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Foundation Stage music: what does your child learn?

Music helps your child’s learning in lots of school subjects. Here’s what they will be taught in lessons and how you can develop their love of music at home.

Music features quite a lot in lessons for children during Nursery and Reception years. There are plenty of opportunities to sing, explore sounds and dance and play to music. It’s often used as a method for learning about other things in the national curriculum, such as science, numbers and words, too.

Your child's teacher will also help them to understand how sounds can be changed; sing simple songs from memory; recognise repeated sounds and sound patterns; and match movement to music. Children might also have the opportunity to compose using a variety of musical instruments.


Foundation Stage music lesson examples

The kinds of activities Foundation Stage children might be introduced to in music:

  • In Nursery, children interpret ‘sad' and ‘happy' music using pictures. They also practise moving their bodies to describe music that sounds very spooky, scary or changes in pitch.
  • In Reception, children listen to a CD playing music which depicts jungle animals. Children must pick an animal they think the music sounds like and use movement to represent that animal.

Support your child's music learning at home

  • Sing songs that invite your child to perform an action, such as a clap, stamp or jump, to help your child develop rhythm. Songs with repetition are particularly good.
  • Make your own homemade instruments - it's fun, cheap and you can use any household object that makes a sound. Fill an empty screw top jar with uncooked beans or rice to make shakers. Make sure the lid is tightly secured before use! Or try empty cartons, pots and pans to make drums that can be hit with a wooden spoon. You can even create a triangle by suspending a metal object such as a coat hanger with some string and hitting it with a metal spoon.
  • Talk to your child about the different sounds we associate with the weather. What sound do you hear when there is a heavy downpour, thunder or wind? Find words and sounds to describe them, such as rumbling thunder in a low voice, howling wind in a screechy voice.
  • Help your child to discover their voice in different ways – singing, whispering, talking, humming. Add some of the musical elements being taught at this stage, such as high, low, loud, quiet, fast, slow, rhythm.
  • Expose your child to as wide a range of music as you can.
  • This wacky question should invoke some creativity - what might music look like if it was a painted picture? Try it out by painting a music picture.
  • Play musical games together.
  • Encourage your child to learn to play an instrument.
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