Content uploaded by Vassiliki Derri
All content in this area was uploaded by Vassiliki Derri on Apr 05, 2016
Content may be subject to copyright.
Early Childhood Research Quarterly 19 (2004) 631–642
The effects of a developmentally appropriate music and
movement program on motor performance
, Aggeliki Tsapakidou
, Vassiliki Derri
Technological Educational Institution of Thessaloniki, Department of Early Childhood Care and Education,
P.O. Box 14561, Sindos 54101, Thessaloniki, Greece
Aristotle University of Thessaloniki, Sindos 54101, Thessaloniki, Greece
Democritus University of Thrace, Thrace, Greece
Basic motor skills development is achieved through the implementation of different types of physical education
programs. The purpose of this study was to investigate and to compare the effect of a developmentally appropriate
musicandmovementprogramandofadevelopmentally appropriate physical education program on the development
of jumping and dynamic balance in children ages 4–6 years. Ninety children, 42 girls and 48 boys, participated.
Fifty of themwere inan experimental group and followedthe musicand movementprogram, which lasted 2 months.
The rest served as the control group and followed the physical education program, for the same period of time.
Children’s level in jumping and dynamic balance was assessed with the MOT 4–6 [Zimmer, R. & Volkamer, M.
(1987). Motoriktest fuer vier-bis sechsjaehrige kinder. Manual, Belz: Weinheim]. Data were analyzed with the
multivariate analysis of variance with repeated measures. The results showed that the experimental group improved
signiﬁcantly in both jumping and dynamic balance. It can be concluded that a developmentally appropriate music
and movement program can positively affect jumping and dynamic balance of preschool children.
© 2004 Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.
Keywords: Music and movement program; Developmentally appropriate practices; Dynamic balance; Jumping; Preschool
The preschool and the early elementary school years are critical for the development of fundamental
motor skills (Gallahue, 1996). According to Graham (1991), fundamental motor skills are signiﬁcant
because (a) they form the basis for success in sport skills during adolescence and adulthood, (b) young
Corresponding author. Tel.: +30 2310 791528; fax: +30 2310 791524.
E-mail address: email@example.com (E. Zachopoulou).
0885-2006/$ – see front matter © 2004 Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.
632 E. Zachopoulou et al. / Early Childhood Research Quarterly 19 (2004) 631–642
children enjoy learning them, and (c) once learned, are retained for a lifetime. If children fail to develop
these skills during this period of their life, they often experience failurein the motor domain during child-
hood and adolescence (Gallahue, 1996; Poest, Williams, Witt, & Atwood, 1990). The most signiﬁcant
consequence of basic motor skills development and movement concepts is that they enhance psychologi-
cal, social, cognitive, and affectivedevelopmentas well (Payne & Rink, 1997). When children take part in
motor activities, their social development progresses, as they become capable of successful interactions
with others, such as helping and cooperating and learn to control aggression (Gallahue & Ozmun, 1998).
Through participation in games, they learn to express their emotions in socially acceptable ways and to
become capable of understanding how others feel and develop a sense of right and wrong. Besides the
effects on affective development, motor and game activities provide the ideal environment for cognitive
development, when the children are asked to respond to teacher’s instructions, to ﬁnd many different and
effective ways to solve a problem or to execute an exercise (Bee, 1999). These are factors that affect
children’s thinking and reasoning.
Thequalityin motorskillsperformance is relatedtothe levelofcertain motor abilities(Schmidt, 1987).
Some of these abilities, as for example dynamic balance and coordination abilities, are crucial for motor
skills performance while others are less important for this developmental stage, such as endurance and
ﬂexibility. Dynamic balance refers to the maintenance of equilibrium in rapid changes of the individual’s
kinetic condition. DeOreo and Keogh (1980) and Espenschade and Eckert (1980) argue that dynamic
balance is the essential component of almost every fundamental motor skill. So, balance activities are
commonly included in programs designed to facilitate the acquisition of gross motor tasks in young
children. Ulrich and Ulrich (1985) found that for preschoolers, balance plays a signiﬁcant role in the
performance of several fundamental motor skills. These fundamental motor skills are used in a variety of
recreational and daily living experiences. Running and jumping are the most common and useful motor
skills for the everyday activities of young children. When children move around during free-play times,
they usually run or jump. Running is the simplest motor skill and begins developing early in childhood,
while jumping is a more complex motor skill because a jump involves phases of taking off and landing
on. It is important for preschool-aged children to practice jumping in various ways in order to achieve
the mature stage of this skill.
