50 Music Activities for Kids - VerbNow

50 Music Activities for Kids

Teacher doing some  music activities with preschoolers.

When my kids were younger, I realized that musical activities were pretty much guaranteed to keep them occupied and engaged.  Music also has the great effect of calming children down when they’re overwrought and helping them focus. 

In addition, many studies have shown that music helps accelerate brain development for young children, especially the areas responsible for sound processing, language development, speech processing, and reading and writing skills.  These are all great reasons to do musical activities with your children.

Table of Contents

DIY Band

This activity is one that both toddlers and pre-schoolers love.  Gather up any household goods that could be used to create sound – think pots and pans, wooden spoons, bicycle bells. 

Or make simple shakers using milk containers or the like with rice or beans in them and other homemade noise-makers.  Include toy instruments such as xylophones, squeakers, etc.  Let your child or children go sound crazy with them.

Glowstick Drumming

All kids love glow sticks, they are fairly readily available and fun to play with.  This game is most suitable for toddlers and has the added benefit of keeping them occupied for quite some time.  Use the shorter, stockier type of glow sticks that are meant to go on a string around your neck. 

Assemble a bunch of plastic tubs and containers of various sizes.  Sit the child down and turn over the containers to make some homemade drums.  Draw the curtains, hand out the glow stick, and let the kids go to town!

Music and Movement Drum Game for Kids

This game is suitable for toddlers and pre-schoolers.  The idea of this listening game is to get kids to move to the beat of the drum and learn the musical names of the various tempos.  If you don’t own a drum, you can use any object that allows you to beat out a rhythm. 

Beat a tempo on the drum and call out the corresponding tempo description, I.e., “largo, largo, largo” or “slow, slow, slow.”  Get the children to march in time to the tempo.  Keep changing the tempo, moving from slow to fast.  You can find more information on this activity here.

Name the Tune

Suitable for toddlers and young preschoolers.  Tap or clap out your child’s favorite tune or nursery rhyme.  See if the kids can guess what song it is.  Gradually make the songs more challenging, with less time.

Musical Hide and Seek

Mom playing musical toy to her baby girl.

This game is perfect for young toddlers who don’t yet have the attention span for regular hide and seek.  All you need is a musical toy, your ears, and some hiding places.  Hide the musical toy after winding it up, so it plays a tune.  Encourage your toddler to find the source of the sound using his ears.

Dance With Me

This game requires minimal space and resources and is suitable for all ages.  Clear a large space.  Find interesting props and toys that enhance movement, think, swing skirts, bean bags, rubber balls, skirts, shakers, and tambourines. 

Create a playlist on your device of songs with different beats speeds or tempos.  The more different genres, the better.  Create a family playlist that everyone can contribute to and enjoy. 

Play your music, encouraging everyone to move in any way they feel, using the props to aid in the movement.  Change the music and have fun.

Silly Dancing

This activity is a twist on the ‘Dance With Me’ activity.  Collect all your props.  Put them on a table or in a basket in the middle of a circle. 

When the music starts, each child must grab a prop and dance along to the music with their chosen prop.  When the music stops, they must put back the prop.  When the music starts again, repeat the exercise.  Prizes can be given for the silliest dance.

Play Talent Show

This activity is a great rainy day activity for toddlers and pre-schoolers.  Use puppets or stuffed animals to perform a favorite song.  Or, if you don’t have puppets, use a variety of dress-up clothes to encourage children to imagine themselves as a character and perform to a favorite song or tune.

Freeze Dance or Musical Statues

This fun activity is as simple as it sounds and is suitable for all ages and both one child or groups of children.  Use any music track – preferably one of the child’s favorite songs. 

Play the song and encourage the child to move or dance to the music.  When you pause or stop the song unexpectedly, the child or children need to freeze.

Freeze Into…

Little girl dancing at home.

This game is a spin on the freeze dance activity, only this time, when you turn off the music, give them an animal to ‘freeze into.’  For example, “Freeze into a fish!”.

Dance Fast & Slow

Again a simple musical activity for toddlers and younger pre-schoolers.  Create a playlist of songs, some with a fast tempo & some with a slower tempo.  Encourage your child to dance with you to the tempo of the music, faster for an up-tempo piece and slower for a slower ballad.  See which child can invent the most creative moves.

