5 Music Games for Kids That Don't Cost a Penny
Try these totally free games that will get your child tapping, stomping and keeping a beat!
You've seen the colorful sticks, shakers and music-makers lining the aisles of your local educational toy store -- and the price tags on them. Ditch the boxed activities and get ready for some free music games for kids! Don't forget, music isn't only about making a beat. "Using music with young toddlers is not only a terrific learning tool but a fun way to connect with a child," says Jennifer Breece, music reviewer and creator of Swing Whistle Zing. In addition, you might be ready for some variety in the tunes your child likes to listen to.
Tracy King, a music and choir teacher and the blogger behind Mrs. King's Music Class, says, "You've probably had it happen to you a time or two. Your little one hears a song they love and insists on hearing it over and over again. After about time 22, I am ready for a change!" What's the solution? Games that teach your child about all genres of music, says King.
It turns out that some cities are better for raising rock stars than others, but no matter where you live, we've asked musicians and moms to give us insider tips on ways you and your child can learn about music through play at home -- for free.
Teach Baby the Basics
By 1 year, your baby can bang two objects together, repeat sounds and imitate actions, according to the American Academy of Pediatrics. This means she's ready to play a simple follow-the-leader clapping game. This game teaches basic rhythm skills while encouraging your child to explore with sound. Face your child and clap your hands, creating your own beat and tempo. Start slowly with a "clap-clap." Your child must mirror your hand music by making her own. As she gets older and grows more accustomed to this game, make the music trickier. Give her one point for each segment that she correctly claps back. Set a point value number for earning a prize -- say, if she gets five points, she wins a sticker.
- Listen and Move
Tune your tot in to truly listening by playing this motion game from Breece. Sit across from your toddler, facing one another, and hold hands while singing a motion-filled song such as "Row, Row, Row Your Boat." Every time you say a motion word -- such as "row," "splash" or "swim" -- your child has to pantomime the movement. He wins if he listens closely enough to catch each movement word and rock to it!
Expand Your Elementary Schooler's Horizons
- Freeze Dance
"A great way to introduce your child to new genres of music and new songs is to make it a game," Kind suggests. "You remember musical statues, right? In my classroom we call it 'Freeze Dance.' To play, choose a few songs of different genres and different tempos. Choose songs from many genres like country, pop, classical, bluegrass and even jazz. Start the music and lead your child to dance or move in a way that matches the music. As you listen, occasionally hit pause and freeze. The poses are hilarious and your child will love this easy game!"
Reach Rock Stardom
- Hum and Seek
This game reinforces abilities such as identifying a tune and listening, along with practicing rhythm. "Choose a group of familiar songs, like 'Happy Birthday,' 'Twinkle, Twinkle, Little Star' and 'If You're Happy and You Know It,' and write the song titles on index cards, creating two stacks of matching cards," says Breece. "Allow the children in the hiding group to choose cards from one pack. Select two children to be seekers, who will choose one card each from the second pack." While the seekers keep their eyes shut, the hiders hide. Each hider hums the tune on the card. The seeker with the matching card listens for the tune and must find where it's coming from to win. You can play with siblings of different ages, use it during a playdate or try it out as a party game!
- Instrument Match-Up
Music games for kids can help reading development, build vocabulary skills and teach about new instruments. Use index cards to make two separate but matching decks. One deck should feature pictures of instruments. Glue on photos cut from magazines, or use stickers. The other deck should have their names. Have your child match the instruments with the names until each card is paired.
Now that your mini musician knows how to rock a rhythm, keep the music flowing! Check out Music Lessons and Activities for Kids for a few fun facts on creative classes for children.
NEED HELP? Find affordable music lessons near you.
Erica Loop is a mom, parenting writer and educator with an MS in child development. When she's not teaching, she's busy creating kids' activities for her blog Mini Monets and Mommies.