Research on the effect of physical education programs on preschool children’s motor development is
still at a rudimentary level. Music or various forms of accompaniment have enriched the above programs,
in order to make them more attractive and amusing for young children. Music carries all the rhythms for
locomotor skills. Walking, running, hopping, and jumping can all be expressed in sound (Kenney, 1997).
The teacher might play any of these rhythms on a drum and invite children to match their movements
to the drum. Or the teacher might ask a child to move and then match the drum to the movement. In
addition, many song games include locomotor movements as part of the game. Song games also explore
small motor coordination, body parts, movement with partners, and movement in free space (Kenney,
1997). Rhythmic motor activities and game-type activities are usually the most important com-
ponents in kindergarten programs because they satisfy children’s innate desires to move, to de-
velop body and space awareness, and help them to progress through initial, elementary, and
mature stages of acquiring skills, such as running, jumping, kicking, throwing, and catching
(Gallahue & Ozmun, 1998).
Orff (cited by Keetman (1974)) developed a music and movement method based on the notion that
music, movement, and verbal speech are interrelated by having rhythm as a common element. He saw
music, movement, and language as congenerative, related forms of expression belonging together and
E. Zachopoulou et al. / Early Childhood Research Quarterly 19 (2004) 631–642 633
originating from the same wellspring (Cole & Nash, 2000). Dalcroze (cited by Bachmann (1991)) sup-
ported the notion that any musical idea may be transformed into movement and that any body movement
may be transformed into its musical counterpart. He developed a method,known as ‘eurhythmics’, where
children and teachers should improvise rhythmic motives. Children are instructed to use body move-
ments to respond to these motives. This method was based on the following components: engaging
in exercises for muscular contraction, relaxation and breathing, studying different positions of the body,
walkingvariations, and performing exercisesin the use of space and in theexpression of feelings. Weikart
(1989) suggested a progression in the content of rhythmic education programs, meaning that children
should initially practice rhythmical verbal speech, then non-locomotor skills and, later, locomotor skills
in synchronization with sound stimuli.
A study by Brown, Sherrill, and Gench (1981) focused upon the application of Dalcroze’s method to
early childhood education. They studied the effects of an integrated physical education/music program
on perceptual-motor performance of children aged 4–6 years. This program was based on repeated
rhythmic exercises designed to develop the natural rhythms of the body while training for economy and
precision of movement. The experimental group received 24 rhythmictraining sessions during a 10-week
period. They were compared to a control group, who received a movement exploration program. This
program was presented using self-testing activities and a game-like creative context. The results of this
study showed that the integrated physical education/music program was more effective in improving the
motor performance than was the exploration of movement. These ﬁndings agree with the results of a
study conducted by Painter (1966), which showed that rhythmic accompaniment during the execution of
fundamental motor skills enhanced the learning of these skills.
It is known that a music and movement program based on movement concepts (body awareness, space
awareness, effort concepts and relationship concepts), on elements of rhythm, and on improvised motor
responses, provides variety to the physical education program (Pica, 2000). But there is no research,
which studied the implementation of a more structure intervention based on movement concepts and
elements of rhythm.
The ﬁrst parameter of movement concepts is body awareness, which involves being able to identify
body parts, balancing from different bases of support, and creating body shapes and positions in a limited
area. The concept of space can be broken down into several factors: general and personal space, direction
of body movement (right, left, up, down, etc.), level of movement (high, low, medium body position),
and path of movement (curved, zigzag, etc.). The concepts concerning effort include the ﬂow, force, and
speed of a movement, while relationship concepts refer to relationships of body parts, with objects and
with people (Kirchner & Fishburne, 1995).
The above-mentioned movement concepts are used to express the elements of rhythm. The elements
of rhythm can be found in every measure, which indicates the rhythmical and musical structure of every
auditory stimulus. These elements are tempo, intensity, and accent. Tempo is the speed of the movement
or music. It can beslow, moderate,or fast,or itmay graduallyincrease from slowto fastor viceversa. It is
important for each child to sense different tempos and learn to adjust his movements to these ﬂuctuations.
Children may improve their understanding of tempo by (1) responding to tempo changes in the beat of a
percussion instrument with various locomotor and balance movements, (2) performing animal-like walks
at various speeds, or (3) jumping rope to different tempos.
The intensity of music can be expressed in movement by changing the movement force. Intensity is
recognized as the feeling of heaviness or lightness of movement. Children can develop an understanding
of intensity by (1) altering their movements to various intensities of music, (2) changing the level of their
634 E. Zachopoulou et al. / Early Childhood Research Quarterly 19 (2004) 631–642
movements to different intensities, (3) changing the amount of force they use to move, or (4) bouncing a
ball with appropriate amounts of force.
