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Stop & Go by Ella Jenkins

Movement Exploration Ideas for Early Childhood

Need some ideas for movement exploration while practicing self-regulation and active listening in kindergarten music? You’ve stopped at the right place!

Ella Jenkins, known as “The First Lady of Children’s Music,” is a pioneer in the field of children’s music and has inspired generations of children’s musicians and music educators with her original compositions and folk music recordings. Her song, “Stop & Go” has been a favorite of my students for many years. This magical gem allows students to explore non-locomotor movements (clap, twist, bend, reach) and locomotor movements (walk, tip-toe, hop, skate) with a surprise “stop” ending. You can also revisit the song when playing instruments and insert a different word for each action (play, shake, tap, scrape).

Self-Regulation Skills

Games like “Stop & Go” help students learn how to self-regulate while keeping it fun and playful. Self-regulation skills help children control impulses, emotional responses, and motor actions. Playing Freeze Dance or Follow the Leader games are also a big hit, especially when students get to choose how to move!

Take a listen to Ella Jenkin's recording.

Teaching Tips

A couple of helpful tips when teaching Stop & Go:

  • Interactive modeling is a key. Model what is safe/not safe in shared space.

  • Use repetition and novelty. “Can you walk forward? Now try walking backwards.”

  • Allow for an intentional pause of silence on the word, “stop”.

  • Freeze like an ice cube or a statue. Imagery can help solidify conceptual understanding and helps keep the energy playful.

  • Use a stop & go visual cue.

  • Ask students for their movement ideas.

Thanks for stopping by!

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