So You Think You Can’t Sing

By SarahEllen Hickle, Family Place Librarian

turtle holding a portable radio and dancing to the music

Singing may be one of the five core practices of Every Child Ready to Read 2.0, but not everyone may feel comfortable singing in front of a crowd. Of course, folks who don’t love their voice can often make the most impact on parents. If we as professionals are willing to sing in front of a crowd, and remind caregivers how much their children love hearing their voice, they’re apt to feel much more confident with singing out loud. But it’s fun to sing along with recorded music, too, and there are some great songs out there to use! So whether you think you’re a crooner or a croaker, check out the following early literacy tips, and some song ideas to go with them!

Animal Sounds Tip: Playing with animal sounds is a great way to help your child hear the small sounds in words, which will get them ready to read! So have some fun family singalongs of “I Had a Rooster” or “Old MacDonald Had a Farm.”

Alternate Animal Sounds Tip: Grownups, when you have fun doing animal sounds with your children, what they’re really learning are the sounds WE have in our language! Keep it up, because sounds like Moo and Baa will eventually help them connect to words like Move and Back, and more when they begin learning to read.

Song Suggestions for Animal Sounds Tip:

  • “Down On Grandpa’s Farm” (Raffi – One Light, One Sun)
  • “Farm Song (That’s What I Did On the Farm)” (Laurie Berkner – Rocketship Run)
  • “I Love My Rooster” (Laurie Berkner – Whaddaya Think of That or Laurie Berkner’s Favorite Classic Kids’ Songs)
  • “Old MacDonald Had a Farm” (sung, or a cd version like the one on Songs for Wiggleworms)
  • “Pig On Her Head” (Laurie Berkner – The Best of the Laurie Berkner Band)

Gross-Motor Skills Tip: Research has shown that gross-motor activities like balancing on a beam or catching a ball help stimulate the brain circuits that will later enable a child to develop fine motor skills, like writing. So encourage whole-body movement with physical activities!

Song Suggestions for Gross-Motor Skills Tip:

  • “Balance Beam” (Laurie Berkner – Rocketship Run)
  • “List of Dances” (Jim Gill – Makes It Noisy in Boise, Idaho) *You can have the dances listed on a poster to help cue which movement comes next.
  • “My Ups and Downs” (Jim Gill Sings Do Re Mi On His Toe Leg Knee)
  • “Walk Along the River” (Laurie Berkner – Ultimate Laurie Berkner Band) *You can use scarves as you dance and do the movements in this song.
  • “Wiggle Your Lah-De-Dah” (All Around Ralph’s World)

Memorable Songs Tip: Rhythm, rhyme, and repetition make words memorable. This is the type of song your child may be able to memorize easily – at least the chorus. Songs and stories that children learn now will help them be ready to read the words later!

Song Suggestions for Memorable Songs Tip:

  • “The Goldfish” (The Best of the Laurie Berkner Band)
  • “Ladybug” (Frank Leto – Time for Music II) *You can use a ladybug puppet with this, and have children pretend they have their own ladybug on their finger.
  • “Monster Boogie” (The Best of the Laurie Berkner Band)
  • “No More Monkeys” (Putomayo Kids Presents – Animal Playground) *You can just jump with this, or get out a parachute and some monkey puppets and have the children help shake them off.
  • “Twinkle Twinkle Little Star” (my favorite version is on Caspar Babypants’ CD I Found You! But for a nice short version the one on Songs for Wiggleworms is good too.) *You can get out some star wands to wave around with this.

Rhythmic Beats Tip: Clapping, marching, or playing instruments to rhymes and songs like this next one help us learn to hear a steady beat. And research has shown: children who can keep a steady beat become better readers! See:

Song Suggestions for Rhythmic Beats Tip:

  • “The Ants Go Marching” (my favorite recorded version is by Ralph Covert on Songs for Wiggleworms)
  • “Bumblebee (Buzz Buzz)” (The Best of the Laurie Berkner Band)
  • “I Know A Chicken” (The Best of the Laurie Berkner Band)
  • “More Moles” (Caspar Babypants – Hot Dog!)
  • “We Are the Dinosaurs” (The Best of the Laurie Berkner Band)

Here’s hoping you can get some great inspiration from these suggestions. Carry on, and keep singing!