Rhythm, movement, voice

Rhythm and body movement in the nursery school

    School sections
    • Pre-primary
    Educational subjects
    • Music, Rhythm and movement
    • Aural skills (Ear training)

Rhythm, movement, voice

The project “Rhythm, movement, voice” was carried out at the Comprehensive Institute in Castenaso (Bologna), from January to April 2017. It was realized with about 320 children, aged between 3 and 5 years old. The musical activities were conducted in small groups of children, from 3 to 5 years old. Each group attended 16 half-an-hour lessons. All the nursery school teachers attended a training course in order to learn the musical activities to be proposed to the students.

With regard to the evaluation of the project, the three-year old children were observed in the group of 3-5 year old students, in order to identify their level of acquisition of two skills: 1) the ability to activate different movement reactions to the sounds heard; 2) the ability to synchronize their steps to the rhythm of children’s melodies or easy rhythms.

In particular, the activities proposed – during the teachers’ training and during the experimentation phase in class and while observing the three-year old children – were drawn up with the aim to develop competences connected to the field of experience “Body and Movement”: children use their bodies from their very birth as a means to discover themselves and the world. Their bodies and movements become a means to acquire the structural and expressive elements of music. Therefore, the students sang, recited nursery rhymes, explored, used their voices and instruments, associating expressive body movements for the development of their sense of rhythm and melody.

The data collected observing the three-year old children highlighted to what extent the mentioned skills had been achieved. The group of three-year old children was observed over the three-year period of nursery school in order to identify the educational and transversal competences that the group would have achieved at the age of 5. The final results highlighted that the body movement was useful for the development of rhythmic and expressive abilities.

Work tools

The project was divided into three stages:
1) the nursery school teachers’ training, allowing them to achieve the activities, methods and contents suited for the age bracket of reference;
2) the implementation of such activities within the classes;
3) the observation of the three-year old children during the musical activities proposed to the entire group of 3-5 year old children.


Duration: 4 two-hour meetings (8 hours in all); 2 in January, 2 in March.
Spaces: the gym
Recipients: nursery school teachers

Materials: rhythmic instruments, amplifying system (listening activities), keyboard, PC, bouncing plastic balls, children’s songs. The teachers were required to wear loose-fitting clothes in order to facilitate the use of the body and to experiment on themselves the activities that they would have then proposed to the children. The plastic balls were used to facilitate the acquisition of metric and/or rhythmic accents during the listening activities proposed.


Duration: January-April 2017. A 30-minute lesson once a week addressed to small groups of children between 3 and 5 years old, for a total amount of 16 lessons.

Spaces: the gym

Recipients: the children attending 4 units of the Comprehensive Institute

Materials: rhythmic instruments, a slide whistle, the listening of “The Aquarium” by Saint-Saëns, “Waltz of the Flowers” by Pëtr Il'ic Tchaikovsky, the song of the little mouse, the song “Twinkle, Twinkle, Little Star”.

The slide whistle, played by the teachers, was used for body movement activities. The musical listening activities were carried out to create symbolic games and to express emotions through movements. The sonorous stimuli, the sonorous signals and the singing of the children’s songs were used to spur rhythmic-movement responses in the children.

At the end of the 16 lessons, the project provided for the observation of six movements of the three-year old children, using an observation grid for the assessment of the level of acquisition of two skills: 1) the ability to activate different movement behaviors depending on the sonorous stimulus listened to; 2) the ability to synchronize steps to the rhythm of children’s melodies or to an easy rhythm listened to.

Materials: observation grid, Excel Apps for the data analysis.

Educational purposes

The skills, goals and training objectives selected by the teacher for this experience are shown below.

    • Sound perception
    • Execution
    Body and movement - Production
    • They can control their gestures; they can correctly evaluate risks and interact with other children with movement games, music, dancing, and other forms of expressive communication.
    • They are aware of their body and its different parts and they can represent it statically or dynamically
    Body and movement - Reading and Writing
    • He/she recognises signals and rhythms of his/her body
Educational targets

With regard to the educational competences in the implementation stage, the students learned how to:
- adjust their movements to the velocity of the rhythm;
- provide a spontaneous gestural response upon a musical stimulus;
- imitate correctly the simple movements observed, upon the teacher’s musical productions;

With regard to the transversal competences, the students learned how to:
- develop the sense of belonging to the group, owing to ensemble music;
- express their emotions and feelings exploring body language.

With regard to the educational competences in the understanding/composition stage, the students learned how to:
- recognize the body scheme with reference to themselves and others;
- coordinate their movements with music;
- orient and collocate themselves in space with regard to others, through musical signals.

With regard to the transversal competences, the students learned how to:
- acquire and respect rules for getting along with each other at school, through the rules of musical language;
- enter into a relationship with others, interacting with sounds.


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