Harmonicas, colorful ukuleles, percussion instruments shaped like fruit, a fun keyboard instrument – there are infinite possibilities for great Christmas presents waiting at the music counter.
Christmas Gifts for Toddlers
Toddlers are not going to have the coordination to really be able to play an instrument but they will love to make a noise on any kind of percussion instrument and there is a wide range of fun shapes to be found, especially in the shaker and small drum department.
Remo makes a colorful set of bongo drums that even the 2-year-olds and under will be attracted to. This will cost in the region of $30 US.
Remo also makes a range of fruit shakers but these are perhaps a little too realistic for the under-fives – they might spend more time chewing them than shaking them. Try for animal shapes, an egg shaker or more traditional colorful maracca shaped shakers for the very young child.
From about the age of 2, a child will enjoy playing with a ukulele and a colorful, cheap (but still tunable and playable) instrument can be bought for $20 US. Parents who are musical should not expect their toddlers to actually play the ukulele but they will enjoy plucking the strings. Parents can play the instrument for the small child and they will realize that it’s more than just another toy.
A sturdy harmonica of plastic construction is something that will appeal to younger children. They may take a while to figure out how to get a sound out of it but will get great enjoyment out of it once they figure it out.
A xylophone is great for hand/eye coordination in young children
Christmas Gifts for the Preschooler
Some children of this age may show a real aptitude for music and this should be encouraged, but almost all children will enjoy a gift with a musical slant. Many of the gift ideas for toddlers will still apply to this age group. Their increased hand/eye coordination and general physical capabilities simply mean they can do more with a musical gift than they could before.
An electronic keyboard instrument can be great fun while actually being educational as well. These can be bought for less than $70 US and often come with programmed drum patterns, sound effects and whole tunes.
The range of percussion instruments to suit this age group is much wider – how about a marimba (larger wooden xylophone) or even a real steel drum or full drum kit?
Harmonicas will still appeal and so will more sophisticated wind instruments such as recorders and tin whistles
The ukulele is a great gift for this age range as their small fingers will actually begin to be able to hold down chords and play proper tunes. This could be a wonderful foundation for their first guitar lesson.
Everything suggested here is readily available on the internet but it is sometimes more fun to Christmas shop for musical gifts at the local music store.
Musical Activities for Children to Experience
Music is an expression of the human heart. It can be joyful and exuberant or sorrowful and somber. Music can emphasize our sense of rhythm by focusing on the beat or music can emphasize our innate love of harmony through a simple melody.
Start Them Young!
Exposing children to music while they are developing in the womb has been linked to greater and earlier verbal aptitude. Studies have shown fetuses responded to all forms of music. Introducing children to music, listening in utero and as an infant, is an excellent, pre-verbal, educational activity.
Travel the World, Musically
Children can be introduced to the wonderful sounds from cultures around the world. Libraries often have CDs and DVDs of cultural exchange, as well as, the vast multitude of musical choices on the internet from which to choose. Exposing children to a variety of musical styles will expand their “musical ear” and teach them the international language of music.
Children naturally love to sing and they enjoy repetition. Silly bath-time or handwashing songs can become musical teaching tools and a fun tradition. There are plenty of folk and sing-along songs to choose from for building a repertoire.
Marching Music, Parades in the Living Room
Marching music is for a rainy day! Kids naturally gravitate to music that they can celebrate with their whole bodies, like marching music from John Philip Sousa. “Marching in time” is a fun way for children to exercise and to learn rhythm, helping children develop gross motor skills even on a rainy afternoon.
Musical Instruments For All
Playing musical instruments is a great way to explore music even for young children. Homemade instruments can be created from simple items found easily around the house. Pots, pans, and wooden spoons can be a first drum set! Musical instrument sets can be purchased at any toy or music store. Having musical instruments visible around the house will almost guarantee children’s exploration.
Listening to and making music as a family will build children’s foundation of the love of music. Impromptu jam sessions with parents and children develop, not only their love of music but also build special memories in the process!
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