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 10 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.


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?

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.