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Piano Printable

Learning About Patterns is Easy with Music!

As a piano teacher, I have discovered the secret to helping kids memorize music is in learning about the patterns in the music. Have you ever noticed kids who are not confident? Many times they approach learning bit by bit, one by one, random notes. But when kids begin to notice patterns in music, they take off at lightening speed and never slow down.

What are the Early Math Skills?

This article from the preschool plan it website states, “Children use math all day long! 

During every activity from counting the steps they climb, to sorting blocks and stating “there are more red ones”, to separating the carnivores from the herbivores (for the dinosaurs’ own safety of course!), children are using math.

Knowing the math skills your preschoolers are developing and should be developing will help you plan math across your curriculum and throughout your classroom.

16 Basic Preschool Math Concepts

16 of the basic preschool math concepts are:

  • Observation
  • Problem Solving
  • Language
  • One-to-One Correspondence
  • Number Sense
  • Shapes
  • Spatial Sense
  • Sets and Classifying
  • Ordering/Seriation
  • Comparing
  • Patterning
  • Counting
  • Measurement
  • Parts and Wholes
  • Numbers and Symbols
  • Graphing

Preschool math concepts overlap and are interrelated with preschool science concepts. In the field of Mathematics, the skills of classifying, comparing and measuring are referred to as Math Concepts. In the field of science, these skills are referred to as Process Skills.”

How Music Relates to Preschool Math Skills

Music relates to early math skills in multiple ways. Children can find patterns in rhythms, patterns in melodies, patterns with finger numbers at the piano, and more. Music is full of patterns. Patterns can be visual (see), aural (hear), or kinesthetic (move) and thus musical patterns help every student learn in their preferred learning style. Because discovering patterns is something that kids develop as they prepare for the the classroom, learning patterns in music helps reinforce this concept for preschoolers.

Young children do not usually have the background to associate the meaning of a music note to the note itself, so in teaching patterns, I find it is helpful for teachers and parents to use images to teach patterns. For instance, children love animals. Learning how to identify a pattern using animals is a great teaching tool. These animal cards make a great piano game!

For example, you can teach basic rhythm and patterns with a fun, hands-on pattern activity like the Animal Lovers Short & Long Rhythm Activity. This resource has pictures of animals. Each picture represents a short sound or a long sound. Kids learn how to see, hear and feel patterns by looking at pictures they are familiar with in their daily lives.

Notice, I mentioned music can teach in three learning styles… visually, aurally, and kinesthetically. Below you will find more teaching ideas that provide more information on the benefits of teaching kids in multiple learning styles.

Learning About Patterns

Many products on the market that help children learn about simple patterns focus on visual patterns. They may ask children to identify shape patterns, number patterns, color patterns and the like. They ask children to practice and understand patterns by finding patterns, completing patterns, and making patterns. Identifying patterns is very important before kids move into more advanced math concepts.

However, music has a huge advantage over regular math education because music can meet different learning styles of young children. Not all children learn visually. Patterning skills can be taught kinesthetically with music as children move, clap, or play musical instruments to rhythmic patterns. Repeating, echoing, or clapping back a pattern allows children who are great aural learners to hear a pattern and demonstrate understanding. Because music can help teach patterning skills in fun ways, young children enjoy these math lessons.

Teach Patterns Visually

I personally prefer to stay away from pre k pages while teaching patterns. This is because I know kids love to create patterns themselves. Having tangible objects, like blocks (which may have different shapes or colors), legos (ditto), or other small toys that kids can move around, allows them to not only identify or complete patterns, but allows them to create patterns which ultimately demonstrates their mastery of the concept. Tangible objects also involves some movement which is kinesthetic in nature.

I love turning the tables on the young child and ask them to be the teacher. I have them create patterns that I will complete and they will check to see if I did it correctly. Kids love this!

Ways to Teach Visual Patterns

Art Activities can be a fun way to teach visual patterns. For example, this Rainbow Art Activity allows children to color patterns or glue objects onto paper in order to create visual color patterns. This is learning through play! Children learn to instantly see patterns in this fun activity.

Colorful blocks are another great visual used for teaching patterns. Red, blue, and yellow are the basic colors preschoolers are learning and using color which preschoolers are already familiar with is helpful in teaching patterns.

Little Pom-Poms from the dollar store can be used in a muffin tin or egg carton to create patterns. Picking up the little pom-poms also helps develop fine motor skills which helps kids get ready for piano lessons.

Duplo blocks are a learning toy that children just love. When my own kids were preschoolers they loved learning how to sort, count and create patterns with them from the time they were 18 months old. I see this again with my grandkids!

Teach Patterns Aurally

Teaching patterns using sound is teaching patterns aurally. Some kids learn best when they can hear things, so when we teach kids with sound patterns, some children have a better understanding than they would if only visuals were used.

