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30 Creative and Engaging Music Activities for Your Preschooler
Are you in need of some simple, music activities for your preschooler to do at home? Or maybe you are curious about other ways to make your preschoolers favorite song even more engaging?
You’ve probably already learned a few songs that your child enjoys, but let’s be honest. It can get pretty boring just singing the same song over and over. Every parent gets a bit bored with singing the same song multiple times a day – that’s normal!
On top of that, many parents don’t have the time to sit down with their preschoolers each and every day for a full-on, 30-minute music lesson. You need something that will benefit your child and engage them with music – all in 10 minutes or less!
So, let’s kick it up a notch and explore 30 activities that you can use with some of the best kids songs. Each activity is specifically picked to engage your child with their favorite songs! That means you’ll find tons of ways to keep their interest in music going but give yourself a break from singing ALL the time. And every single one of these activities can be done in 10 minutes or less – many in about 5 minutes.
These music activities for preschoolers are geared towards parents who want to encourage their child’s musical abilities. And they are perfect for parents who aren’t sure where to begin when boosting their child’s musical engagement.
What’s even better is the fact that, if you take these 12 children’s songs and combine it with these 30 activities, you could have an entire year’s worth of music activities for your child. That’s a simple, preschooler music activity for every single day of the year! All with extremely little repetition.
Just check out this post where I break down each and every music activity using “The Itsy Bitsy Spider” as an example. You’ll find over 30 great ways to engage your toddler or preschooler with ALL of the musical activities listed below!
So, what kind of music activities for preschoolers can you find below?
I’m glad you asked, because there are some basic categories that you’ve probably heard of. This will give you a general idea of the kinds of musical activities you can use in conjunction with a single song.
- Music and Movement. Now this is a favorite kind of music activity for preschoolers! These types of activities allow them to get their wiggles out all while enjoying their favorite songs.
- Talking about the music. By talking with your preschooler about the music they listen to, you’ll be encouraging them to think about the music, ask questions, and in general, you’ll be encouraging them to discuss things with you. For example, you’ll be asking them (or perhaps explaining) what certain words mean.
- Engaging with the music. Of course, making music is a crucial part of any musical activity! But you’ll also be listening to music and breaking it down into its various parts. For example, by focusing on the rhyming words or the rhythm of specific words, you’ll help your preschoolers language development.
- Building connections. It seems, so often, that music is often in its own little world. We sing a song and that’s it! With these types of activities, I encourage you to build connections between the songs and other topics. For example, using “The Itsy Bitsy Spider” to talk about other insects, the environments they live in, and how they benefit the world.
What is important to remember with these types of preschool music activities?
Going forward, there are 4 crucial aspects to keep in mind when engaging your child in these types of activities.
- Creativity – Allow your preschooler or toddler to be creative in their music making and singing. It is crucial that your little ones express their creativity exactly how they would like to do so. Even if they sing (what we might consider) the “wrong” word at the end of a phrase or sing slightly off-key – don’t correct them! At this young age, it’s more important to be creative and sing freely rather than be “correct”.
- Critical Thinking – Many of the exercises below will engage your preschoolers critical thinking skills. In fact, several of the activities involve discussion about the music, words, or topics. Make sure you ask questions that do not involve a simple “yes” or “no” answer. And, always allow them enough time to think about what they want to say.
- Curiosity – Encourage their curiosity by applying the topics of the song to everyday life. Build connections between the music and what they see, do, hear, feel, and speak about. Encourage them to ask questions about things they don’t understand regarding the music.
- Listening – By actively listening to music (the opposite of just having music play in the background during another activity), you are boosting your preschooler’s listening skills – which is a crucial element in their development. So, anytime you play a new song for them, take a few minutes to sit and listen to the music together.
And with that, let’s dive right in – you’ve got a so many activities to choose from! And, don’t forget to download your free, printable checklist of all these activities to keep handy!
Ask your little ones to tell you what they think the song is about.
This might lead to a few laughs because little ones can create such imaginative stories! Let them explain to you what the “marching ants” look like. Or even what the story behind “A Ram Sam Sam” is!
Do they know what all the words mean?
If they don’t know what all the words mean, ask them which ones they don’t know and then ask them if they want you to explain it to them. Sometimes they just aren’t interested and that’s fine! If they say they do know what all the words mean, then ask them to explain one or more of the words to you.
Study the environments within the song.
Discuss and talk about the environments or general topics that each song is about. Think about the nighttime sky in “Twinkle, Twinkle Little Star”. Since our kids are usually sleeping when it’s dark, they might only know what the nighttime sky looks like from pictures! Or perhaps you can discuss all the different kinds of waterways (streams, rivers, waterfalls, etc.) after singing “Row, Row, Row Your Boat”.
