to sing a song. After practicing together, the children can sing the song as a class, and songs then can be used for transitioning from one activity to the next or in group or circle time. Children can also use their bodies as instruments by taping their feet, clapping their hands, and making different noises and sounds with their voices. Every classroom has various instruments that can be used individually during choice time and during circle time together as a group. Music is a tool we use throughout the day.

Music can play an important role in brain development. In the article, Why Music and Arts Education Is Important, Shari Black states, “According to a recent study done by neurologist Frank Wilson, when a musician plays he/she uses approximately 90 percent of the brain. Wilson could not find no other activity that uses the brain to this extent.” When a child plays a musical instrument or sings on a regular basis, it is exercising the entire brain while stimulating intelligence. Through singing and listening to music, children can learn new concepts. Singing helps children to understand meaning of words and repeating songs helps children to memorize phrases and strengthen memory.

Singing to your child is also an important element in music. Young children love to hear a calm singing voice while listening to patterns and recognizing the familiar sound of a caregiver’s tone. Each night before bedtime, I would rock my daughter to sleep while singing to her. I do not have the best singing voice, but she didn’t mind. I could see at an instant when I sang, she felt comforted and loved. As a toddler, we would sing nursery rhymes and children songs, which felt like all day long. In preschool, she would sing many songs in the Discovery classroom and repeat them in the car on our way home. Now that she is in elementary school, she still loves to sing. I can hear that sweet voice singing a tune while getting ready in the morning or when she is playing in her bedroom.

“Music plays a powerful role in the lives of young children. Through music, babies and toddlers can come to better understand themselves and their feelings, learn to decipher patterns and solve problems, and discover the world around them in rich, complex ways. Most important, sharing music experiences with the people they love makes very young children feel cherished and important.” (NAEYC). So don’t be shy and sing a song!

How do you integrate music with your children?

Below are a few websites on music:

Music and Your Baby

Learning of Music: The support of Brain Research

Music and Movement – Instrumental in Language Development

Music and Young Children

Keeping Your Children’s Teeth Healthy

dental healthBy: Ms. Angy, ECFE Blog Writer

I have noticed over the past few years of teaching, that more and more children are getting cavities at a younger age.  I was surprised at my daughter’s dentist visit when we went from no cavities to three in just 6 months!  That is when I decided to work with my daughter’s dentist to try to put a stop to her path of future tooth decay.  I came across some great tips to aid in the prevention of cavities:

  1. Reduce the frequency of sugary drinks and foods.  Juice, pop, and sticky candies should be avoided or limited.  My daughter’s dentist informed me to even stay away from gummy vitamins.  They stick to the teeth for a long period of time, which can contribute to cavities and tooth decay.
  2. Don’t put children over one year of age to bed with a bottle filled with juice or milk.  Just put water in the bottle  unless it is mealtime.  A sippy cup with juice and milk not used for meals is another factor for cavities.  Put water in sippy cups instead and try to switch to a small glass or cup for mealtime by age two.
  3. Get your child to the dentist by one year of age. That way dental problems can be detected early while creating good dental habits from the beginning.
  4. Brush teeth and/or gums at least twice a day (or after meals).  Even when babies have no teeth it is suggested to wipe gums off with damp wash cloth after feedings and begin brushing once teeth appear with non-fluoride toothpaste.  A small amount of fluoride toothpaste can be used around two years old.  It is best to begin flossing at this age too.  Brushing should last at least one minute and parents should have a turn at brushing their child’s teeth until their child is old enough to brush on their own (around 7 years old) while increasing brushing time to two minutes.
  5. Children should drink water with fluoride instead of bottled water.  If your community does not have city water treated with fluoride or if well water is used, talk to your child’s dentist or pediatrician about fluoride supplements.
    1. I found a great resource with oral health advice and articles for parents and fun games and activities for kids.  Just click on:
    2. If dental care assistance is needed, Give Kids a Smile is a charitable outreach event coordinated each year by the Minnesota Dental Association.

