A Thought for Thursday: Tips for Teaching Toddlers


 I LOVE teaching toddlers music! And I’ve been teaching
them for about twenty years. I’ve even written a book,
“The Musical Toddler,” with loads of great ideas for music
activities with toddlers. Today I’d like to share a few tips
for making sure every toddler in your group has positive,
successful music experiences.

1. Slow it down.
Yes, most of your toddler-students speak English, but
they’re still learning. I’m learning Spanish at the moment,
and I think I hablo pretty bien, but when I talk people who
really speak Spanish, I appreciate it when they speak
slowly! And when you’re giving directions to toddlers
about how to play an instrument or do body motions,
slower is better.

2. Use BIG motions.
Toddlers naturally use big, sweeping movements. use
songs that have them stretch their arms, clap, pat their
thighs, stomp their feet, and just jump/bounce to the beat.

3. Skip the “Five little…” songs.
These songs, in which children hold up five
fingers, then four , then three, and so on, are  not
appropriate for toddlers’ level of motor
coordination, and will only frustrate them. Save
the monkeys, ducks and frogs for the older

4. Think vertical.
Toddlers’ motions are mostly up-and-down, not side-
to-side (it’s about that crossing-the-midline thing).
Even when they’re waving, most of them will move
their hands up and down. So when you move with
them, move in vertical motions. They’ll feel more
comfortable when they can easily dance the way they
see you doing.

5. Most important – Smile!
Have fun! Show enthusiasm and energy. Notice what
they’re doing and compliment them. “I like the way
Nathan is dancing!” or “Look at how Chantal is shaking
her tambourine!” Enjoy yourself, and the  toddlers will
enjoy themselves too.

Teaching toddlers can be challenging, but their smiles
and laughter are great rewards!



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