How to Teach Turn-Taking & Sharing | Listen & Learn Music

Taking turns is one of the most challenging tasks for students in my music therapy groups and music classes. Although it can also be a challenge for the music therapist or teacher to facilitate and manage sharing opportunities, there are many factors that can influence the success of songs that feature turn-taking.

Sharing and taking turns is an essential skill that all young children must learn, and music can make this difficult task fun and motivating. To set my clients and students up for success, I always make sure each child’s turn is long enough so that they have a chance to explore and play the instrument, but short enough so that the other kiddos don’t get too antsy while they wait.

In addition to taking these measures, song choice is very important as well. Below, I’ve featured two of my favorite Listen & Learn Music songs for sharing.

Some of the goals addressed in these songs:

  • Improve turn-taking skills
  • Increase verbalization
  • Increase socialization through peer interaction
  • Improve fine and gross motor skills
  • Increase sustained attention

In my music therapy sessions and music classes, the frog guiro is a crowd favorite. It doesn’t show up very often, so my kiddos are always so excited when it’s time for “Little Brown Frog”.

Little Brown Frog | Listen & Learn Music

The frog guiro is a great instrument for children to experiment with, as they often have to try before they figure it out for themselves. Beyond that, children also have to practice bilateral coordination, meeting at midline, and palmar grasp to use the guiro.

After each verse, I add in a lyric that instructs children to pass to a neighbor, or even add in the name of the neighbor so that the child clearly understands what he or she needs to do.

For a song during which children are sharing one type of instrument, I will utilize just one for small groups. But for larger groups, I will pass out several, and strategically give them to the children so that no one has to wait too long before receiving a turn.

“Who’s Jingling Now?” is one of those songs that is initially challenging for children, but once they’ve mastered it, they are so proud of themselves! When passing out jingle bells, children have an opportunity to make choices, or sometimes I’ll encourage a child to pass out bells to their peers.

Who's Jingling Now? | Listen & Learn Music

Although the verses of “Who’s Jingling Now?” are intended as an opportunity for children to practice identifying their own names while the others exercise their impulse control by waiting, I’ve added in additional verses, such as “everyone with sneakers, jingling their bells”. That way, children practice identifying things about themselves and others.

It can be hard for children to wait and listen for their cue to play, but the look on their faces when they hear that it’s now their turn is priceless!

Taking turns and sharing is a vital social skill that every child must learn, and music can make that challenging task a little bit easier and a lot more fun! Let me know in the comments below: how do you ensure your clients or students are successful when taking turns and sharing?

You can listen to all of these songs in their entirety right here. Lyrics, chords, mp3, and instrumental track for these original songs are available for download. As is the case for all Listen & Learn Music creations, we invite you to adapt these songs as needed to best serve your students and/or clients.