There are so many positives related to using music to teach children. And it isn’t just the music. Using music to work with and enthuse children can be an effective tool. Music activities for kids can help you when you are working on a variety of things they need to learn and practice. These might be:
- Listening skills.
- Reacting to circumstances.
- Using their imagination.
- Singing in a group and on their own.
- Learning about instruments.
- Listening to music, they may not have heard before.
- Learning about rhythm.
- Learning about melody.
- Creating an awareness of sounds which is vital to language skills.
If you can incorporate some of these skills and activities into the child’s day, it will fill it full of fun as well as learning. And in doing these things, you might “strike a chord” – sorry for the pun – with a child. It could be an activity that might inspire a child to learn an instrument.
- Can You Do It Yourself?
- What Are the Benefits?
- How Do Animals Move?
- Musical Chairs
- The Freeze Dance
- Strike Up The Band
- What Tune Is This?
- Pass The Parcel
- Build An Instrument
- Writing a Class Song
Can You Do It Yourself?
Some teachers have possibly not been brought up with music. They may not play an instrument themselves and feel a bit inadequate musically. The thought of leading a group that includes singing scares them to death.
You needn’t worry. The children won’t care, and neither should you. They are fun activities, and the children will be too busy having a good time to know whether you are singing in tune.
What Are the Benefits?
Apart from them all having a good time and letting off a bit of steam, important things are going on. And many of them you may not be able to immediately see.
When they hear music, the brain starts to form some connections. They start to experience new learning opportunities. If you expose them to a variety of musical styles and genres, they will even begin to decide which they like and which they don’t.
And, don’t forget these music activities for kids are not just limited to the classroom or at school. These are children’s music activities that can be played at home as well. So, let’s take a look at some of the things you can do.
How Do Animals Move?
This is a bit of fun where you can use a variety of styles of music. This is all about movement and encouraging the child to be creative with what they do and how they move.
You will get some, shall we say, “interesting creations” in terms of how the children see what they are doing. It is not supposed to be dancing, although you can see that it could lead to that.
Choose An Animal
You can choose an animal, and the children then move how they think the animal moves, preferably in time to the music. You may have to demonstrate the timing. And if it is an animal with legs, then perhaps each footstep could be on the beat of the music. Again, you will probably have to demonstrate that.
You can let the children do this for maybe 30 seconds or so and then stop the music and change the animal. That tends to keep the interest level high.
It is up to you whether you let the children make the noise of the animal as well. That has its negative points if it all gets a little too noisy. The purpose of the game is movement, not making sounds.
Practical Use of the Music
You can, of course, use music that might be relevant to the animal. Here are some suggestions:
- Nellie the Elephant – Children’s standard.
- Piggies – The Beatles.
- Too Much Monkey Business- The Yardbirds.
- The Caterpillar Song – Disney.
They may not know a couple of the songs, but that can be a good thing. If you feel that the children are doing well, you can add a little bit of high-jinx by including music that speeds up as it goes along. Picking a suitable animal, of course.
- In The Hall Of The Mountain King, from the Peer Gynt Suite by Grieg – maybe choose an Ostrich.
An interesting and fun way to introduce children to classical music that they may not normally hear.
Age Groups: Probably better with the younger children. I can’t see too many older ones getting into this.
We have all probably played this at some point, but it is a game that children love. You will need to make sure there is not too much aggression, though, when the music stops. You don’t want any black eyes or other bruises. Whilst it is a fun game, it has some important teaching aspects to it. Let’s consider a few.
Moving In Time With The Music
Moving around the chairs in step with the beat of the music is a good idea. It’s a great method for teaching rhythm to children. Children who run around the chairs could be disqualified. In that way, you will get them to follow the rules. The music you choose for this game is important. It will need a nice steady beat that is neither too fast nor too slow.
Playing The Tempo Of The Song
As the children go out, you can keep them involved by clapping along to the tempo and beat of the music. This again reinforces the concept of the importance of rhythm for that group.
Recognizing Different Sounds
You, or one of the children, will maybe use a drum to lead the tempo. That is while the children are clapping along as the rest go round the chairs. You can add something extra by changing the instrument.
Perhaps give another child the chance to lead using a triangle or something similar. And as soon as the instrument changes, the children still walking around the chairs need to reverse the direction. This also helps with movement and balance as well as audible observation.
The Music You Use?
This can be anything, really, but something they are not familiar with might be better.
Age Groups: Most will find this great fun, although they might need some extra help if they are under five. With older children, you might need to ensure it doesn’t become, shall we say, “over-excited.”
The Freeze Dance
This is a game that is as simple as it sounds. It is also a game that you can just keep simple or add some extras to give it a bit more interest.
You play it by turning on the music, and in this case, it might be better to play something they are familiar with. There is usually a song in the charts or on the radio that seems to be the order of the day for kids.
Play it and let them dance around to it for a while. Without warning, you stop the music very abruptly and shout, “FREEZE.” The children must stop their movements immediately and hold their position without losing their balance. You can decide, considering their age, how long they must hold their position without moving.
Making It Competitive
You can add a competitive attitude to it in that anyone who falls over, as some will, or even moves at all, can sit out. Additionally, you can keep those children involved by getting them to be your “spotters” for people who move after the music is stopped. Then, you can work down to a winner.
