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The little Box: Songs and Musical Activities for Young Children 

Reviewed by Donna Fleetwood

  " The newest publication in a series, Sing and Play 2 is a boxed musical kit complete with activity cards and an accompanying CD. Compiled by Margré van Gestel with illustrations by Jonathan Absil and musical arrangements by José Retra this collection for children aged 0-6 spans the baby, toddler, pre-school and early primary years. Twenty-one tunes provide a wide variety of musical options. Each is recorded twice – once with vocals and a separate instrumental version, making it possible for the teacher and/or children to sing along or to use the music for movement, listening or performing an activity.

   The song topics range from high energy marching and racing cars to lullabies and quiet moments. Many of the songs accompany ‘practical life’ activities such as stirring, eating a snack or knowing when how to stop together or perform certain tasks on time. Some overlap with early directive movement song games, counting songs and those focusing on sounds of animals and voices. 

Many of the songs can be easily sung by children over the age of 2  – especially the ones with accessible melodic patterns and intervals. Those that are not easily replicated due to melodic complexity or are not within a child’s vocal range, serve to introduce musical styles or provide opportunities for movement. The tunes that are more folk-song based seem to have the best vocal appeal.

   The Dice, for example is a special adaptation of a piece by Beethoven and makes a nice listening piece to accompany the rolling and counting dice activity. 
Especially intriguing is the action song with changing accents which seems complex but is irresistible – fun for children AND adults!

   The activity cards serve two purposes. One side is an illustration inviting the child into the music activity, the other a handy teacher guide with the notated song, a game description, activity aims and remarks. The Game Description offers suggestions for how to use the song for group activities. The Activity Aims highlight the targeted cognitive, kinesthetic and affective concepts. The Remarks provide helpful suggestions on differentiating outcomes for babies or older children, opportunities for extension through crafts and games as well as comments that provide additional information and guidance for the teacher.

The set is a good resource for the early childhood classroom.  An experienced teacher who knows her students well will be able to maximize the use of the CD and materials using them as a springboard for musical discovery and creativity." 


Donna Fleetwood divides her time between Edinburgh, Scotland and Virginia in the United States. She has taught pre-school aged children recently in the Bilingual Montessori School in Paris, France and teaches adults in Orff Schulwerk Certification Courses in the U.S. Donna directs the Certification Program at George Mason University in Fairfax, Virginia. She has also taught internationally in Hong Kong, Korea, the UK and France.

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