I am always looking for ways to incorporate instruments into my lessons with young children. Instruments make a fun addition to any song or activity, and they can also serve as effective aids in teaching a particular skill or concept.
Take shakers, for instance. I use bright, multi-colored egg shakers and chiquitas (egg shakers with handles) on a regular basis for several reasons:
a) they fit right into my students’ little hands
b) virtually no skill is required (Shakers sound good no matter what!)
c) they can be worked seamlessly into many goal-based activities.
In fact, I’ve written several songs based on the use of shakers. While some are just for fun, others have a specific objective in mind. Shakers, Up High! is an example of the latter; this song combines shaker playing, color identification, taking turns, and following directions. Sounds complicated, right? Well actually, it couldn’t be any simpler.
Everyone gets a shaker, which could be one of five colors (or more/less, depending on the shakers you have on hand). The students play their shakers throughout the song, holding it high in the air when his or her color is called. Listening is key to this activity!
For students who are just beginning to learn colors, it is helpful to include a visual (either a card displaying each color or an actual shaker) when naming the different colors in the song. I always change up the order in which I name them, just to keep everyone on their toes.