Inside: Music and movement is a wonderful way to work on physical skills, while also encouraging young children to learn sounds, words and patterns. Here are 10+ favorite ideas to try with toddlers and preschoolers!
In our toddler and preschool classrooms we make sure to balance quiet and active times. Young children’s attention spans are shorter and their bodies just want to move. In addition to recess, we make sure to provide music and movement activities for our preschoolers. As I’ve shared in my preschool schedule post, our designated music and movement time is after snack. However, we’ve also used instruments in the gym during indoor recess and at other times in the day when we could see that the children just wanted to move.
The good thing about music and movement activities? You don’t need to be able to play an instrument or have a stunning voice. It can be as easy as popping in a CD and dancing! But there are some other fun and easy ideas, too, and that is what I am sharing today.
Psst … I’ve created a cover for your music binder! Scroll down towards the bottom of this post for your free pdf download.
25+ Music and Movement Activities for Toddlers and Preschoolers
Music is an important part of our toddler and preschool curriculum. Here are some resources that you can use in your classroom or at home!
Benefits of Including Music and Movement in Your Day
Providing music and movement strengthens the following skills:
- Physical development
- Social and emotional
- Language and communication
Children love to move. In fact, if we are having an “extra wiggly day”, I will grab some instruments, turn on our favorite music, and get the children moving.
I’ve also found that music is a great way to get quieter children involved. They will usually want to participate in at least some of the activity, whether it be shaking an instrument, swaying back and forth, or singing.
For this reason, I always have my music binder and a CD player or bluetooth speaker on hand. Music has saved many days in our toddler and preschool classroom!
25+ Music and Movement Activities
Here are 25+ ideas that can work well during circle time or any time there is that extra level of energy that needs to be burned.
Play movement games using a parachute. We love our parachute to practice different movement activities while also learning new songs.
Dance with ribbon rings. Buggy and Buddy have a simple tutorial on how to make your own with ribbon and rings.
Play a harmonica. Your preschoolers can make their own! Housing a Forest created easy harmonicas using craft sticks and rubber bands.
Move egg shakers. This DIY version from Mama Smiles uses clear plastic eggs and colored sand for visual fun.
March to a drum. And Next Comes L shares how to teach children how to march to the tempo of a drum, going from slow to crazy fast.
Shake bells. These jingle bell sticks are fun for kids to make and use.
Strengthen speech and language development. In the Playroom gives a variety of ways to make music shakers along with activities that build verbal skills.
Work on jumping skills. The Inspired Treehouse has created a movement game for kids called Jumping Animals.
Get up and move! Growing a Jeweled rose shares a fun homemade action game that works on action and direction.
Move like ocean animals. Toddler Approved created printables for you to download and use in this fun movement game.
Have fun doing the plate dance. Childhood 101 uses two paper plates as cymbal-like percussion instruments. This dance reinforces fast, slow, softly, loudly, behind our backs, under our legs, above our heads, and you can also rub them together to produce a totally different sound.
Watch your balance doing the tissue dance. True Aim shows how all you need is a piece of tissue to teach posture, body control, balance, and concentration.
Grow a Musical Instrument. Grow and use gourds to make some amazing musical creations, from The Educator’s Spin on It.
Repeat a rhythmical pattern. And Next Comes L shows how one person plays a rhythmical pattern on an instrument and the rest of the children imitate the pattern using their instruments.
Focus on following directions to music. This fun song by Nancy Kopman gets the body walking, bouncing, swaying, turning … to a fun beat!
Create a rainstick. All you need are some simple supplies to make this fun instrument that sounds like rain, from Preschool Powol Packets.
Make music outdoors. The Educator’s Spin on It explains how to make a bell bush that young children can use to create music outdoors.
Slowly move to classical music. Let’s Play Music shares how a different approach is needed when using softer, gentle music. This type of music is perfect for silk scarves, streamers and ribbons.
Walk in the jungle. Invite your toddlers and preschoolers to explore music and movement with a jungle theme, from The Preschool Toolbox.
Move with Uno cards. Still Playing Preschool shows us how to turn these cards into an indoor gross motor game.
Bang on drums. Hands on as We Grow shares how drums can be made by children using recycled tin cans.
Shake those eggs. Early Learning Ideas has a great idea recycling plastic eggs, turning them into musical shakers. Fun to use while dancing!
Have a quick movement break. This movement song challenges body awareness, motor planning, and so much more, from Your Therapy Source.
Make a rainbow music stick. Preschool Powol Packets shows how fine motor skills are developed while making rainbow music sticks.
Shake homemade instruments. Use recycled containers for simple music and movement that is especially fun for toddlers, from The Educator’s Spin On It.
Sing Old MacDonald Had a Farm. Play & Learn Every Day shares how to make an Old MacDonald Had a Farm music basket with animal props and instruments.
Rock back and forth. Pair children to rock together while singing Row, Row, Row Your Boat, as shown by Let’s Play Music.
Tap the beat. Toddlers can do different things while listening to the tapping beat, such as marching, clapping and jumping, as explained at Moms Have Questions Too.
Have a collection of music on hand. We love action songs for those get up and move moments. Having a collection makes it easy to stop and move any time!
I’ve made all of my classroom music public on Spotify!
FREE Music Notebook Cover
In this video I share how I keep a music notebook in my circle time basket as a reference. Here’s a cute printable that you can download and put in the cover sleeve of your music notebook!
Click on the photo below for the pdf download: