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17 music activities for kids 

Explore fun, engaging music games and activities for kids, recommended by child development experts and music educators.

17 music activities for kids 

There are many ways to support a child’s ongoing development, but few are as fun as music activities. Engaging kids in music activities from a young age and as they grow older can teach them valuable skills that can be applied to all kinds of learning. 

“Music is like superfood for a child’s brain!” says Kay Barker, chief education officer of Musicologie, an Ohio-based music education company. “Music is a full-brain, full-body workout, and our brains literally grow stronger, denser, more connected when we do it,” she adds. 

Rebecca Mannis, learning specialist and founder of Ivy Prep Learning Center in New York City, emphasizes the importance of music in child development. “For the developing brain that is ‘under construction’ in the early years, the brain cells are proliferating and making connections,” says s Mannis, who holds a doctorate in developmental psychology. This, she explains, is followed by “‘pruning’ certain tracts to speed up and strengthen particular connections.” 

“Music is like superfood for a child’s brain!”

— Kay Barker, chief education officer

Skills kids can develop through music activities

Music activities not only stimulate many areas of child development, but they also help kids enhance critical skills needed for preschool and kindergarten readiness and beyond.

“No matter when you start learning music, you are building incredible life skills,” says Barker, which include: 

  • Emotional intelligence.
  • Discipline. 
  • Self-awareness. 
  • Motor skills and dexterity. 
  • Spatial recognition. 
  • Reasoning and logic.

Check out this list of fun and beneficial music activities for kids, all recommended by child development experts, children’s entertainers and music educators. 

1. Repeat after me

Music activities for kids 

Type of activity: Call and response 

How to play: No supplies necessary for this one — a call and response game can be played anywhere you want. 

“Clap, sing or play a short rhythm or phrase, and have the child repeat it back,” suggests Barker. “Then give them a chance to lead.” 

2. Pass the ball

Music activities for kids 

Type of activity: Rhythm and movement 

How to play: Katherine Dines, music educator and owner of Hunk-Ta-Bunk-Ta Music, based in Denver, recommends using physical objects to incorporate movement into music activities. “Pass balls or objects, or beat on rhythm sticks to rhymes or rhythmic songs,” she says. 

I’ve put this idea into action while babysitting by letting the kids pick a song and then rolling a ball back and forth on beat with the song. 

3. Have a parade 

Music activities for kids 

Type of activity: Interactive music 

How to play: Grab the whole family or a group of friends and organize an at-home or backyard parade!

“Bring instruments to play or move your bodies in varied ways — march, run, wiggle or stomp,” Barker says. “Take turns being the leader.”

4. Sing the transitions 

Music activities for kids 

Type of activity: Transitional music 

How to play: Use music throughout the day with little ones who are learning to transition between activities, suggests Dines. When cleaning up or getting ready for bedtime, for example, you can “direct children by singing or using musical tones,” she says. 

In the preschool classroom, we used a bell to signal when playtime is over, which works the same way. 

5. Freeze dance 

Music activities for kids 

Type of activity: Interactive dance 

How to play: Put on a song and play freeze dance! With one person in charge of the music, everyone else can dance their hearts out until the music suddenly pauses — then the dancers must freeze until the music starts up again. Not only does freeze dance engage kids in music and get them moving, it also teaches them about cause and effect and following auditory cues.

According to Barker, freeze dance is “a fun way to engage with those Spotify playlists of music from around the world.”  

6. Play musical chairs 

Music activities for kids 

Type of activity: Interactive game

How to play: Set up a circle of chairs and play musical chairs with family and friends! Suggested by Dines, this activity is perfect for a group looking to engage with music together.

One tip I’ve seen used in preschool classrooms to avoid upsetting littles ones: find a seat on someone else’s lap when there are no more chairs — this way nobody loses and everybody giggles! 

7. Try storytime with sound effects 

Music activities for kids 

Type of activity: Musical storytelling 

How to play: Make your favorite story come to life by using instruments. “Read a story and use a percussion instrument to create sound effects for different parts of the story,” says Barker. 

8. Go on a sound hunt 

Musical activities for kids 

Type of activity: Outdoor sound exploration 

How to play: Make a list of sounds you might hear on a neighborhood walk, suggests Barker, and then walk around and listen for different sounds. “Try to identify and mimic the sounds you hear!”

9. Form a band 

Music activities for kids 

Type of activity: Instrument exploration 

How to play: Put together a band using real instruments or making instruments with items you can find around the house, suggests Barker. For example, a plastic bowl and wooden spoon can be your drums for the day!

Barker suggests playing along to a song everybody knows or making up your own song. “There are no wrong notes or answers here,” she says. “Just listen to each other and see what sorts of music you create when you play together.”

10. Write a song 

Music activities for kids 

Type of activity: Rhythm and writing 

How to play: You’re never too young to start writing songs! Help little ones come up with a song of their own and perform it for you. 

“This is a great opportunity to talk about rhymes and natural rhythms in language,” says Barker. 

11. Do song analysis 

Music activities for kids 

Type of activity: Music and literature 

How to play: Kids can pick a favorite song and analyze the lyrics either by themselves or with help from a grown-up. 

“Think about the meaning of the lyrics, the form of the song, and how the music supports the message,” says Barker. 

12. Put on a talent show 

Music activities for kids 

Type of activity: Group activity 

How to play: Let your musical abilities shine in a talent show. You can sing, dance, play an instrument, team up for a duet — anything you want! 

As Barker points out, “The only rule is that everyone should feel supported and appreciated, so applaud and cheer and have fun showing off your talents!”

13. Dance with accessories 

Music and movement activities for kids 

Type of activity: Music movement 

How to play: Dines suggests incorporating fun accessories, like scarves, into musical activities. Put on some music, and use flowy scarves to make your dancing along even more exciting! 

14. Perform karaoke 

Type of activity: Singing activity 

How to play: This classic musical activity is easy to recreate at home. Put on a sing-along YouTube video, like this ‘Frozen’ sing-along, and let the kids take it away! If you have a microphone, that’s great, but if not, you can always use a toy, hairbrush or anything you have around the house. 

15. Guess the sound 

Sound activities for kids 

Type of activity: Guessing game 

How to play: This is a fun game I’ve seen used in a preschool classroom to help kids learn spatial awareness. Kids cover their eyes while someone walks to different spots of the room with a bell. When the bell is rung, they point in the direction where the sound came from. You can also mix it up by using different kinds of bells or instruments and having kids guess which one made which sound. 

16. Play hot potato 

Music activities and games for kids 

Type of activity: Music challenges 

How to play: I’ve played this classic game with countless preschoolers, and it always ends in giggles. Grab a light object like a ball or a bean bag and toss it quickly around in a circle while playing a song — remember, it’s hot so no one can hold onto it long. When the song ends, whoever is holding the “hot potato” is out. 

17. Play animal freeze dance  

Type of activity: Movement game 

How to play: Put a fun twist on freeze dance by playing animal freeze dance! This works just like freeze dance, but you can pick an animal to pretend to be and move or dance like that animal.