Category Archives: singing

Why Singing and Dancing Promote Social Skills and Friendship

singing kidsResearch has shown that singing increases happiness and emotional well-being.  People feel happier after singing than simply listening to music, probably due to the release of neurochemicals in the brain.

It isn’t news to me that singing lifts your mood.  The quiet teenager that would skip along the road after my weekly singing lesson, head held high and ready to conquer the world is testament to that. When I sang I came alive, through singing I could truly let go. I grew up loving musicals, perhaps because it is perfectly acceptable to sing and dance down the road in a musical and everyone is always happy.

Singing as a group has additional benefits, according to recent research from Oxford University.    Singing in a group encourages social bonding, and singing groups form friendships more quickly than in other group activities. Group dancing also produces similar results, suggesting that a shared musical experience and working together are key factors.  Many of my closest friends were made during my musical theatre days and joining choir was the perfect way to meet people and make friends, when moving to a new country.  A large proportion of the ladies in my choir joined because they were new to the area and wanted to meet new people, whilst sharing their passion for singing. Perhaps if we mix in a little dance we will be even closer?

Singing is a natural way for parents to bond with babies .  As a singer, I instinctively sang to my newborn babies when I was alone with them for the first time.  Often a parent will get their first reactions from a baby when they sing to them. Smiles, laughter, calming, eye contact or gesture can all be encouraged through singing.

When my eldest was born, I felt privileged that as an early education teacher, I  knew lots of songs to share with my baby. With this in mind, I started a baby music group with my antenatal group. My aim was to reach out to others and introduce them to songs that they could share with their babies.  With hindsight, this not only helped the babies but also gave this group of new mothers the chance to socialise, at one of the most vulnerable times of their life. As new mothers singing to their babies, it didn’t matter if they felt they ‘couldn’t sing’  and we quickly built strong friendships.

Group singing was an important part of my teaching day and something I was very comfortable leading.  This confidence wasn’t shared by all the teachers but some approached singing time with enthusiasm and energy, even if they believed their own singing voices to be terrible. The children responded to the teachers who could have fun and draw them in, musical proficiency was never a factor. Singing in a group is a fundamental part of many preschool settings and is one of the ways in which children learn to work together. In order to create a unified sound the children have to listen to one another and share in the experience together.

Young children are instinctively drawn to music and dance and sing without restraint. This usually remains with them until the age at which they become self-conscious and concerned about whether they are good enough. Reluctance to sing may also arise as singing becomes  performance focused rather than purely for pleasure.

One of my favourite memories of Christmas time, was the year my great aunts came to visit my grandparents. The sisters sat around the keyboard as my Auntie played and we all sang for hours.  That family togetherness is difficult to replicate in other situations. My great aunts grew up in the era before television, when singing around the piano was part of everyday life.  I believe that it is important for children to see that singing (and dancing) isn’t about winning a talent show.  Sing along to the radio on car journeys, make up silly songs or fire up some karaoke videos and sing along.

When we have friends around it nearly always ends up with a round of karaoke and it has paved the way to some of the best parties. I love that young and old, singers and non-singers join in and it is always accompanied by laughter and friendship.singing

The End of an Era – Goodbye Under 5’s

As an early education consultant, today is a momentous day. Tomorrow is my youngest daughter’s 5th birthday and so, after 11 and a half years, this is the last day I will have children under 5.

A few years ago I looked forward to the day when my children would be growing up but today I am a little sad for all the things I will miss.

  1. Their chubby little faces and hands
striped hat

2. Watching them play

3. Cute drawings

child's drawing

4. Messy faces


5. Thumb suckers


6. Kisses, cuddles and holding hands

mother kissing baby

7. Having a constant companion


8. Learning to sing

9. Sleeping babies

Had enough now mum
Had enough now mum

10. Everything about this

Luckily, I have almost a year before she goes to school, so lots of time left as a pre-schooler. Happy Birthday little one and as your t shirt says ‘Never Grow Up’
never grow up

Introducing Children to Welsh Through Song, with Babi Bach the Album

babi bach

My 4-year-old has just learned her first Welsh word ,’canu’ meaning to sing.

How does a child living in the US with non- Welsh speaking parents learn such a word?  From the wonderful, bilingual album, the girls received as a gift.  The album was created by a friend of mine who runs ‘Babi Bach’ a bilingual music group in South Wales.  The girls are fascinated by this unfamiliar language and love it when I tell them the meaning of a Welsh word.

The songs are familiar favourites, including, row, row ,row your boat, incey wincey spider and one finger, one thumb and are sung by male and female voices, in both English and Welsh.   The Welsh versions brought back distant memories of my days as a student teacher in Wales. As an added surprise, when browsing the cover,  I recognised one of the singers as a child who attended my after-school club in the 90’s.  My friend confirmed that it was him, all grown up and singing professionally. More happy memories of home.

Living in the US, my children are unlikely to hear the Welsh Language.  I’m not a Welsh speaker but the Welsh language was at the forefront of my early school years. We had Welsh assembly once a week, played games in Welsh and learned the Welsh language. The girls are fascinated that there is this strange language that is only spoken in Wales.

