Music in its various forms provides children with a unique tool to help them engage their imaginations and also explore and interact with the world around them. In addition to the enjoyment it creates, music also plays an important part in childhood development; the latest scientific research overwhelmingly supports this belief with evidence that musical stimulation encourages the development of neural networks in the brain. The goal of the music curriculum at Sunshine Academy is to create a stimulating musical environment that encourages children to experiment freely with music, discover themselves as musical people, and learn the ways music can help them communicate, interpret, and express the world around them. Through the songs and CDs the program provides, children also can share music with each other, their teachers, and their families at home.

Below, you will find an overview of our music curriculum and music education objectives for each age group. In addition, you will see a list of some of the associated activities we have designed to promote development in each area. The music curriculum at Sunshine Academy follows guidelines developed by the National Association for Music Education. Many of our activities are modeled after research-based methods developed by the Gordon Institute for Music Learning.

Infants & Toddlers

Infants experience music by hearing it, feeling it, and experimenting with pitch and timbre in their own vocalizations.  Although infants are exposed to both vocal and instrumental music, a greater emphasis is placed on music without words.  This allows infants to focus solely on the tones and the rhythms of the music they hear without distraction. The latest research suggests that exposing infants to a wide variety of meters and tonalities will strengthen their musical foundation.


Vocalization Exercises

“Music Babble”

Infants are exposed to a wide variety of vocalizations. Neutral syllables like “Da” and “Ba” are repeated in different meters and modes. Silence is also carefully introduced to allow time for responses. Infant responses are repeated and reinforced.

Exposure to Varied Musical Material

“Pony Express”

This short instrumental selection moves through several different odd meters. These patterns provide a starting point for impromptu musical experimentation and fun.

Listen to “Pony Express”

Movement Opportunities

“A Modal Motion”

This song presents two opposing rhythmic meters, each of which helps to facilitate different types of motion.

Listen to “A Modal Motion”

Instrument Experimentation

“The Shaking Bell”

In this activity, infants experiment with small egg shakers and tone bells.



Preschool & PreK

As children move closer to kindergarten, they start to experience music in new and exciting ways. They become increasingly responsive and deliberate with their movements. They also demonstrate a greater degree of control over their singing voices.  During this time, children begin to be able to internalize music. They can now readily and with increased precision produce purposeful musical phrases. The activities below hone these emerging skills and help to prepare children for later music instruction. 


Singing and Playing Instruments

  • Use their voices expressively as they speak, chant, and sing
  • Sing a variety of simple songs in various keys, meters, and genres, alone and with a group, becoming increasingly accurate in rhythm and pitch
  • Experiment with a variety of instruments and other sound sources
  • Play simple melodies and accompaniments on instruments

“The Shaking Song”

In this song children are given shakers to perform with as a group and as  soloists. This is a fun way to get warmed up and work on rhythmic accuracy.

Listen to “The Shaking Song”

Creating Music

  • Improvise songs to accompany play activities
  • Improvise instrumental accompaniments to songs, recorded selections, stories, and poems
  • Create short pieces of music using voices, instruments and other sound sources
  • Invent and use original graphic or symbolic systems to represent vocal and instrumental sounds and musical ideas

“The Young Composers”

In this curriculum unit, children work in small groups to create and record their own musical compositions. Children use their voices, simple instruments, and specially designed computer music software to create original multitrack compositions to share with family and friends.

Listen to “Young Composers”

Responding to Music

  • Identify the sources of a wide variety of sounds
  • Respond through movement to music of various tempos, meters, dynamics, modes, genres, and styles to express what they hear and feel in works of music
  • Participate freely in music activities

“My Apple Tree”

In this song, children use their bodies to respond to contrasting dynamic and tempo shifts. Children identify the different instruments they hear in the recording.

Listen to “My Apple Tree”

Understanding Music

  •  Use their own vocabulary and standard music vocabulary to describe voices, instruments, music notation, and music of various genres, styles, and periods from diverse cultures
  • Sing, play instruments, move, or verbalize to demonstrate awareness of the elements of music and changes in their usage
  • Demonstrate an awareness of music as a part of daily life

“Beat Boxes”

This group activity encourages children to use words and pictures to demonstrate an understanding of musical changes.

*Achievement standards from the National Standards for Arts Education. Copyright © 1994 by Music Educators National Conference (MENC). Used by permission. 

Musical content © 2016 David S. Hanft. Used by permission.