Children's Toy & Media Reviews Since 1978

Music for Moving: Upbeat Children’s Albums for Dancing and Exercising

School Dance
School Dance by adwriter, on Flickr

Sometimes getting kids moving is as simple as playing the right song. Children’s music pioneer and Parents’ Choice Foundation favorite Ella Jenkins recognizes the need for playful, energetic music. Her new album Get Moving features fifteen tracks, three of which have never been released on CD before, that encourage young listeners to loosen up and get active.

In honor of the release of Jenkins’ album today, we’ve put together a list of our favorite music for dancing, jumping, exercising, and having fun!

Little Nut Tree

Little Nut Tree by Dan Zanes and Friends

Grammy Award-winning family artist Dan Zanes returns to his “handmade” music-making with a new release of what he refers to as “21st century, all ages social music”-a spirit-lifting collection of old and new folk tunes, recorded at his Brooklyn-based Festival Five Records studio. Fine musicianship and inclusive, at-home warmth are hallmarks of any Zanes album, and this groovin’ get-together with a host of notable musical friends is no exception.
Dance Party

Dance Party by Preschool of Rock

“Robot Song” (“do the robot shuffle”), “Dance Party” (“move your body up and down…and round and round and round”), “Shake Around” (“when the snow falls down/It makes a blanket on the ground/I shake around….”)-singer-songwriter Michael Napolitano performs simple original songs to encourage the small set to feel the rhythm and move and groove to a rock ‘n roll beat. A former music specialist at The Blue Man Group’s Creativity Center (now the Blue School) in New York, Napolitano is founder of Preschool Rock, a curriculum-based music program designed to adhere to National Association for the Education of Young Children standards.

Dancing With Miss MelodeeDancing With Miss Melodee by Miss Melodee

Strong and high-quality production values support the ten songs of Dancing with Miss Melodee. Designed to encourage young dancers (ages 2 to 7) to get up, stretch, pretend, and dance, this pink clad collection offers touches of sweetness that will appeal to many very young girls. Miss Melodee’s genuine warmth complements her skilled delivery.

Here We Go ZodeoHere We Go Zodeo by Kathy Reid-Naiman and Hannah Naiman

The cheeky plink-plink of a ukulele in Here We Go Zodeo’s opening track, “Jump Jim Joe,” sets the tone for this exuberant acoustic collection of twenty-one traditional sing-along, clap-along, play-along songs sung by Kathy Reid-Naiman and her daughter, Hannah Naiman. From “Alabama Girl” and “Going to Boston” to the title track, each song is a smiling invitation to one happy hoedown. The CD includes a guide to play and dance movement specific to each song. The album’s rhythmic bounce, easy-to-follow melodies, tuneful vocals and superb musicianship led by Reid-Naiman on banjo-uke, fiddle and guitar are perfect for playgroups, parties, classrooms and just plain at-home family fun.

Tap Those ToesTap Those Toes by Rachel Sumner

Hand-clapping, foot-tapping, dancing to global rhythms, healthy messages and lively fun fuel the work of Rachel Sumner, veteran children’s performer, theater artist, singer-songwriter, radio host (“Rachel’s Fun Time”) and arts-in-education expert. Stories on the CD include “Imani’s Trick,” an adaptation of an African folk tale about dancing crabs, a watering hole and how flamingos developed their one-legged stance; and “Chester’s Surprise,” the third installment in a nature series about “Chester the Cheerful Chipmunk.” Sumner urges listeners to make friends “All Around the World,” create a kitchen band (“Cookin’ in the Kitchen”) and “Catch the Reading Bug.” A recurring theme: Encouraging children to think of books as opportunities for adventure and discovery. A particular book-invested group of adults receives a shout-out, too. In “It’s a Pirate’s Life for Me,” a literacy-loving pirate builds libraries as big as castles and supplies librarians with books, raises and eight weeks of vacation. The CD is enhanced with song lyrics and activities.

Go! by Alphabet RockersGo! by Alphabet Rockers

Engaging, good-for-you pop-style songs with a mild hip-hop beat from The Alphabet Rockers (Kaitlin McGaw, Tommy Shepherd and Stefanie Liang). The messages in the songs, written with “teacher advisors,” are to the point, but delivered with a light and engaging touch. Subjects range from healthy eating (“Eat the Rainbow,” “Food Songs,” “Food Calculator”), literacy (“You Can Write”), phonetics (“Animals From A to Z”) and exercise (the title track). Clever and informative tracks define sight, hearing, taste, smell and touch, underscoring how all five senses work together.

Groove Kid NationWheels on the Bus by Groove Kid Nation

This playlist of well known children’s music standards is one of the more creative and fun albums of recent years. Imagine a James Brown or Lauryn Hill record for kids, and you’ll have some idea of what Groove Nation’s debut CD is all about. Producer/keyboardist Rodney Lee has assembled a crew of top session and live musicians who have played in the fields of jazz, soul and funk (with luminaries that range from Ray Charles to Prince), to give unique renditions of many of those children’s music standards, and a few dynamite original tunes.