The girls sing along in English and try their best to join in with the Welsh.  Initially, they spouted  gibberish, laughing hysterically at the complicated words in ‘head, shoulders,knees and toes. My Welsh isn’t really strong enough to help them but I point out the words I recognise. My next step is to print off the Welsh lyrics , so I can sing along. The songs are separated by enthusiastic conversations between a group of friends in both languages, so it is easy for them to follow.

After hearing the songs a few times, they are already beginning to sing along in Welsh even without my help.

I can highly recommend this for Welsh parents who have moved away from Wales. It is the perfect  introduction to the Welsh language.  Equally, it is a simple and fun way to learn Welsh for children living in Wales.

Digital copies of Babi Bach yr Albwm are available from Amazon Music and other digital music platforms.

Disclaimer :This is not a sponsored post no payment was received.

Hallowe’en Songs for Pre-schoolers.

When it comes to Hallowe’en my repertoire of songs is not as large as some other seasonal favourites. Tweaking a few nursery songs and finding a few favourites online,  I put together a small package of activities for a preschool music session.

Look at all these pumpkins
Look at all these pumpkins


5 Little Pumpkins ( A Popular Rhyme in the US)

5 Little Pumpkins Sitting on a Gate

The first one said “Oh my, it’s getting late”

The second one said “There are witches in the air”

The third one said “But we don’t care”

The fourth one said “Let’s run, Let’s run”

The fifth one said “Isn’t Hallowee’n fun?”

Then woooooo went the wind

And OUT went the lights.

And five little pumpkins rolled out of sight.



There’s a Spider on the Floor ( To the tune of ‘Put your Finger on your Head)

spider webs spun using sticks and yarn
spider webs spun using sticks and yarn


Move the spider up your body and make rhymes with different body parts eg There’s a spider on my tummy and I really want my mummy, there’s a spider on my knee and he’s very scary. Lyrics to the first verse are here.




If You’re a Monster and You Know It (Spooky Version of If You’re Happy and You Know It)

If you’re a monster and you know it then say ‘raaaaggh’

If you’re a witch and you know it say ‘HA HA’

If you’re a ghost and you know it then say ‘Oooooooo’

If you’re a dragon and you know it, breathe out fire.

If you love Hallowe’en then shout ‘BOO’

Charcoal Monster
Charcoal Monster


The Skeleton Dance

Doing the Skeleton Dance A slightly different version of the song ‘Dem Bones’




This is the Way we Carve a Pumpkin (to the tune ‘Here we go round the Mulberry Bush)


This is the way we carve pumpkin, carve a pumpkin, carve a pumpkin,

This is the way we carve a pumpkin on Hallowe’en.

This is the way we cut off the top….

This is the way we scoop out the seeds….

This is the way we cut out a face…..

This is the way we light it up….


The Jack o Lantern keeps monsters away….

Monsters away, monsters away

The Jack O lantern keeps Monsters away

On Hallowe’en



I Hear Thunder (Use a spring drum for atmospheric effect)

I hear thunder, I hear thunder

Hark don’t you? Hark don’t you?

Pitter-patter raindrops, pitter-patter raindrops

I’m wet through

So are you.

Bats are flying, bats are flying

In the night , in the night

Watch out for the witches! Watch out for the witches

What a fright, what a fright.

Trick or treating, trick or treating

Door to door, door to door

Gathering our goodies, gathering our goodies

More and more, more and more.

Instruments and Movement.


Turn off the lights and give each child a flashlight/torch.

Play spooky Music – We chose ‘Night on Bald Mountain’ by Mussorgsky .

Encourage the children to make their torchlight dance to the music.

Help the children to choose instruments that might add to the atmosphere. (Deep drums, a spring drum, rainmakers and penny whistles are especially good).

Pirate Play

pirate play
The crocodiles don’t like this colour so they won’t pull it into the swamp.

In the hot sunshine the girls don’t really need a lot of encouragement to play with water.  When I suggested we set up their pirate ship in the garden and make a plank that they could jump from into the paddling pool, they thought it was a great idea.

To make it truly authentic, we made pirate swords so they could push each other off the plank in true pirate fashion. They coloured them with chubbie paint markers  before adding jewels.

making pirate swords pirate sword

We emptied the paddling pool to clean it, leaving water on the lawn.  The girls decided that this should be a swamp where crocodiles lived.  They collected branches to lay across it so that they could cross the swamp.

branches to cover a swamp
Leaves are the only thing that works to help us cross the swamp, everything else sinks.


They then went on the lookout for something to use as a plank and decided on a large branch that had been pruned from our maple.

I had been changing the words to songs to fit a pirate themed music class. ‘If you’re a pirate and you know it say aaarh’, ‘1 little, 2 little, 3 little pirates’ and , ‘there were 10 in the ship and the pirate said walk the plank’.  The girls made up songs of their own, counting down as the pirates walked the plank one-by-one.

walking the plank

Next they set out on a pirate treasure hunt. One of the girls hid the treasure and made an X from sticks to mark where it was. My eldest made a map and clues for the girls to follow.