Note Sorting Game for Toddlers & Young Pre-schoolers

This game teaches kids to read notes using recyclable containers and pebbles or glass pebbles.

Materials required:

  1. 4x recyclable containers
  2. Sharpie or permanent marker
  3. 20x pebbles or glass beads

Using the sharpie or permanent marker, write a note value (i.e., whole note, half note, quarter note, eighth note) on each container.  You can include the corresponding words as well.  Write the note values on the pebble you have collected as well, making 5 of each. 

Let the children sort the notes into their appropriate containers.  You can find out more about this activity here.

Musical Follow the Leader

Suitable for Pre-schoolers.  Load up the music on your music player.  The leader makes up dance moves or arm movements to the music you hear.  Take turns, and let everyone get a chance to lead.

Conga Dance

Let the children form a conga line.  When the music plays, the leader chooses a dance or movement that goes with the music.  Everyone behind them copies the movement, moving in a conga line. 

When the music stops, the leader moves to the back, and a new leader is chosen.  Repeat the exercise until everyone is exhausted!

Dance Like an Animal

A group of kids in animal headbands and hats dancing.

Suitable for pre-schoolers and kindergarteners.  Did you know that different animals move in different ways? This game encourages pre-schoolers to pretend they are animals and move to the music just like the animal they imitate. 

Put on some music.  Ask them to be creative and dance like a cat, or a snake, or a horse.  Let them suggest an animal and join in the fun!

Draw What You Hear

This activity is a great one for an indoor, relatively quiet activity for pre-schoolers.  It’s not suitable for younger toddlers as it requires a certain level of mastery.  Take out some drawing materials, paper, crayons, or pencils and find a suitable space for your child to sit and draw. 

Create a playlist on your device of songs with different beats speeds or tempos.  The more different genres, the better.  Play music and encourage your child to draw what they hear, for example, long curling loops or waves for slow music and short, sharp jagged lines for faster beats. 

Experiment with colors.  There’s no correct way to do this – simply let them draw exactly what they feel.

Musical Masterpieces

This activity is a spin on “Draw What You Hear” and is suitable for slightly older kids from kindergarten up and works better with three or more children.  Let everyone start drawing to the music, but when the music stops or changes, they move seats and continue drawing on someone else’s masterpiece.

Metronome Drumming Game for Kids

This game is suitable for pre-schoolers and kindergarteners.  A metronome is a great tool for teaching tempo; however, you can clap out the rhythm if you don’t own one.  The children will need drums or objects that allow them to drum or beat out a rhythm.  Set the metronome fairly slow, to begin with. 

Have the children listen to the tempo and beat out a matching rhythm.  Speed up the metronome and see how the kids keep up.  You can find more information on this activity here.

Group Composing

Let everyone sit in a circle and give each child a different instrument or a noise to make with their mouths, hands, or bodies.  You can start clapping a simple rhythm.  Have the child next to you use their instrument or sound to add to your rhythm.  

Once the two of you have worked out a nice rhythm, add the next person in. Keep going until all the children are participating.

Mood Music

A boy lying and listening to a retro radio on a distressed floor.

Make a playlist of music symbolizing different moods or emotions. Discuss with the children how music can inspire different feelings in a person.  Play through the songs and let them interpret the song into a movement that suits the mood of each song.  

Think: Thrashing and moshing to angry music or swaying gently to something sad.

Song Cubes and Finding the Beat

This activity is suitable for young pre-schoolers.  It shows them how to find the beat in songs and learn musical patterns and rhythms.

Materials Needed:

  1. Tissue box cube or square cardboard box
  2. Construction paper for covering the cube
  3. Labels for each side  – these can be handmade or printed from here

Make two cubes, one with a choice of songs your toddler knows and loves and one with ways of expressing those songs or making the sound, for example, clapping, beating, stomping, or tapping sticks together.

Allow the child to throw both cubes as you would throw dice.  Look at the pictures to see what song or nursery rhyme is displayed face-up.  Assist the child in clapping or stamping out the chosen song according to what the song cubes display.

Little Composers

This activity is suitable for pre-schoolers and is a great game to get kids to think about reading music. 