The third element of rhythm is the accent. Accent is the extra force, or stress, given to certain beats in
a measure. Children may become aware of accent by (1) listening to music and clapping on the accented
beat, (2) moving around the room according to the appropriate rhythmic pattern and changing direction
on each accented beat, or (3) varying the response to the accented beat with speciﬁc locomotor, stability,
or manipulative fundamental motor skills.
A program is based on rhythm elements develops a child’s rhythmic ability (Weikart, Schweihart,
& Larner, 1987; Zachopoulou, Derri, Chatzopoulos, & Ellinoudis, 2003). This ability is a coordinated
ability and determines the level of motor skills acquisition (Frey, 1977; Hirtz, 1985; Martin, 1988).
High (1987) found that a 14-week rhythmic movement program improved kindergarten children’s
rhythmic ability more than a program of free-play activities. In a study with second and third graders,
Moore (1984) found that the group who received rhythmic training for a 10-week period scored sig-
niﬁcantly higher on post-test measures of rhythmic ability than the control group. The development of
of the central nervous system and their stimulation through practice.In music and movement programs
and in other types of physical education programs, emphasis should be placed on the child, their per-
sonalities, ways of learning, needs, interests, and levels of maturation (Curtis, 1998). The programs that
address the above emphases are organized based on developmentally appropriate practices (Hart, Burts,
Durland, Charlesworth, De Wolf, & Fleege, 1998). According to Bredekamp (1987), developmentally
appropriate programs adapt physical education content to meet the different needs of children. Burts,
Hart, Charlesworth, De Wolf, & Ray (1993) stressed that this adaptation must be based on: (1) strongly
interrelated domains of development (social, cognitive, motor, affective), (2) a child’s knowledge ac-
tively built through experiences in the physical and social environment, (3) motor development is ac-
complished when the children have opportunities to act according to their abilities, guided by more
efﬁcient children or adults, and (4) children develop various ways of learning and representing what
they learned. This will create a child-centered teaching approach in which the child and their unique
characteristics determine the content of the program (Charlesworth, 1998). Payne and Rink (1997)
believe that most frameworks should include the following areas as critical dimensions of a develop-
mentally appropriate physical education program for young children: (a) development of body aware-
ness (exploring what the body and its parts can do); (b) development of fundamental locomotor pat-
terns (e.g., walk, jump, run, hop); (c) development of opportunities to manage the weight of the
body (e.g., balance, swing, climb, roll); and (d) development of fundamental manipulative patterns
(e.g., catch, throw, strike, kick).
When implementing such programs, physical educators or early childhood educators should con-
sider that (a) children perform motor skills according to their chronological age; (b) the development
of each motor skill follows certain stages for all children; and (c) despite the fact that children learn
and develop motor skills following a successive process, the rhythm of this process differs from child-
to-child (Charlesworth, Hart, Burts, Mosley, & Fleege, 1993). Lubeck (1998) reported that for the ef-
fective organization of a developmentally physical education program, the active participation of the
child in the teaching process is necessary. This means that children do not copy or imitate move-
ments during the lesson but introduce their own ideas. They can ask questions and ﬁnd solutions to
the “problems” presented by the teacher, emphasizing the process rather than the result of the movement
E. Zachopoulou et al. / Early Childhood Research Quarterly 19 (2004) 631–642 635
Althoughitisknownthatphysical education programs based on developmentallyappropriatepractices
should be an integral part of early childhood education, little research has been done to identify the
effectiveness of such programs on the development of basic motor skills. The purpose of the present
study was to identify the effect a developmentally appropriate music and movement program would have
on the development of jumping and dynamic balance in preschool children, and compare this program
with a developmentally appropriate physical education program. It was hypothesized that the children
who participated in the developmentally appropriate music and movement program would have better
scores on jumping and dynamic balance compared to the control group, who attended a developmentally
appropriate physical education program.
The initial sample of this study was comprised of 100 children of the same ethnicity who attended
a preschool center. The total number of children who were enrolled at the center was 150. They were
divided into six classes of 25 children each, three classes for children ages 4–5 and three classes for
children ages 5–6. From these six classes, four were randomly selected, two from each age group. From
these four classes, two groups were selected at random, one for each age category, which comprised the
experimental group. The other two groups were the control group. The two groups had the following
ﬁnal synthesis: (␣) experimental group→ 1st age group (11 girls and 14 boys) and 2nd age group (13
girls and 12 boys) (␤) control group→ 1st age group (11 girls and 14 boys) and 2nd age group (12 girls
and 13 boys). The experimental group participated in a 2-month music and movement program while the
control group participated in a physical education program during the same period.
