EYFS Activities – Music: Words in Motion

Music, movement and rhyme go together like roasted carrots and thyme, say Sue Newman of Boogie Mites and Michael Rosen

Rhymes are well known for helping children’s language skills, but neuro-musical evidence suggests that there are also many benefits to be gained by adding music and movement.


Rhymes are a valuable part of language development in the early years, providing the repetition needed to develop the neural networks associated with language processing. Lullabies, nursery rhymes and traditional songs carry a special “signature” of melodies and inflections that help prepare babies’ ears, voices and brains for language. Regular opportunities to hear these songs and rhymes will promote the development of auditory processing skills and the matching of syllable beat patterns to language, which support reading and writing.

Studies have found that music and movement also play a valuable role in developing early literacy skills. Adding recorded music, singing, keeping the beat, and dancing to rhyme time gives us an even more powerful learning and development tool.


Encouraging children to move to the beat of music helps them develop a sense of rhythm that further consolidates learning of the patterns and order of speech sounds. Music encourages movement and together they stimulate brain connections between the auditory, visual and motor cortices: building bigger and better brains.

Timing is an important aspect of learning to read – an awareness of sound segments requires anticipation of breaks in speech sounds. When the melody and lyrics are in harmony (matching syllables and notes), the music reinforces the elements of language that children need to be aware of. Adding movement reinforces the rhythms of language.


Kinesthetic learning – learning by doing – often helps anchor memory. Music is motor – it encourages us to move; children love to dance, stamp, walk, hop and dance to musical sounds. When tasks become automatic – when we can almost take on a physical task without thinking about what we are doing – we use “muscle memory”. Young children need to develop muscle memory by learning to move, balance, and exercise fine and gross motor skills without thinking.


  • Play recorded music from different genres and encourage free dancing
  • Use instrumental versions of action songs such as “head, shoulders, knees and toes” so they can use their memory to add words and actions
  • Watch dance videos and see how kids react. Copy the moves yourself and see how they fit together.
  • Build simple dance routines to recorded action songs; for example: marching band music; reggae for swinging or dancing; simple dance routines to pop music; and classical music for self-expression through movement.

Michael Rosen: making poetry “portable”

“At the risk of repeating the excellent thoughts and ideas in this article, I have always been a strong proponent of combining words with sounds, music and movement. I say ‘believer’; that is what I practice. in every show I’ve done in nearly 50 years of performing in schools, libraries and festivals. Every time I perform, I understand how easy it is for children to “grab” footage of words, phrases, verses, entire poems and songs when combined with movement and tones of all kinds. This makes poetry and song “portable”. We practitioners become transmitters of language, conveying the thoughts, ideas and feelings embodied in poems and songs.Children then become owners of what we have given them and very often then become transmitters and – above all – changers of what they have ap taken. They compose new poems and songs based on what we have taught them.


Boogie Mites set Michael Rosen’s nonsensical poems and rhymes to music and motion. You can access Hip Hap Happy at: https://bit.ly/3fO6yST

Nursery World readers can claim a 20% discount on Boogie Mites through December. Use ‘BMNW20%’ discount at checkout.

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