Music is a powerful methodology for everyday life. Certain songs incite memories, emotions, and spiritual balance. It can also be one of the most beneficial models for teaching phonics during early childhood. Songs, rhymes, and other mnemonic devices are the most memorable for the human brain and allow children to naturally internalize sounds and concepts as parts while still working with them as a whole.​

Recent studies have shown that teaching through music helps increase test scores in children. Choosing the correct song is critical to the success. Songs promote phonetic awareness, fluency, and comprehension. Another study found that music training, unlike listening, produces long-term modification rather than short term. The key here is finding the specific song to target the specific skill for the child to master.​

Below are a list of songs and what they can be used for when teaching:​

20. Counting With My Friends

Teaching a child to count can be difficult. They may get stuck on one number or skip a series of numbers, or forget one all together. This song teaches a child a fun way to count from one to ten through a fun song they can remember as they continue their cognitive development. This song encourages children to count out loud but also to hold up the correct number of fingers, so they begin to associate the word with the actual number of fingers they are holding up. As they continue to learn the word association, this activity will help them translate a word into a comprehension activity.

19. A-B-C

One of the first songs that we teach children is the A-B-C song. There is a reason that everyone speaking the English language knows this song; because it effectively teaches the letters. Children learn this song at such a young age, but it helps them learn to recognize the sight of each letter as well as helping them learn the phonetics of each letter. As children grow, they continue their comprehension of this concept into reading, writing, and phonetic sounds to construct stories.

18. Letter Tales

Letter Tales is a song that helps children associate sounds with specific letters. It moves through every letter of the alphabet and teaches the phonetic sounds of all twenty-six letters. The album as a whole teaches oral language skills through fun and catchy songs.

17. My Name Starts With a Letter

Teaching a child to sound out words that are meaningful to them first is a great way to teach phonics. The world of a child is very self-centered, so sounding out their name or identifying the first letter in their name is an important exercise. This song is full of alliterations and rhymes to help a child recognize the individual sounds within a word and then begin to nice the same sounds in different words.

16. Seven Silly Squirrels

One of the most fun and recognizable sounds for children to learn is “S.” It has a very distinct sound, and there are many words that begin with the letter that are within their comprehension levels. This song focuses on the initial phoneme alliteration to help children recognize the first sound of these words and then encourages them to find other words that they know with the same initial sound.

15. Name Game

This song is wonderful for teachers as it allows them to insert names of students in their class with a quick little rhyme and helps each student both hear their name called as well as hear how their name rhymes with something else. In doing so, these clever lyrics help prepare children to become enthusiastic and capable readers. This song identifies and important part of the oral language by discussing a specific ending sound of a word and how that ending sound is related to other words to form a rhyme. Rhyming is one of the basic skills taught in Kindergarten to increase reading comprehension.

14. Hat and Cat

Another extremely important skill for children when transitioning from oral communication to reading comprehension is the ability to look at a word with similar sounds and replace one letter of the word to make it a different word. This song teaches phoneme blending to show children how to make that replacement and form new words and then how the word associations change the meaning of a sentence.

13. Apples and Bananas

This song is popular for using phoneme manipulation. It runs through a series of well-known words and replaces the first letter with the different vowels from the alphabet. Children learn how the different sounds affect specific words and can then be used to teach them the differentiation of vowel sounds versus consonant sounds later in their education. Not only does this song teach them phoneme manipulation, but it also teaches children that some letters can make two sounds. Learning that vowel can make short or long sounds can be confusing for children, so they can use a song like Apples and Bananas to help them hear the difference between sounds.

12. Nine Naughty Newts

This song (and the others from this collection) focuses on the sound of each letter of the alphabet. Teachers can choose from a variety of levels on which to focus their efforts in relation to this song. The focus can be changed and adapted as children progress through the comprehension of topics such as initial phoneme, counting, clapping, imaginative play, and sight words. Integrating multiple tasks for a more complex lesson is encouraged with this song.

11. Down By The Bay

Down By The Bay is a popular song sung by man teachers and parents alike. It teaches children how to construct their own rhymes through silly concepts they will find enjoyable. This song invites children to join in the fun as they hear about whimsical creatures and the sights of the day down by the ocean.

10. Beginning and Ending Sounds

Learning to build a word can be difficult. Teaching children how to put two letters together to make a different sound helps them see how individual letters become part of a word. Reading and writing is difficult for students with limited language skills. Learning words such as blends, digraphs, and homophones during a phonics lesson can frustrate children easily. Adding images, movement, and song to a difficult concept such as beginning and ending sounds helps children feel successful in their learning and increases their retention of the material.