Read a book that has the lyrics to that song.
Now, for almost every song I’ve discussed in the 12 best songs to sing to kids, there is a book written with those lyrics! Like this book with the lyrics to “The Ants go Marching” or this book with the lyrics to “The Wheels on the Bus”.
Read a book about a similar topic.
As often as you’ll find a book with the lyrics to a song, you’ll almost more than likely find a book that is geared towards preschoolers about a related topic. Like this book about nighttime, the darkness, and twinkling lights. Or perhaps this book that explores feelings like the song “If You’re Happy and You Know It”.
Focus on the rhymes within a song.
So many children’s songs are loaded with rhymes! This helps introduce rhymes to your children from a young age, so if they are interested, start focusing on those rhyming words. Get them to pick out the rhyming word that fits in the song or try to find another rhyming word.
Listen to various versions of your child’s favorite song.
These days, there are so many options to listening to a song! YouTube, and streaming device, or even the radio. Pick one or two different versions and let your little one hear the slight differences in the way they sound. Just a side note though: If you choose YouTube, make sure the video is not seen. Watching the video distracts from the music!
Listen to other songs on similar topics.
Once you’ve found a few good version of your child’s favorite song, try branching out a listening to songs based upon a similar topic, like “Don’t Stamp On An Ant” from Nick Cope in addition to “The Ants Go Marching”. Or “There’s a Nose in the Middle of My Face” (also by Nick Cope) in addition to “Head, Shoulders, Knees and Toes”.
If you are looking for excellent quality children’s music, then I can only highly recommend Nick Cope. You can stream his music on Spotify. His music is well-written, educational, and it won’t drive you nuts. Please consider purchasing an album to support his endeavors!
Engage their fine motor skills.
Make sure you engage those fine motor skills by encouraging your little ones to follow simple finger or hand movements. “The Itsy Bitsy Spider” is a perfect example for using smaller movements. Or even creating your own finger and hand movements to “Twinkle, Twinkle Little Star” would be great. The fine motor skills of the fingers and hands are particularly important to develop for those children about to learn writing skills!
Engage your preschooler’s gross motor skills.
Many of the songs I talk about use gross motor skills, like “Head, Shoulders, Knees and Toes”, “This is the Way”, or “A Ram Sam Sam”. These engage your child with larger movements, like bending over to touch their toes or twisting about. These gross motor skills are also important to develop in conjunction with fine motor skills.
Can they create their own movements to a song?
Some of the songs discussed already come with well-known movements (like the Itsy-Bitsy Spider). But for those that are generally accompanied with hand or whole-body movements, encourage your little ones to make up their own. You might encourage them to create their own movements to “Twinkle, Twinkle Little Star” or even “Are You Sleeping”.
Dance to the Music!
Here’s an absolute classic preschool musical activity! Encourage your little one to move freely to the music. Let them pick and choose how to express the music with their bodies. This is a great activity for several reasons!
Get your little one to move rhythmically to the music.
Moving rhythmically to music should encourage your child’s whole-body movements. And keep in mind this activity is different from dancing freely to music! Sing the song slowly so that they have a chance to complete the movements as well. For example, you could consider having them march around the room to “The Ants Go Marching”. Or, rowing in a clothes basket to “Row, Row, Row Your Boat”. Or even, crawling around the room like a spider to “The Itsy Bitsy Spider”. Encourage them to move only with the beat!
Use Props while moving to the song.
Now, using props with music can be used while dancing or all by itself. This allows for loads of creativity for your preschooler, too. Use anything handy (but child-safe!) you might have around the house. Think about using balloons, scarves, ribbons, wands, stuffed animals, or even dress up clothes!
Play a game of musical memory related to that song.
Over at my Etsy Shop, Mod Music Printables, you’ll find two awesome sets of music memory games! One introduces children to musical terms and instruments, while the other is based upon popular children’s songs. You can play the music memory game in several ways! Sing the song each time a pair is found and use the picture on that card to add in a new idea. Or, just make sure to sing the song once the game is over and highlight each pair once that word is sung.
Clap to the song as you sing it.
This is yet another classic preschool musical activity. Don’t worry about the difference between clapping the beat and the rhythm. Just focus on what feels most comfortable to you. But, if you would like to emphasize a difference just know this: clapping each syllable is like clapping the rhythm while clapping a steady, consistent pattern is clapping the beat. Feel free to fluctuate between the two.
Clap the rhythm to specific words within the song.
Try highlighting the different syllables while clapping. Some words only have a single syllable, but for those that have multiple, highlight the difference! Some examples include: twin-kle in “Twinkle, Twinkle Little Star”, or mar-ching in “The Ants Go Marching”, or it-sy bit-sy spi-der in “The Itsy Bitsy Spider”.