Ways to Teach Aural Patterns

Some learning activities that teach patterns through sound are:
– Drums and other percussion instruments (when beating out the rhythms kids can be learning how to count each pattern)
– Movement learning activities using music (walking, skipping, hopping, clapping, and so on)
– Clapping learning games (Songs like “If You’re Happy and You Know It” teach a two clap pattern at the end of each musical phrase. You have to listen to hear this, but then the movement also adds another learning style!)
– Repetitive Songs like Baby Shark have a repetitive rhythm that kids love to sing. This song is easy to teach to toddlers. For more ideas on favorite songs I use in early childhood music classes you can click here and here.

Teach Patterns Kinesthetically

Moving to music, clapping, playing instruments is learning kinesthetically.  Kids can learn to move their bodies with the music and experience different patterns. Many teachers do not encourage kids to move while they learn. Most education happens by sitting still. But I firmly believe that preschoolers learn by moving. So teaching math using music gives kids a better hands-on approach and reinforces basic math in fun ways.

Ways to Teach Kinesthetic Patterns

Moving or marching to the rhythm of a song. The classic rock song “We Will Rock You” is an example of a song that has a repeating short-short-long pattern to it. Jingle Bells has the same pattern! Guess what!?! If you listen to your playlist I bet you will find more patterns. What songs do you already listen to with your child that have patterns that repeat? Sometimes there are even two patterns in a song. That’s a fun discovery!

I also love to play a fun echo game. I will clap or move to a rhythm and kids will repeat what I do. Make sure they don’t change the tempo (the basic beat) on you! Some kids love to speed things up. Make sure their echo is a match!

Teach Kids in Ways that Motivate Them

Kids love music! Let’s face it… when you add music to any kind of task, it is more fun. This is no exception in child development and patterning skills. What young child… baby, toddler, preschooler, or kindergarten kid isn’t excited to beat the drum or march around the room? When I have taught early childhood classes for the preschool classroom every child is delighted to make music! They eagerly echo patterns, clap to “If You’re Happy and You Know It,” and practice ringing bells to the well known rhythm of Jingle Bells (short, short, long) without educational purposes. They just naturally do it! So help them discover the patterns in that! Because, kids love hands-on everything when it comes to music!

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Practice Chart: Piano Preschool Lessons

Discover how having the right practice chart for piano can turn kids who are bored into kids who love to play piano!

Kids love music! And preschoolers are eager little students who love the fun activities in piano lessons. But practicing at home can be a struggle for a few reasons:

Frog Theme Practice Chart for Piano

1. Parents are unsure what their child should do in practice
2. Parents may not be prepared for how much energy at home practice requires from them.
3. Kids may love the piano, but practicing at home can be a challenge if their only assignment is to play one or two songs over and over again. Kids want to have fun at the piano every day!

So learning how to make practice at home interesting, fun, challenging, and rewarding week after week takes effort on the parents’ part. Together kids and parents can find a way to mark progress in their daily practice and enjoy the process of making music.

practicing piano

Piano Lessons for Preschoolers

Teachers of preschoolers have to have a different approach and teach them differently than they teach an 8 year old beginning piano student. A preschooler’s attention span is approximately the number of minutes for how many years old they are. So a 3 year old has a three minute attention span, a 4 year old has a 4 minute attention span, and a 5 year old has a 5 minute attention span. There are always exceptions to the rule, or one amazing activity that transfixes a child for 10 minutes, but generally these young kids need LOTS of activities that reinforce the simple concepts they are learning. And teachers need an arsenal of activities!

Repetition

Preschoolers need a lot of repetition. There are now method books for young piano students as young as 3 or 4 years old. However, the mistake I see over and over again is that parents and teachers expect preschoolers to learn musical concepts the first time they are taught. Afterall, that is how older kids learn. But preschoolers are different. They need multiple layers of learning the same concepts. And that is why I teach outside the box of method books to little ones. You can too! So how do we do this?

Find as many teaching resources as possible and add them to lessons. It’s okay with me if these resources all come from different places. I really haven’t found just one company, teacher, or website that has it all. The good news… I am curating a lot of great materials for you. AND I am creating content that fills many missing holes. You can benefit from all that I have learned over the years.

preschool piano activity
preschool piano game for practice at home
preschool piano practice activity
preschool piano finger game for piano practice

Activities

Preschoolers learn through movement. So kids need lots of body movement and gross motor skill activities as they develop the fine motor skills needed for playing the piano. Here are some ideas you can use to structure lessons and practice time at home. It’s okay that practice isn’t perfect at this age… practice should be fun!

How do Kids Learn to Keep a Steady Beat?

Provide one song each week a student can play an instrument to. Perhaps they are even going to march around the room as they play their instrument. Select music that is pretty straight forward and easy to tap a beat to like the song Twinkle Twinkle Little Star, Baby Shark, and more. Here is a video to help you see what I mean.

