There are a range of Tākai resources you can use with whānau to help them explore singing with their child. Children are attracted to repetition, rhythm and rhyme, and enjoy having songs and music shared with them.

Singing is a wonderful opportunity to share time, attention and whānau culture with a child, and to give them a rich, multi-sensory experience that they’ll enjoy.

The Whakatipu booklet Te Pihinga 3 reminds us of the value in sharing waiata with pēpi. They love to hear familiar songs over and over again and don't even care if you’re in tune or not!

Some places in Te Pihinga 3 to explore with whānau are:

  • Pages 13 and 31 – Waiata kōhungahunga
  • Page 23 – ‘Pēpi says: I love my waiata, especially ones with actions.’
  • Page 26 – Ngā mahi a te rēhia (games)
  • Page 27 – Kapa haka
  • Pages 28 and 29 – Haka time
  • See pages 13 and 31 for waiata whānau can sing and dance to with pēpi.

The Tākai baby wall frieze picture ‘Sing to me’ encourages whānau to enjoy singing with their pēpi. There’s so much value for children in having songs and music shared with them. Children are attracted to the repetition, rhythm and rhyme, and they learn best when they’re interested.

The Thinking about Parenting booklet, page 9, reminds us how structure and routines can provide a sense of security for children: "I think because we’d sung Moe Moe Pēpi to Ella every time we put her to bed, it became a little sign to her that meant sleep time now…"

We can all sing

Some parents might feel shy about singing, but a toddler doesn’t care and will enjoy almost anything parents sing to them — whatever they sound like!

Parents could try singing:

  • songs they know
  • kids’ songs
  • adult songs
  • silly songs
  • sad songs
  • songs in whatever language they like.

They can make songs up too, and just sing about what they’re doing with their child. For example, “Now it’s time to have some lunch”. A toddler is a great audience.

Try an action song

In Whakatipu Te Pihinga 3, look at the action song in te reo Māori (page 13) with whānau. Whānau might know it in English, too.

Have a go at singing this song. It’s known as the ‘Hokey tokey’, or ‘Hokey pokey’, or ‘Hokey cokey’! The actions are simple and you can make up your own version:

“You put your right foot in, you put your right foot out
You put your right foot in, and you shake it all about
You do the hokey tokey, and you turn yourself around
And that’s what it’s all about!”

Help whānau to encourage their toddler to copy the actions. It won’t take long before they get it.

Find more waiata kōhungahunga – songs and rhymes

Conversation ideas

How does your child respond to singing?
What works best for getting them to join in?
Where do the songs you enjoy come from?
Do you have any ideas where you might learn some new songs?
How about action songs?
What sort of music does your whānau enjoy?
Does your tamaiti like singing or playing music with others?

Helpful resources for whānau