The Music-Literacy Connection – And How to Make the Most of It


Recommended Books 

“The Doorbell Rang” by Pat Hutchins

“Drip Drop” by Sara Weeks

“Stop That Pickle” by Peter Armour

“The Leopard’s Drum” by Jessica Souhami

“Knick Knack Paddywhack” by Barefoot Books

“Row, Row, Row Your Boat” by Jane Cabrera (and all Jane Cabrera books of songs)

“Creak! Said the Bed” by Phyllis Root

“Farmyard Beat” by Lindsey Craig

“The Chick That Wouldn’t Hatch” by Claire Daniel

“I’m the Best” by Lucy Cousins

Recommended Songs

“Shake Your Hands” sung by Jen Gould – on Spotify and Amazon Music

“Sleeping Bunnies” sung by Jenny’s Jukebox Jam – on Spotify and Amazon Music

“Bats” by Bari Koral – on Spotify and Amazon Music

“Run, Run, Run” – to the tune of “Hurry, Hurry, Drive the Fire Truck”

Run, run, run, and clap your hands/ Run, run, run, and clap your hands,

Run, run, run, and clap your hands, Run, run, run, run, run!

(Repeat with different motions after “run, run, run”)

“Robot Town” – start with tune of “Oh, Susannah”

Oh, we are little robots and we live in Robot Town,

We move our robot arms and then we…

(Pause, then sing to tune of “The Farmer in the Dell”:)

We jump up and down, we jump up and down,

Hi-ho, the derry-o, we jump up and down!

(Repeat, moving legs, head, hands, etc.)

My book “Shake, Rattle and Roll: Rhythm Instruments And More for Active Learning” has many other fun ideas for movement songs, rhythm instrument activity songs, “leave- out the word” songs, and songs with Spanish words and phrases.

My book “The Musical Toddler” has songs and music activities for toddlers and two-year-olds.

Puppet Ideas

With children, teach “Baa Baa Black Sheep” to sheep puppet

Chant “Five Little Monkeys” with excitable monkey puppet

Sing the birthday song to a cow puppet in “Moo” language (to a duck puppet in “Quack” language, etc.

Sing “The Elephants Like to Jump” with elephant puppet

Sing “I’m Bringing Home a Baby Bumblebee” with bee puppet – have bee “sting” (tickle) your head at the end

Sing “If You’re Happy And You Know It” with puppet – pat your tummy, wave your hand, nod your head, etc.


Beck DL, Flexer C. Listening is where hearing meets brain… in children and adults. Hearing Review. 2011;18(2):30-35. (Information on children’s ability to listen)

Johndro, Hunter, et al. Temporal predictions provided by musical rhythm influence visual memory encoding. Acta Psychologica. 2019; 200, 102923. (How rhythm activities can improve reading readiness)

University of Sydney. “Pattern learning key to children’s language development.” ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 5 May 2016. <>. (The importance of pattern recognition to early literacy)

Woodruff Carr, K., White-Schwoch, T., Tierney, A. T., Strait, D. L., & Kraus, N. (2014). Beat synchronization predicts neural speech encoding and reading readiness in preschoolers. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America, 111(40), 14559–14564. (How music and rhythm promote reading readiness)


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