How do Kids Learn Short and Long Rhythm?

Preschoolers are at the age where they are just learning the alphabet letters and learning to read some simple words. They may not be ready for music notes. I recommend that you first begin with pictures that represent short and long sounds (like these). This will help you teach the concept in a context that is easily understood by a young child. Then when kids are successful with that activity, you can move to the most simple music notes: quarter note, half note, and quarter rest. Try creating rhythms and rhythm patterns with these simple notes. If a student isn’t quite ready for the notes, put them away for a couple months and try again later.

Kids love making patterns and long rhythms on the floor with these fun short and long animal cards.

Teach Finger Numbers with Rhymes and Games

Select a finger rhyme or a finger game that a student can practice at home. It takes a while for kids to really learn these rhymes and games so I recommend using only one or two per month. It’s great that some students will memorize the rhyme, as that will help prepare them to memorize music. It generally takes a while for fingers to cooperate and strengthen. Get more ideas for finger play here.

Charts and Printable Resources for Piano Practice

I like to use different printables for different seasons. I think kids love that too! I always have had my piano students use 3 Ring Binders to keep their practice chart, sheet music, and other printables in. I divide the binder into sections with tabs so they can easily locate the different sections, but many still need parental help with this. I put the piano practice chart for the current week in the very front so it is the first thing kids see when they open their binder.

How to Organize a Piano Three Ring Binder

Like I said, I put the piano practice chart in the very front of the binder. Then the next section will be any sheet music that I printed for the student. Other printable resources will go in the third section. I use post it notes as tabs for the pages kids need to see that week every day. This makes it easy for parents to know which pages are for piano practice at home. The binder is key for students and parents to find success at their home practice.

Piano Practice Chart

It’s okay to write on your practice chart and customize it for each student. Most parents appreciate detailed information and love it when you take two minutes toward the end of the lesson to explain what the child should do for practice at home. If you use any of the piano practice charts I have created, write in which rhythm cards they should practice, the name of the song they should play for keeping a steady beat (moving and playing with musical instruments), the finger rhyme they should practice, the piano game they are playing, and the names of the songs they are currently practicing . These activities will help teach your child so many things they need to know about playing the piano.

Plus! The first 100 days are crucial to setting the tone for your family. Establishing good habits and great attitudes right from the start help keep practice time enjoyable and fun for kids.

Piano Challenge Printables

Sometimes I like to run piano challenges in the entire studio. I generally will put a piano challenge chart in the front sleeve (right on the cover) of the three ring binder. Because it is front and center, students and parents can see and remember (hopefully!) to practice for this challenge. Some challenges I have run in the music studio include learning all the note names on the grand staff in one minute (for older kids!), challenge to learn all the five finger patterns on the white keys, composition challenge to create their own song, and so on.

practice piano

What Piano Practice for Preschoolers Should Look Like

Preschoolers learn by moving, so piano practice at home should be a combination of playing some songs at the piano with some movement activities and games sprinkled in. I try to have at least 10 activities for a 30 minute piano lesson for a 4-5 year old. So a short 10 minute practice time should have at least 4 activities. If you practice for 15 minutes, plan on at least 5-6 activities.

Your piano teacher may not assign these kind of activities. It may be because they aren’t trained in working with young children, but teach piano to these kids because parents are asking for it. Piano lessons for preschoolers need to include more activities to help them learn at the level they are at. One example of games and activities for the song Itsy Bitsy Spider can be found here.

Often kids decide they don’t like piano because it isn’t fun, and that is generally not true. It’s just the experience they had wasn’t fun. So parents… you can help provide a successful experience for your child! Whether your teacher does this for you or you do it for yourself! So let’s discover ways you can simply add more fun to at home practice.

Fun Activities for Home Piano Practice

  1. Let’s build finger strength and fine motor skills through games, finger plays, and rhymes.
  2. Join in on the fun and play musical instruments together with your child’s favorite songs. You can find more ideas here.
  3. Move to the beat by walking, marching, stomping, jumping, hopping, skipping, etc.
  4. Use stuffed animals as practice pals. Put three on one side of the piano and have your child move one animal at a time to the other side as they practice their song. So this for each song.
  5. Use piano printable resources like charts to mark the practice for each day. This will help you monitor kids progress.
  6. Piano games are other printable resources you can use in your every day piano practice.
  7. Allow your child to learn to play songs they want to play!

