The latest neuroscience research reveals the power of early years music making strengthens children’s auditory processing system, which in turn, strengthens foundations for literacy.

In Canada, North Western University’s Auditory Neuroscience Laboratory provides further research through their neuroscientific project which continues to contribute evidence to music’s impact on the development of the neural pathways that support literacy skills. They have shown that music works in synergistic partnerships with language and literacy, and they’ve demonstrated that regular music practise refines the auditory processing system like no other activity. So how does music and literacy work together?

When we first learn to read, it is the skill of the ear not the eye that determines how easily a child learns to write and spell. Specifically, it is the skill of fine-tuned discrimination of individual sounds – phonological awareness. Strong phonological awareness in early years is widely recognised as important for a strong foundation for literacy. 

Developing phonological awareness through music practise

Regular (daily) participation in active music making which includes singing and percussion activities, with and without recorded backing music, will develop melodic and rhythmic awareness skills, which will strengthen the auditory processing system and hence phonological awareness. In addition, playing with words through specifically developed musical activities, with a focus on the sequencing of sounds, actions, and syllables, will further advance phonological awareness most effectively:

  • Finish the rhyming line with rhyming words; play with rhyming pairs within a song

  • Use tapping sticks to tap out the rhythm (syllables) of words within a song

  • Use sound talk in songs or rhymes to sound out the phoneme sounds of words

Bringing story time to life

Listening at story-time is something some children find easier than others. Childcare professionals have lots of tricks for engaging fidgety children, but do you know how to use music to enliven story-time? Incorporating music and movement into story-time not only helps hold their attention, but it will encourage their story telling skills such as expression, dynamics, actions, timing and tempo, contributing to children’s phonological awareness and hence in turn, contributing to strong foundations for literacy. 

Our top tips

  • Use creativity and imagination to entice involvement from the children. With our It’s a Frog’s Life song we get the children role-play the song, ask questions like how can we sit like a frog? What noise does a frog make? What food do they eat?

  • Think about using extension activities such as crafts, using fine motor skills to create frog masks from paper plates and gross motor skills to leap around like a frog from lily pad to lily pad

  • Encourage children to remember words from a story by choosing some to tap out in a song. Boogie Mites Let’s Tap a Wordhelps develop children’s auditory discrimination skills as they practice breaking words into ‘big chunks’ (syllables).

  • Try follow-the-leader body percussion routines that clap or stamp out the syllables of words or reading stories together and assigning actions for certain words, for example stamp your feet three times as you say Gruf-a-lo every time this word is heard as the story is read.

Through the power of music and sound games, playing with stories and words in this way will make reading together a really enjoyable activity for all involved, while strengthening the children’s literacy foundations and love of reading, ready for school. 

Boogie Mites It’s a Frog’s Life and Let’s Tap a Word resources are free to download when you register for Achievement for All’s 200 Million Minutes Reading Challenge. 

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Between Thursday 7th March (World Book Day) and Tuesday 2nd April 2019 (Children’s Book Day) Achievement for All will be encouraging early years settings, schools, colleges, families, libraries, community groups, businesses and organisations from across the world to come together and collectively read for 200 million minutes, a never before-reached target!

Participating in the challenge is free and great prizes will be awarded to those who achieve the highest average number of minutes per child or young person.

If you would like to take part in Achievement for All’s 200 Million Minutes Reading Challenge, register now at www.200millionminutes.org

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Boogie Mites are an Early Years Music and Movement company that has been writing songs and creating programmes to support development in the EYFS for more than 15 years. Boogie Mites mission is to support early years practitioners and families to access creative, engaging resources, to give them the knowledge,confidence and the motivation to harness the power of active music-making in early years. 

Find out more about Boogie Mites via their Website and YouTube channel