signs that children are engaged

They want to do it themselves-gazing out through magic glasses.

What are the signs that children are engaged with you during music activities for preschoolers?

Much of my week is spent looking for signs that children are engaged while I’m presenting music activities in child care centres.

In a recent session I was waiting patiently for the children to settle into the circle. I had some music playing as an incidental listening activity. One of the younger children, aged about three and a half, approached me with a quizzical look on his face. “What’s that music?” he said. I answered “It’s a Mozart allegro for flute.” He said nothing more but continued his concentrated listening. I know he had heard it at least four times in the past. He had been attending the centre for most of his young life and in the toddler room we had listened to that Mozart piece while having morning tea. We’d also danced to it – floating around with coloured scarves. I don’t know if had heard it anywhere else but he was clearly giving me a sign that he was interested in that particular piece. Sign no. 1,  they question you.

Last week, with the same group, I set down a box of tapping sticks in the centre of the circle ready to do a body percussion activity called “One Two Shoo Fly Shoo”.  The girl who had purposely sat herself next to me said, “We’ve done this three times.”  She was correct.  In the past I had repeated each lesson once but as an experiment I had moved to two repeats. She had clearly been counting. I was worried.  I said “is is too boring to do it again?” She smiled and said “No, it’s not boring.” What a relief! The only props I had with me were for the lesson I’d planned and I’d have been mortified if a highly switched-on four-year-old had found my work boring!  Sign no. 2, they keep tabs on you.  

By the way, she also removed herself from the seated group for I Know Old Lady Who Swallowed a Fly story song. She couldn’t stand the thought of the old lady swallowing all those animals.  She rejoined us straight after.  Sign No. 3, they let you know what they don’t like.

My favourite response happened after we’d finished the drama and movement activity, Old Kangaroo. As soon as I’d let out the last breath at the end of the song, a child called out “Again, again!” And then a chorus of “Again, again” started.ThenI knew that this was one of those music activities that had worked its magic.  Sign no. 4, they want a repeat performance.

Another of my favourite responses happens when I start to sing a song and a child calls out, “I know that song!”  At that point I will often call her or him out to sing to the group while standing alongside me or even to sing it alone.  Sign no. 5, they want to do it themselves.

What are your observations about signs that children are engaged in your music activities for preschoolers?  Please leave a reply in the comment box below.

If you want to discover some fully tested engaging resources, try out my lesson on the theme of flies and other annoying beasties. It’s called “Shoo Fly Shoo!” and it’s in our shop.