Kathy Stockbridge M.Ed.
Special Education teacher, Elementary Learning Specialist, and Behavior Interventionist, Retired

contact:  kathyquilter10@gmail.com


What role does music play in your work?
"As a special education teacher and specialist for 40 years, I used music continuously with the children I taught or did interventions with. I taught preschool aged children with special needs for 15 years, and with that age group, music was especially important. Teaching thematically, music was at the top of my list to reinforce whatever theme we were studying: Fall, Water, Food, Farm, etc. Music was also used to teach routines like coming to Circle, putting away materials, or making other transitions.




What is the one thing you want people to know about singing with young children?

"Children love music and have an instinctive connection to it. Look for songs with lots of rhythm, songs with silly words or actions, and whenever possible, add visuals in the form of pictures, books, or puppets and costumes. Songs with imitation and that teach real elements of music like loud and soft, fast and slow, start and stop, are also excellent."

1. Can You Sit In A Circle and Listen To The Drum
About the Song: These songs are excellent for gathering children together to start your Circle time routine. I used the Can You Sit in Circle songs when it was time to transition from free play to Circle. As soon as the children heard the music come on, they began to clean up. I put the two versions of the song on a CD, and then if they weren’t quite finished cleaning up, I would start it again. Soon they were singing along as they cleaned! Once gathered at the carpet, I followed with Listen to the Drum. I used a buffalo head drum that had a wonderful sound. All of the children would get a turn to try the pattern from the song and then we would play the drum loud, soft, fast, slow, etc.

Personal Comment: These songs were very well liked by the children and adults I worked with. The children loved the counting, finding their head or toes when the song asked, and playing the drum! These songs also helped establish important routines and made transitions smooth.

2.Clap Clap Clap Clap Your Hands
About the Song: When I was teaching young children with disabilities in Cheney, I had a wonderful music teacher who always started her time with the children with this song. The song is very lively, and has lots of opportunities for imitation. It also teaches some nice elements of music and has times that you sing and follow the actions, and times when the music just plays. During the instrumental parts of this song, the music teacher taught the children to sing “la la la la la la la”, while moving their arms from side to side, or if they’d been using rhythm sticks, they would move them from side to side, and then go back to tapping them when the song said to clap hands. So fun!

Personal Comment: To this day, when I hear this song, it makes me happy. Something about the beat and energy of this song defies you to be in a bad mood. Whenever I am in a school and visiting a classroom, I will ask to sing this song.

3. I Had A Bird (variation on Bought Me a Cat or Fiddle-I-Fee)
About the Song:
Songs that build on themselves and repeat phrases are great for extending memory and language patterns. I Had a Bird is one of those songs. As you sing about the animals, starting with the bird, you not only add the name of the animal, but also the sound that it makes. So by the end of the song, you can have a chain of 6, 8, even 10 animals that you are naming and making sounds for.

Personal Comment: This song was a favorite when we were learning about animals on the farm. I liked to use pictures or toy animals that represented the ones we were singing about and as we added a new animal, I would let a child come up, select the animal from several choices, and then either make the animal sound or do an action the animal might do. We then added this animal to the line of others, and continued the song, incorporating the sound or action the child had suggested. Giving children choices and letting them choose animals they might know or be able to make a sound for increases their success and enjoyment of the song.

4 .Five Little Snowmen
About the Song: I love this wonderful winter song by Nancy Stewart. It is quiet and peaceful and the children are mesmerized as you go through the song and each little snowman melts into a puddle. I added pictures to this song in the form of a book so that the children could see the snowmen transform from snowmen to puddles. This helped them understand the concept of what happens to the snow when the sun comes out and it starts to get warm. In a very fun way of course! It is also a good “counting down” song, counting down from 5 to 0.

Personal Comment: To extend this song even more, I had children come forward to be the snowmen. We added hats, scarves, and mittens, and as we sang the song, one snowman at a time “melted” into a “puddle”. Lots of laughter and taking turns!

5. Peanut Butter and Jelly
About the Song: Who doesn’t like peanut butter and jelly? This song is about a delicious combination of foods that almost all children can identify with. It is one you can stand up and do, acting out the digging, cracking, smashing, picking, and spreading talked about in the song. On the refrain that says, “Peanut, peanut butter,” we would roll our arms, one round the other quickly in front of our bodies. Then when the “And jelly!” part is said, we would throw our arms into the air as if saying “hooray!”

Personal Comment: This is a great song to sing after you’ve had the children sitting for a while at the carpet. It gets them up and moving and provides lots of opportunities for imitation and using two arms/hands together. We would typically follow this song with making sandwiches, sometimes making the peanut butter ourselves. With all of the allergies and sensitivities today however, it would be good to offer some other choices for the eating part of this activity, but don’t give up the song!