Using Music with Preschoolers
I’m so grateful for the group of ladies from my church I meet with on Tuesday nights. I can confess my sin and weakness to them in an environment of safety and know that I will be met with grace and encouragement and pointed to the hope of the gospel. Last night our large group teacher exhorted us to not “build a house for our sin” referencing 2 Chronicles 8:11:
“Solomon brought the daughter of Pharaoh from the city of David to the house he had built for her, for he said, ‘My wife must not live in the house of David king of Israel because the places of the ark of the LORD has come into are holy.”
So our small group became a time of confessing our idols, things that we put in God’s place of first priority in our lives.
I expressed frustration that I can see the “house” I have built for my idol but taking it down often feels like an impossibility. How do I change my default? We all agreed that the fight against sin is a daily battle. One of the other women in my group encouraged me by sharing that, along with spending time in the Scriptures and in prayer, God often uses hymn lyrics to help her in the fight against sin. I was struck.
I remembered how solid, God-centered lyrics stir my affections like almost nothing else. I see life a little clearer as I sing along or simply listen. God becomes bigger. I become smaller. My perspective shifts. Hope grows.
These lyrics from a Wesley hymn titled “And Can It be that I Should Gain?” remind me of the freedom that Christ bought for me.
Long my imprisoned spirit lay,
Fast bound in sin and nature’s night;
Thine eye diffused a quickening ray;
I woke, the dungeon flamed with light;
My chains fell off, my heart was free,
I rose, went forth, and followed thee.
These lyrics from “Now Why This Fear” originally written by Augustus Toplady and retuned by Sovereign Grace Music remind me that there is no condemnation. My sin problem was taken care of at the cross. I have nothing to fear.
Now why this fear and unbelief
Has not the Father put to grief
His spotless Son for us?
And will the righteous Judge of men
Condemn me for that debt of sin
Now canceled at the cross?
These lyrics from “By Faith,” a modern hymn by Keith and Krystin Getty, remind me that I can trust God to keep His promise. I can press on in the work He has called me to as I walk by faith.
We will stand as children of the promise
We will fix our eyes on Him our soul’s reward
Til the race is finished and the work is done
We’ll walk by faith and not by sight
Can that same tool of grace apply to preschoolers? Absolutely. Think back to the songs you learned in childhood. For good or bad, they just plain stick with us. What an opportunity we have to pour truth into our little ones through music—truth that will stay with them as long as they are on earth.
Here are just a few ways you can incorporate music in your preschool class.
- Greet preschoolers by singing their names in a “welcome to class” jingle set to a familiar tune.
- Sing the provided key passage songs as a Scripture memory tool.
- Incorporate lyric videos with motions as an active activity. (This one has rescued me when things get hairy.)
- Play music in the background during the session or during transitions.
- Play games such as musical chairs using music with thoughtful lyrics.
- Let preschoolers play musical instruments along with a song.
- Invite preschooler to browse through a hymnal or other music book. Read aloud some of the lyrics.
- Invite preschoolers to paint or draw while listening to music.
- Check out modern hymns or re-tuned hymns to share with preschoolers.
- Play a song and talk about the meaning of the lyrics. Define big words.
- Work together as a group and make up a song.
- Invite someone who can play an instrument to come to your class to play.
- Create motions to a favorite song.
- Record preschoolers singing the key passage song or chanting the big picture question and answer onto an electronic device. Play it back for the child to hear and enjoy.
- Encourage musical children to hum, tap, or beat-box as they work on their journal sheets or coloring pages.
What are some ways that you have found effective in using music with preschoolers?
Karen Jones is the preschool content editor for The Gospel Project for Kids. Karen came to LifeWay in 2014 with over 15 years experience in preschool and children’s ministry. Karen earned an M.A. in Christian Education from New Orleans Baptist Theological Seminary. Karen loves living minutes from downtown Nashville and teaching preschoolers at Immanuel Church.