25 Fun Music Activities for Little Kids

Want to increase your little one's learning power? It really is as simple as turning on the radio or tapping your toes. When a young child listens to music, plays a musical instrument, or dances, the brain starts to form connections that pave the way for learning opportunities.

Not only are there great developmental benefits to music activities for kids, but also they offer a fun way to engage with your youngster. Try the 25 games in the list below for children to encourage play through music, songs, dance, and sounds.

What Music Activities Teach Kids

There are many learning benefits of music games for young children. Benefits may include increased language skills and math comprehension.

A 2011 study found a significant connection between a child's participation in music programs and preparedness for reading and writing skills. It noted that phonological awareness, which is an awareness of speech sounds (vital to language), can be enhanced through musical interaction. It even states, "[I]t seems highly likely that language and music share processing mechanisms."

Music and math are also very intertwined, so it would only make sense for one area to build on another. Music can teach children about rhythm, which relates to the mathematical concept of patterns. Practicing a repetitive nursery rhyme, where the chorus is the duplicating pattern, can easily introduce this idea. Think along the lines of "Mary Had A Little Lamb" and how many times certain lines are recited.

Musical Activities for Preschoolers

Here are some musical activities loved by preschoolers:

  • Animal dance
  • Bear hunt
  • Composition for preschool
  • Dance with me
  • Dancing with props
  • Draw what you hear
  • Family band
  • Family karaoke
  • Family sing-a-long
  • Follow the musical leader
  • Freeze dance
  • Hot potato
  • Kitchen drum set
  • Limbo
  • Make your own xylophone
  • Music fast and slow
  • Musical chairs
  • Name that tune
  • Pass the parcel
  • Rhythm shakers
  • Rhythm sticks
  • Singing in the shower
  • Strike up the band
  • The Hokey Pokey
  • What instrument do you hear?

Dance With Me

Father, son, and daughter dancing to music

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It doesn't get any easier than this. Clear a large space and crank up the music. Bring out an assortment of fun toys—hula hoops, bean bags, rubber balls, scarves—and start dancing!

The more musical options you have to enjoy, the better. Sample a variety of songs to discover which genre your child likes best: pop, rock, country, folk, jazz, or classical. Share your own favorite tunes, too.

Create a playlist of the family's favorite songs to which everyone can contribute.


Freeze Dance

Young child having fun and dancing

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It's as simple as it sounds. Blast some of your kid's beloved tunes and dance to your heart's content. Then, when they least expect it, yell "freeze!" and stop the music. See what funny positions you both wind up in. How long can you hold them?


Strike Up the Band

Mother and daughter playing with pots and pans

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Gather up all the music-making instruments you can find. Don't have a piano or a drum at the ready? No worries, homemade is always more fun anyway. Pull out pots, pans, bowls, empty milk cartons—whatever you have on hand—and let your little one go to town on them with a wooden or plastic spoon. Fill closed containers like sealable bowls with buttons or pebbles and give them a shake.


Draw What You Hear

Young girl coloring

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Cue up different types of music. Give your child some paper and different colored markers or crayons. Start the music and ask them to draw what they are hearing. If they are having trouble, demonstrate.

For example, with slower music, you might draw long, loping lines in a dark color. With a faster tune, shorter, sharper angles using a brighter shade. There's no wrong answer here, just create what you feel.

You can also take this game outside with some sidewalk chalk.


Name That Tune

Mother and son playing clapping game

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Clap or tap out your child's favorite nursery rhyme or song. See if they can figure out what it is. Once they've mastered that game, make it a little more challenging and try to do it in less time or with fewer beats.


Music Fast and Slow

Children dancing under mother with sheet
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Bring out a variety of songs with a variety of tempos. Ask your kid to dance accordingly, encouraging them to speed up if the music is fast and take it easy when the beat slows down.

Join in the fun, setting an example of how your child should follow. For instance, slowly slide on your belly during a ballad or do jumping jacks while a dance song plays. See who can come up with the most interesting move.


Make-Your-Own Xylophone

Fill an assortment of glasses or jugs (or both) with varying levels of water. Line them up in order from least to most full. Give your child a mallet (a wooden spoon works well) and have them experiment with different sounds by gently tapping on the rims of the glasses.

For a pretty variation, add food coloring to the water and make a rainbow.


Follow the Musical Leader

Mother and children dancing in a line

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Take turns being the leader and creating dance steps or arm movements to go along with the music you hear.

Some songs that incorporate movement: "The Hokey Pokey," "Itsy Bitsy Spider," "If You’re Happy and You Know It," and "The Wheels on the Bus."


Singing in the Shower

Laughing sisters playing in bubble bath
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At bath time, encourage your little one to experiment with the acoustics in the bathroom. What happens when you open or close the shower curtain or door? Can they sing louder than the running water? 