Encourage your little one to use a shaker while you sing.
In addition to clapping, encouraging your little one of use a type of rattle, or shaker, is an excellent way to help them learn musical patterns. It certainly takes some practice, but generally, developing a steady beat helps with other developmental milestones, like marching to a beat, reading, and even speaking skills.
Get your preschooler to choose an instrument to play with a certain song.
There are so many options these days for preschoolers musical instruments. Some of the best starting instruments are a children’s xylophone for melodic elements and maracas for rhythmic elements. Your little one might gravitate to a specific type of instrument, so make sure they always have multiple options!
Ask you little how their chosen instrument can represent something in the song.
Ask your little one to use their chosen instrument to represent a specific element in a song. For example, how would a twinkling star sound on their xylophone. Or, how might the maracas represent a steaming teapot? Encourage their creativity and give them prompts only if needed.
Sing the song to and with your child.
While this preschool musical activity might seem a bit ridiculous to put here, I list it because it’s still extremely important for you to sing to and with your preschooler!
Just singing for yourself is different than singing with your child. Try singing in different rooms, and singing while standing, kneeling, sitting, or even laying in bed. And trying singing outside the home (within reason), like in your garden or in the car. Just these small differences make a huge impact!
Learn storytelling by singing additional verses.
So often, we only learn the first (or most well-known) verse of a children’s song and forget the rest. But, by learning additional verses, you can tell a whole story! This helps your little one learn about things like how to tell a story. If you need help with extra verses, check out this website, which has TONS of additional verses to many, many songs.
Sing the song in a different voice.
This idea and the next few following ideas are discussed in more detail here. But as an example, think about singing like a sleepy person for “Are You Sleeping?”, like an ant in “The Ants Go Marching”, or even a like an astronaut for “Twinkle, Twinkle Little Star”. Be creative and sing in a low voice, a high-pitched voice, a buzzing voice, a robot voice, a full voice, a shrill voice, or even like an opera singer!
Add their name somewhere in the song.
Almost all of these songs allow for you to insert their name somewhere. By personalizing the songs, you are getting their attention a little bit easier – and you are teaching them that they can make simple changes to make it more fun! Try singing “The itsy, bitsy David crawled up the water spout.” Or, something like “Twinkle, twinkle little Emma, how I wonder what you are.”
Sing the song in a different tempo (speed).
This can be a slight alteration or an exaggerated tempo change. Singing it super slow or super fast, especially when combined with hand or body movements, almost always leads to giggles! Ask your little one to pick slow or fast and then see how they react.
Recite the song as a chant.
Sometimes just chanting the text is a good option. Rather than singing the melody, just recite the words in a rhythmic pattern. Often, your little one might clap along or tap their fingers on the table. And chanting is a good way to focus just on the words. Your voice will naturally fluctuate as your say the words, so emphasize these small changes as your recite the words.
Encourage your little one to sing the words at the end of each phrase.
If your little one is just learning a new song, leaving off the last word of each phrase helps them learn it! In fact, your little one often picks up on the last words and learn those quicker than the other parts of the phrases. Something like “The wheels on the bus go _____?” and let them fill in the blank. Give them a few seconds time to think of and say the words. It probably won’t be exactly rhythmic, but it’s more of a game than a song.
Alternatively, sometime they might say a different word. Go with it and make a game out of it! They’ll get a kick out of you sing “The Wheels on the bus go up and down…” anyway.
Ask your little one to make up their own song at that topic.
This is absolutely crucial for your preschooler’s musical creativity! If you’ve just sang “Twinkle, Twinkle Little Star”, then ask them to sing a new song about the stars. They might use a similar melody and even similar words, but this is a great starting point for encouraging their musical creativity. And remember, there is no right or wrong here – let them sing as they please!
Get them to create a new song with a chosen melody!
This preschool activity actually sounds easier than it is. Making up all new words to fit in with a melody they already know can be challenging. But you’ll hear them stretching or compressing words to fit in with the melody. Again, this helps their musical creativity and learn about the different lengths and sounds of words.
Let them sing the song on a specific syllable.
For those younger preschoolers, sing a song on a neutral syllable. Some of the easier ones are “ba”, “la”, or even “ma”. But once they are a bit older, give them some more complex syllables or words to sing a song on, like “bubble” or “little”. The words don’t have to fit perfectly, but it can help develop those skills for tougher words.
So, my devoted readers, there you have 30 amazing preschool musical activities that will engage your little ones with music!
Long gone are the days of just singing a song over and over! Break up to monotony with some of the activities. And don’t forget to sign up below to receive the free, printable PDF of all these activities!
Let me know which ones are your preschooler’s favorite or drop a comment with your ideas! I’m always up for adding to this list.
Happy music making,