Rhythm & rhyme & harmony: Videos & activities to help early learners practice self-regulation

By Children’s Librarian Shelley Harris

This week, I shared a video on using breathing to regulate your body when you’re feeling stressed or getting too excited on a fun day. A lot of the songs we sing and games we play in storytime help kids practice self-regulation: kids are following patterns in movement and song, and staying paced with the group even if they’re excited to be singing their favorites. That’s hard work! 

Pairing rhymes and self-regulation is a natural fit. Rhymes offer built-in rhythm, which makes them easier to remember. Having a familiar calm down song or rhyme can help during moments of stress. “Twinkle Twinkle Little Star” is a great example of a rhyming song with a calming rhythm.

Find rhymes, songs, breathing exercises, books, and more calming practices to try together below.

Watch these videos

In this video, Jenny and I share ways to use rhymes in self-regulation. You can use the pauses found naturally in poetry, or have comforting and regulating rhyming mantras that kids can use when they are feeling stressed or overwhelmed. What works for a child may not be what their caregiver needs, so it’s good to try a variety of tools.

Juanta and her daughter Yemi sing a really fun call and response song with great rhyme and rhythm! This is such a fun one to practice together.

Try these activities

Shelley Harris

About Shelley

Shelley is a children’s librarian with a passion for early literacy, serving and celebrating the disability community, and exploring technology. She can often be found practicing storytime songs with her black lab, Bingo.

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