We all know gross motor movement is important in music lessons, but when kids move to music, they are getting so much more than just exercise. They are developing their coordination, balance, concentration and cognitive abilities.
By practicing coordinated movement to music, they will develop parts of the brain that will help them to speak, read, write and play instruments. And because toddler’s brains are developing so rapidly, this is the best time to do lots of musical movement to get the maximum benefit. But the added bonus is that these activities are such fun!
Firstly, gross motor movement stimulates the brain to release endorphins, and these feel-good chemicals increase energy levels and boost the concentration. So, combining movement with musical activities actually helps children to be more generally attentive and alert. This is why teachers like to use songs with actions as ‘brain breaks’ with their classes.
But apart from being just an aid to concentration, if you choose musical activities which include cross lateral movement then you can start to promote really important brain development.
Cross lateral movement means any action where the arms or legs cross the midsection of the body. Happily this can be practiced in so many children songs with actions, and kids love to sway and wave with scarves along to music. By strengthening these cross lateral connections, you are developing the neural pathways, which enable both sides of the brain to work together. Resulting in better coordination and cognitive connections.
An excellent reason to include lots of singing games and musical movement into your daily routine with the reassuring knowledge that you’re doing the best thing for your child’s development.
3 easy activities that develop cross lateral gross motor movement
Incy Wincy Spider
There is often a lot of wisdom in the traditional actions to children songs. In the Incy Wincy finger rhyme, the spider ‘climbs’ up the spout by making a twisting action between opposite thumb to forefingers. Little ones love this slightly more changing action and love to master it. It sounds a lot more complicated than it really is. Watch the video below to clarify the action.
Clapping With a Partner
Kids love clapping with a partner, and it works with lots of songs. First start with the child clapping their partner’s hand straight opposite each other, and then try clapping first their own hands together before clapping their partners diagonal opposite. Again, sounds worse than it is! see the video below and try doing this with Baa Baa Black Sheep or Hot Cross Buns.
Shoe The Little Horse
The Shoe the Little Horse rhyme lends itself to tapping the feet with the hands, so just teach them to use the opposite hand to each foot as you chant the rhyme .