Remember playing the Silent Game with your parents so that they could have a few moments of silence? Perhaps you just played this game in the car with your kids? Let me introduce to you another version of the Silent Game that offers more benefits other than a few moments of silence.
The Silent Game can be much more than that. In the education world we call this: Internal Hearing. This is really just a fancy term for thinking quietly. Yes, it is an abstract concept and yes, toddlers can do this!
At this point, I have to confess. I am absolutely obsessed with teaching children Internal Hearing. I commit an entire year passing this technique on to my 3 year old classes. Not only do I love it, but the children love the challenge as well. Now how can a non-music teacher, busy parent like yourself incorporate this technique? Here’s a step-by-step guide of how I teach my students in class using the classic song, “The Itsy Bitsy Spider”:
Use a song you and your child know well. If there are hand movements that go with your song, even better.
The itsy bitsy spider went up the water spout. Down came the rain and washed the spider out. Out came the sun and dried up all the rain. So the itsy bitsy spider went up the spout again.
Propose a challenge to your child after singing through the song: “I wonder if we can sing this song INSIDE OUR HEAD? That means we will be thinking the exact same thing at the same time – with no sound!”
At first, they may not know what you mean. If this is the case, sing the song again but with no sound coming out. You’ll be lip-syncing and doing the motions if there are any. Your child may still sing out-loud, and that’s OK. She will eventually notice that you are singing along with her silently and start copying you.
Establish a phrase that will cue your child when you want to play this game. It can be something like: “Let’s sing this song inside our ______ (point to your head)!” Once your child is confident with this new game, he/she will be able to fill in the blank knowing exactly what you are thinking.
I love the idea that children can imagine a song in their head but most of all, I love the idea that the children can engage and connect with someone at a level with the absence of sound.
Whether it’s in the car, cooking with the family, or tucking your precious one into bed, this is just another idea of making an everyday task into a musical one.