Teaching Left and Right to Preschoolers through Music

Learning left from right is one thing that music easily allows us to teach preschoolers. Most preschoolers do not know which hand is their left hand and which is their right hand. Having that sense of left from right is so important to opening up their little minds. Adding movement activities that require a response to this knowledge slowly opens up their understanding and response to this concept.

Musical activities introduce this concept. Let’s look at a few.

1. “The Hokey Pokey” is an oldie but a goody. This song has rhythm and  melody that makes it fun. Before children start, simply begin this activity by having the children mirror you while you raise your left hand and then your right hand. Do the same thing with your feet. Now begin the song. You may sing it without instruments, but I recommend using prerecorded music. Prerecorded music will allow you to do the activity with the children so that they can follow you. If you strum a guitar, make sure that children are able to have a good person to mirror who is doing the activity successfully.

2. “Mother Gooney Bird” is a great song. Children will love adding one appendage at a time as they follow the lead of the teacher with the instructions in this song. Mother Gooney Bird’s seven chicks could only move arms, legs, and other body parts. I have yet to meet a child who does not love this song. I like to add my puppets into this activity. Again, children are moving. This movement reinforces learning a very important skill and the music makes it fun!

3. “Waking to the Left” is my own song.  I wrote this song for this purpose. Children can simply get in a circle and walk to the left and right as a group as the song instructs. I use a parachute to help the children stay in the circle as this can be difficult for preschoolers. Other fun parachute activities can be added to this one. Having fun cannot be underestimated. Children (as well as adults) retain so much more information while they are having fun. You can find this song on my CD, Dance with Me: Songs for Young Children (by Sharon Novak). http://www.cdbaby.com/cd/sharonnovak

4. There are many more songs.  Look up songs for teaching left and right. Many great artists and songs will come up. Check them out and pick your favorites, or better yet, pick the children’s favorite. I personally enjoy Patty Shukla’s songs. Lots of great choices. Just be comfortable leading them. And the best part is you can let the recording do most of the musical parts for you.


Learning left and right is so important to a child’s development. Think of the spatial relationships that are being learned. Imagine how much easier it will be for a child to learn an instrument when his/her instructor asks him to use his left hand for the bass notes and right hand for the treble notes on the piano. Know that coordination for playing sports will be better. This skill will open your child’s mind up to a lot of things!