Here are some fun activities for toddler and PreK music lessons I’ve used this month. I start by having the kids make some music with their hands and feet, then we talk about marching bands and watch a short clip of a band. Next, we sing and perform the motions to “The Fingerband” and then play actual instruments.
Making Music With Our Bodies
First, we listen to Ella Jenkins’ “Follow the Leader.” I tell kids that we are going to make music with our hands and feet.
Marching Band Visual
Then, I ask them if they’ve ever been to a parade and if they’ve seen marching bands perform there. I wanted to show a video for the kids who may have never been to a parade or football game. After some searching, I came across a video where students can see closeups of the band, drum majors, and color guard. The video and sound quality are impressive for a marching band show. There’s great playing, dancing, and even singing from this video of Florida A&M University’s band at the Rosebowl Parade Bandfest.
Since the video is 20-minutes long, and I only see classes for 25 minutes a week, I only show a short segment. The spot that I use to teach is 15 minutes into the video. I ask students to notice how they march, their tall hats, to listen for the drums, whistle, etc. I only show a minute or so, but if you watch it to the end, there’s a fun surprise with the sousaphones!
The Finger Band Is Coming to Town
Next, we move on to the fingerplay, “The Fingerband.” It’s sung to the tune of “Here We Go ‘Round the Mulberry Bush.” After a couple of verses, I ask, “what else did you see?” The students may say, “a whistle,” and then we create a whistle verse, or a flute verse, and so on.
The Finger Band
1. The finger band is coming to town,
Coming to town, coming to town,
The fingerband is coming to town,
So early in the morning.
2. This is the way they wear their hats...
3. This is the way they play the drums...
4. This is the way they play the cymbals...
5. *Add verses based on what the children said they saw in the video
6. The finger band is going away...
7. The finger band has gone away...
Motions for each verse:
1. Bring hands out from behind back, move to beat (crescendo optional)
2. Make a tall hat with hands and sway bodies
3. Pat knees (or floor)
5. *For any wind instruments - sing on the syllable "doo" while
miming playing the instrument
6. Bring hands behind back (decrescendo optional)
7. Whisper, you can even get to the point where they are mouthing the words silently.
Break Out the Instruments!
Lastly, have the class play instruments to a march. If your classes are harder to manage due to class size or age, have them sit around hula hoops and explore instruments that you’ve set in the middle. If they can handle it, you can hand each child an instrument to march freely around the room in line with. If they can follow the leader, the child in the front can be the drum major and lead the line while holding a rhythm stick or pointer. After a bit, hand the stick to the next in line and have the leader go to the end of the line. I march to whatever songs we’ve been working on, but Sousa marches or a New Orleans-style brass band would be great to use. Rebirth Brass Band’s, “Do Whatcha Wanna” is a really fun one, just make sure to stop the song before the last second or two if you are using the 3-minute long version! The YouTube link below is clean. 🙂
If you want to keep up with the New Orleans theme, Johnette Downing’s song, “The Second Line,” is a fun one to walk around the room to while shaking scarves and dancing. Second-lining originates from West African circle and ring dances and was brought to New Orleans by Africans who were enslaved. It is now a New Orleans tradition. Explain that, in New Orleans, The Second Line follows the first line (main parade) and anyone can jump in at the end and dance and enjoy the music. I also like using “Treme Second Line” by Kermit Ruffins.
I hope your classes have a lot of fun with these activities! If you are looking for a fun book that includes Mardi Gras parades, read Trombone Shorty by Trombone Shorty, my kids LOVE this book. If you are looking for more lesson plans here are some that I’ve posted on TpT for Pre-K and K.