Music and Movement Activities for Preschool

Young children love moving to music! Musical activities are the perfect way to engage the body and the brain with children of all ages. From moving to music with different props and moving like animals to making instruments and playing movement games, there is something that your children or students will enjoy.

Benefits of Music and Movement

Simple songs with creative movement are so beneficial to a child’s development in the early years. Here are many skills that are targeted while moving to music.

  • gross motor skills
  • fine motor skills
  • social skills
  • language skills
  • social-emotional skills

Music and Movement Activities

Here are several simple music activities that are easy to implement and so much fun.

Music and Scarves

My favorite music and movement activity is to put on a piece of music (I usually choose classical music.) and give the children scarves to move to the beat of the music. They usually have large movements which are softened by the scarves. If you don’t have scarves, try using tissues.

Music and Balloons

Blow up balloons and let the children bop them, toss them, and hold them as they move to the music. Because balloons are harder than scarves to control, they may bump into their classmates. Make sure there is plenty of room and to be aware of others. This is a great chance for social-emotional skills and communication skills to develop.

Move Like Animals

Pretend to move like different animals with the music. “Move like a bird.” “Move like a gorilla.” Tot School Resources has free printable cards that you can use to get moving like animals.

Freeze Dance

Children will move to the music and then freeze when the music stops. This is great for listening skills and gets lots of giggles as children look around to see how the other children froze their bodies.

Music and Bean Bags

Move to the music with a bean bag balancing on your head, hand, or the top of your foot.

Make a Musical Instrument

In the preschool classroom it is a valuable experience to make different instruments and explore the different sounds that they make. There are many different ways to make DIY instruments, but here are some of our favorites.

Drums

Use empty oatmeal boxes with lids to make drums. Beat the drum with your hands or a wooden spoon.

Take a large coffee can and cover the opening with a balloon like they did at Kids Activities Blog.

Make drums out of a group of chip cans like they did at Surviving a Teacher’s Salary.

Shakers

Plastic eggs (from Easter time) with rice, beans, or beads inside. Tape or glue the seal of the egg and shake.

Fill a plastic water bottle with rice, beans, or beads. Glue the top closed and shake.

Take two paper plates and set one on the table. Put several beans on the paper plate. Put another paper plate on top with the plate fronts facing each other. Staple or tape the plates together. Shake and tap the instrument.

Use empty paper towel rolls as shakers. Put a piece of wax paper over one end and seal it with tape or a rubber band. Turn it over and pour in 1/2 cup of rice or beans. Seal the other side with wax paper. Move and shake your new instrument.

Glue jingle bells to a stick or lace bells on pipe cleaner (twist the pipe cleaner ends closed to make a loop). Shake the bells to the rhythm.

Guitar

Reuse a shoe box to make a guitar. Do not use a lid. Put rubber bands around the box (without the lid). Pluck the rubber bands on the open side to make sounds.

Use an embroidery hoop and rubber bands to make music. Take the inside hoop and wrap several rubber bands around it. Slide the outer hoop around it to secure. Pinch and pull the bands to make different sounds. (Source: Crafts Beautiful)

Using a thick plastic or metal lid, wrap rubber bands around it. On the opening of the inside of the lid, pull the bands.

Movement Games

Yoga with kids connects the body and the brain. It practices balance, strengthens the core, and often crosses the midline. Kumarah has Yoga movement games to go along with the free printable Yoga cards.

One of the best musical games for preschool children is musical chairs. Set up a circle with chairs (one less than the amount of children playing). The children walk around the circle and sit when the music pauses. For this age group, losing in group games is hard. The children that are “out” during this game can move around the room dancing with scarves or bean bags (suggested above) so they can still take part in the game.

Simon Says is a great idea for indoor recess. Kids love to lead this game too.

Lay out 4 or 5 hola hoops touching in a line. Children jump from the inside of one hula hoop to the inside of the other. They continue to hop down the line of hula hoops and go to the end of the line to try again. Pair this activity with a rhythmic piece of music (optional).

Obstacle courses are great for outside and even inside on a rainy day. Use hula hoops, cones or baskets, painters tape, and chairs to go over, under, around, and through the different obstacles. This is a fun way to get some extra physical activity.

Movement Songs

Rhythm sticks and finger plays are a great way to help children get moving. They are easy for preschool teachers to implement during circle time (how to get preschoolers to sit for circle time). Jbrary is my go to resource on YouTube for the BEST finger plays and rhythm stick songs.

Action songs like Hokey Pokey with simple dance steps and Head Shoulders Knees and Toes are a fun way to encourage body movement as a group.

Nursery rhymes are great fun for this age too. Make up your own movements to add to the rhyme or use simple sign language signs in with the rhymes. I’m a Little Teapot is a great addition to circle time and Wheels on the Bus is a fun song that kids can’t get enough of during the preschool years.

Download the Preschool Music and Movement Guide

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