Inside: Simple music activities for kids to calm chaotic moments, smooth over transitions, or turn a grumpy mood around.
I ignored the high pitched whining and focused on navigating the maze of scattered blocks in front of me. The volume increased as I tiptoed through my living room, balancing a heaping laundry basket on my hip. My shoulders were tense and my jaw clenched. I could feel a meltdown coming.
I abandoned my laundry basket, sat down next to the baby, and sang an enthusiastic rendition of 5 Green and Speckled Frogs. My 4-year-old bounded over to listen.
“Do it again!” he exclaimed. I repeated the song, accompanied by silly dancing and baby giggles. The whole interaction took less than 5 minutes, but that moment of connection changed everything.
Music has a magical way of making us feel good. It can calm us, lift our moods, and bring us together. It’s one of my favorite ways to connect as a family.
Below is a collection of joyful music activities for kids that you can use to connect with your child. Use these ideas after separation, to smooth over transitions, or to dodge an impending meltdown.
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Get Your Groove On
- Have a dance party.
- Make up a short sequence of steps together.
- Move freely with scarves.
- Dance with wrist bells.
- Roll a ball back and forth as you listen to music.
- Play Ring around the Rosie.
- Do the Hokey Pokey.
- Dance along to The Freeze by Greg and Steve.
Explore the flow of music.
Help your child experience the flow of music by stirring an imaginary pot of soup with both hands while you sing.
Sing, Sing, Sing!
I don’t sing because I’m happy; I’m happy because I sing. ~William James
Singing with kids supports their developing communication skills, emotional regulation, and cognitive development. Don’t worry about being perfect. The point is to show your child that singing is enjoyable and that everyone can do it.
Fingerplays are simple songs with accompanying hand motions. Here are a few to get you started.
Sing and Sign
These songs use American Sign Language (ASL) for the motions. Enjoy learning a bit of sign language while you sing.
- The Itsy Bitsy Spider (ASL)
- The More We Get Together (ASL)
- Twinkle Twinkle Little Star (ASL)
- ABC Song (ASL)
More Simple Kids Songs
These delightful songs are some of our favorites! Once you’ve learned the traditional verses, ask your child for suggestions to add to the songs.
Related: Silly Songs and Rhymes for Babies
Turn up the Volume
Listening to music brings us together – but what music is best for bonding as a family? According to experts, the key is exploring a variety of music from Jazz, to Classical, to Rock and Roll. As long as the lyrics are appropriate, nothing is off limits! Here are a few ideas to get you started.
High-Quality Children’s Music
- You are my Little Bird by Elizabeth Mitchell
- Putamayo Kids World Playground
- Carnival of the Animals: A Parade of Kids’ Classics
Grown-up Music for Kids
As a toddler, my son loved the song Cecilia by Simon and Garfunkel. My 10-month-old currently grooves to Santana’s Oye Como Va. While there is some wonderful children’s music out there, we don’t limit ourselves! Share your old favorites and explore new “grown-up” music with your kids.
Calming Music Activities for Kids
Music speaks what cannot be expressed, soothes the mind and gives it rest… ~Author Unknown
Music can soothe both you and your child in moments of stress. Use these music and movement activities when you need a moment of calm connection.
Curl up on the couch with your child and listen to music. Don’t say a word – just listen and enjoy!
Hold your child and gently sway to a calm and quiet song.
Find Music Everywhere
Invite your child to pause and listen to the sounds around you. After listening, discuss what you heard.
Painting to Music
Put on some music and paint together. Notice how your art is affected by different types of music.
Draw pictures on your child’s back while listening to music together.
Rhythm instruments add a hands-on element to music learning. Follow your child’s lead while exploring rhythm and sound together.
DIY Musical Instruments
Try these ideas for making your own musical instruments.
Purchase Musical Instruments
Have some high-quality instruments available for exploration. Here are a few of our favorites.
Related: Favorite Spring Songs for Kids
Cuddle Up With a Good Book
Reading with your child is a wonderful way to strengthen your bond. Make reading time musical with these fun ideas.
Rhythmic Children’s Books
Many children’s books have a natural rhythm. Try rhythmically chanting or “rapping” the words to these fun reads.
- Mr. Brown Can Moo! Can You? by Dr. Seuss
- Pajama Time by Sandra Boynton
- Jazz Baby by Lisa Wheeler
- Perfect Piggies by Sandra Boynton
Song Books for Kids
These books are based on some of our favorite songs. Sing along as you turn the pages.
- Sing! by Tom Lichtenheld
- Every Little Thing: Based on the Song ‘Three Little Birds’ by Bob Marley
- Baby Beluga by Raffi
- Down at the Station by Annie Kubler
Host a Musical Playdate
Everyone deserves music, sweet music. ~Michael Franti
Gather friends and family for a Musical Playdate. You don’t have to be a musician to create space and time to enjoy music as a community. Use the tips below to get you started.
Create a Space
All you need is an open patch of floor! If your home isn’t roomy enough, ask a friend to host.
Ask a friend to “co-lead” with you. You can each focus on your strengths, and support each other in leading the group.
Set the Intention
Send an invitation to family and friends. Include the place, time and a short description of what you’ll be doing. Invite everyone to bring musical instruments and a favorite song to share with the group.
Look through this post and make a list of music activities that you feel comfortable leading. Gather materials and make a playlist of recorded music in advance.
If you don’t get through all of your planned activities, that’s OK! The goal is to leave everyone feeling warm and fuzzy after enjoying music together. Relax, have fun, and roll with it.
A few minutes of connection can make all the difference. Music activities for kids support your child’s development while you have fun bonding as a family.