The experimental group was therefore composed of 50 children (24 girls and 26 boys) with a mean age
M=5.3± 0.5 years. Since the results of study involved only the children who participated in all lessons
included in the program, only 40 children in the end were used as the control group (18 girls and 22 boys
with mean age M=5.1± 0.7 years). All children participated with parental permission.
The level of development on jumping and dynamic balance was assessed with the MOT 4–6 (Zimmer
& Volkamer, 1987).
1.2.1. Dynamic balance
Walkingforwardwasusedtoassess dynamic balance. Children walkedon a ﬂoor mat2m (6.56ft) long
and10cm(3.93in.) widewithoutshoes. The lengthoffootsteps wasnot pre-determined butchildren were
not allowed to walk on the edges of the ﬂoor mat. Children performed two trials. A trial was considered
successful when all steps were on the ﬂoor mat and none of them touched the ground around the ﬂoor
Walkingbackwardwasalsousedto assessdynamic balance.Thesame procedureas in forwardwalking
was followed but this time children had to walk backward. Children performed two trials. Trials were
considered successful when none of the steps touched the ground.
636 E. Zachopoulou et al. / Early Childhood Research Quarterly 19 (2004) 631–642
The children were asked to hop on one foot into a rhythmic gymnastics hoop from a 15cm (5.9in.)
distance. They then performed the same task with the other foot. One trial was allowed with each foot
and was considered successful if the child could retain its balance on this position for 5s.
The children were asked to jump over a rope placed 35cm (13.77in.) and 45cm (17.71in.) above the
ground, using both feet. One trial was given for each height and was recorded as successful when the
child did not touch the rope while jumping.
Children also performed side jumps over a rope, from one side to the other. A 2m (6.56ft) rope was
placed on the ground. The children, initially standing on the left side of the rope, tried to jump with both
feet as many times as possible on both sides within 10 s. The children performed one trial. The number
of correct jumps (without touching the rope) was recorded. More than 11 correct jumps received a ‘2’
rating, 8–11 correct jumps received a ‘1’ and less than 8 jumps received a ‘0’.
1.2.4. Jumping with 180
The children performed a standing jump with 180
rotation to the vertical axis of its body, landing in a
hoop in front of them. They then performed a second jump returning to their initial position. Each jump
was considered correct when the rotation was 180
Performance on the above tasks was assessed as following: ‘0’ when the trials were unsuccessful, ‘1’
when one trial was successful and ‘2’ when both trials were successful. Therefore, the maximumpossible
score for jumping and dynamic balance was 6. The total scores on the three jumping and three balance
tasks were used for their ﬁnal assessment. These jumping and balance tasks have reliability coefﬁcients
.85 and .80, respectively, and the validity coefﬁcients are .79 and .76 (Zimmer & Volkamer, 1987).
Children were tested individually in the multipurpose room of the preschool center. The investigator
to the test, the investigator demonstrated each task once and gave standardized verbal instructions to each
subject. Children’s performance was videotaped and independently scored twice by two trained raters. A
87% intraobserver and 82% interobserver agreement level was obtained. When the raters disagreed, the
ﬁnal score was the average of the two initial scores.
The two subgroups of the experimental group then followed the 2-month music and movement pro-
gram, which was conducted twice each week for 35–40 min. The program for these two subgroups was
conducted the same days every week, Monday and Wednesday, between 10:30 a.m. and 12:00 noon. The
same procedure was followed for the two subgroups of the control group, whoparticipated in the physical
education program every Tuesday and Thursday. A physical educator, who specialized in teaching early
young children and had experience in rhythmic instruction, implemented the two programs in the multi-
purpose room of the preschool center. During the experimental procedure, the children did not participate
in other physical activities.
E. Zachopoulou et al. / Early Childhood Research Quarterly 19 (2004) 631–642 637
1.4. Description of the programs
1.4.1. Music and movement program
The music and movement program was based on rhythmic education principles of the Orff approach
(cited by Keetman (1974)). Thus, a large part of the program consisted of three types of movement:
(a) percussion movements (e.g., clapping, patting knees with both hands, tapping ﬂoor with foot, etc.);
(b) readiness and reaction movements; and (c) improvisation and creative movements. Creative move-
ments allowed children to express their own ideas, emotions, feelings, and moods, through body and
rhythm exploration accompanied by various forms of music. These movements were executed in a va-
riety of ways, using the elements of movement, in order to express simple and more complex rhythmic
The percussion instruments used were tambourines, woodblocks, maracas, and triangles. The temporal
rhythmic symbols, which were taught, were eighth notes (two movements in one beat), quarter notes
(one movement in one beat), and half notes (one movement in two beats). The three elements of rhythm
by Weikart (1989).
The goals of the ﬁrst phase (2 weeks) of the intervention program were (a) to develop body awareness
with different types of body support; (b) to develop space awareness, such as personal and general space,
levels, and pathways; and (c) to help children explore and express their own personal rhythm.
With few exceptions, children with no previous training can do such things as clap, march, walk,
jump, and run (Pica, 2000). According to Dalcroze (cited by Bachmann (1991)), teachers should make
an effort to determine each child’s personal rhythm and encourage the child to make up its own ac-
companiment with their voice, percussion movements, or percussion instruments. Only after the chil-
dren have given evidence of moving in time to their own accompaniment should teachers introduce the
next stage of the program, which is the synchronization of children’s movements to externally imposed
In the second phase (3 weeks) of the program, children learned to deﬁne space using their bodies and
different materials, such as paper, textiles, rubbers, balloons, and hoops. Children were requested to walk
forward, backward or above objects, using different types of movement. To recognize temporal symbols,
simple locomotor, and non-locomotor movements were used as responses to intensity and accent of
rhythm. Different space levels were also used for the expression of different accents. The understanding
by the physical educator, using voice and percussion instruments. Children’s motor responses combined
jumping with simple fundamental locomotor skills, such as walking and running.
During the third phase (3 weeks) of the program, the complexity of the activities increased. Chil-
dren had to ﬁnd relations between rhythm and movement concepts. For example, they were asked
to express the different intensities of sounds through the different levels of space, or to show the
accented beat by changing the direction of the movement or the body shape for each accented
The recognition and production of elements of rhythm and the understanding of complex rhythmic
motives were expressedmainly through the execution of jumping andbalancing. Thisphase alsoincluded
traditional Greek dances, such as sirtos, kastorianos, and tsakonikos, which were taught through creative
activities. Moreover, traditional Greek games, such as “One-two-three-red light”, “Bee”, and “Chasing”,
modiﬁed to ﬁt in the children’s needs, were applied.
638 E. Zachopoulou et al. / Early Childhood Research Quarterly 19 (2004) 631–642
1.5. Physical education program
During the sameperiod, the two control subgroups were taking part in the physicaleducation program,
which concentrated on the jumping and balancing tasks. The activities of this program were based on
movement concepts used in the music and movement program. Children were instructed to follow and
react to the physical educator’s instructions. Children were trying to execute the activities through an
exploratory teaching style. This means that theyhad time to create their own ways to execute a movement
or an exercise. The main difference between the two programs was that there wasn’t any rhythmic
accompaniment during the physical education program.
The content of the exercises which focused on jumping tasks included activities for jumping and
landing, jumping for distance, jumping for height, jumping over a rope or obstacles, and jumping with a
partner to mirror actions or to match actions. Exercises to develop balance were based on activities for
balanced positions; balancing in different body shapes; balancing with partners; moving while balanced;
performing sequences that combine stationary balances and moving on mats; transferring weight to
different feet positions; balancing while walking in various body positions; moving while using different
parts of the feet to touch the ﬂoor; and balancing while walking or running between or over cones or other
forms of equipment.
physical education programs (Barnett, Williams, & Whitall, 1992). In each lesson there were activities
promoting social development (performing activities in groups), cognitive development (understanding
relations between the rhythmic symbols, space elements),and affectivedevelopment(expressingfeelings
according to the changes of rhythm elements). Based on the principle of active learning, exploration
and improvisation activities were implemented, allowing the children to select the movements. While
scheduling the activities of the intervention programs, the following attributes were taken into account
• the children’s age and the different domains of development;
• reinforcement of cooperation in order to promote practice in pairs or in large teams;
• activities which were scheduled to provide children with learning experiences and to reinforce the
acquisition of new space concepts;
• use of various equipment (new or modiﬁed useless objects) respective to the children’s ability;
• proper organization of the exercise environment in order to help children solve cognitive and motor
• different types of music to provide opportunities for creative movement.
Meanand standard deviations forpre-testand post-testmeasuresof both groupsare depicted inTable1.
To identify possible differences between the experimental and the control group in the pre-test measures,
one-way analysis of variance was used. In the absence of signiﬁcant differences between the two groups
both on jumping (F
=.93, p>.05) and on balance (F
=.40, p>.05), the multivariate analysis of
variance [2 (groups)× 2 (sexes) × 2 (ages) × 2 (measures)] with repeated measures on the last factor
E. Zachopoulou et al. / Early Childhood Research Quarterly 19 (2004) 631–642 639
Mean and standard deviations of pre-test and post-test measures, for both groups
Measures M (S.D.)
Experimental group Control group Experimental group Control group
Jump 2.76 (.41) 2.28 (.52) 5.22(.75) 3.24 (.82)
Dynamic balance 2.41(.60) 1.93 (.35) 4.82(.93) 2.54 (.49)
was used. The results showed that the multivariate effect of measure (F
=95.93, p< .001) and the
multivariate effect of group (F
=12.95, p <.001) were signiﬁcant. On the contrary, the multivariate
effect of sex (F
=2.64, p=.072) and the multivariate effect of age (F
=2.15, p=.123) were not
The only signiﬁcant interaction founded was the measure× group interaction (F
The group× sexinteraction(F
=2.57, p =.084) and thegroup× age interaction(F
=.437, p =.648)
were not signiﬁcant.
Follow-up univariate tests showed that the measure× group interaction was signiﬁcant for scores on
=39.23, p< .001)and onbalance(F
=32.63, p< .001)as well.AsshowninFigs.1 and2
thisinteractionis attributedto thesigniﬁcantlygreater improvementoftheexperimentalgroupin the post-
Fig. 1. Mean and standard deviations of the pre- and post-measures for both groups on jumping.
Fig. 2. Mean and standard deviations of the pre- and post-measures for both groups on dynamic balance.
640 E. Zachopoulou et al. / Early Childhood Research Quarterly 19 (2004) 631–642
Inthepresent study,it wasfoundthatthe preschool’smovementprogramfollowedbythe control group
did not signiﬁcantly affect the development of jumping and dynamic balance. This program included
motor skills performed individually and games scheduled and modiﬁed for this age. All these activities
focused on the jumping and balancing tasks. The experimental group improved its performance on the
post-test measure compared to the control group. This means that the developmentally appropriate music
and movement program positively affects the level of performance for the above measures. According
to Gallahue (1996), using movement as a way to develop the elements of rhythm reinforces fundamental
movement skill development and fosters an understanding and feels for rhythm. Through practice with
certain fundamental movements, children begin to understand the structural elements of rhythm and
are able to express this understanding through coordinated movements because moving to rhythm is an
essential element of all coordinated movements.
Music and movement education emphasizes the signiﬁcance of rhythmic ability in motor skills execu-
tion. Rhythmic ability refers to the understanding, memorization and movement presentation of the data
from the temporal–dynamical structure and modulates the execution of the movement (Martin, 1988).
It is considered an important factor in the development, execution and learning of motor skills (Thomas
& Moon, 1976). Martin (1988) mentioned that rhythmic ability is the ability to observe, con-
trol, and differentiate the rhythm of a movement according to the environmental demands for the
given time. This enables the quick motor adjustments of the performer in an unpredictable envi-
ronment, assuring success in performance (Martin, 1988). Since music and movement activities im-
prove children’s rhythmic ability (Weikart et al., 1987; Zachopoulou et al., 2003), they may have
contributed to the development of the fundamental locomotor skills in the present study. Accord-
ing to Martin (1988), ages 4–7 are the best to develop rhythmic ability because during this period
the basic functions of the central nervous system, on which coordination abilities depend, are more
The success of such a program can also be attributed to the quality of its content. Painter (1966)
and Brown et al. (1981) also implemented a music and movement program and examined its effect
on perceptual-motor development in young children. This program was based on repeated rhythmic
exercises designed to develop the natural rhythms of the body while training for economy and precision
of movement. On the other hand, the content of the music and movement program in the current research
had a more clear structure, based on movement concepts and rhythm elements. In addition, it was taken
into account the changes of the different elements of rhythm (tempo, intensity, and accent) suggested
by Sherill (1976). Concurrently, children were able to explore space and its elements (levels, pathways),
which, as Fait (1978) stressed, led to a more accurate and complete body and space awareness. High
(1987) studied the effect of a music and movement program on the rhythmic accuracy of preschool
children and found that the experimental group improved its rhythmic accuracy more than the control
group. The same conclusion was drawn by Moore (1984) and Burnett (1983), who implemented a music
and movement program for preschool children with delayed development and found that they improved
their motor skills and their rhythmic ability as well.
It is interesting to notice that the intervention program in the present study had a greater effect on
dynamic balance than it did on jumping. According to Clark and Phillips (1985), the basic patterns
of coordination for the motor skill of jumping are established by about age 7. In an earlier age, the
development of jumping follows slower steps. On the other hand, the developmental movement patterns
E. Zachopoulou et al. / Early Childhood Research Quarterly 19 (2004) 631–642 641
of dynamic balance appear at age 4 (Gallahue & Ozmun, 1998). A 4-year-old child can walk on a line or
on a beam maintaining his/her balance for short periods of time.
way they were organized was also taken into account. Hochmann and Weikart (1995) stated that learning
depends on experiences, which are meaningful to the children and support their development through
exploration, guided discovery, and problem solving. More speciﬁcally, the activities of the intervention
program implemented in the present study were organized: (a) to enable both the physical educator
and the children to participate actively and interact with each other (e.g., children could add their own
rhythmic motives to those of the physical educator); (b) to build children’s knowledge not only through
the physical educator but through themselves as well (achieved by allowing them to decide and perform
skills which represented speciﬁc rhythmic motives); (c) to enable children participate in the organization
of the program (suggesting, for example, the percussion instruments to produce different sounds); and
(d) to reinforce children participate in the activities in pairs, in small or large groups, according to their
level and way of learning.
The positive effect of the developmentally appropriate music and movement program on jumping
and dynamic balance could be generally implemented in preschool children programs. Taking into ac-
count that the developmentally appropriate practices do not form a speciﬁc teaching model or method
but a way of thinking and acting to educate children physically, it seems important for the early child-
hood educators to organize or modify lesson content according to the children’s needs. The rhythmic
activities seem to play an important role on motor performance of preschool children. Future stud-
ies should examine if the developmentally appropriate organization of the above activities can also
positively affect the other domains of children’s development, including cognitive, affective, or social
Bachmann, M. (1991). Dalcroze today—an education through and into music. New York: Oxford University Press.
Barnett, K., Williams, K., & Whitall, J. (1992). What does it mean to have a developmentally appropriate physical education
program? Physical Educator, 18, 114–118.
Bee, H. (1999). The growing child: An applied approach (2nd ed.). Addison–Wesley Educational Publishers Inc.
Bredekamp, S. (1987). Developmentally appropriate practice in early childhood programs serving children from birth to age 8.
Washington, DC: NAEYC.
Bredekamp, S. (1992). What is developmentally appropriate and why is it important? Journal of Physical Education, Recreation
and Dance, 63(6), 31–32.
Brown, J., Sherrill, C., & Gench, B. (1981). Effects of an integrated physical education/music program in changing early
childhood perceptual–motor performance. Perceptual and Motor Skills, 53, 151–154.
Burnett, M. (1983). The effect of rhythmic training on musical perception and motor skill development of preschool handicapped
children, male and female. Doctoral dissertation, United States International University. Dissertation Abstracts International:
Burts, D., Hart, C., Charlesworth, R., De Wolf, D., Ray, J., Manuel, K., et al. (1993). Developmental appropriateness of kinder-
garten programs and academic outcomes in ﬁrst grade. Journal of Research in Childhood Education, 8, 23–31.
Charlesworth, R., Hart, C., Burts, D., Mosley, G., & Fleege, P. (1993). Measuring the developmental appropriateness of kinder-
garten teacher’s beliefs and practices. Early Childhood Research Quarterly, 8, 255–276.
Charlesworth, R. (1998). Developmentally appropriate practice is for everyone. Childhood Education, 74(5), 274–282.
Clark, J., & Phillips, S. (1985). A developmental sequence of the standing long jump. In J. Clark & C. Humpherry (Eds.), Motor
development–current selected research. (vol. 1, pp. 73–85) New Jersey: Princeton Book Publishers.
642 E. Zachopoulou et al. / Early Childhood Research Quarterly 19 (2004) 631–642
Cole, J., & Nash, G. (2000). Carl Orff and his child-centered music education. Early Childhood Connections-Journal of Music
and Movement Based Learning, 6(3), 7–14.
Curtis, A. (1998). A curriculum for the preschool child: Learning to learn. London: Routledge.
DeOreo, K., & Keogh, J. (1980). Performance of fundamental motor tasks. In C. Corbin (Ed.), A textbook of motor development
(pp. 76–91). Dubuque, IA: Brown.
Espenschade, A., & Eckert, H. (1980). Motor development (2nd ed.). Colombus, OH: Merrill.
