27 Music And Movement Activities For Toddlers & Preschoolers

Music And Movement Activities For Toddlers
Baby Tips

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Toddlers are at an age where they are just learning to be mobile. Actions such as running, walking, or jumping is all fairly new for them so they enjoy exploring their newfound abilities. Music and movement activities allow your child to practice their motor skills. These activities involve moving different parts of the body to music, so the child is exposed to patterns, rhythm, and a variety of sounds. They help the overall development of children and are a perfect way to direct their excessive energy.

In this post, we have compiled a list of engaging music and movement activities for toddlers that will keep them thoroughly entertained. 

Benefits Of MusicAnd Movement Activities For Toddlers

Music and movement activities can contribute to baby’s physical, cognitive, and emotional development. Read ahead to understand the benefits.

1. Motor skills development

Music and movement activities involve plenty of movements of large muscles of the body. This helps in the development of the gross motor skills of your child (1). Playing musical instruments and finger play used in such activities are good for improving fine motor skills (1).

2. Imagination and creative expression

Creativity is a key part of a child’s education and getting children involved in musical activities is a great way to develop this quality (2). They get to sing, dance, and experiment with different sounds, rhythms, and musical instruments. This helps in enhancing the imagination of your little ones and provides them with a platform to improvise and express themselves (1)(2).

3. Language development

Music activities for toddlers can benefit language development. The process of learning a language and music is similar for young children; both are handled by the same areas of the brain. Research has shown that children can remember text better if presented in the form of music (3). By listening to different types of songs children can learn new words and enhance their vocabulary (1).

4. Social skills

Music and movement activities can help in enhancing the social skills of children (1). These activities often require working in groups. Children learn to interact with other children, share things and work as a group. Communicating with other children and performing in front of them can also boost their confidence and self-esteem.

5. Emotional development

Participating in music preschool activities can help children express their emotions better (1). Since music can impact moods and evoke feelings, children start understanding different emotions by listening to different genres of music (4). Music also teaches children to manage their emotions for instance, by listening to lullabies over time, children learn to self-soothe.

6. Balance and coordination

By performing different preschool music activities, children slowly learn to control their bodies better. Music and movement activities may require children to jump, balance on one leg or walk on the balance beam. Getting involved in such activities can improve the balance and coordination of children (1).

7. Listening skills

Listening is an important skill to learn any language. Music and movement activities allow the child to listen to a wide range of songs with different tempos. This helps them recognize the changes in the tempos and rhythm. They learn to differentiate between slow, medium, and fast songs (5).

27 Music And Movement Activities For Toddlers

This list of activities is perfect to keep your toddler entertained and use their energy constructively.

1. Do a musical puppet show

Choose some peppy songs and use finger puppets to act out those songs in front of your toddler. Encourage them to move along with the song.

2. Play musical chairs

To play this age-old game, arrange chairs in a straight line facing opposite sides keeping one chair less than the number of players. One person can play some catchy numbers. When the music stops the player who is not seated is out.

3. Have fun with balancing the tissue challenge

All the toddlers have to place a piece of tissue, flat on their heads and dance to the music without letting the tissue fall. By doing this activity children can learn how to focus on the task at hand, control their movements, and balance their bodies.

4. Express music through art

Encourage your little ones to use their imagination and draw what the music makes them see and feel. Give your children paper, crayons, or water colors and put on different types of songs. It would be fun to see the shapes and paintings your toddlers come up with.

5. Play “Simon Says”

The game Simon says involves the host calling out an action and the players doing it. Add a music and dance element to this game. Put on some music and ask your little ones to do a dance movement. For instance, “Simon says, “Move your hips”. This will serve as a good practice of motor movements for your child.

6. Try musical hopscotch

Make the game of hopscotch more fun by adding some music and dance. When your toddler jumps successfully into each square, play their favorite music and ask them to do a particular dance movement on it.

7. Have a dance party

An impromptu dance party can cheer your toddlers up. Play their favorite songs and just invite them to dance their heart out. You can even get them to dress up as their favorite animated character for the party.

8. Enjoy some action songs

Playing action songs on playdates can up the fun element and strengthen the bonding between the children. Get the children to stand in the circle and perform on songs such as “Hokey Pokey” or “Head Shoulders Knees and Toes”

9. Have animal fun

Toddlers love animals and will have great fun doing this activity. The host will call out the name of any animal and put on some music. All the toddlers have to move like that animal.

10. Play freeze dance

Play the audio of the party freeze game and let the dancing begin. Whenever the song says dance, the children have to dance, and when the word, freeze! is uttered the children have to stop dancing and freeze in that position.

11. March away

Marching can be the perfect exercise for your energetic toddlers. You can put on some classical music tracks such as “Johann Strauss – Radetzky March or use children’s songs such as “The Ants Go Marching”. Teach the children how to move their feet up and down to catchy beats.

