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Creating Sound Play spaces for Early Learners

Sharing a range of music from different cultures can enhance learning for children, which can lead to stimulating questions and discussions as they explore their identity and communities they live in.

Written by: Jo Harris - Educational Advisor  

Introducing music in a program can seem overwhelming, particularly if you do not believe you are musically inclined. For those who feel more confident, it might not seem problematic. Whatever your ability and interest in music, it is an essential activity for children to experience. Children are not generally interested in whether or not their educators can hold a tune! When setting up dedicated sound programs, educators can take action to simplify the process by addressing a few items before a drum is banged or a sound is created!

Naturally intuitive, most children enjoy feeling the connection commonly associated with musical engagement, whether structured or unstructured. Developing musical experiences with, and for children can support their growing appreciation and value of music and its role in the quality of their lives. 

Musical experiences do not have to be limited to room corner

Before setting up a space, think about the available room, and where it will be positioned amongst other activities. Remember that other children have different preferences regarding their tolerance for it. Depending on the planned experiences, allowing additional room for dancing or movements associated with music, or instruments of choice are essential. 

Should an educator decide to set up a permanent (or semi-permanent) music program indoors, locate it next to a dramatic play area or further away from the main traffic zones of the room. Laying out a rug large enough for the number of children who want to play there, and adding some pillows could suggest where to sit so that the resources are easily accessible to the children in the middle of the space. Setting these up near a mirror that is either fixed to the wall or free-standing for children to observe themselves performing is an exciting addition.

Storing instruments in small baskets that can be moved around the learning environment could be a practical solution so that a lack of space is no longer a barrier to introducing music to a program. Additional baskets, boxes, or bags of scarves, ribbons, small instruments, and dress-up props can add to and extend the learning, encouraging children to sing, dance and play. Making music outside can provide freedom with fewer limits than within an indoor setting. Use any additional space to create an amphitheatre with a platform or raised area for children to create unique performances! 


Listening to sounds and music throughout the day reinforces learning 

Whether planned or incidental, there are many opportunities to take notice of all the sounds and music made every day. Some will be familiar, others not as much, but provide a chance to discuss them and what they might think or feel about the world around them. Greeting children with music as they arrive can help them feel more comfortable; hearing a jingle or piece of music played on an instrument such as the Play Me Wooden Pat Bells that they enjoy. Moving through the daily routine transitions could become more interactive with children signalling an upcoming change using an instrument.


Soft and quiet music could be played to support children with their relaxation practices. An intentional choice of music will reinforce learning concepts such as slow, fast, quiet, or loud with children that could be associated with other areas of learning. Sharing a range of music from different cultures from around the world can also enhance the learning experience for children. Streaming music through a speaker and from a range of apps broadens their horizons, which can lead to stimulating questions and conversations as a result.

Playing the 'What Can You Hear?' audio game involves reading, looking, and listening to an interactive book all about different sounds. There are several different environments with their own unique set of sounds, that can be heard and matched from the accompanying CD. 

3 Ways to engage children in musical activities

Listen to music together - Changing your voice, and exploring different tones and pitches helps older children recognise and distinguish characters in songs and books

Move to music together - Babies and toddlers enjoy songs that have repeating words and rhymes that they associate with actions. Explore different ways to respond to music, like clapping and tapping hands and feet.

Sing together - Explore singing high and low notes to match the sounds heard when playing instruments and turn to say children's names into made-up songs when transitioning from the end of group time to independent play.

Using sounds and music to teach and learn communication skills 

Creating teachable moments to introduce music and musical experiences allows educators to model for children the appropriate use of instruments as well as considering the needs of others. Introducing music and experimenting with sound experiences embedded within different areas of your program might include focusing on listening to, identifying, and responding to sounds in the environment to develop their listening and language skills.

Reading aloud familiar picture books and creating sound effects are simple ways to compare the points of view of each character, modelling aspects of everyday communication between people. Using different voices of educators and children using instruments can make these activities more interactive and meaningful.

Re-telling stories with props, including animal puppets are another way of exploring sound and relationships. Children tend to relate easily to the sounds that different animals make, and this engagement can improve and develop listening skills that children may add to their own independent play as they experiment with different ways of expressing themselves.

Through daily play and interaction, including singing, dancing, and instrument play, children can begin to understand the importance of music in their everyday life and the joy it can bring to them. Opportunities to participate in structured and unstructured learning, including where it takes place, encourages children to experience an expected outcome or simply enjoy learning through their own curiosity.

For more information about the power of music in play, please visit 


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