High-quality (in-tune!!) music gifts that are engaging and support development can be surprisingly hard to find. Stores are full of instruments that are adorable, but when you get them home, you find that most of them are not functional.
I LOVE to see what other music therapists and music teachers have in their tool boxes. We all have favorite instruments, books and classroom tools. So here you go-- my favorites!
1. A Kokoriko/Clatterpillar: Don't bother with the plastic ones! A high-quality, wooden kokoriko is SUCH a cool instrument and toy for ages 3+. It promotes smooth integration of the right and left sides, so it's a really fun way to support motor development. I've had this one for nearly 10 years and it still looks brand new.
2. Kala Ukulele Bundle: Ukuleles are a great beginning instrument for kids 4-5+. When it comes to ukuleles, it's best to spend a little bit more money on one that will stay in tune. It will reduce frustration and make your child feel more successful... because it will sound good! Kala ukuleles are the very best, and this student bundle is a crazy deal for what you get. (Plus, did you see the little shark bridge???! Adorable.)
3. Everyone is Yawning by Anita Bijsterbosch: No, this is not a musical book. But THIS COUNTS! This is the PERFECT book to read right before you play your child's lullaby to "cue" that it's time for sleep. If your child has trouble falling asleep at night, try adding this book and a special lullaby to their nighttime routine. I've never made it through it without yawning. Great for babies and kids as old as age 5. It's still one of my 4-year-old's favorite books. (Mine too... can you tell?)
4. Remo Drum: This Remo drum is indestructible. I have a larger version of this drum that's showing zero wear and tear nearly 10 years later. It has rich, mellow sound and raised feet. (Some drums require you to tip them as you play so the sound isn't muffled-- not this one). Perfect for babies and up!
5. Amazon Echo Dot: People ask me all the time what the best music player is for their child's room. As far as affordability and ease go... the Echo Dot wins, hands down. (I like it with a cover.) You connect it to your phone (I use Amazon Music Unlimited) and then you can play anything you want in seconds. The best part-- when the baby stirs, you can turn on the lullaby playlist from the comfort and warmth of your own bed. (!!)
6. Percussion Set: This percussion set is a GREAT value and is a really good starter kit for a kiddo who is just getting into music. Perfect for a family parade, if you ask me.
7. We Are The Dinosaurs Book & Song: "We Are The Dinosaurs" by Laurie Berkner is one of the most popular children's songs of all time. Kids find it hilarious and it really helps get wiggles out when the house is getting a little wild. It was recently turned into an adorable picture book, and kids who love the song LOVE the book. (P.S. Every kid I've ever met loves the song.)
8. Toddler Music Band: This is a home run gift for toddlers. The xylophone is in tune and has a safety mallet (safer than the typical wooden ball at the end of a stick), and babies and toddlers love the mini ocean drum (drum with beads inside).
9. Welcome to the Symphony by Carolyn Sloan: A fun and engaging introduction to the symphony using Beethoven's Symphony No. 5 as an example. Explore by sound! Great for a wide range of ages... especially good for 3-5 years old.
10. Scarves and Tchaikovsky: We made an effort to introduce ballet music to our daughter at a pretty young age. Partially because she was interested, and partially because ballet music tends to be just the right combination of dramatic and engaging to be able to hold a child's attention. I LOVE this Tchaikovsky collection. Another way to increase engagement while listening to music? Move!
There you have it. If you're a music educator or music therapist, will you please comment and let me know what your "must-haves" are? I'd love to hear!
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