• Tina Arenas

Locomotor Movement Songs for Early Childhood Music

Updated: Apr 30

If you're a music teacher, you know that movement is an important part of learning music. But did you know that locomotor movementmoving our bodies around in space – can be especially beneficial for students? In this post, we'll explore the importance of locomotor movement in the music classroom and share recommendations to help your students learn and grow musically. Read on to learn more!

Locomotor Movement

Walking, running, leaping, jumping, hopping, skipping, and galloping are among the basic locomotor movements developed in early childhood. Movements on the floor, like crawling and rolling, should also be considered during movement exploration.


Benefits of Locomotor Movement

In early movement exploration, the focus is on the child gaining awareness of the space and the other people in that space. They travel through the classroom and sense where their body is at any given moment. Practicing different locomotor movement skills gives students experience with moving safely through shared space while developing movement fundamentals. As a result, children gain confidence, autonomy, and an expanded sense of freedom.

Teacher Guidance

Your role is to guide your students to develop body control and safely explore the space. Before they move to music, try scaffolding how to move from personal space to shared space without an external steady beat. Movement pedagogue, Jacque Schrader, suggests starting with a movement cueing exercise. For example, “When you hear the sound of the bell, take a couple of steps away from your spot. When you hear the sound of the drum, go back to your spot.” As your students' spatial awareness improves, invite them to travel farther away from their spot. Once music is added, continue to guide their movement responses while allowing for individual expression. Remember to keep safety as the priority.


Song Recommendations

Whether you are new or experienced to integrating locomotor movement in your classroom, I think you'll enjoy these song recommendations and be able to use them year round. These songs can be used in a variety of settings and adapted for your students' specific needs.


Walking, Walking from Songs for Wiggleworms

Walk, hop, run, tiptoe, march, and more through this song based on the melody, "Frère Jacques/Are You Sleeping?" Use the recording alone, sing it yourself, or substitute other movement words. Teacher tip: Try changing only the first movement word with each repetition.

1st time:

Walking, walking, (walking, walking)

Hop, hop, hop, (hop, hop, hop)

Running, running, running, (running, running, running)

Now we stop, (now we stop).


2nd time:

Tiptoe, tiptoe, (tiptoe, toe)

Hop, hop, hop (hop, hop, hop)

Running, running, running, (running, running, running)

Now we stop, (now we stop).


Walk, Walk, Walk by Stephanie Leavell

Walk, jump, wiggle, run, dance, tiptoe through this song. Use the recording, sing it yourself, or invite students to create a new verses based on known movement vocabulary. Like this song? Check out Music for Kiddos for more!


Locomotor Movement by Kate Kuper and Neal Robinson

This kindergarten through second grade movement activity gets your students moving from place to place right away! It is a fun and engaging way to teach locomotor movements like jumping, hoping, walking, skipping, galloping, sliding, leaping, and running. Check out Kate Kuper's helpful blog post to prepare this movement experience.


Exercise Game #1 by Mark D. Pencil

There are so many options for locomotor movement exploration in this song, including crawling. There is also a cool down transition built in at the end of the song. This is great activity to explore in larger spaces.


Tiptoe, Gallop, March by Andrew Holdsworth

Let's play tiptoe, gallop, or march! After a short introduction, students listen to the music and respond with the corresponding movement. It's a class favorite that usually ends in giggles!


Hop to School by Jazzy Ash

How should we go to school today? Hop, run, walk, or drive! This fun movement exploration is a great beginning of the school year activity. After exploring movement with the recording, invite students to improvise different ways to travel to school.

Bike, surf, fly...the possibilities are endless. Check out more from Jazzy Ash!


Listen and Move #1 (with prompts) by Rhyme and Reason Early Learning

Let's move to the music! Listen for the musical clues and explore locomotor movement to Western classical music. Fly, tiptoe, gallop, march, skip, spin, jump, and end with a cool down stretch. The verbal cues and visual prompts are super helpful! Want a challenge for your older students? Try Listen and Move #1 (no prompts).


Listen and Move by Greg & Steve

This oldie but goodie is a great way to practice locomotor movement. Students listen and respond to the music through movement. Verbal prompts are given the first time. Then, students are challenged to remember what the sounds tell them to do: walk, gallop, tiptoe, run, skate, and hop. Good luck!


Highway No. 1 by Shenanigans

Let's travel to Australia! This catchy tune by the Shenanigans is great for kindergarten and first grade. I like to play the game in a follow the leader formation. Each time the music stops in a different city, students listen for the verbal prompt and perform a different movement. Each movement pattern repeats three times, so students get a lot of practice! What a fun way to connect to a traveling theme or geography lesson. Check out this version, too!


I hope these ideas have sparked some inspiration to incorporate locomotor movement in your music classroom. The more experience students have exploring locomotor movement, the more their brains will build upon those experiences and develop muscle memory, until it becomes second nature. So, what will you try first? Drop us a comment below. Like these ideas? Share them with a friend!


P. S. If you enjoyed these recommendations, check out my other blog post, Active Movement Songs for Early Childhood, for other fun and simple ways to incorporate movement in your classroom.


Have a great day!




References:

Frazee, J. (2006). Orff Schulwerk Today, p. 61. New York: Schott Music Corporation.


Feierabend, J. & Kahan, J. (2003). The book of movement exploration: Can you move

like this? Chicago, IL: GIA Publications, Inc.


Gilbert, A. G. (2015). Creative dance for all ages. (2nd ed.). Reston, VA:

SHAPE America.







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