12. Do the plate dance

This fun innovative dance will allow your toddler to explore different kinds of movements. All you need are two paper or unbreakable plastic plates per child to be used as a pair of cymbals. Show them movements such as banging them together under their legs, above their head, behind their backs, and sideways.

13. Try musical finger painting

Using fingers and hands to paint can improve hand-eye coordination in toddlers and develop their fine motor skills. Take a large canvas, some non-toxic edible paints, and play some music. Encourage the creative expression of your little ones by asking them to use their fingers and paint what they hear.

14. Play the musical passing game

This entertaining game will create group bonding and encourage your toddlers to get creative. To play this game children have to stand in a circle. One toddler will do a dance step, say twisting, clapping hands, jumping, the child on their left has to repeat the movement and do their own step, and the cycle continues. 

15. Get moving with some shakers

Cool props like shakers are great to get your toddler excited for a dance session. You can use an egg shaker or make a DIY one using easily available materials such as cardboard tubes or thick containers and some rice flakes or pebbles. Show them different dance movements with the shaker and let your child experiment.

16. Enjoy dancing with individual body parts

This fun music and movement game also helps toddlers learn about different body parts. The host would call out the name of a certain body part and the child has to dance using just that body part.

17. Practice balancing

Want to improve your child’s balance? Just stick a tape on the floor and teach your toddler to walk over it without stepping outside the line on some soothing music. This is a simple activity that gives your child some balance practice without risking their safety in any way.

18. Move with the scarves

Dancing with a flowy thing like a scarf can be challenging but interesting for your child. Play a soothing classical melody and allow your toddler to explore the feel of the silky scarves in their hands while they twirl, twist, and wrap them. 

19. Match the rhythm

This activity will help your little one understands the rhythm and the beats of the music piece. Give your children some readily available objects at home that can be used to make sounds such as a spoon and steel plate or two spoons. Play a familiar song and teach them how to match the beats with the items they have.

20. Do the balloon dance

Give your child their favorite colored balloon, put on some dance songs, and encourage them to dance with it but they have to make sure the balloon doesn’t fall to the floor. Enjoy watching your toddlers trying to dance while balancing the balloons on their tiny hands and bodies. 

21. Play hide and seek with a twist

The game of musical hide and seek involves hiding a musical toy in the house. Switch on the toy and let your child search for it with the help of its sound. Since the activity requires searching for the toy there is a lot of movement involved and finding something using just the sound is good for developing your child’s listening skills.

22. Try gunny bag dancing

Get the children into gunny bags, smaller cotton bags, or pillow cover cases depending on their size. Put on some catchy music and ask your little ones to jump as high as they can holding the bags/cover. Those who fall out of the bag are out. Your little ones will have a blast jumping around like bunnies.

23. Follow the leader

Put on some music and let the children be leaders one by one. The leader will do some dance movements and the other children have to follow the lead. Use this activity to get your children to open up and mingle with other children.

24. Step up to the beats

Help your child understand the rhythm by encouraging them to do this activity. Play a drum or an instrument with beats at different tempos. Start with slow beats, and gradually move up to medium and fast tempo. Ask your toddlers to just walk slowly when the beat is slow and increase their pace (jog/run) as the beat becomes faster.

25. Play musical spin the wheel

Make a DIY spinning wheel with different movements such as jump forward, move like a lion, kick as high as you can, instead of prizes. Your little one would love spinning the wheel and doing the action. Put on their favorite songs to pump up the mood.

26. Enjoy a musical obstacle course

Set up an obstacle course at home by lining up some chairs, stacking up some pillows or books, and adding some steppingstones. Play the music and ask your little one to start the race. When you stop the music, the child has to freeze on the spot. Restart the music and continue the start and stop music cycle.

27. Try the feather dance

Feathers are lightweight and move with the air, so they are good props to get your toddler moving. Play a nice song and instruct your child to blow on the feather or move it up and down on the beats. They have to make sure that the feather is constantly moving but not touching the ground.

Adding music and movement activities to the regular schedule can brighten any routine day. Your little one will be exposed to some great music and will have fun exploring different body movements. Since many activities are done in groups, they give your little one a chance to mingle with other children and become more confident in social settings. Experiment with different types of musical activities and games, using different genres of music to keep their excitement high.

References:

MomJunction’s articles are written after analyzing the research works of expert authors and institutions. Our references consist of resources established by authorities in their respective fields. You can learn more about the authenticity of the information we present in our editorial policy.
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Shivali

Shivali Karande

Shivali holds a bachelor’s degree in pharmacy and a master’s in management. After working for nearly five years in the market research sector, she discovered her passion for writing and started freelancing. Her knowledge about medicines and biology, coupled with her experience in research, helps her write well-researched, informative, and evidence-based articles. For MomJunction, she writes articles on health and… more

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