5 music and movement activities you can encourage with the GizmoWatch
A music therapist, private music studio owner and mom explains how to use the GizmoWatch to encourage music and movement routines that help boost brain development, strengthen relationships and build confidence.
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When you give your kid a GizmoWatch so they can communicate with family and friends, you’ll be tempted to just hand it over to them. But take time to learn what it can do. For example, if you use it to encourage music and movement, it can also lead to great moments of learning and mindfulness.
As a music therapist, parent and Accredited Kindermusik Educator, I spend my days helping families learn how to boost whole-child development. Daily rituals built around technology are a great place to start. Add music and movement rituals into the routine and you can amplify those benefits even more.
Why music and movement?
Making or even listening to music activities activates all hemispheres of the brain at the same time. Pairing this music with movement activities such dancing, jumping or clapping along can stimulate all areas of early childhood development. These activities can help adults, too by lowering anxiety and pain levels, improving mood, and more.
5 easy music and movement activities for the GizmoWatch
1. Practice mindfulness.
Research shows that mindfulness is linked to lower anxiety, better self-control, resilience and improved academic performance in kids. But relaxing doesn’t come naturally. It’s a learned behavior and it’s learned through repetition. Creating routines around rest is key to helping them get the best benefits from it. Using the GizmoWatch timer, you can make a consistent time to practice mindfulness outside of naps so they can learn that relaxing and slowing down isn’t always associated with sleep.
Learning benefits: Self-regulation and self-control
Tip: Play some soothing music during this exercise. Consider the “Relaxation” playlist on the free Kindermusik app .
Set a daily to-do list item in your GizmoWatch to remind your child that it’s time to relax.
Use the GizmoWatch timer and start with just two minutes and increase from there.
2. Try vocal play with silly voices.
Vocal play is taking turns saying or singing a phrase while your child imitates it. This exercise can stimulate critical listening, boost vocabulary and reading skills, and phonemic awareness—or the ability to make the individual sounds in spoken words. The better a child can discern and repeat the nuance of sounds, the better he or she will be at language acquisition and reading. Plus, silly, joyful memories make stronger, stickier learning moments.
Learning benefits: Active listening and early literacy skills
Access the Fun Activities screen on the GizmoWatch and record a message using a silly voice.
Play the message and challenge your child to repeat what they hear.
Turn it up a notch by asking "How does that sound make you feel?" to tap into social-emotional development.
3. Jump to express creativity when it’s hard to sit still.
Getting the wiggles out can be one of the best educational rituals you practice at home. Allowing children to share their ideas through movement helps their self-confidence and body control and builds awareness of the world around them. The GizmoWatch makes it easy, with a Jumps screen that includes a jump counter and a game that encourages kids to keep jumping to advance from level to level.
Learning benefits: Self-confidence and movement control
Tip: Embrace the silliness! Try the “Animals” playlist on the free Kindermusik app to inspire everyone and get the creative juices flowing.
Go to the Fun Activities screen and find the Jump feature.
Together, decide how many jumps you’ll complete and select your jump number.
Ask your child what animal or insect they want to be and talk about how it might move.
Put on some background music, press start and have fun!
4. Have a dance party to meet step goals.
Too much screen time? Frustrated with homework? Dance parties are one of the easiest and most effective ways to help a child calm down, reset or transition from one daily activity to the next. Plus, you can use them as often as you need and they don’t have to be long. Our household has been known to take many 3-minute (1 song) brain break dance parties a day!
Learning benefits: Self-regulation, movement control and social-emotional skills
Before you begin, make sure your child’s step goal is set in the GizmoWatch.
Choose a song, something you know will lift your child’s spirits.
Set a timer on the GizmoWatch for 3-5 minutes (1-2 songs), press play and dance!
When the timer goes off, end the dance party with a high five, hug, or a thumbs up and an affirming statement like “Brain break completed!”
5. Explore ringtones to express feelings.
Like singing, just listening to music can release dopamine and serotonin in the brain, which can help elevate mood and focus. Listening to and discussing different musical sounds with your child—and talking together about how they make your child feel—can bond you together and improve self-expression and communication.
Tip: Some sounds may not invoke a positive reaction—that’s important to explore! Musical listening is an incredibly helpful way to identify sensitivities or emotional challenges.
Learning benefits: Self-regulation and social-emotional skills
Access the ringtone section of the GizmoWatch.
Listen to each ringtone together.
After each one, ask “How did that sound make you feel?”
Optional: Take it up a notch by moving to the ringtone and tapping into creative expression.
When to use the GizmoWatch to encourage music and movement activities
Sometimes kids struggle to make transitions from one activity to the next, like going from screens to the dinner table. Sometimes they get overstimulated, like at a holiday gathering when it’s loud or someone’s not sharing a new toy. And sometimes they just need to get the wiggles out on a cold or rainy day when you can’t go for a walk.
These are all great times to use the GizmoWatch to encourage music and movement. But you can also make it a regular part of the day: Establishing routines with your child can boost lasting results, and musical play is like the glue that makes them stick.
Why repetition of these activities is key.
Humans need repetition to feel comfortable and safe when starting something new. You don’t need to do all these activities. Just pick one or two favorites, give it some time and have fun.
I like to use the analogy of hearing a song on the radio. When we hear a song for the first time, what are we doing? Typically we are just listening and observing. The second time, we may dance or bop a bit. The third time, perhaps we’re singing a part of the chorus. We all need to experience that activity a few times to feel confident participating and interacting with it, so it’s important to give children the time and space to process, learn and respond to new ideas and skills.
On top of the learning that’s happening, you’re really setting the stage for what technology should be…a connection! A connection between people, between ideas and between all the pieces that are part of achieving a goal.
Ease the daily routine for you and your child with the