Animal Dance

Kids jumping on couch

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Did you know the animal kingdom is full of its own fancy trots? Challenge your youngster to dance like an animal. Ask them to be creative and demo how a cat dances. What about an elephant? A kangaroo?


Musical Chairs

Kids playing musical chairs

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Grab a few chairs and arrange them back to back for this fun movement game. You need one less chair than the number of people playing. Switch the music on and everyone moves in a circle around the chairs. When it stops, everyone has to find a chair.

Whoever doesn't find a spot is "out," and another chair is removed for the next round. But you can making being "out" fun by having these kids dance around or be in charge of stopping the music. Alternatively, you don't have to remove a chair each time--young kids will have just as much fun stopping and finding a seat and then starting again.


Composition for Preschool

Kids clapping out the rhythm

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You might not believe that preschoolers can compose music, but they absolutely can if set them up for success. Give your kids symbols to draw that represent different ways they can create rhythm. For example, an X might be a handclap and a circle might be a food stomp. You can also use instruments like a triangle or a drum.

The kids can come up with their own sequence of sounds and write them down using the symbols.



Kids playing limbo

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All you need is a rope to hold up while everyone tries to "go low" enough to walk under it. Any type of fun music works with the limbo.


Kitchen Drum Set

Girl banging pots and pans

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Grab some pots and pans and wooden spoons and you have a drum set! Make your own music or play the rhythm along with some tunes.


Hot Potato

Kids sitting in a circle

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Everyone sits in a circle and passes an object like a beanbag from person to person. As the music plays, pass it quickly, as if it were a hot potato. When the music stops, whoever is holding the object moves to the outside of the circle. Have these kids dance so they don't feel left out.


What Instrument Do You Hear?

Father and son listening to music

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Play classical music and practice listening for the different instruments, such as pianos or violins. To teach your little one the sounds each instrument makes by either playing it for them in real life or looking up clips online.


Pass the Parcel

Girl unwrapping a present

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Choose a small treat and wrap it in mutiple boxes, bags, or layers of wrapping paper. Pass the package around the circle while music plays. When the music stops, whoever is holding it gets to unwrap a layer. Continue until the treat is revealed.


Family Karaoke

Kids singing karaoke

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Belt out your favorite tunes together, taking turns performing for the group. Don't have a microphone? A hairbrush will do just fine.


Family Sing-a-Long

Family watching a beloved movie

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If your preschooler has a favorite movie that they love to watch over and over (Frozen, anyone?), have some fun singing along as loud as you can to the songs. Getting up to dance is allowed too!


Dancing With Props

Little girl dancing with scarves

Give your preschooler some simple props, such as colorful scarves, flowers, or ribbons to dance with. These objects let your little one tap into their imagination and direct their play as they dance.


Rhythm Sticks

Kids playing with rhythm sticks

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Give your kid some rhythm sticks and teach them to tap them together to the beat of music.


Rhythm Shakers

Little girl playing maracas

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Give everyone a shaker or two, whether it's an egg shaker, maracas, or even a salt shaker from the kitchen. Shake and sing along to your favorite tunes.


The Hokey Pokey

Little girl dancing

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Do you remember this one? It goes like this:

"You put your right hand in, you put your right hand out

You put your right hand in and you shake it all about

You do the hokey pokey and your turn yourself around

That's what it's all about!"

After the right hand comes the left hand, the right foot, the left food, and then any other body parts you want.


Bear Hunt

Kids laughing

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Bear Hunt is a favorite of many preschoolers. Get a recording of the song "We're Going on a Bear Hunt". Kids can walk in a circle as the song play and follow the song's movement directions, such as jumping or running.


Family Band

Famiy band

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This one works best if you have a variety of kid-size instruments at home, such as a drum, harmonica, or ukulele. Everyone gets an instrument and the jam begins! This can be done with music playing in the background or without.

3 Sources
Verywell Family uses only high-quality sources, including peer-reviewed studies, to support the facts within our articles. Read our editorial process to learn more about how we fact-check and keep our content accurate, reliable, and trustworthy.
  1. Elofsson J, Englund Bohm A, Jeppsson C, Samuelsson J. Physical activity and music to support pre-school children’s mathematics learning. Education 3-13. 2018;46(5):483-93. doi:10.1080/03004279.2016.1273250

  2. Degé F, Schwarzer G. The effect of a music program on phonological awareness in preschoolers. Front Psychol. 2011;2:124. doi:10.3389/fpsyg.2011.00124

  3. Geist E. Support math readiness through music. National Association for the Education of Young Children.

By Amanda Rock
Amanda Rock, mom of three, has spent more than a decade of her professional career writing and editing for parents and children.