Updated: May 22, 2022
Peek-a-boo songs are a brilliant way to engage your little one in music making.
This type of activity teaches object permanence (that things are still there even though you can’t see them.) This concept begins to develop around the age of 8 - 9 months old and object permanence plays a significant role in the theory of cognitive development created by psychologist Jean Piaget.
Holistically, peek-a-boo games and songs encourage cooperation, turn taking and patience, with communication skills being enhanced as your little one learns eye contact and to read others' responses to cues.
From a musical perspective, children will start to recognise the melody by firstly being able to recall it internally, and then as they get older, will be able to sing it back to you (imitation.) An understanding of the structure of the music will also develop as your little one will anticipate the peek-a-boo element. This is called audiation and it is the ability to sing a song in your head and predict what will happen next. This takes repetition in order to gain familiarity and understanding.
Tara and Isla demonstrating a simple peek-a-boo song.
How can we facilitate peek-a-boo activities with our little one?
For Babies, the adult initially takes the lead, hiding and revealing their face behind an object. Your baby may be upset with the first few rounds but they will learn through repetition that you haven’t disappeared, and that you are initiating play.
3 - 6 months - Helps baby visually track if you “peek” from different spots
6 - 9 months – Baby becomes curious and might laugh because they enjoy the game
9 - 12 months – Baby imitates you and may use early language by saying “boo”
12 + months – Baby might initiate the game by covering their eyes.
For Older Toddlers and Preschoolers they will begin to want to lead this activity initiating musical dialogue. This expression of independence will encourage confidence, turn taking and cooperation.
12 - 18 months - Child will begin to imitate a few words and find the humour in saying “boo!”
18 - 24 months - An understanding of the melodic structure will begin to emerge with the child pitching some notes accurately.
24 + months - A whole sense of the song will be evident with the child recalling some of the content.
36 + months - A more accurate performance can be expected from this age, including recognisable melodies with a definite sense of steady beat.
Try it at home
Here at Music in Unison we believe that supporting you to make music with your little one at home is imperative. A rich musical home-life will contribute significantly to your child's musical development. If you'd like some support with our peek-a-boo songs, head over to our store where you can purchase a digital download for this activity.