A great fun game to encourage movement, good reactions, and good balance and control of the body.
Age Groups: All
Strike Up The Band
The majority of children like to make things, and this is a game where they can do that at a very basic level. We will offer a more advanced level of this game later in this article.
This is probably a musical game best suited to very young children and those in smaller groups. It might be best used at home with two or three children. However, it can be used in a small group at school or pre-school, providing you can get enough equipment together. What do you need?
- Old pots and pans.
- Plastic or metal bowls.
- Some containers that can be sealed tight.
The pots and pans and bowls can be used to bang on with plastic or wooden, but not metal, spoons. The containers that can be sealed should be one-third filled with old buttons or uncooked rice. When shaken, they will give a sound like maracas.
You can build a whole rhythm section from stuff lying about in the kitchen. Kids love doing that sort of thing. You can then find a suitable medium-tempo song that they can bang away to.
What Tune Is This?
Another simple game for teaching music to kids that needs little in the way of preparation or equipment. The children likely have a favorite nursery rhyme or even a modern song. You can just either clap or tap the rhythm of the melody on a desk.
The child cannot hear the tune. The idea is that they recognize it just from you playing the melody in the tempo and rhythm. A very good game that encourages the development of listening skills and also appreciating what rhythm and tempo mean in the song.
Age Groups: Providing you choose the song appropriately, this game would work with children who may be up to 9 or 10. But probably not any older. It might work in a small music teaching group. Just for the reasons of recognition of the song by hearing its melodic rhythm.
Pass The Parcel
This is a musical game that is sometimes called “Hot Potato” as well. You sit the children in a circle and have a prize that is wrapped in a few dozen sheets of old paper.
The idea is that the children pass the parcel around the circle until the music stops. The child holding the parcel takes off one piece of wrapping. They start to pass the parcel around again when the music starts, repeating the process each time the music stops. You play until one child takes off the final piece of wrapping to reveal the prize.
You can add an extra control dimension by telling the children to pass the parcel around in time with the music. So, it needs to be at a reasonable pace. This is a good game once again for understanding rhythm and tempo but is also excellent for hand-to-eye coordination.
Age Groups: Probably better with the younger ones.
Build An Instrument
This is the more advanced option to “Strike Up The Band.” If you are a bit handy with arts and crafts, this is a great thing to do with the children. It is more like a project, and you can make the building last a few weeks. Or, if you choose, you can do it all in one session.
Some instruments are out of the question, but guitars and certain woodwind-type instruments will work. You may find that most of them want to build guitars anyway. It is usually the most popular choice.
How Do You Start?
Don’t give the children any plans; let them design and build it themselves. You can oversee as they are going along. And you can answer the questions which will inevitably be forthcoming.
It would be a good idea to enhance the learning experience by explaining how instruments work. The effect of vibrations, especially with the stringed instruments. And the effect of blowing into a tube, as in woodwind.
Before they start drawing out what they want to do, it might also be good to identify what instruments they are planning to make. Then you can make sure you have the right materials to hand for them. Some of these materials might be:
- Empty tissue box or similar, but must either be square or rectangular.
- Rubber Bands.
- Empty plastic tubs.
- Marker Pens.
- Pens and paper.
I am sure you will be surprised at the inventiveness of some of the children. They may get slightly over-elaborated, so some gentle words of advice will probably be needed. Just make sure you’ve got plenty of rubber bands and empty tissue boxes or similar.
Writing a Class Song
I can hear the gasps of “What?” But, when it comes to music activities for kids, it isn’t that difficult. We are not trying Beethoven’s Ninth. Just a simple one-note tune that the children can compose themselves.
If you have any music skills, even at the most basic of levels, this is achievable. Although, you probably will need access to a piano, keyboard, or guitar.
This can be very basic and could just consist of a verse followed by another verse and then a chorus. You can repeat it as many times as you like. You could even get a simple tape recorder to record it and play it back to them.
Again, this could be done in a one-hour lesson. Or, if you are feeling adventurous, then make it a project over a few weeks. The opportunities are endless for engaging children in meaningful musical activities. Here are a few more suggestions:
- Using Music to Enhance Student Learning
- S&S 101 Music Games for Children Book
- Great Music Games for Kids
Interested in Getting Kids Into Music?
We can help with that. Have a look at our handy articles on Funny Songs to Sing with Kids, the Best Sing-Along Songs, Easy Piano Songs for Kids, Reasons Why Kids Should Play Drums, and the Top Karaoke Songs That Anyone Can Sing for great ways to learn about music.
And don’t forget to check out our in-depth reviews of the Best Bass Guitars For Kids, the Best Electric Guitar For Kids, the Best Acoustic Guitars For Kids, the Best Ukuleles for Kids, the Best Electronic Drum Sets for Kids, and the Best Violin For Kids you can buy in 2023.
Music Activities For Kids – Final Thoughts
Engaging children in music has many benefits, as we have seen. But having music around in your life is more than just that; it is an uplifting and welcome addition. It hasn’t got to be a job, although it might for some. Just to be interested in it, in whatever form, is a great thing.
Until next time, let the music play.