Games for First year Concepts

The concepts most preschool students learn in the first year of piano will include:

  1. The difference between high and low and where they are located on the piano
  2. The difference between long and short sounds and that these sounds can be made into patterns
  3. The difference between soft and loud sounds and how to play these sounds at the piano
  4. How to identify the music alphabet within the groups of 2 and 3 Black Keys structure at the piano
  5. How to name, wiggle and play the different fingers: thumb, pointer, middle, ring, and pinky fingers
  6. Strengthen fingers, practice making rounded and curvy fingers, and how to sit at the piano with great posture
  7. Playing simple songs they already know like Mary Had a Little Lamb, Twinkle Twinkle Little Star, or Baby Shark

If you concentrate on playing games that provide a lot of repetition and reinforcement of these concepts through out the first year of piano practice, your student will have so much fun and will learn so naturally. All of these basics make good piano practice for new students.

Technique

Preschool Students are all over the place when it comes to technique because their tiny hand is just not ready for playing all five fingers like a beginning 8 or 9 or 10 year old is. So focus on games like mentioned above and expect to use pointer finger a LOT!

Talking about Technique is another article, but playing games that focus on fine motor skills will help your child make quick progress.

Creative

Why do people want to learn to play the piano? Well…. the answer is usually because they want to learn to play songs they enjoy.

And no one wants to take piano lessons for YEARS before they can ever play something they want to learn. It is SO important to find music for new students or teach them in a way that gives them access to music they love. This is the key to longevity in playing a musical instrument.

If a teacher’s teaching style is set and the method books are set, I can usually predict the outcome. Eager kids usually begin to dread lessons and they never want to practice.

One way to solve this dilemma is to let kids create. They love making their own songs! If they are learning about soft sounds, kids can create a song about a sneaky mouse or the frog that lost his voice. If kids are learning about low sounds, they can create a song about an elephant parade, or climbing down a mountain and going into a valley. Creating music means there is no right and wrong and kids can be successful EVERY time! This makes learning fun! When we let kids explore the piano and make music on their own they make discoveries and the learning is genuine.

Keeping Track of Practice

I think keeping track of practice is helpful for parents and kids. Even little children can see that if they work hard and practice they will make progress. If kids do not practice much, then a practice chart helps with personal accountability. Until kids are about 10 years old, it is so important that parents are involved in daily practice. And it is unreasonable to expect new students to do this on their own.

Every single parent of my own piano students WANTS to know what their child should be practicing each week, so some kind of practice chart is helpful.

For the very young piano student, I provide a chart like this so parents know how to work with their child at home.

The First 100 Days of Practice are Important

I mentioned earlier and I think it is important enough to restate: The first 100 days of practice set up the student for success. I wrote an article about the 10 Ways to Get Your Child Ready for Piano Lessons. Preparing for piano lessons and then being ready for the daily commitment of practice help everyone have a good experience: students, parents, and teachers.

Piano Practice Chart for the Young Child

I have created a set of piano practice charts for young children. These are simple to use. Each day your just cross off one of the icons to the right of the assigned item.

If your teacher does not provide you with these kinds of activities, then go ahead and implement them at home. Too many parents just do not know what their new beginner should be doing other than practicing the songs in the book. But having these other activities will keep a light in your child’s eye and keep the joy of discovering about music alive!

If you are interested in getting these free piano practice charts by joining my music community, then fill in your email below. I know you will love all the content I am creating to help you discover how you can be the best parent for your budding musician.

Itsy Bitsy Spider Piano Activities & Games

The highly imaginative Itsy Bitsy Spider Piano Song lends itself to many different piano activities and games. Because kids learn this nursery rhyme as toddlers, they know it already and are eager to play a song on the piano that they know! Interested in learning this as your first piano song? I will show you some of the ways I teach this nursery rhyme to young beginners!

So many preschool and beginner piano music books progress in a manner in which there is very little opportunity for repetition. I often hear teachers of preschool piano students wonder what they should do when a child doesn’t grasp a concept in the lesson because they worry about moving forward in the book. This is where easy piano activities and games are important. Music concepts can be taught over and over again in different ways until the students understand.

Itsy Bitsy Spider Song

Itsy Bitsy Spider (actually I learned this as Eency Weency Spider and yes! there is another version Incy Wincy Spider) is one of the first nursery rhymes young children learn. They love the finger play! Actions include climbing higher, then water coming down the water spout, making a big sun, and then climbing up and up and up again! How fun!

Itsy Bitsy Spider (free download)

The itsy bitsy spider went up the water spout
Down came the rain and washed the spider out
Out came the sun and dried up all the rain
And the itsy bitsy spider went up the spout again

First Piano Lessons

Beginning piano students want to play music they already know. Sometimes those songs are a little more difficult than the first songs they would sight read in a piano music book. But, with a little practice, most kids easily learn songs they already know because their ear will guide them and they have a strong desire to learn.

Beginners benefit from playing easy piano songs of familiar music because they can be successful without even reading a note. Plus piano lessons can focus on foundational piano skills before note reading is introduced.

Toddlers and preschoolers are eager to explore the piano and young children must have plenty of movement activities and piano games ( I have a lot of piano games for beginners in my SHOP) to reinforce musical concepts. They need lots of repetition!

