Monday, December 1, 2008

Learning to read through Singing and Moving

Reference: “Sing, Move and Read”
and information at

Review: By incorporating movements, jingle-like songs and music, rhyming words and isolated phonemes in these words, “Sing, Move and Read” has proven to benefit kindergarten aged children learning to read. Over two years, Dr. Patrick Walton (Thompson Rivers University) carried out controlled, empirical research with nearly 150 kindergarten students. “About 80 percent of the children who received the program could read by the end of the 2-month period!” (SMR website accessed Dec. 1, 2008)
Using song and movement, students learned how “a word like bug broke down into those three individual sounds (phonemes). When later shown the printed letters, b, u and g, they already knew the sounds.” (“Singing a learning song”. Peter Calamai. Toronto Star, Sept. 10 2005) “And they could also read similar rhyming words they’d never seen or heard before…because they’d been exposed to the phonemes. Exposure to words like bat, rat, cat and sit…primed the children to read new words such as sat of hat.”
“In my previous research on reading, I found that children learned to read words more easily and remember the words longer when jingles were used, and if the words rhymed.” (

Reflection: Dr. Walton’s research is truly enlightening on the topic of how music can affect learning outcomes (this resource may have already been discussed in class or on the blog, if so I apologize).
His research helps to explain how music helps us learn and remember details regarding language and words through connecting smaller components of information – this calls to mind perhaps how many of us likely sing the alphabet to the tune of “Twinkle, Twinkle…” when recalling alphabetical order.

From watching “Sesame Street” as a child, there were many skits and cartoons set to music that aided viewers in constructing printed words with by connecting the individual sounds/phonemes; not unlike Dr. Walton’s research, the skits on “Sesame Street” would use cartoons to separate the phonemes of a word in order to learn how to pronounce them.

What is interesting about his research and findings is that children could learn how to read words they have never seen because they have previously learned the individual phonemic blocks and then added these smaller blocks together to construct different words. Dr. Walton seems to have combined this type of phonemic focus with music and Dr. Seuss-like rhymes to effectively teach children to read sooner than those who do not use those methods.


Devon Fornelli said...

I mention similarities to Dr. Seuss-like rhymes because in the Toronto Star article, there is reference to how Dr. Walton was influenced by Dr. Seuss in that Walton noticed how the rhymes influenced the capacity to learn words and pronunciation. The songs sampled on the SMR site use rhyming techniques similar to Dr. Seuss, but have an accompanying CD.

Lee Bartel said...

Interesting extension of the phonetics obsession some educators have. Although phonetic knowledge is necessary, it alone cannot and does not produce good readers. However, music can facilitate memory of crucial info - liek we all know the abc's through the twinkle melody.