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Saturday, September 29, 2018

When children sing and play, they’re also becoming scientific explorers | Music - The Conversation

"Children feel less frustrated and are allowed to be creative and expressive in spaces where they make choices" argues Mignon van Vreden, Senior lecturer, Music education, North-West University.

Musical expression can help kids develop scientific thinking.
Photo: Mignon Van Vreden
Young children engage in scientific thinking and actions long before they enter a classroom. They do all sorts of things in their pursuit of knowledge: poking, pulling, tasting, pounding, shaking and experimenting. This demonstrates their need to learn and naturally seek out problems to solve.

That’s why creating opportunities for observations and actions through play could stimulate children’s emerging scientific thinking. Play offers a valuable way to help children learn basic scientific literacy. That’s because artistic expression is a natural part of early childhood.

In a recently published study I explored whether there could be a rationale for music-inspired free play to foster scientific exploration in early childhood. As part of my research, I watched preschoolers during free play at two daycare centres in Mohadin in South Africa’s North-West province.

Free musical play takes place in an environment that has been prepared by the teacher (though children themselves take the initiative for playing). The space stimulates the young child to experiment with and explore the musical properties of sound.

I specifically focused on music-inspired play because music in early childhood is one of the first natural and accessible “tools” for children to express their thoughts, feelings and desires. Musical and artistic activity are especially important at an early age; they nurture the development of emotion, imagination, creativity and gross motor skills...

How play teaches There is a difference between scientific thinking and the learning of scientific facts.

Scientific thinking involves children in the process of finding out, leading them to make their own discoveries. Teachers can foster scientific thinking by viewing young children as active learners rather than simply as recipients of knowledge. They can offer varied opportunities to explore and experiment, which will allow children to construct meaning and develop understandings that are not only valid but also valuable in their ongoing intellectual development.

For example, pre-schoolers can learn about the scientific concept of momentum by rhythmically moving on swings – while singing at the same time. As the swing gains momentum, singing becomes faster to match the speed of the learners’ movements. When learners slow down, sing the song at a slower tempo and stop moving their legs, the swing also slows down until it eventually stops.

Source: The Conversation