Printable Sheet Music with Alphabet Letters

sample of itsy bitsy spider piano song with alphabet letters

I prefer young students play music with music alphabet letters at their first lessons. This allows me to teach the keyboard geography and basic rhythms before getting to the notes on the music staff. Because Itsy Bitsy Spider is a familiar nursery rhyme, I do not provide notes for rhythm in this piano music. I will let them play the rhythm by ear.

Here is one example of sheet music that has no notes. This easy piano music only has music alphabet letters and the student will play and sing along (and the rhythm is usually spot on!).

Printable Sheet Music with Notes that have Alphabet Letters

Another easy piano sheet music I like to use will have notes (so yes, students can see the rhythm) but you can write the music alphabet letters next to the note. This version also has finger numbers for kids who can play with all five fingers. If they are not ready for that, just cross them out.

What sheet music I give a student really depends on the age of the child and if they have played any other songs already. So it depends if I give them the printable easy piano sheet music with notes or only letters.

Printable Sheet Music with Notes on the Staff

The piano sheet music above is what I will use to provide the staff with regular notes. I will give this music to a student who is currently learning to read music notes on the staff. However, it is harder than a song like Hot Cross Buns. The fingering is included but can be changed. If a student knows where to place their hands on the piano and which finger is placed on each note, they will be very successful.

Some teachers criticize the use of finger numbers, but I am a firm believer that kids need this kind of instruction for a couple reasons.

First, learning the finger numbers can be tricky. We read from left to right, but the fingering for the left hand goes right to left. The hands are a mirror, so the fingering in the left hand is often difficult for beginners.

Secondly, kids need some easy wins. If everything is about moving forward and always making progress, kids can get discouraged. They need to have lots of successes and feel good about learning piano, so writing fingering in songs is not a crutch. It is educational and motivational.

Incy Wincy Spider

The incy wincy spider went up the water spout
Down came the rain and washed the spider out
Out came the sun and dried up all the rain
And the incy wincy spider went up the spout again

Piano Games for Itsy Bitsy Spider

I am always on the look out for fun games for kids. Games that can teach keyboard geography, rhythms, note values, music alphabet, and the like. Math is strongly linked to music, so I also teach patterns, counting, adding, etc.

I believe kids learn best through games. Sometimes they don’t even realize they are learning! So when you combine easy sheet music with fun games it is easy to teach many many concepts at a time!

The games I created in the Itsy Bitsy Spider Piano Games & Activities Book include:

Music Alphabet Path Game – This game provides a forward moving alphabet, but the path moves right to left. This is intentional to provide opportunities for kids to track going the opposite direction of reading.

Tic-Tac-Toe Game – This game provides an opportunity for kids to build a relationship with the teacher.
Pattern Cards – You can also use the cards to make patterns and sequences which is an important math skill for Kindergarten.

Music Alphabet Memory Game – Alphabet letters can be matched to the corresponding piano keyboard cards for a memory style game. Alphabet cards can also be used separately to teach the music alphabet forwards and backwards as well as teaching skipping.

Music Activities for Itsy Bitsy Spider

Movement Activities for Itsy Bitsy Spider

  1. Move fingers, hands and arms to the nursery rhyme.
  2. Puppets or stuffed animals can be bounced to the nursery rhyme.
  3. Students can practice moving with their whole body!
  4. Tapping! Kids can tap on their lap or bounce a stuffed animal to the steady beat as the song is sung. (See this blog post or this video for more ideas on teaching a steady beat)
  5. Most instruments like shaker eggs, hand bells, tambourines, drums can be played to the beat or rhythm while singing the nursery rhyme. (See this blog post or video about short and long rhythm)

Piano Activities for Itsy Bitsy Spider

1. Learn to play the song Itsy Bitsy Spider
2. Make up your own Spider Composition
3. Tap your finger along with the nursery rhyme
4. Play with rhythms – short and long sounds of Itsy Bitsy Spider

Preschool Learning Activities for Itsy Bitsy Spider

Learning activities for beginners may include worksheets (shown below) that help develop fine motor skills, math skills, music alphabet skills, coloring, and more.

Here is another fun finger builder activity to help develop curvy fingers. I am not a huge fan of too many worksheets at a time because I believe children learn best by moving and playing games.

Eency Weency Spider (free download)

The incy wincy spider went up the water spout
Down came the rain and washed the spider out
Out came the sun and dried up all the rain
And the incy wincy spider went up the spout again

Plastic Spider Rings

Plastic rings are fun for kids and I like to use them to play finger number games. How fun is it to play music with pointer finger wearing a little spider ring!

Some links may contain affiliate links which means if you click through the link and make a purchase I may make a small commision at no extra cost to you. Thank you for supporting my blog.

Kids love these colorful rings! Use them to identify finger numbers or make patterns!

Little Miss Muffet Lyrics

Little Miss Muffet
Sat on a tuffet,
Eating her curds and whey;
Along came a spider,
Who sat down beside her
And frightened Miss Muffet away

Another spider nursery rhyme! Use this nursery rhyme to have kids create another original song they compose on their own!

Conclusion

I hope you have found some of the ideas I have on this blog post useful. I started this blog to help parents and teachers introduce music to young children. I’m convinced parents can teach their own young beginner many musical skills with a little help. And I know many teachers value the ideas of other teachers who have years of experience.

Leave me a comment below what you found helpful or useful in this post. And share any ideas you may have for a future post!

The resources I am creating are great for a beginner. You can purchase this Itsy Bitsy Spider Game & Activity Book on my website here.

Rhythm Activity for Preschoolers – Short and Long

Rhythm Activity for Preschoolers
Rhythm Activity for Preschoolers

In this blog post I will provide you with a rhythm activity for preschoolers that focuses on short sounds and long sounds.

Often when a young beginner starts piano lessons, teachers start by opening a piano method book, begin to explain the music notation, and expect the student to understand what they mean. But I have found the difficult job of teaching kids to read music is made much easier by allowing them to experience the concepts over and over before asking them to understand the more abstract notation symbols.

Teaching rhythm is more engaging by using plenty of movement activities and games. Games allow kids to feel successful and learn through play. And that is what preschoolers do best! Play!

How to Teach Short and Long Sounds to a Preschooler

Preschoolers can usually identify objects that are short and long. So, to teach short and long sounds to a preschooler you can use a visual, like an animal, that is long (a snake or an alligator for example) and the child can understand that it is a long creature. Likewise, if they see an ant or a puppy, they can see that it is not a long creature. Then we can call it short (the opposite). So let’s start with what children already know to help them understand and draw parallels to the music symbols they do not know.

Kids really do learn by moving. So playing instruments, marching, stomping, drumming, clapping, vocalizing are some ways kids can experience a short sound in their body.

Experiencing long sounds by taking giant steps, sliding a hand down the arm, playing an instrument like a triangle (or other instrument) that will continue its sound long after the instrument is struck, or vocalizing are some ways kids can experience a short sound.

Are Reading Based Piano Lessons Good for Preschoolers?

Everyone is excited when young children begin reading. But let me point out… many kids struggle with reading at young ages. So, are reading based piano lessons good for preschoolers? More often than not, we are expecting higher level academic progress of young children at younger and younger ages. And while some children experience joy from reading in preschool, many do not. I wrote another blog post about this here.

Reading music is much more difficult skill to master. Not only do children have to identify the note value, they must also learn what note on the staff it represents. On top of that, they must learn where that note on the staff coordinates on the piano. And then they have to have the fine motor skills to play that note.

Whew! That’s a lot to have to understand instantly from reading music. It’s not easy for older elementary students, so it’s definitely a much slower, step by step process for preschoolers! Play based learning, movement, singing, non-reading, experiential learning, rote music, and more will build a solid foundation for young children that will springboard them to understanding as they grow and mature.

Rhythm Activity for Preschoolers AND Animal Lovers

So let’s go back to the beginning.

  • Use ideas and concepts that young children already know
  • Let’s teach music experientially so they can apply their experiences and what they already know to music symbols later.
  • Preschoolers need repetition to cement the experiences in their body. Don’t be in a rush to move forward. Use rhythm acitivities and games over and over.
  • Visuals can help guide a rhythm activity for preschoolers and young beginners.
Rhythm Activity for Preschoolers

Animal Lovers is an experiential rhythm activity for preschoolers which contains visuals of creatures kids already know. These visuals help young children experience short and long sounds. I am offering this product for free for signing up on my email list where I offer a lot of extra free piano and music teaching resources to parents and teachers of young children every month. Check out my video to see these cards in action, and get your FREE Rhythm Activity below!

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Rhythm Activity for Preschoolers
Rhythm Activity for Preschoolers
Rhythm Activity for Preschoolers

Piano Keys Letters for Beginners

Beginners always need help figuring out the piano keys letters. Often in piano lessons I will print out some piano keys letters on cardstock, cut them into cards, and send them home with students. This helps parents and students when practicing at home.

