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Supporting 2-year-olds musically

Updated: Jun 7, 2023

Musical Developmental Milestones of 2-year-olds

•Rocks, sways, moves up and down, enjoys clapping games, finger plays, and action songs.

•Experiments with imitating rhymes and rhythms and responds to music through body movement.

•Can learn short simple songs and enjoys experimenting with instruments and sounds.

•Listens to music and occasionally matches body movement to simple musical beats.

•Responds to songs with simple patterns.

•Explores space by moving forward and backward, up and down.

•Can move low to the floor or walk on tiptoe.

•Experiments with voice and sings or hums at play.

(Edwards, 2012)

After knowing all these, how can we support them using music?

Two-year-olds loves to rock, sway and move up and down. These are all important skills for the development of the vestibular and proprioceptive senses. The development of the vestibular sense is important in ensuring good balance, posture and movement. It enables us to coordinate our movements, such as riding a bike and/or cutting with scissors, in which one hand is used to hold the paper, and the other hand controls the scissors (Blythe, 2005). Spinning the receptors found in our inner ears stimulate these senses. In music, you may support this development with lap songs such as "The Grand Old Duke Of York", or dancing to "Waltzing Matilda" with an adult while being carried.

Two-year-olds enjoy clapping games, finger plays and action songs. "If you're happy", "Wind the bobbin up", "Icky Sticky Bubble Gum" are great songs involving clapping. Finger plays like "Itsy Bitsy Spider", "Here is the beehive", counting songs that involve finger movements are great too. At 2.5 years old, children have better control of their small muscles and should begin to hold up 1, 2 and 5 fingers in each hand.

Action songs that involve jumping, swinging, crawling, pushing stimulate the proprioceptive sense. These receptors can be found in our muscles and joints and are stimulated by movement and pressure (Blythe, 2005). They are crucial in the development of body position in space. Incorporate action songs with big body movements are great in aiding their gross motor development, vestibular and proprioceptive senses. Songs such as "Hokey Pokey", "Ring Around The Rosie", "Sleeping Bunnies", "Wheels On The Bus" are great. You may tweak some of the lyrics of your action songs to incorporate these big actions in supporting the development of proprioceptive and vestibular senses too.

Two-year-olds are able to learn short and simple songs. Sing short and simple nursery rhymes with them. Repeat and repeat and repeat. Let them hear how you sing and sing them back. Invite them to join in using the fill-in-the-blank techniques.

Two-year-olds love to experiment with sounds! Create a sound corner away from quiet space for self-exploration of sounds (Greata, 2006). Try to incorporate natural materials and kitchen utensils to support this explorations! Check out the song "All Around The Kitchen" by Music Together.

Two-year-olds love new lyrics and melodies! Don't just limit to nursery rhymes, sing and listen to a wide genre of music, e.g. jazz, pop, R&B, classical...


Blythe, S. G. (2005). The Well Balanced Child : Movement and Early Learning. Stroud: Hawthorn Press.

Edwards, L. C. (2012). Music and movement: A way of life for the young child (7th Ed). New Jersey: Pearson Education, Inc.

Greata, J. (2006). An Introduction to Music in Early Childhood Education. NY: Delmar, Cengage Learning.

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