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Linking Literacy and Movement

  • Jan 10, 2011
  • Dianna Babcock & Cheryl Henningsgaard

The New Year brings us opportunities to look at the past and to make goals for the future. How can we promote and encourage literacy with the very youngest of our readers? What can we do to promote and encourage library usage for all ages? Musical Storytelling provided at local libraries is providing new avenues of literacy for young children and their caregivers and families. YOU are making an incredible difference through developing your own “Music in A Box” curriculum and providing developmentally appropriate, meaningful, implicit literacy experiences for young children and providing excellent teaching models for caregivers and families who want to encourage literacy at home and throughout the community.

Our goal has been to develop literacy opportunities for young children through the integration of music. Research indicates young children learn best through activities that are meaningful, interrelated, developmentally appropriate and enjoyable. This Blog has given you many ideas how Musical Storytelling can enhance your library offerings.

The November 2010 issue of Young Children published a thought-provoking article on the linkage of movement and literacy, written by Rae Pica. Ms. Pica discussed many elements of movement which incorporate music through rhythm, patterning and chanting that link these experiences to literacy for young children. She quoted the neuroscience educator Dee Coulter who discussed using songs, movement and musical games as “brilliant neurological exercises” vital to intellectual development. Coulter also discussed combining rhythmic movement with speech and song provides young children an opportunity to develop inner speech and impulse control, which contribute to self-regulation and improved social skills.

Rae Pica stressed the importance of rhythm, an element of music, as an essential component of both language and movement. There is rhythm in music, as there is a rhythm to sentences and words as well. We also develop an internal rhythm when reading or writing. When we walk, we use a 4/4 meter, gallop a 2/4 meter, and skip a 6/8 meter. These meters are universal AND rhythmical. We walk and think in rhythm naturally!

When teachers describe their “learning curriculum” to focus on literacy, and not involving movement or music aspects, they do not understand the importance of involving all of the senses to create a total literacy learning experience that is meaningful to all types of learning styles. Pica quotes Jensen as labeling this multidisciplinary physical approach to literacy learning as a type of implicit learning. Such as how young children learn to ride a bike. Explicit learning, such as being told the capital of Minnesota is St. Paul, is the opposite example. Young children learn best through implicit learning. And movement and music are critical elements of implicit avenues of literacy learning for young children as this is how they learn best.

© MacPhail Center for Music, 2011

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