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Sunday, August 16, 2020




Imagine having a learning center in your classroom that fosters the artistic and creative side of children while at the same time helps children to build skills in other academic content areas. Imagine a center that uses music-based experiences as tools for building comprehension and content connections. While this type of learning center may be unique due to its musical nature, it is certain to appeal to children of all ages.
Since children learn best through interaction with their environment and through active participation, a learning center is an optimal way to structure and extend the learning of your students. Children are naturally drawn to music. Musical expression flows freely from children as they interact with their environment. Through music, children learn about themselves and their place in the world. Music is a part of their play and an innate part of their very being. Structuring a learning center with music at the foundation will not only build on the natural connection between children and music, but also lead to deep, meaningful learning experiences. A music-based learning center may be created to strengthen and build connections with content areas such as dramatic play, art, science, social studies, and language arts as well as encouraging musical expression and experimentation.
Teacher's Role
Your role in the creation and participation in the learning center will take different forms as determined by the children's ages and needs. You may function as facilitator, guide, active participant or as an observer of the children's learning. Asking questions of the children, "What did that music make you think of?" and providing suggestions for use of the materials, "Once you are done making your instrument you could use it to accompany a poem." will assist you in guiding children's learning. Participating within activities will help you to view the function of the center from the child's vantage point. As an involved observer, you can watch for ways to extend the children's learning and monitor the usefulness of the activities, the proper timing of introducing specific activities to the center, and determine when activities have lost their appeal. Care should be taken to ensure that the provided activities are open-ended and organized for independent learning to occur so that children at varying developmental stages can work with the materials. In that way, children can select activities according to their own needs and guide their own learning.
Creating Activities
When designing the learning center, the desired learning goals for your students should be identified and provide the framework for the center. In the following type of center the overall desired outcomes for children in early elementary grades include: a) to develop musical response through recorded music and props, b) to develop an understanding of the physical properties of making sound through experimentation and creation of musical instruments, c) to create musical compositions, d) to have opportunities to informally read printed music and read about music, e) to respond to music through creative writing, and f) to respond to music through drawing, painting, coloring, or other visual art forms. Once the outcomes have been determined, the next step is creating activities.
A variety of activities can be created to meet the desired outcomes (see Figure 1). To develop a musical response through recorded music and props, a tape player, streamers or scarves and several types of recorded music should be made available for children to respond freely to. Writing paper, drawing paper, pencils, markers, crayons, and paint provide additional creative opportunities for children to respond to music. Items such as large canning jars of which children can pour water into and play with a mallet or kitchen utensils is a good way to explore sound. To create instruments, prototypes such as maracas and drums can be provided for exploration with small coffee cans, film canisters, rice and beans for creating drums and shakers placed nearby. After creating their own instruments, children may want to use them to create their own musical compositions or to accompany poems or stories. Large musical staff paper for children to notate their compositions or cassettes and a tape-recorder can be provided for preservation of their musical product. For informal reading experience, songs that are notated and recorded, books of familiar songs, and books about music are good resources.

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