When we play and really enjoy the lost in the moment playful activities, our brains release the chemical dopamine that gives us a sense of excitement, joy and allows us to move in a highly coordinated way. Play stimulates our senses, creativity, learning. It activates our brains, with over 80% of our nervous system involved in processing and organising  all the sensory input from our bodies and the surrounding environment.

Play with your child and give them many rich sensory experiences within a secure, nurturing environment. Appreciate nature. Look at the moon, a sunrise, a beautiful sky. Go to the beach, swim together, play in the park, go for walks to new and interesting places, climb a hill, trees, explore, make up songs, stories, dance, read, go to the library, cook together, collect treasure, make things with the treasure you find.  Move, dance, sing and play. Playing keeps you young and vibrant. When we are playful we are flexible,relaxed, loving, sociable, creative. We can take risks, we can come up with new ideas. Taking time out to play helps us to problem solve and come up with new solutions and new ways of doing things.

Children learn the art of play. They learn how to do things in a variety of ways and how to adapt to changes. They learn to play alone or with others. They learn how to lead and how to follow.  They learn the rules of play and can also create new rules of their own in a playful game. Through play we learn to let go of the things that are stressful. Play involves laughter, humour, sharing and caring.  Wonderful carefree play builds strong, positive memories that stay with us for life.

Babies are play partners from birth. Play is as important for them as food and sleep. Play gives babies and children a strong sense of belonging, connection and wellbeing.  When parents spend much time gazing at, talking,singing, dancing playing, touching, holding their baby, this helps healthy brain development, promoting high levels of oxytocin and endorphins in the brain. Play fosters a strong loving relationship which is essential for helping children to become confident, caring, creative, self assured and loving members of society.

Take time to play, to laugh, to make music, to enjoy the wonders of nature, be flexible and enjoy all the rich playful experiences together. It will build strong bonds of love, energise, inspire, enrich your life and your soul.



Children feel at home in the balanced ecosystem of nature, because it is here that they and their playing belong. Nature is a constant source of beauty, inspiration and imagination.

The child’s environment consists of the sensory information fed back to his/her own body by environmental stimuli. Through opportunities to listen, watch, touch, move and play in a variety of outdoor environments, the child develops a strong sense of connection to the land. From these early experiences of nature, powerful memories are formed and lay the foundation for a sense of well-being, belonging, nurture and conservation.

Musical play offers opportunities for us to experience a spontaneous, joyful, lost in the moment sense of wonder at the infinite possibilities that outdoor play can offer. It is this sense of wonder that helps children to imagine, create, take risks, nurture and protect.

Music can be played using natural resources such as leaves, sticks, stones, shells, flowers that can be collected, displayed and continually added to.  As children become aware of sounds, patterns, shapes, textures, colours, this influences their play and so stories, songs, art, dance, art and craft evolve and develop.

Look for patterns outside: “Round and round and up and down and now get ready to stop” See what you can find that has circular patterns as well as lines. One young child lay on the grass and sang his song:

“The sky is up, the earth is down, and the world goes around and around.

Listen for the elements of music. These are:


  • Rhythm is everywhere, from the sound of our heart-beat, the rhythms of the universe, to the rhythms of our daily lives. Rhythm is a physiologic organizer. It can bring everyone together in the moment as we keep the beat together.
  • We can listen to rhythmic patterns of nature, the sounds of the wind in the trees, the sounds of the waves at the beach, the rhythmic patterns of birdsong. Listen with your children. They can hear sounds with a higher frequency. When we listen regularly with children, they become tuned in to the sounds of nature.


  • Melody is a series of tones or notes that go up or down. Melody is music’s linear contour. Nature is full of pitched sounds especially the melodic song of birds such as the blackbird, thrush, chaffinch, korimako (bellbird)
  • Play listening games with your children. What is that sound? Where is that sound coming from? What bird is that? Google bird song recordings. Help children to listen to and identify familiar bird songs.
  • Sing scale songs together using the 8 notes of the C major scale Up, up, up, up up to the sky. Down, down, down, down, down to the ground


  • This refers to the structure of a piece of music and helps children to listen to the beginning, middle and end of the music.

DYNAMICS or volume.

  • Is that a loud sound? or is it a soft sound.


  • Is it one voice? Is it many voices e.g. one bird singing , or many? One dog barking, or a whole lot of dogs?


  • The sound colour or tonal quality that makes one sound easily identified from another. The sound of splashing in water, the sound of the wind in the trees, the sound of a black bird singing its spring song.

HARMONY occurs when two or more notes are sounded together and combined in a special way.

Listening ideas:

Go on a sound hunt together. Find treasure to play such as leaves, gum nuts, stones. Make rhythm patterns: stone, stone, little stone.

Go to different environments, the backyard, the local park, the beach.

Have a quiet listening time at the same time each day. Make up a picture book about the sounds you hear. Have a sounds table decorated with the sound objects you found. Set these out in rhythmic patterns. Make up songs about what you heard.

Magical-Musical-Play-Cover Bean Bag BopMusic Learning and Your Child