Have you ever forgotten the words and started humming or la la la-ing when you sing to your young children?
Well, the good news is that this is a great thing to do and you should definitely do it more!
Children are born musical and have a wonderful capacity for recognising melodies even when the words have been taken away! By singing songs to them without the words their grown ups can help them practice and develop this skill!
At Little Bees we have a couple of ways of playing with this idea ... and when I say 'playing' I really do mean that we work on this skill playfully! For example, this week we enjoyed the very well-known song 'Jelly on a Plate'. Verse 1 is all about the plate but then we branch out in verse 2 and put some imaginary jelly on our imaginary spoons! In verse 3 the jelly is in our mouths and of course it would be terribly rude and quite messy if we opened our mouths! So (with bulging cheeks and laughing eyes) we sing 'mm mm mm mm mm' and don't swallow until we have finished that verse! The 'mm mm mm mm mm' is a really playful way to take the words away and even quite young children love the silliness of it!
Less silly but equally enchanting ... I never 'introduce' Little Bunnies verbally! Instead I just pick up my recorder and play the first phrase. Instruments are as good as a spoonful of jelly when it comes to performing melodies without the words!. Many of the children recognise the melody immediately and settle themselves down adopting their sleeping bunny positions without any other prompt!
All this fun continues into my work in schools - a spoonful of jelly in the mouth is hugely popular (in any song!) but I also have a special puppet called the Nah nah puppet - the poor thing can't sing words, she can only sing 'nah nah nah' and the children have to guess what she is singing!
Any puppet can be the designated 'nah nah' puppet but I favour the beautiful sock puppets from The Puppet Company (Buttons is pictured above!).
Why not have fun experimenting with this idea yourself? Instead of singing the words, hum (or 'la la la' ) Twinkle Twinkle Little Star to your little ones. Watch their reaction to see if they recognise the melody - their eyes, their smiles and/or their actions will show you that they know exactly what you are singing!