Materials:

  1. Sheets of paper
  2. Pencils or crayons

Begin by assigning symbols for the various sounds that children can make using their bodies.  You can assign different symbols for clapping, whistling, beating the table, stomping, smacking themselves on the thighs, etc.  Symbols need to be things they can draw quickly, for example, lines, circles, waves, and triangles. 

Assign symbols to at least four sounds.  Demonstrate how to draw a simple rhythm that you have created.  Once the children understand the concept, create a few more examples and ask the children to “read”  the musical sequences or rhythms. 

Get the children to write their patterns or rhythms and perform them as a group.

Musical Matching Game

This game is suitable for toddlers and pre-schoolers.  Kids love matching games, and this one is easy to make together with your child.

Materials Needed:

  1. Pencils or crayons
  2. Cardboard cut into uniform squares.

On your cardboard squares, draw representations of favorite songs, such as a bus for ‘The Wheels on the Bus”, stars for “Twinkle, Twinkle Little Star.”  Make sure you have a series of pairs with the same pictures.  Lay the cards out on the floor and have fun matching the cards and singing the appropriate song.

Home Made Water Xylophone

This craft activity is a fun and easy activity for toddlers and pre-schoolers. 

Materials needed:

  1. 8x identical glass containers, water glasses are great for this
  2. Different colors of food coloring
  3. Measuring cups or jug
  4. A wooden spoon
  5. A plastic or metal spoon

Arrange the eight glasses in a row.  In the first glass, measure and pour in 1 ¾ cups of water; in the next glass, measure 1 ½ cups of water into the glass.  With each glass, decrease the amount of water by ¼ of a cup, leaving the last glass empty.  Add various colors of food coloring to each glass, so you have a rainbow-colored water xylophone. 

Let the kids tap the glasses with a plastic spoon and see how each glass makes different sounds.

Home-Made Can Drums

A boy playing drums with a plastic bowl held by mom.

Drums create the rhythm, so making this instrument is a key lesson in tempo.  You can create drums at home from everyday items like cans, plastic tubs, or even a desk or plastic table and a drum stick to tap along with.

Home-made Rain Stick

A rainstick is a fun instrument to play around with.  You can make one at home using a cardboard tube, some ribbons, paper, and pebbles or beans for the sound.

Materials Required:

  1. A cardboard tube
  2. Some ribbons or string
  3. Paper to put over the ends of the tube
  4. Pebbles or dried beans to make the sound

Cut two circles out of paper.  Using the ribbon or string, secure the paper circle over one end of the tube.  Pour a handful of pebbles or beans into the tube and secure the second paper circle over the end of the cardboard tube.  Have fun playing with your rain stick.

Learning Music Theory With Cars

This activity is a car-themed music activity for pre-school and kindergarten-aged kids.  This game requires some musical knowledge on the part of the parent or caregiver.  It helps kids learn to read music by discovering lines and spaces, intervals, and note reading.

Materials required:

  1. Paper or cardboard
  2. Masking tape – or any tape that you can write on
  3. Sharpie or permanent marker
  4. Toy cars

Draw a grand staff onto your cardboard or paper and use the tape to mark the notes ‘A’ to ‘G’ on the grand staff.  Mark the toy cars ‘A’ to ‘G’ using the same tape and marker.  Let the kids ‘park’ their cars at the right notes.  For more information on this activity, you can click here.

Grand Staff Beanbag Game

This game is for kindergarten-aged kids teaches them the names of the notes.  Again a basic knowledge of music is required to play this game effectively.

Materials required:

  1. Cardboard or any large firm board
  2. Sharpie or permanent marker
  3. A beanbag

Draw a grand staff on the board, making the lines 1 ½ inch apart.  Lay the board with your grand staff on the floor and let the child throw the beanbag onto the grand staff.  The child must then name the note at the position where the beanbag landed.  For more information on this activity, go here.

Musical Charades

This activity is a fun game for slightly older kids – kindergarten or above.  It is much like charades, but all the answers are music-related.  You can stick to song names for younger kids, but older kids could include musical instruments or even terminology.  A great game to play in teams!

Broken Telephone Tune

Little girl whispering something to her playmate.

Much like the spoken version, someone starts by humming a tune softly into the next person’s ear in the line or circle.  They then hum the tune to the next person.  When it reaches the last person, they hum the tune aloud to see how much it has changed.

Finish The Song

Start singing a song or tune the kids are familiar with.  Stop short of finishing it and let the kids shout or sing the rest of the line or song.

Musical “Cake” Walk

Place pieces of any shape colored paper on the floor.  Make sure you have one for each child, minus one.  Play the music and get the children to step from paper to paper until the music stops.  The child without a paper to stand on is out. The last child standing wins.

Pass Fast

This game is a simple activity that you can make more complicated for older kids by changing it up.  In its simplest form, it requires a ball and a group of kids.  When the music starts, the children pass the ball as quickly as they can around the circle. 

Whoever has the ball when the music stops is out.  If they drop the ball, they are out until only one winner is left.  Make it more complicated by getting older kids to pass a ping pong ball using a spoon.

Sound Scavenger Hunt

If you have musical instruments or objects that you can repurpose in your home, you could come up with a musical scavenger hunt where the kids, using the clues you develop, hunt for the instruments that match a description or a sound you play.  Here is a guide to help you.

What Do You Hear?

Little girl writing on a chalkboard at home.

Primary school kids love to write on a whiteboard or blackboard.  If you have one at home, you can use it. Otherwise, a large piece of paper or cardboard and some markers will do.  Play the music and ask the children to write on the board or paper what they hear. 

You can take turns or write all at once, depending on the size of your space & board.  Give them themes such as writing the emotions they hear in the song, some of the song lyrics, or the band members or characters in the song.

Lip Synch Battle

Best for primary school-aged kids.  Divide a group of kids into pairs or teams and let them pick a song they love or know well. Each pair or team must create a dance routine or dramatic interpretation of the lyrics.  You can supply prizes for the most creative routine, funniest routine, best lip-synching, etc.

Move & Groove

Get your music playlist ready and form a circle with a group of kids.  Choose a person to go first and let them show off one cool dance move.  The next person must copy the first person’s dance move and add one of their own; the third person copies the first two moves and adds another.  If someone messes up the routine, they are out. See how long you can keep going.  The last person standing is the winner.

Dance Island

This game is most suitable for older kids and requires the use of spatial intelligence and balance.  Clear a space and layout pieces of newspaper on the floor. Play music and have the children dance on their piece of paper.

When the music stops, they must move off the paper, fold it in half, place it back on the floor and prepare to dance again when the music starts. Each time the music stops, they must fold the paper in half again. Children are eliminated each time they step off the paper while the music is playing. The last child dancing on the folded piece of paper wins.

Paper Dance

Little boy holding a blank paper on top of his head.

This activity is fun and teaches hand-eye coordination. All you need is a box of tissues or some pieces of lightweight paper. Each child places a tissue on their head and dances to the music you play.  

The objective is to move without the paper slipping off their head.   If it falls off and they manage to catch it before it reaches the floor, they can put it back and carry on dancing.  If it hits the floor, they are out. The last child standing is the winner.  You can make this more difficult by increasing the tempo of the music.

The Apple Tree Game

Suitable for a group of kindergarten or older children.  Two of the children hold their hands together to form an arch.  They are the apple tree.  An adult or teacher plays a selection of music with different tempos. 

The rest of the children are the apples.  They form a line and walk through the arch to the tempo of the music.  When the music stops, the ‘apple tree’ catches an apple or the child directly under it. 

This child becomes a new ‘apple tree together with the adult or teacher.  Repeat the exercise with the ‘apples’ now moving under more and more ‘apple trees’ until no apples are left.  Vary the tempo of the music.

Yes/No

This game is suitable for primary school-aged kids.  The adult is the conductor who will sing a few musical or rhythmic phrases that the children will have to repeat.  Once they’ve gotten the hang of the musical tune or rhythm, replace the notes with ‘Yes’ or ‘No.’   

The children must sing the opposite of what you sing, to the same tune or rhythm.  For example, if you sing, “No, no, no, yes, no, yes, no, no,” then the kids must sing “yes, yes, yes, no, yes, no, yes, yes.”