I designed these piano keys letters for my students because:

piano keys letters
  • They fit over the groups of two and three black keys nicely. By grouping the letters in the two and three black key groups, students are able to identify and memorize the piano keys letters more easily. Memorizing the alphabet letters is important when note reading begins.
  • The cards are removeable. When the pandemic began, I shifted to online piano lessons. During our online lessons I got to look inside my students’ home piano set up. I was shocked! Many students didn’t have adequate practice set ups. I was even more surprised at how many students had letters written on their actual piano keys in permanent marker.
  • Perfect size for not impeding the student’s ability to play the white notes. The cards can be placed on the piano and left there as they learn their songs.
  • Useful for playing beginning games with students at the keyboard.
  • Useful for playing beginning piano games away from the piano For example, if you download my Piano Race Game, you can use the piano keys letters to create a long piano keyboard on the floor. You can play the race game away from the actual piano keyboard. Piano Match Game is another game that can be played away from the piano with these cards.
  • Songs that are written with music alphabet letters help teach kids music right away. Students are familiar with alphabet letters and can learn dozens of songs on the piano before they begin reading music notation on the staff.

Piano Keys Letters for Parents and Teachers

The Music Time Kid resources are not only helpful for music teachers, but also for parents. One of the biggest questions I see over and over is that parents are unsure what their beginning piano students should be doing for practice at home. Youngest beginners are much more successful when parents are involved in their music making and there is plenty of play-based and rote learning.

Piano based games teach so much without the required note reading skills. Piano alphabet letter songs help new students learn songs quickly so they feel success! These can be incorporated into practice at home with parental help.

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    Piano Keys Letters Instructional Video

    Easy Songs to Play on Piano: HOT CROSS BUNS

    There are many easy songs to play on piano. But most beginners start with the song, Hot Cross Buns. This simple three note song can easily be taught to even preschool piano students.

    Activities for Easy Piano Songs

    When I first began teaching piano to preschoolers I was always watching for easy songs to play on piano and ideas to extend the concepts that were being taught. There were few resources that actually focused on teaching piano to young children. So when I created this blog I wanted to share resources and teaching ideas that I wished I had when I first began teaching young children.

    For Hot Cross Buns, I am including a music alphabet song sheet, a movement activity, a play-doh mat for a finger building activity, and sweet treat cards to inspire children to think of other foods they can change to words to.

    I created a YouTube video to demonstrate these activities. The video can be found at the bottom of this blog post!

    More detailed instructional video on learning to play Hot Cross Buns and how to teach this song to your child is found below!

    Music Alphabet Song Sheet

    The Music Alphabet song sheet gives young students an instant win. This song is easily taught by rote (rote= watching how someone else plays this on the piano). But a music alphabet song sheet shows the notes on the piano that are to be played and give young students and parents a visual of the song. Because young students do not read music, but ARE learning their alphabet letters and beginning to learn to read words, the music alphabet song sheet is very helpful (but completely necessary if the student has an adult that can show them how to play the song).

    Movement Activities for Hot Cross Buns

    The words to Hot Cross Buns have this pattern: Hot Cross Buns = short, short, long. So I recommend moving the body like this: step, step, jump. One a penny, two a penny = pitter patter, pitter patter OR tippy toeing, tippy toeing.

    You can even have the child move like certain animals. What animals walk? Or jump? And what kind of animal makes a little pitter patter or tippy toeing sound?

    Young children learn by moving so this movement activity is VERY important!

    Play-Doh Finger Building Activity

    Children of all ages love Play-Doh. Squeezing play-doh helps strengthen the hand. Poking little fingers into play-doh helps to make fingers work independently (very important for piano playing) and strengthens the joints in the finger making curved fingers stronger.

    Rolling Balls, poking balls, rolling a couple flat pieces and smashing balls is a lot of fun!

    Sweet Treat Cards

    Kids love to tell you their favorite foods. You may hear foods like Mac & Cheese, Rice & Beans, Cheese Pizza, Spaghetti, and more. I have created little Sweet Treat Cards (there are also a couple healthy options like broccoli and tomato) to help springboard three-syllable food ideas.

    Sweet Treat Cards will give that tangible element to extend practice time. Because most easy songs to play on piano take virtually seconds to play, imaginative practice is required for little hands to strengthen up.

    If you place the cards upside down and you draw five different treats, the student can play five times (once for each treat).

    There are also blank cards for students to draw their favorite three-syllable treat. And of course, you make a really silly treat that is waaaay too many syllables. Just have fun!

    Hot Cross Buns

    & More Sweet Treats

    This easy piano song has a movement activity, a finger building component with Play-Doh, and Sweet Treat Cards to extend practice time!

    Get this easy song, movement, finger builder and sweet treat practice extender for only $4.95 and it is on sale now for a limited time. Get your copy for only $3.95.

    easy songs to play on piano

    Here is the Beehive Music Activity for Preschoolers

    Preschool piano lessons will not look like traditional piano lessons for older kids. Preschoolers learn by moving, singing, playing musical instruments, and playing games. So we have to find ways to engage these busy bodies because they will not sit still for long! I want to introduce you to a music activity for preschooler children that I have taught over and over… and kids still beg for more.

