Variations and Recombinations – Part 3

Music Lesson Plan for nursery school

cover image: Photo by Jelleke Vanooteghem on Unsplash

Part 1 | Part 2

Ways to play with themes
and variations for different age groups,
from babies to preschoolers

This is the 3rd of a series of 4 posts, each covering different age groups, starting from babies all the way up to preschoolers. Each post builds onto the previous one.

As always, each group of children you have will respond differently so use these activities as a guide and modify them for your and your specific group’s needs.

And of course, prepare your session to fit in with health and safety regulations. Download my Pied Piper lesson plan for a list of recommendations of making a session Covid-19 safe

22 – 36 month olds


  1. Down by the station
  2. See the little bunnies sleeping 
  3. Twinkle Twinkle little star
  4. ABC song
  5. Ba ba Black sheep
  6. Make up words to fit the song. It doesn’t have to make perfect sense as long as the words match the main melody and rhythm

Same activities can apply but upgrade them to fit this age group’s abilities and needs. 

Twinkle – Twinkle songs

  • While performing the gestures you can ask them to sing the song with eyes open or closed, fast or slow, loudly or quietly
  • With the scarves they can throw them in the air and catch them while singing the song
  • As before, with these activities the older children will have more confidence and perform them better than the younger ones. We are not looking for perfection here but 1. Introduce the words that describe these activities – language; 2. The activity itself – movement. 

Train songs

  • You can try arranging the children in a train line and walk around the room. Every repetition of the song you can change who is in the front of the line.

Building blocks

  • These children will need less assistance as they should be more confident in moving around by themselves. But adults should be around and provide assistance as necessary (also to keep a relative order during the session)
  • You can also make a bit more elaborate courses but don’t go overboard.
  • You can have a phrase at the end of each verse expecting the children to join in.

Playing with language and phonetic activities in this theme is very important. 

  • Voice is the first instrument we have – as well as body
  • Using language is a skill that is needed everywhere no matter your profession and as educators we need to play our role in developing it
  • With vocal games you develop language skills as well

30 – 50 months

Same activities. The children will be more independent and the activities will go more as you intended them to. 

Building Blocks

  1. Create 2 patterns that have similarities and differences. Ask the children to point out what is the same and what is different. I.e.: a row with one pink and one blue block and another row with 1 pink and one yellow block. 
  2. Then try assigning a sound for each colour and produce the pattern. Ask the children to join in.
  3. Carry on with varying these patterns first visually and then aurally.
  4. Play with textures as well and ask the children to feel textures of objects with their hands (unless it is considered safe with the COVID-19 crisis do not ask the children to touch objects and pass them round) 

Don’t miss the next post where we will look into possible ways of using Theme and Variations for the next age group. At the end of the series I will discuss why theme and variations and recombinations are important developmentally and musically!

Copyright © 2021, Rania Chrysostomou, lesson plan for nursery schools music  

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