In many of our classes, we are focusing on vocal play – an extremely beneficial and FUN way to help children develop better articulation and build awareness of phonemes, or rather pieces/parts of words.  I just wanted to share how much fun Cora and I are having with the song “Shake Hands Everyone” from the Our Time – Milk and Cookies semester.

Washing hands regularly, AND for a long enough time to get the germs off (at least a full 30 seconds with soap), was developing into a bit of a power struggle at times.   So I changed the words to “Wash hands everyone, dum-a-lum-lum…” etc., and it repeats several times.  Cora immediately caught on and started singing along, not realizing she was really scrubbing her hands the way she has been taught.  Then, of course, we added additional verses, like “NOW Rinse hands everyone…”, and “Dry Hands everyone…”  The length of the song really helped get those hands clean, and she started enjoying washing her hands – so much now that I can’t get her to stop playing at the sink.  Oh, well – she’s getting clean hands.

But, my little word spinner had to go a step further.  She, and we, started changing the nonsense syllables in the song, instead of “dum-a-lum-lum”, we started “ding-a-ling ling”, and “shop-de-wop woo”, or even using our names in a silly ways “Cora-lee-la” and, her favorite “ma-ma-mee-moo”.  Of course, I can’t really spell all the fun sounds she came up with.  I think it even included a rousing round of raspberry sounds and tongue clicks.

No matter what age a child is, playing around with sounds can be fun like this.  Listen to the sounds your baby, or child, makes and repeat them back to him.  Oh, they’ll be so proud to hear it back from you.  Then change it up just a little bit to make a slightly different sound, then wait for them to repeat it.  Act like its the most fun thing you’ve done all week, and pretty soon, you’ll both be laughing and making all kinds of sounds.  And your child’s language skills will be skyrocketing.  Although true reading may be in the distant future, this awareness of sounds and how to make them will make it much easier to learn to read, and spell correctly in the future.