Rhythm is a critical music fundamental that all musicians must master. A good working definition of rhythm is: a pattern with long and short sounds. Rhythms are meant to be heard and experienced through singing, playing instruments, and using body percussion. Eventually, rhythms can be notated but when teaching preschoolers rhythms, it’s vital for children to hear many different patterns of long and short sounds.
A good way to introduce those patterns is to use a storybook to which the children respond to the rhythm of the words. Two favorites are: Max Found Two Sticks by Brian Pinkney, published by Simon and Schuster Children’s Publishing and Rumble in the Jungle by Giles Andreae, published by Tiger Tales.
When reading Max Found Two Sticks, encourage the children to imitate the sounds that the sticks make like, “pat…pat-tat, putter-putter…pat -tat” in rhythm asking the students to repeat those rhythm pattern with or on sticks.
Ad a refrain to Rumble in the Jungle. After reading two pages about a jungle animals encourage your children to respond, “Rumble, Rumble, Rumble in the Jungle.” Consider saying the refrain loud, soft, or medium loud. Or, encourage groups of children to respond like: kids wearing red, or kids with tennis shoes. You could reinforce the concepts of crescendo, decrescendo, or even a ritard when the children repeat the “rumble in the jungle” refrain.
Both of these books are beautiful illustrated and a winner in any preschool music classroom.