Nursery rhymes and finger plays can teach your child new vocabulary and enhance motor skills.

Songs for Three-Year-Olds

by Ashley K. Alaimo

As your 3-year-old continues to grow, you will notice that she has found control over her voice and enjoys singing her favorite songs loud and proud. But don't reach for those earplugs yet, Mom! Singing helps her express emotion, learn new vocabulary and work on memorization skills. So release your inner pop idol--it's time to rock and roll!

Old MacDonald Had a Farm

Sing "Old MacDonald" to teach your preschooler about animals and their respective sounds. This classic can also teach your child about directional words, such as "here," "there" and "everywhere."

Old MacDonald had a farm, Eee-i-ee-i-oh! And on this farm he had a cow, Ee-i-ee-i-oh! With a "moo moo" here, And a "moo moo" there, Here a "moo," there a "moo," Everywhere a "moo moo." Old MacDonald had a farm, Ee-i-ee-i-oh!

"This Old Man"

The tune "This Old Man" focuses on numbers one through 10, with various rhyming words and a repetitive melody. Grab a couple of wooden spoons and a pot and encourage your child to bang out the beat as you sing along.

This old man, he played "one," He played knick-knack on my thumb. With a knick-knack, paddy-whack, give a dog a bone, This old man came rolling home.

Head, Shoulders, Knees and Toes

A classic song for children, "Head, Shoulders, Knees and Toes" is a fun way to introduce various body parts through music and dance. Touch your head, shoulders, knees and toes as they are mentioned in the lyrics, to add movement to the song. Vary the tempo as you sing and encourage your child to follow.

Head, shoulders, knees and toes, knees and toes. Head, shoulders, knees and toes, knees and toes. Eyes and ears and mouth and nose. Head, shoulders, knees and toes, knees and toes.

The Hokey Pokey

"The Hokey Pokey" isn't just an overdone wedding song. Think of it as a helpful way to introduce your child about the left and right side of her body, along with words that describe moving through space. Stand next to your 3-year-old and demonstrate the motions as you sing about your feet, hands, hips, head and bottom!

You put your right foot in, You put your right foot out. You put your right foot in, And you shake it all about. You do the Hokey Pokey, And you turn yourself around. That's what it's all about.

About the Author

Ashley K. Alaimo is a writer, blogger and certified teacher in New York. She has a master's degree in elementary education and early childhood education from Medaille College, as well as a bachelor's degree in music and theater from Buffalo State College. Alaimo has also worked as an education specialist with ages birth to 12 years old, creating classroom and enrichment curriculum for various early childhood centers.

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