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Smithsonian’s “Year of Music” Digital Resources for Early Learning

Smithsonian’s “Year of Music” Digital Resources for Early Learning

By: Ashley Naranjo, Manager of Educator Engagement, Smithsonian Center for Learning and Digital Access

The Smithsonian named 2019 its Year of Music, with 365 days of events and programming to celebrate and its many musical resources.  Did you know that these combined musical resources constitute the world’s largest museum of music?

To include young children and their families and caregivers in the celebration, the Learning Lab has produced four new collections of music resources in its Talk with Me Toolkit series. Designed to support conversations that encourage musical potential in young children, each collection has a theme and includes elements of play, conversation starters, listening exercises, close-looking activities, and suggested children’s books. 

Take a listen:

  • MUSIC: Dance to the Beat!
    • Listen, stomp and clap along to songs by STOMP, the folk song and clapping game “Shoo Lie Loo”, and music by the Columbian group Cantadores del Pacifico. Follow instructions to make your own drum, then gather your friends for a beat-making drum circle.
  • MUSIC: Create and Improvise
    • In this collection, you'll listen to a beatboxer make music and experiment with making different sounds with your voice. Learn about jazz improvisation through the musical stylings of Charlie Parker and Dizzy Gillespie. Explore how you can make music with items around your house, then dance along to a New Orleans parade.
  • MUSIC: Travel this Land
    • Many songs are inspired by places. From cities to oceans to mountains, musicians write about places! Take a musical journey with us and travel this land! Listen to the song, “This Land” (written by Woodie Guthrie, and sung by Pete Seeger) and look at images of American places.
  • MUSIC: Animal Tracks
    • Animals make many wonderful sounds. Can you tweet like a bird? Can you moo like a cow? Explore animals and music about them in this fun collection! Move and dance to “Little Bird, Little Bird” by Elizabeth Mitchell and “Who Fed the Chickens” by Ella Jenkins. Follow instructions to make your own animal sock puppet.

Each of the toolkits aims to provide parents and caregivers with a wide variety of high-quality, authentic materials representing a variety of musical genres to engage in meaningful conversations with young learners that help them see their own musical potential, as recommended by the National Association for Music Education. Enjoy!

Mothers and Fathers Work Hard to Educate Their Children

Image: Mothers and Fathers Work Hard to Educate Their Children [painting] / (photographed by Peter A. Juley & Son) (detail), by Jacob Lawrence. Listed in Milton Brown's text as: Harlem Series, no. 27.
Smithsonian American Art Museum