This year’s 2013 event will be on February 1st and 2nd.  For more information go to “Give Kids a Smile -Minnesota” on Facebook or you can receive reminders and updates about this program by signing up for e-mail notices at  You can contact the Minnesota Dental Association by phone at: 612-767-8400 or their website at:

You can also find information on reduced of free dental care at:

As a parent, I am trying my best to follow these suggested tips while visiting the dentist for regular check-ups twice a year.  We have purchased fun toothpaste and toothbrushes to help with teeth brushing motivation.  What are some things that you have tried at home to help encourage positive dental health with your child?

Do you have a picky eater? Tips for home and the classroom

By Ms. Angy, ECFE Blog Writer

b           Like many parents, I have a picky eater.  My daughter, since she began to eat solids, had a strong opinion about what she would or would not put into her mouth.  With a quick shake of her head and a clinching mouth, I was not able to get her to try anything.  She wanted her noodles or fruit.  I continued to introduce her to new foods and slowly she began to try them.  Today, she is still a picky eater, but at least we have a wide variety of food options to choose from since she keeps expanding her cuisine repertoire.  This past year, our Discovery Learning preschool program implemented, The Lana Preschool Program (Introduced to us by Sherburne County Public Health).  We began changing our snacks to healthy choices, introducing the children to many different types of fruits and vegetables, and cooking meals with the children that included diverse food options.  I have seen children who would normally not try new food selections, take part in taste tests, and discovering they actually liked the foods they were anxiously sampling.  It was also fun to see the children scarf down the veggie lasagna; not realizing they were eating broccoli, and lots of it!  The LANA program has great tips for families and resources that you can try at home.  Since we have introduced this program at school, I have made changes in our nutrition in my home.  I have been eating more fruits and vegetables while setting a good example for my daughter.  This summer we planted a vegetable garden.  My daughter loved the process and has eaten and enjoyed every vegetable she picked.  Since learning about LANA, in my classroom and home I have introduced an assortment of healthy foods in new ways, changed snacks to healthy choices, and made trying new foods FUN!

For more information on LANA or nutrition tips go to:

From Babbling to Talking: The Language Journey

By: Ms. Angy, ECFE Blog Writer

Teaching your Baby to talkFrom language, the infant creates order of verbal communication by means of the adult’s tone of voice, nonverbal communication and the words used.  The child begins to absorb the understanding of the feelings behind the words.  Children also need to not only learn words, but the meaning of the words.   I feel that by continuously reading and talking to your baby, will help your infant with language and literacy development.  I started reading to my daughter at six weeks old.  I also talked to her all the time since the day she was born.  I talked to her at the grocery store showing her the apple and verbally labeling it before I put it into the bag.  I would walk around the house pointing out objects and identifying them by name.  When I would change her diaper, I was telling her about each step I was performing and the materials used.  Everything she would touch, I would tell her the name of that object.  We would communicate back and forth making sounds while smiling at one another.   At an early age, she was talking in short sentences.  I feel my daughter did not have very many temper tantrums because she could verbalize her needs at such a young age and she could be understood.

When parents read and speak to their children, it helps build vocabulary and language acknowledgment.  In addition to promoting language development, reading to children stimulates imagination, reinforces basic concepts and offers opportunities for new experiences.   My favorite time of the day was story time.  My daughter would sit on my lap and cuddle while we read a book.  Her favorite story then is still her favorite story today.   It’s valuable to model proper language and to expose children to the sounds of the human voice.   Infants love to play peek-a-boo and patty cake, listen to silly sounds, hearing changes in the voice from a whisper to a high pitch laugh and hearing sounds in the environment from a garbage truck outside to a phone ringing inside.  Vocabulary enrichment is continuously communicating by talking, listening, touching and connecting.  Infants bond with adults through their voice and touch.  That interaction is what develops the human relationship.  Early language development will benefit the child throughout their lifetime.  There are wonderful tips and articles to read on early language development at:

Feeling Stressed? Calm Techniques For You And Your Family

By Ms. Paula, Early Childhood Parent and Family Facilitator

Yoga CalmThis past spring my grandson, who attends school in another district, told me that before he took his state tests this year, his teacher had the class doing the simple yoga poses they had used in class all year: a very smart teacher. As a behavior specialist working with families and teachers who want to support strong social and emotional development in kids, Yoga Calm has been a new dimension for me to explore and I was privileged to attend a full-day training for teachers last summer.

