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12 Musical Activities for Kids to Explore

Michele Meleen
Kids playing musical instruments

You don't have to be a renowned musician to help kids learn about and love music. Kids of all ages can learn about reading and writing music, following the beat, and expressing themselves through song and dance with simple musical activities.

Turn Shapes Into Sounds

Kids create their own music language in this creative take on composition.

What You Need

  • One instrument
  • Paper
  • Crayons

Directions

  1. Figure out how to make two different sounds with your instrument. You might have to use it in a nontraditional way.
  2. Designate a shape for each sound.
  3. Draw a pattern using the two different shapes, the more complex the pattern, the more interesting your song will be.
  4. Play the pattern or song you wrote.

Finish That Lyric

Start singing or playing common kids' songs then stop abruptly at any point and ask kids to finish the lyric. Their memory will be tested along with their ability to follow along in a song.

Rap a Rhyming Book

Turn any rhyming picture book into a rap by turning on an instrumental version of your favorite rap song. Kids can try rapping the words of the story over the beat for a modern twist on children's literature. Not only will they practice reading and rhyming, but kids will also learn to hear and follow beats. Authors who write lots of great rhyming books include Dr. Seuss and Bill Martin, Jr.

Play Humming Wars

This game is best for small groups of kids ages eight and older.

What You Need

  • Paper
  • Pen
  • Bowl
  • Timer

Directions

  1. Write popular song titles on individual slips of paper, one for each title, and place in a bowl.
  2. Separate the group into two teams of three to five each.
  3. Each team selects one hummer.
  4. Hummers from each team sit back-to-back with their teammates in front of them.
  5. On "Go," each hummer picks a song from the bowl and starts humming the song.
  6. The first team to guess their hummer's song within one minute wins the round.
  7. Play several rounds with a new hummer each time.

Finish That Pattern

You need two people to play, each sitting facing the other with household objects or instruments in the space between you. The first person closes their eyes and the second person plays a series of sounds. The first person opens their eyes and tries to recreate the pattern. Kids as young as four can play this game with a caregiver when the patterns only involve two different sounds while older kids are challenged by longer patterns.

Match the Music Notes

Learn about reading sheet music by making your own music note matching game. Print and cut out music note clip art using at least two of each type of note. Tape the clip art to the lined side of index cards. Set up the memory game by laying out all the index cards, picture-side down, in a grid. Take turns looking for matches and naming each pair you find.

Match the Music Notes

Learn to Dance

Many cultures use dance as a form of expression. Help kids learn to hear and feel different rhythms by learning new dances. Start with a few basic dance steps, they try adding each one to music. Once you've mastered that, move on to more complicated dances like Latin dances or the Mexican Hat Dance.

Discover Music Moods

Different genres of music evoke different emotions. See if your kids can express which music elicits which emotion in this fun game.

What You Need

  • Craft sticks
  • Paper
  • Computer and printer or crayons
  • Pencil
  • Scissors
  • Circle template
  • Music player loaded with several age-appropriate songs in different genres of music like classical, rock, rap, reggae, and country. Look for kid-friendly music of popular songs like those by Kidz Bop mixed with instrumental songs to get a good variety.

Directions

  1. Each kid can make emotion sticks by cutting out two circles, gluing each to the top of the craft stick, then coloring an emoji on each side with a different emotion. If printing the emojis, simply glue them back-to-back at the top of the stick. Make sticks for several emotions such as happy, sad, angry, and excited.
  2. Play a portion of one song at a time and have kids hold up the emoji that best fits their mood listening to this song.

Mix Science With Music

Perform your own musical science experiment to see if the claims music can make your smarter are true. Choose two short stories to start. Read the first story, wait one or two minutes, then describe the plot and main characters. Turn on some classical music and read the second story. Wait the same amount of time you did for the first then describe the same things. Which book did you remember better?

Rewrite Lyrics

Choose a song your child knows the lyrics to and ask them to rewrite those lyrics. Start with a printed copy or write them out yourself. Kids will need to replace every word in the song with another that still fits the tune and tells a story.

Travel to the Tempo

Learn about changes in tempo with a simple game inspired by the classic playground game Red Light, Green Light. Create start and finish lines. Use a children's keyboard to change the tempo of an instrumental song. Start playing one of the demo tracks then every few seconds, increase or decrease the tempo. Kids walk or run matching the tempo of the song.

Travel to the Tempo

Chart Your Vocal Range

See how many different pitches your voice can make with a simple bar graph. Draw a standard graph with sounds along the bottom and pitches up the side. For each sound you make, create a bar that shows how high or low-pitched it is.

Explore the World of Music

Music can help kids relax, express emotions, and let loose and have fun. Incorporate a variety of musical activities into your daily routine at home or in the classroom to keep kids engaged and excited about music.

12 Musical Activities for Kids to Explore