9. Cookie Mouth Sounds

The English language is full of special circumstances, double letters, and silent letters, which prove very difficult for children to grasp. Speech therapists often struggle with children who cannot form essential mouth sounds. Songs work best with visuals as well, and children always respond better to movement and activity. Have them pretend to eat cookies while they learn to make the six basic mouth sounds of Ah, Sh, MM, EE, OO, and SS. Once a child learns the sound these two letters make together, place the lyrics in front of them and help them then learn to read those sounds while they continue to learn to form the mouth sounds.

8. Triple Letters

Once children have mastered initial phonemes, blends, digraphs, and homophones, they can begin to string three letters together to find sound patterns. Sounds like “Str” or “Spr” or “Thr” or “Scr” can be used to form bigger words such as “string,” “spring,” “three,” and “scrub.” The use of these three sounds together further progress reading comprehension and vocabulary at early ages. Integrating these words into a song that offers a lively oral language experience helps children repeatedly hear higher-level vocabulary in simple melodies.

7. Michael Finnegan

A child with a language delay has to work harder for every word spoken. Songs help children practice their fluency in both articulation and language. The silliness of the song Michael Finnegan combined with a change in tempo of the song (singing it very slowly or extremely fast) make it a great way to practice language and speech. With this song, children are learning more than they think and is a wonderful tool for teachers as music makes learning an adventure, helps connect your students, and shows them the joy of learning.

6. Skip to My Lou

Skip to My Lou is a great song for teaching fluency and fun. It can be combined with different activities to increase child participation and quickly develop language skills. Each movement discussed in this song can be drawn and showed to the children for active participation. Teachers and students can sing along with the song and then use the appropriate movements. Due to the silly nature of the song, this becomes a fun event for children rather than a language or speech drill.

5. Soup! Soup! Soup!

Soup! Soup! Soup! focuses on one of the most difficult sounds for children to understand “ou.” This sound is particularly difficult as there is a counterpart sounds of “OO.” Helping children decipher between sounds and which letters are making which sounds is much easier done through music. This silly song helps children hear the sound and how it breaks down in the word. It also addresses the initial phoneme of the letter “S” which becomes fun for children to learn. The letter “S” has a slightly silly nature both in appearance and in sound making it a typical favorite among children. Soup! Soup! Soup! is a fun and silly way for children to learn without realizing they are learning.

4. Muffin Mix

Muffin Mix introduces children to the concept of alliteration. Utilization of words starting with the same letter and sound and/or being able to identify these words is key to the success of early language development. Constant repetition of a single sound in a poem or song helps children associate that sound with a specific letter. In earlier studies, alliterations and rhyming was shown to represent an immediate step in natural language development. It is also a strong predictor of reading success through phoneme awareness. Children who successfully use word play and invent rhyming patterns and poems at early ages also showed earlier success in reading and writing.

3. Hey Caterpillar

Hey Caterpillar focuses on syllabication. Children learn how to break words into syllables. Learning syllables help children with reading and spelling. Children learn how to break down words into smaller parts so they can begin to spell words syllable by syllable rather than attempting to spell words as a whole. Activities can accompany Hey Caterpillar such as stomping, clapping, snapping, and other silly noise making actions. Once this activity is complete, pass out the lyrics of the song on paper and the children can work on splitting words into syllables and again clapping or snapping to hear where the break is in the word. This will help them as they read and write.

2. Take a Word Apart

In the song Take a Word Apart, the first part of a word is taken away initially and then the last part of the word is taken away. Children will have to use their imaginations to recreate the word that is missing so they can understand the song. This activity encourages children to shout out the answers and then whisper them. Since this is also a song, teachers can also focus on the rhyming pieces of the lyrics to help build vocabulary, fluency, and phonetic awareness throughout the entire exercise. Building and dissecting compound words helps children learn to spell by breaking words apart and then putting them back together.

1. On Your Lap

On Your Lap works through phoneme addition and blending. Saying the individual sounds in a word and then running them together to make the word helps children hear that individual sounds run together to create words. This is a difficult skill to master as the sounds must be said quickly to hear the word. This song includes different digraphs that must be read as a unit rather than as individual sounds. The lyrical words can be changed out to focus on different sounds. Encourage children to say the two sounds as one unit for greater fluency when reading. Beginning with easier words and working up to words with blends will instill confidence and success during difficult concepts. It is also easier to act out the activity by working with the specific letters in the lap of the child so they can see it and say it and hear it for greater learning retention.