Yoga Calm is an innovative child education method that integrates fitness, social-emotional, and cognitive learning. Yoga Calm principles include stillness, listening, grounding, strength and community. Contrary to some stereotypes, it is not some “new age” philosophy. On the contrary, it has been used for over 3,500 years. It supports children and adults in knowing their hearts, minds and bodies. It fosters physical fitness, character development, relaxation, concentration and self-control.

Yoga Calm is a research-based program of balancing stress, health, and learning. In one study, teachers were found to be redirecting behaviors in the classroom an average of 40 minutes a day, or 200 minutes a week, which adds up to 17 days a school year. By helping children to connect their bodies with their minds in a manner that helps them to self regulate, time spent on redirection can be better used to ensure that all children are learning in the classroom.

In Yoga Calm an adult or child learns to be able to bring him or herself from an alert or stressed state to an active relaxed state increasing focus and assisting each of us in thoughtful decisions and problem solving.  It also uses the breathing technique that all babies are born with – whole body breathing. Somehow we lose that as life brings in its challenges and stresses. When we focus on our breath and the here and now, when we are calm, the brain is better able to store facts and memories.

Grounding in Yoga Calm is especially helpful for kids in crisis. It gives kids tools to deal with the uncertainties they have and ways to communicate those fears and challenges. By building community in the classroom and in family, we connect with each child in supportive relationships. Children learn to care for each other and their community.

I was under the misconception that a person had to be athletic to be able to do yoga but I have found since taking the workshop, it can be adapted to each individual body and the tools can be utilized “in a breath” in whatever situation a little calm is needed.

Yoga Calm for Children : Educating Heart, Mind, and   Body, Gillen and Gillen, 2008, Three Pebbles Press.

MN Reading Corps in The Classroom

By: Ms. Angy
Early Childhood Blog Writer

The experience I have had with the Minnesota Reading Corps has changed my teaching in many ways.  The different methods of literacy instruction introduced by the Minnesota Reading Corps program has allowed me to expand how I teach writing, reading, and language arts for preschoolers.  I feel these new added skills has refined how I communicate and interact with my students, whether it is a simple conversation, the singing of song or nursery rhymes at every transition, or reading a story.  I have transformed my classroom into a literacy rich environment by labeling items throughout, making writing materials more available, strategically placing theme based books, introducing the Word Wall and The What Is It Bag; all which enhance the enrichment of vocabulary.  I now have a better understanding of children and literacy.

I have seen first hand the impact that the Minnesota Reading Corps involvement has had in our preschool program.  Many children come into a preschool environment not knowing any letter names or sounds.  Since we have introduced the MRC to our classrooms, many children are leaving preschool knowing all letter names and sounds, and the concepts of rhyming and alliteration.   Some children are even reading.  A boy in my class began his preschool experience struggling to recognize letters.  With one-on-one interventions with the Minnesota Reading Corps member, Leah, and daily literacy activities in the classroom, he began to recite the letter names.  In the spring, one day he was looking around the room, noticing all the words posted on the walls and objects.  He looked at the word, “table” and said with excitement, “Hey, that word says table and that is a table!”  This boy started to sound out words and began to read.  When children receive hands on experiences and individual guidance, they can achieve.  Each year I am seeing more success stories and I am proud of how far we have come in teaching children beginning literacy skills and helping families to guide their children toward reading.

For more information about the Minnesota Reading Corps or becoming a member, visit their website.