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I Can Play It: Music Games and Activities to Help Your Child Learn Review by Rebecca Ray

Patricia Shehan Campbell and Maja Pitamic
Barron’s Educational Services, Inc.
250 Wireless Boulevard
Hauppauge, NY 11788

Do you have a wiggly, active preschool student who is curious about the world? I have two of them, a five year old and a four year old. So, I was pleased to receive a copy of I Can Play It to use with my two little ones. I Can Play It was written by Patricia Shehan Campbell, a college music professor, and Maja Pitamic, an experienced Montessori teacher, to help introduce both musical and early learning concepts to children between the ages of three and five.

There are five sections of musical activities in this book after a preface of guidelines for using this book geared to answer any questions that the parent or teacher using this book might have. In the preface, this book explains pathways of musical development and how to use the activities in the book.  Then, the authors answer such questions parents might have such as, “Do these activities have to be used in order?,” “What if I don’t play a musical instrument?,” and “What if my child makes a mistake?”

The first section of the book is called “Our Very Own Music.” In this section, children are able to explore rhythms and sounds using their own bodies. Children complete such activities as tummy tapping, different clapping patterns and explorations of soft and loud, long and short and stressed notes and syllables. The second section of the book, “The Rhythms Inside,” expands on the first sections by taking these activities to learning about the clock, creating word chants, banging with spoons and pots and pans, and playing with rhyming words.

The third section is about the daily melodies we have in our lives. Activities include rain-based play, a song and rhythm for vegetables, and even some rocking chair lullaby games. The fourth section, “Music at Home,” has many suggestions for making your own musical instruments and creating songs to go with stories. The final section, “Outdoor music,” takes the musical ideas that the children have been exploring and takes them to the park, the car, the garden and to the exploration of animal noises.

As a parent of two preschoolers, I found it fun for me to memorize what we needed to have on-hand to explore an activity. Then, I could spring the activities on the children as a game to play or a recycled toy to make in times of boredom and restlessness. It made me the fun mom who could come up with games to play together throughout the day. When I would find one that was successful, I would often memorize the additional steps or extensions that we didn’t complete the first time. Although I found some of the different activities to be repetitive, that wasn’t something that bothered my little ones, and I valued the way that we were able to explore and play together through the book.  Barron’s Educational Services has a suggested retail price of $17.99 on this book, and I highly recommend it for the preschool age as a simple way to incorporate musical learning into your day.

--Product review by Rebecca Ray, The Old Schoolhouse® Magazine, LLC, April, 2016