Tunes for Tiny reminds us that music is a gateway to learning in the Early Years

Teaching Tunes for Tiny


“Music engages the whole brain”


Music ignites all areas of child development and skills for school readiness, including intellectual, social-emotional, motor, language, and overall literacy. It helps the body and the mind work together. ... Dancing to music helps children build motor skills while allowing them to practice self-expression.



As educators, using music as an early literacy tool comes naturally to most of us.  The recall of memorized rhymes is incredible and I for one still remember many of the tunes we sang in Junior infants more than 50 years ago.  Music stimulates the language centre on the left side of the brain, giving a little extra boost to literacy in early years.  It can also have a calming or emerging effect on the room depending on your needs and the children’s interests.  I love seeing the confidence of children growing before your eyes as the repetition of music allows them see their progress. 

I have just attended the four music sessions supported by Kildare CCC and run by Thomas Johnston in conjunction with the Riverbank Arts Centre in Newbridge (  I genuinely had no idea what to expect, having experienced the benefits of using music in circle time for years with pre-schoolers I knew the advantages, but was unsure which way the sessions would make me as an educator feel.  I had no need to worry, Thomas guided us through each session and the benefits from week 1 have been obvious.  Music has a special place in children’s lives and I believe that the more we as educators embrace music in young children’s lives the easier we make things on ourselves. 

The role of vocalisation through song and play. 


When you think of the role of the adult in play, Aistear tells us it is about providing props, time and space to develop play.  These vocalisation sessions lend themselves perfectly with a really wide range of possibilities including safe, challenging, inclusive and fun.  Meaning-making through sound is a really positive experience to share with a child and builds children’s awareness of sounds.  We had fun this week with lots of warm up songs including visualisation, with a link to some great ideas on helium arts around a picnic. 

Playing through voice is fun and interactive, it helps us be silly and Thomas is full of great ideas for children to discover their voice through song, calmly and gently. 


The role of Movement through song

Movement – lovely warm ups such as Button Factory, Hello My Name is Joe, Tropical fruit drink, which children would love.  The movement of the beanbag is to the rhyme of the song- as you move it on the beat to make connection to sound and movement.  Fun energising exercises that work for all ages most especially pre-schoolers. 

This week really got me thinking.  The links to Aistear are boundless in music through movement and the adult direction is really great to assist children’s thinking.  The magic train was such fun and encourages talk and discussion.  You can direct in such a way that you can understand what children are thinking and feeling.  It is easy to assess on the children’s contributions through song and movement, taking in their interests and ideas.  The children get to use their full range of thinking skills with the call and response nature of the warm-ups and this can be really interactive.  The nature of building these songs allows children to recognise their own progress and achievements and build on them. 

When we consider self-assessment, and children thinking about their own learning and development, children are often the best assessors of what they have done and achieved.  The nature of the movement through song activities lends itself really well to this.  Children can hear and see their progress, we as adults can add language and movements that can build skills through song in a fun and repetitive way.  Allowing the child to see and hear their progress and have fun in the doing. 


Exploring & Experiencing Sound

The final week of our four-week sessions really flew.  All educators took full participation which on week one seemed strange as we were all on zoom.  However, by week four all inhibitions were gone we sang, danced to the polka and recognised the chorus of lots of the songs.  I would highly recommend joining Tunes for Tiny, and generally using music in the early year’s environment, it really will enhance your practice and give super new ideas for coping with stress which may sadly be a bit more prevalent due to COVID 19. 

Bernie Connell,

Development Officer,

Kildare County Childcare Committee


Thomas Johnston also hosts the Far Field sessions on his Tradoodle TV Youtube channel:

The Riverbank Arts Centre is our local Kildare centre for the Arts, they often host events for the Early Years: