Conferences & Training Workshops

Jim leads energizing sessions – conference keynotes as well as training workshops for smaller groups – that are filled with music play and playful literacy activities. Educators and librarians leave each session inspired to help young children learn through music play!

Nationally Acclaimed

Jim Gill is a nationally acclaimed author and musician. Over the years his recordings and books have received five separate awards from the American Library Association. His work and thoughts about music play were featured in the PBS Documentary 10 Things Every Child Needs.

Most importantly, however, Jim is a child development specialist. He speaks to early childhood educators, child care providers, and children’s librarians at conferences and training events throughout the country about the value of play, in general, and the many connections between music play, school readiness, literacy development and math development. He also illustrates how play-based programming provides opportunities for inclusion of children with special needs.

Both How and Why

Jim Gill has a unique ability to offer sessions that are balanced with:
  • Active participation in his music play and playful literacy and math activities that participants can use, right away, in their programming.
  • Information about what we help young children learn through music play, based on Jim’s graduate studies in child development and 20 years of experience working with children and families.
Whether the format is a conference keynote or a longer training workshop, participants leave each session with a repertoire of music play and reading play activities, a renewed respect for play and an understanding that play is professional.

Program of Sessions

Below are a few specific sessions that Jim offers both in-person or virtually. 

Music Play to Promote Readiness, Literacy, Math Development and Inclusion

This lively session incorporates Jim's most recent songs as well as in-depth discussion connecting music play with school readiness, literacy development and early math development.

Early childhood professionals will leave the session inspired to share a new repertoire of songs and playful literacy activities with the children they care for. Even more, they will leave the session understanding that what is most challenging about working in early childhood is also what makes the profession so exciting. When we define our teaching as helping children learn, we not only provide joyous challenges for the children. We also keep ourselves engaged and rejuvenated by watching their excitement as they learn.

This workshop can be adapted for librarians with a discussion connecting the practical activities in the session with the 5 practices of the ALA’s Every Child Ready to Read program.

Promote Readiness, Literacy, Math Development and Inclusion Through Joyous Active Play!

Thirty-five years ago Jim Gill picked up a banjo excited by the idea that music, apart from the joy it brings, is a great way to play and a great way to help young children learn.

Early childhood professionals will leave the session inspired to celebrate in the classroom with new songs and playful literacy activities. Even more, they will leave the session thinking about new strategies to help children learn. Jim Gill celebrates the joy of music and challenges early childhood professionals to think of music beyond the video screen to take every advantage of musical opportunities to help young children learn.

This workshop can be adapted for librarians to include strategies to promote family and caregiver engagement in programming as well as a discussion connecting the practical activities in the session with the 5 practices of the ALA's Every Child Ready to Read program.

In recent years, Jim has been creating VIDEO books with schools and libraries across the country…..filled with children’s wishes and illustrations.  Children have expressed their wishes for themselves and their communities with wonderful ideas such as:

May there always be parties!
May there always be family!
Que siempre haya escuela!

In this lively workshop Jim Gill will share pages in which children shared their heartfelt wishes and inspiring illustrations.  He will discuss how a simple 4 step process  - singing the song with a child, talking with the child about her/his wish, taking the time to write down the child’s words and, lastly, encouraging the child to create an illustration -provides  profound opportunities for literacy development for children of all ages, backgrounds and ability levels.  Most importantly Jim will discuss how early childhood educators, family members, care providers and librarians can use this process to celebrate children’s wishes, words and artwork and their excitement about learning!

Jim Gill shares a number of his music play creations and discusses how play provides an inclusive experience for children with special needs. He focuses on music as a context for active play and participation: the approach he developed over 20 years while leading weekly programming in music play for families with children with special needs.

The session is a perfect blend of active participation and useful information gathered from research and actual practice.


Jim Gill leads a session filled with ideas in music play created especially for professionals working with the youngest children - those from birth to three years of age. The workshop will explore different ways to use music to connect with children in various settings: one-on–one experiences, home visits, and group environments. Jim will share lively music to engage and music that helps to smooth stressful transition times. Those involved in family programming will appreciate Jim’s strategies to facilitate involvement by parents and other caregivers.


Jim Gill shares music and play that can be utilized with preschoolers as well as with infants, toddlers, and parents.

He also explores the many correlations between music play, literacy and various domains of early childhood development. Connections between music and early literacy become clear as Jim Gill shares clever word play and rhymes in the context of active movement games.

Librarians in youth services and early childhood professionals will find many new ideas to enhance story times and children’s programming.

Most early childhood professionals are aware of the connection between phonological awareness and reading success. Some young children, however, are simply not ready or able to listen for rhymes. In this workshop Jim Gill shares a collection of engaging musical games that are designed to develop the broader listening abilities that are essential precursors to phonological awareness. He will also share games that help children develop attention, focus and self-regulation abilities – which all contribute to reading success.


Discover musical ideas every teacher can use!

Jim Gill will share a variety of interactive and enriching activities including music play, bookmaking, and book dramatization that kindergarten and primary grade teachers can incorporate into their classroom practice. Teachers will leave the session with a repertoire of musical activities that can be used for brain breaks and transition times. Most importantly, they will return to the classroom with an inspirational reminder that a playful approach to sharing the joys of language and books needn’t end after preschool.

Although it is common to refer to play as “a child’s work,” in this lively and thought-provoking session Jim Gill reminds us that play is also a child’s art.

Jim discusses the dynamic and improvisational nature of play. Jim also shares his energizing music play activities that he has created for young children and discusses how his books and his music are most often creations with children.

In his humorous and straightforward manner, Jim will address the many benefits of play and, in particular, music play.


Books & Recordings

If interested, books and/or recordings can be purchased for participants in connection with Jim’s appearance at a conference or training session. Jim is happy to adjust the specific content of a session to emphasize the materials being distributed so that they can be put to purposeful use in classrooms, playrooms or in story times. Jim is happy to sign each book that is purchased in connection with a training appearance.

Shop the Jim Gill store

“I found this workshop enormously valuable! What set Jim’s workshop apart is that he provided theory to explain what was going on in practice and why it matters. For example, he taught us a silly song, then went on to explain how this song reaches a child who is non-verbal, a child learning English, a child who is thriving, and a child who is building pre-literacy abilities right now. Jim’s knowledge and years of experience of child development enriched this workshop far beyond learning some new songs and rhymes.”

– Youth Services Librarian, Greater Victoria Public Library // Victoria, British Columbia

Reach out if you’d like to schedule a conference keynote or training workshop that promotes learning through joyous music play.