    “Here is the Beehive” is a counting finger play that you can use to teach the finger numbers for the piano. Fingering can be confusing because the fingers are numbered 1=thumb, 2=pointer, 3=middle, 4=ring, and 5=pinky. When you hold your hands out in front of you, you will see that the finger numbers go in OPPOSITE directions. This can trick even older beginning students.

    I use a lot of fingerplays while teaching preschoolers because these music activities can help children learn how to feel the beat (a gross motor skill), and can also help little hands develop finger independence (moving one finger at a time which is a fine motor skill).

    Parents are wonderful music teachers for their preschool children because they can capture the best teachable moments in a child’s day. I remember many preschool piano lessons that just didn’t happen because a child was overtired and uncooperative. Parents are very capable of teaching the very simple musical concepts that are covered in preschool piano lessons utilizing an abundance of music activities for preschoolers.

    You can even extend music activities by adding a coloring sheet, reading some books about bees, singing other bee songs, and by just allowing your child to create their own bee song at the piano. Below, I am offering some FREE printables that will help you extend your learning time. I am also including a few wonderful book titles from Amazon (affiliate links), and a video I created demonstrating the fingerplay.

    Here is the Beehive
    Music Activity for Preschoolers
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      I would love to hear what some of your favorite fingerplays for preschoolers are. Leave a comment below! I’d love to make a video featuring your favorite music activity for preschoolers.

      NOTE: Some links on this page may contain affiliate links. That means if you click on the link and make a purchase I may make a small commission at no extra cost to you. This helps support my blog and Youtube channel. Thank you for your support!

      Mothers Day Gift Ideas for Young Kids!

      I have raised five children and when they were little I was always looking for homemade or DIY Mothers Day gift ideas. They loved having something special to give me that they created. As a music teacher, I always encourage my students to play songs for parents. I know their parents appreciate practice and thoughtfulness. This is especially so when kids learn a song just for them.

      It’s a fact… young children love to create. My almost 2 year old grandson is always saying, “Watch me!” as he dances, plays an instrument, or is riding his little scooter. It’s only natural for a young child’s creative expression to explore musical instruments… examining, experimenting, and often playing them in ways unintended 🙂 So when I created this Mothers Day gift idea, it is with the intention that a preschool age child can experiment and play any key on the piano to play the Mother’s Day Song, because this is how they learn!

      A Mothers Day Song

      This unique Mothers Day gift idea includes a song sheet that has a flower for each syllable of each word. It’s fun to see if the child hears that some syllables might be longer than others. Some young children may not notice and that is okay too!

      To help the child with the words, I like to point to the flowers as I speak the words. A child can repeat each row like an echo. They even have fun moving a small toy (like a lego, mini eraser, etc.) from flower to flower.

      mothers day gift ideas

      Some Ideas How to Introduce this Activity to Kids

      I am a huge fan of play-based learning, so allowing a child to experiment playing notes at the piano without rules is really important… there are no right or wrong notes when it is their own creation. There are so many developmental benefits of making music, so when children are encouraged to make music it catapults their brain into higher levels of cognitive development.

      I always encourage parents to create a joyful home using children’s music. However, in this instance, I encourage parents resist the temptation to give a young child creative ideas. While these suggestions are usually not intended to impede the creating process, I find children become limited by these suggestions… thinking they must copy an example demonstrated by an adult.

      Upon hearing their creation, it is fun to ask the child to tell you what thoughts they had about playing their song the way they did. Did they have any other ideas? Does the song move higher? Or lower? Are there some notes that are long? or short? Will their song sound better if it is played soft? medium? loud? a combination of some of those ideas? Talking about these kinds of musical thoughts may give them some more good ideas!

      Some children may be absolutely brand new to the piano keyboard and anything they play is wonderful. Other children may already know a little bit about the piano and might like to write the music alphabet letters on their flowers. This helps them remember to play the song the same way each time. And of course, you can print the song sheet again if they change their mind!

      A Mothers Day Card

      Mothers day gift ideas

      Another part of this Mother’s Day gift idea is a greeting card.

      Often young children want to get things for the people they love, and having a beautiful greeting card is special for them. On Mother’s Day, they will be able to play their song on the piano and also give a beautiful card that they can sign. Light gray words reading “I LOVE YOU” are inside the card. A child can choose to trace the letters, and they can also trace or color the butterflies on the back of the card.

      Writing, tracing, coloring all encourage the development of fine motor skills which are super important to any young piano student. So I always encourage toys, games, and ideas to help young musicians get a head start.

      I am offering this Mothers Day gift idea for free! By signing up on my mailing list, you will receive the digital files for the Mothers Day Song and the greeting card (envelope not included). You will also be notified of all the freebies, preschool music products, and videos I create to help you teach music to your child. I am sure your budding musician will love creating a one of a kind song and greeting card! Make this Mother’s Day a memorable day for your preschool child! And… the special mother in their life!

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      Preschool Piano Improvisation
      Song Sheet & Greeting Card!

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