Literacy and Music in Early Childhood: Multimodal Learning and Design
Tomlinson, Michelle M.
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This review of literature examines relevant research that supports new ways of viewing children as active transmitters of culture in situated learning contexts, where case studies explore children’s redesign of semiotic modes of music and verbal linguistics. Some recent research discussed in this article supports the premise that cognitive abilities of children in early learning settings may be transformed through embodied ways of representing prior knowledge. Young children have been observed enriching prior knowledge during interactions in music invention, using the gestural mode to interpret rhythmic and melodic motifs, structure and phrasing through movement to music, or extending these elements of music (audio mode) in invented song or instrumental play. In engaging literacy tasks, they co-construct texts by drawing on semiotic resources of visual symbols and spatial design elements in written linguistic modes. This cognitive structuring is also revealed in the underlying patterns found in their embodied music invention. How knowledge is represented is crucial to children’s apprehension of knowledge through co-construction. It enables their selection of media and mode for redesign, to promote their understanding of concepts and facilitate problem solving. Multimodal redesign in young children’s music and verbal linguistics is explored as a rich source for communicating meaning and developing higher thinking.