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Meaningful music: choosing and using songs as a memory device in early learning

Learning and absorbing new information, recognizing changes in a schedule, and choosing healthy emotional responses can be as easy as “do, re, mi”, when you use a familiar song as a memory device.

Just like memorizing the alphabet, songs can be used as a tool for information recall, accepting transitions, coping with challenging experiences, and encouraging positive, productive thought processes.

There’s a lot more to using music as a memory device than just playing a song once, though. 

Choosing songs or playlists is just the first step. Which songs you choose, where you play these songs, how often you listen to them in the background, and when you play them are key in ensuring that your little ones actually absorb the concepts within the songs into their consciousness.

First things first – children’s developing brains LOVE patterns and they will absorb ANY song they are exposed to with predictable and memorable patterns. Before you expose yourself to songs that you WILL wake up humming at 3:00 am (you know it’s true), make sure they are ones you’ll genuinely enjoy.

I’m going to share some important songs with you that you’ll feel good about adding to your “childhood soundtrack” – songs that are designed to be pleasant for adults and children that you’ll be able to easily and quickly refer to when you need them most: 

  1. Songs for recalling specific information
  2. Songs that signal a change in schedule/routine
  3. Songs that help you guide your child through challenging experiences
  4. Songs that encourage positive self-talk

Songs for recalling specific information

Try using the Songs that Teach Specific Information” YouTube playlist which includes:

  • memorizing the alphabet (and alphabetical order) with the “Alphabet Song”
  • memorizing the order of the planets, the names of the continents and oceans
  • learning vowels
  • memeorizing the provinces/territories in Canada and all 50 United States
  • how to correctly spell words like “you’re” and “they’re”
  • the descriptives for different types of weather
  • all 12 months in order as well as the 7 days of the week
  • what the different traffic lights mean
  • counting forwards and backward
  • the different seasons
  • what the moon is/what it does
  • the colors of the rainbow (and why we see one)

Songs that signal a change in schedule/routine (transition songs)

Transition times become easier to recognize and manage with an auditory cue like a bell, alarm, or chime. A specific song that’s played to communicate a change in routine is also useful in signaling that a transition is coming or that it’s time to stop what you’re doing in order to start a different task. Handwashing, tooth brushing, bath time, tidy-up time, wake-up time, rest time…these songs can stimulate and excite or relax and refocus.

You’ll find transition songs that will help children recognize changes in their routine in this transition songs playlist such as this one!

Songs that help you guide children through challenging experiences

Songs you have listened to together when you’re relaxed and at ease are the ones that are easiest to recall when children (and adults) are feeling frazzled, sad, scared, worried, frustrated, etc. Managing our conduct during challenging times boils down to how we map out our choices in reacting. Having a “productive choice map” embedded into your consciousness from listening to a song that relates specifically to how you’re feeling can prove to act like a magical “switch” that provides us with the guidance we need when we need it most. It really works!

You’ll find songs that can help your child through challenging feelings/experiences AND build positive self-talk in this emotional intelligence-building songs playlist.

Try these specific playlists on Spotify, too:

Learning Specific Information Playlist

Calm Songs Playlist

Transition Songs Playlist

Nancy Kopman

Nancy Kopman is an early childhood educator, songwriter, recording artist, and performer who has a worldwide following of educators, therapists, caregivers, and parents who use her songs in their children’s early learning experiences and programming.