Music Activities for Preschoolers Using Maracas

Preschoolers can learn to use maracas to develop coordination, improve rhythmic ability and increase awareness of other people. By playing maracas in a group and responding to other kids, you are providing an active environment for the children to grow and learn. Maracas are far from just an rhythmic effect when given to a preschool child. The possibilities for developing the child's individual awareness and self-esteem can provide great improvements to the child's sense of self-worth and importance.


Teach the preschooler how to read rhythm. Start with basic rhythms such as quarter notes. Show him what a quarter note looks like by drawing it on the board. Explain that a quarter note is played for one beat. Give the child a set of maracas and have him tap out of each beat in rhythm. Help him at first until he understands how to keep the rhythm steady. Then, as he improves, ask him to shake the maracas on the beat in tempo until he starts to slow down or speed up. Place emphasis on keeping the beat as steady as possible.


Play a simple rhythm by shaking your own set of maracas and then instruct the child to imitate the rhythm and repeat it for you. If the child gets the rhythm correct, play another, slightly longer rhythm. If he doesn't get it right, repeat the rhythm up to three more times. Then make the rhythm simpler if the child is still unable to play the rhythm back. For children that are extremely shy, let another student play the rhythm with him.


Play a simple rhythm and then ask a child to continue the rhythm. Explain the goal is to create a rhythm that lasts as long as the one you played. However, the child's rhythm needs to be different than yours. Go around the classroom and allow each child the chance to respond to the previous child's rhythm using the maracas. Keep going until every child has had a chance to play a rhythm and then let a random child start the activity again by playing her own rhythm.


Play a steady drumbeat that lasts for 12 beats and ask each child in the class to improvise on the drum beat with the maracas. The child can play absolutely anything she wishes; don't confine it to specific rhythms or beats. The more musically inclined children may naturally follow the beat, while others may play randomly. Don't worry about getting the child to play along with the beat. The goal is for the child to be free to experiment and create her own music.


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