When I started singing with very young children, I had to come up with ideas that would work. Well, naturally, movement was one idea, but I also knew that I needed props and objects that they could manipulate to make activities have meaning. I begin pulling together a few songs that would allow me to create some good felt activities.
Aikendrum was my first felt activity. I think most of my readers here are familiar with the guy who lives on the moon who has body parts made of food. I knew exactly what to do. I went and bought felt and made the body and put it on a dark blue background. Then I made all of the food body parts. I give a body part to each child and that child had to listen to the song so that he/she knew when to put the body part on Aikendrum. This is still the favorite of all of my children. The song is paced just right for the children to have time to take their turns putting on the body part. Children love being involved in an activity.
My next activity was “Sally the Camel.” This time I used fleece because it is the fabric I had. I made Sally the camel with a very long body and made ten humps to fit on her back. My preschoolers take turns taking off one hump at a time until she is left with no humps. My toddlers love this activity. With this activity we are learning to take turns and learning to count. It is another valuable activity.
We use “The Old Lady Who Swallowed the Fly.” I created the old lady out of a 2 liter soda bottle with the top cut off and covered in fabric. I added a head with a large mouth that opens. Then I collected the animals that she swallowed for the children to take turns putting inside her. They love it! Just another hands on activity!
I have made costumes that I use for the song, “The Little White Duck.” The children get to dress as a duck, a frog, a bug, a fish, a snake, a bear, and a bird and act out the song as we sing it. Children love to act! This works best with young elementary groups that are small. I have six different animal characters so I have to use this with small groups.
And of course there is “The Green Grass Grows All Around.” Yes, I have a hole in the ground, a tree, a branch, a nest, some eggs, and some birds. The kids love this. You can add whatever you’d like.
These are just a few examples. I have other activities that I use or have used. Some have been more successful than others. It’s all about experimenting and finding out what works. Start creating activities that use felt of other props that get preschoolers involved. These activities are so wonderful for teaching children to listen to and follow directions. Children learn to become more aware of their surroundings and they learn whatever lesson the activity teaches them. I use felt and fabric instead of paper because it lasts much longer. I have been carrying Aikendrum around with me for seven years now and he still looks great! These activities are fabulous learning tools for any story time or music activity! You don’t have to sing. Just tell the story, and if you do sing and your singing is not perfect, the children will not mind at all. They will be having way too much fun to notice!