We should find a green ball here.
We should find a green ball here.
Now we need to go this way towards the den.
Now we need to go this way towards the den.
Open the chest with the magic key. Wow, look at the treasure!
Open the chest with the magic key. Wow, look at the treasure!

More Pirate Play Ideas

Winter Pirates


Pirate Phonics


Disclosure: This is not a sponsored post. Some of the art materials were gifted for trial purposes.

The Land of Song – A Guest Post for St. David’s Day


Today we have a St. David’s Day guest post from Penni Carr.  I met Penni during my  musical theatre days (sorry Penni for the old photo).  She went on to become a professional actress and since becoming a mum, has founded Babi Bach a bilingual music class for babies and toddlers. Penni writes about the connection the Welsh have with singing and how the Welsh language is an integral part of that. Are Welsh people good singers? Why do we love singing so much?  Read on the find out more…

Penni and Rachel
Welsh people often get asked if they are born being able to sing? As if it is some magical power that Celtic people posses from birth. Now, some people may believe this is true but I believe something slightly different. I believe that Welsh people are born into a heritage rich in tradition and passion and one way that we pass this on is through song.
Children will be taught nursery rhymes and songs in Welsh and English, even if English is the only language spoken at home (which Welsh people here have ever sung “Mi Welais Jac y Do” or “Calon Lan” without learning any other welsh?!) I think that, from birth, singing is something that we usually hear every day and so it becomes something very natural for children to do; to sing along and join in with the song – to pass on the history, the tradition and the language.

Welsh lady
Music is one of the only things that engages the WHOLE brain and, as such, is an incredibly useful teaching aid. I bet you can remember songs that you sang at school when you were five far more easily than you can remember the periodic table! Unless you can sing that too like the fabulous Tom Lehrer!

I founded Babi Bach in September 2013. We are a bilingual baby music class suitable for little ones from birth to three and we use music and songs to help little ones learn languages. We believe that music and language help children develop communication skills, social skills, gross motor skills, fine motor skills, spatial awareness, community links and, most importantly, it’s FUN! So pass on your song and watch your little ones flourish. All together now…

Mi welais Jac Y Do         ( Me well-ice Jack err Door)

 Yn eistedd ar ben tô      ( Un ‘A’ steth arr ben tor)

Het wen ar ei ben            (Het when arr ‘A’ ben)

A dwy goes bren              ( a doi gois bren)

Ho ho ho ho ho ho!         ( Hor hor hor hor hor hor)


Thanks Penni x

Shrek the Musical

shrek the musical

At the age of 2 my daughter would insist I play ‘Evita’ every time we got in the car.  Her favourite DVD was Joseph and his Technicolour Dreamcoat and she is often heard singing ‘Close Every Door to Me’ in a fake vibrato.  A recent favourite is ‘Pirates of Penzance’. At the weekend she waltzed downstairs in a party dress,singing in a falsetto voice and declared ‘I’m Mabel’.

The girls love of musicals is such that I knew they would enjoy ‘Shrek the Musical’. I’m a fan of musical theatre too but I wasn’t sure I would enjoy it. As a classic animation I wondered if it would really translate to the stage, why turn it into a musical?  Isn’t everything being made into a musical these days? I was however, pleasantly surprised.

It took a while to get into the songs, at first I felt it was a nice alternative to watching a pantomime, but as it went on I became more and more absorbed. Just as in the animation there are some great characters and the original Broadway cast are spectacular.  I particularly loved Pinocchio, the cross dressing Wolf and Donkey who was even more camp, flamboyant and hilarious on stage than in the animation.

The girls were fascinated by Lord Farquaad’s costume.  They spotted immediately that the legs weren’t real (they thought his tiny feet in the bath were hilarious) but couldn’t work out how they made him so small. The show received a Tony Award in 2009 for best costume design of a musical and I can clearly see why.

I loved the tap dancing rats at the start of Act 2 and the girls were up and dancing along.

It is so expensive to take a family of 5 to a live show these days, so it is refreshing to be able to watch one from the comfort of our sofa.  I thought it was a great family show, I’m not singing any of the songs after the first viewing but I’m sure it won’t be long.  There is a sing-along section on the DVD once we become really familiar with the music.

Musicals aren’t everyone’s cup of tea but this one was funny, visually stunning and highly entertaining.  There is something for everyone (with a large dose of cleavage for the dad’s).  I’ll definitely see it live if  it ever comes to town. The UK tour begins in 2014.  At about 2 hours long it is a little long for very young children (my 3-year-old struggled to sit through it) but my 5-year-old was mesmerised. The DVD is a sensible alternative to taking very young children to an expensive live show.

Shrek the Musical is available In the UK from 2nd December 2013 in DVD, Blu-ray and Digital HD.

Disclosure: No payment was received for writing this post.  A copy of the DVD was received for review purposes.