Fait, H. (1978). Special physical education adapted, corrective, developmental. Philadelphia: W.B. Saunders.
Frey, G. (1977). Zur terminologie und struktur physischer Leistungsfaktoren und motorischer Fahigkeiten. Leistungssport, 7(5),
Gallahue, D. (1996). Developmental physical education for today’s children. Dubuque, IA: Brown & Benchmark.
Gallahue, D., & Ozmun, J. (1998). Understanding motor development. Infants, children, adolescents, adults. NY: McGraw-Hill.
Graham, G. (1991). Results of motor skill testing. Journal of Teaching in Physical Education, 10, 353–374.
Grineski, S. (1992). What is truly developmentally appropriate physical education program for children? Journal of Physical,
Education Recreation & Dance, 63(6), 33–35.
Hart, C., Burts, D., Durland, M.,Charlesworth, R., DeWolf, M.,& Fleege, P. (1998).Stress behaviors and activity type participa-
tion of preschoolers in more and less developmentally appropriate classrooms. Journal of Research in Childhood Education,
High,L.(1987).Effectsofselectedrhythmicteachingstrategieson beatperformanceskills of kindergartenchildren. Dissertation
Abstracts International, 48, 3067.
Hirtz, P. (1985). Koordinative Fahigkeiten im Schulsport. Berlin-Ost.
Hochmann, M., & Weikart, D. (1995). Educating young children. Ypsilanti, MI: High Scope Press.
Keetman, G. (1974). Elementaria–ﬁrst acquaintance with Orff-Schulwerk. London: Schott & Co. Ltd.
Kenney, S. (1997). Music in the developmentally appropriate integrated curriculum. In C. Hart, D. Burts, & R. Charlesworth
(Eds.),Integratedcurriculumand developmentallyappropriatepractice–birthtoageeight(pp. 103–144).Albany, NY:SUNY
Kirchner, G., & Fishburne, G. (1995). Physical Education for elementary school children. Iowa: Brown–Benchmark Publishers.
Lubeck, S. (1998). Is developmentally appropriate practice for everyone? Childhood Education, 74(5), 283–292.
Martin, D. (1988). Training im Kindes-und Jugendalter. Schorndorf: Karl Holfmann.
Moore, J. (1984). Rhythm and movement: An objective analysis of their association with music aptitude. Dissertation Abstracts
International: 45, 1328 A.
Painter, G. (1966). The effects of a rhythmic and sensory motor activity program on perceptual motor spatial abilities of
kindergarten children. Exceptional Children, 33, 113–116.
Payne, G., & Rink, J. (1997). Physical education in the developmentally appropriate integrated curriculum. In C. Hart, D. Burts,
& R. Charlesworth (Eds.), Integrated curriculum and developmentallyappropriate practice–birth to age eight (pp. 145–170).
Albany, NY: SUNY Press.
Pica, R. (2000). Experiences in movement with music, activities and theory. Delmar, NY: Thomson Learning.
Poest, C., Williams, J., Witt, D., & Atwood, M. (1990). Challenge me to move: Large muscle development in young children.
Young Children, 45, 4–10.
Schmidt, R. (1987). The acquisition of skill: Some modiﬁcations to the perception-action relationship through practice. In H.
Heuer & A. Sanders (Eds.), Perspectives on perception and action (pp. 77–103). Hillsdale, NJ: Erlbaum.
Sherill, C. (1976). Adapted physical education and recreation. Dubuque, LA: Wm. C. Brown.
Thomas, J., & Moon, D. (1976). Measuring motor rhythmic ability in children. Research Quarterly, 47(1), 20–32.
Ulrich, B., & Ulrich, D. (1985). The role of balancing ability in performance of fundamental motor skills in 3-, 4-, and 5-year-
old children. In J. Clark & J. Humphrey (Eds.), Motor development–current selected research (pp. 87–97). Princeton Book
Weikart, P., Schweihart, L., & Larner, M. (1987). Movement curriculum improves children’s rhythmic competence. High/Scope
Resource, 6(1), 8–10.
Weikart, P. (1989). Teaching movement and dance. Ypsilanti, MI: High Scope Press.
Zachopoulou, E., Derri, V., Chatzopoulos, D., & Ellinoudis, T. (2003). Application of Orff and Dalcroze activities in preschool
children: Do they affect the level of rhythmic ability? Physical Educator, 60(2), 50–56.
Zimmer, R., & Volkamer, M. (1987). Motoriktest fuer vier-bis sechsjaehrige kinder. Manual, Belz: Weinheim.