When we were kids, we had to memorize phone numbers that were only seven numbers long, but today's kids need to memorize 10 numbers. Music and movement are great ways to help kids connect to what they are learning and make this task a little easier. Listening to music and singing activates areas of the brain associated with memory, reasoning and speech. It's a great way to teach your child your phone number!
The songs that we use most often to teach children their phone numbers are:
- Frere Jaque
- Jingle Bells
- Oh My Darling Clementine
- She'll Be Comin' Around The Mountain
I taught my daughters with Frere Jaque and sang it as a "repeat after me" song:
Me: "1-2-3" — Daughter: "1-2-3"
Me: "4-5-6" — Daughter: "4-5-6"
Me: "7-8-9-9" — Daughter: "7-8-9-9"
Me: "That's Mom's phone." — Daughter: "That's Mom's phone."
With this activity, repetition is key. We sang this song all day long and it didn't take long for my daughter to catch on.
Once we had the musical rendition of our phone number down, I introduced a popsicle and clothespin activity to help cement the memory. Here's how to do it:
- Write your phone number on a craft stick. I like to print the three sets of numbers in different colors. This will give your child one more clue as he or she memorizes your phone number.
- Next, write the phone number on 10 clothespins—one number on each clothespin. Be sure to write each number in the same color as the corresponding number on the craft stick.
- See that little dot at the bottom of the clip? I put that there to remind children that this is where they place their thumbs. You can also put a dot on your child's thumb and tell your child to match up the dots.
- Show your child how to match the clothespins to the numbers on the craft stick while singing their phone number song.
This activity also fosters the development of fine-motor skills. Opening and closing clothespins will build hand strength and help your child develop a pincer grip for later pencil control. (The pincer grip, which is the ability to hold an object between the thumb and pointer finger, is an important fine-motor milestone.)
Once your child has your phone number memorized, you can use the same activity to teach your child how to call 9-1-1 in case of an emergency.
I used 'Wheels on the Bus" to teach my child 911:
"The number for help is 9-1-1, 9-1-1, 9-1-1, the number for help is 9-1-1, that is who I call."
Keep practicing and keep it fun! Rest easy knowing that your child will be one step closer to independence—thanks to you!