Imitation Ball Pass

Children pass a ball around a circle any way they choose (bounce, roll, pass next door).  The next three people in the circle must pass the ball the same way.  Each movement must get four repeats before the movement has to change to something different. 

If a child forgets what number the passes were up to and changes the movement too early or forgets to change the movement, they are out.

The Cup Song

Most people will know the cup song from the movie ‘Pitch Perfect’; however, it’s been around for quite some time.  It’s a fun game suitable for older primary kids as it requires a reasonably sophisticated level of fine motor skills.  You can find the best tutorial on how to perform the cup song here.

Treble Twist Up

This game s a ‘twist’ on the popular game Twister!  More suitable for older kids.  Create a grand staff using a plain shower curtain and electrical tape, or masking tape on a carpet. 

Make your spinner with directions like “Right Hand E” and “Left Leg B.”  Children use a spinner and follow the directions in a fun and physical way to learn pitch names.

Stretch and Walk to the Beat

Kid in line stretching their arms sideward and upward.

Begin with eight beats.  Children listen to the music and slowly stretch their arms from their sides to above their heads throughout eight beats.  For the next eight beats, they walk in time to the music or tempo for eight beats. 

Repeat this exercise until they can feel the beat and stay in time.  To make it more challenging, start decreasing the time, stretch for seven beats and walk for 7, then for 6 and 6, and so forth.

Musical Phrases

In this music game, the children form a circle. While playing music, a child walks across the circle to another child.  They must do this in time with the musical phrase (musical sentence); they start walking when the phrase starts and reach the other child as it finishes.  

Children must keep to the beat and estimate their walking speed to reach their destination in time.   A good song to start with is “Twinkle Twinkle,” as it has eight beats per phrase or sentence.  Make it more complicated by choosing songs with shorter phrases.

Musical Spit-It-Out!

This activity is an easy game for primary and middle schoolers that takes no preparation, which can be done individually or in teams.  Children are given a musical topic.  A timer is set for 1-minute. 

Within the time, children write down as many words to do with that topic as they can.  The person or team who has the most words wins.

Four White Horses

This activity is a great clapping game that teaches syncopation to middle and high-school-aged kids.  It is easier to start slowly and build up speed as you go.  The best way to learn this game is to watch the video here.

War! Music Note Card Game

This activity is a seriously fun card game for older primary and middle school kids.  You can find the printable cards here. Divide the cards among the group of children. 

Each child keeps their cards face down.  The children take turns flipping over a card.  The player that has the card with the note or rest of the highest value takes the upturned cards from the other players. 

The aim of the card game is to get all the cards in your hand.  A note beats a rest.  So if a note and a rest of equal value go up against each other, then the note wins. 

If two or more players tie on note value, then there is WAR!  Each player who tied flips over a card until they can beat out the other players to win all the cards in that round.

Musical Trivia

Teacher and students huddled around the classroom.

This game is a great activity for primary school-aged kids and up.  You can make up the questions that suit the age and stage of the children and choose various music-related themes. 

Possible themes could be music genres, facts about their favorite bands, or questions relating to music theory.  The game can be played as individuals or in teams of two or more.

Conclusion

I have included a range of activities for all age groups. I hope you find this range of musical activities an interesting and fun way to help teach your children to enjoy music and keep them occupied on a rainy day.

References:

USC News: Children’s brains develop faster with music training

Midnight Music: The Complete Guide To The Cup Song

Learning Liftoff: Make Homemade Music with These 6 DIY Instruments

Pre-K Pages: MUSIC WITH KIDS: SONG CUBES AND FINDING THE BEAT

Verywell Family: Fun Music Activities for Little Kids

Scary Mommy: 35+ Music Games And Activities For Kids That’ll Turn Them Into Dance Animals

QuickHunts: Musical Scavenger Hunt

And Next Comes L: LEARNING MUSIC THEORY WITH CARS {MUSIC ACTIVITIES FOR KIDS}

Click. Pray. Love: An 8 Year Old Interview: Bennett

National Association for Music Education: Classroom Games and Activities for General Music

Ashley Danyew: Practical skills and music resources to help you teach creatively and confidently.

Twinkl: Music Games for the Classroom

Scroll to Top