Many of these activities can be adapted and used with any music, but examples for specific songs are also given. The activities are organized into categories in which they best fit. However, many activities use skills associated with more than one area of learning.
Listen and Share
One of the easiest ways to learn from music is to listen to it! This requires no more than pushing the play button on the tape machine or CD player. Enhance those listening experiences by talking about the songs. You do not need to know anything about music to talk about it. Start by talking about what you hear. Is the song fast or slow? Loud or soft? Happy or sad? Click here for suggestions of classical music to use for these activities!
The Wheels on our car go round and round... all the way to the store OR The Wheels on your bike go round and round... all the way to school.
Change the words to "When You're Happy and You Know It" to work on movement and motor skills:
When you're happy and you know it wiggle your thumbs.
To talk about different emotions:
When you're angry and you know it stomp your feet.
Try using the tune of a song that you already know, such as "Old MacDonald Had a Farm," and make up your own words. Keep songs repetitive and simple so that children can learn and remember them easily.
Dance and Move
Make listening and singing experiences more interactive by adding movement and dance. This is a great way to involve children in music activities before they have developed language.
Add hand and finger motions to any children's songs! Roll your arms for "The Wheels on the Bus" or pretend to honk a horn when the bus, "goes beep-beep-beep." Wiggle each finger when singing "Where is Thumbkin?" and clap, stomp, and cheer along to "When You're Happy and You Know It."
Allow children to move around and dance when listening to music. Watch how their movements change depending on the feel of each song.
Play the "freeze" game! Turn on any kind of music and dance. Have someone designated to pause and restart the music. Each time the music stops, everybody freeze! Start dancing again when the music begins to play.
Help children color pictures or draw their own pictures to go along with their favorite songs.
Allow children a chance to express themselves through art and music by providing a blank piece of paper and coloring material when listening to songs. Encourage them to draw pictures or make music maps (continual lines or scribbles).
After completing the coloring page for "I'm a Little Teapot," change the words of the song to match your child's picture: "I'm a little teapot red and green," OR "I'm a little teapot with polka-dots."
Talk about songs and discuss what they are about. Ask children questions about the songs to help develop story-telling and memory skills.
Enhance any music and movement experience with homemade instruments! Use kitchen items, such as wooden spoons and pots and pans to create a band or save recycled items (plastic bottles, oatmeal containers) and make shakers, drums, and more!
Help your child make books and pictures to go along with your favorite songs. For children who are not yet reading, make a book of song cards. Use a picture to represent each of their favorite songs, for example, use a picture of a star to represent "Twinkle, Twinkle Little Star." Your child will learn that the picture represents a song, as letters on a page represent words.
Using Story Songs
Find books of fairy tales at your local library. Read the stories and listen to Fairy Tale Favorites. Discuss differences between each book and song.
Make your own books to go along with the songs by drawing pictures or printing the coloring pages from this website.
Add sound effects to your favorite books with homemade musical instruments or items from the kitchen. Tap wooden spoons together to represent the "trip-trap" of "The Three Billy Goats Gruff."
Create a flannel board story by cutting out the shapes of characters and items from the story or song. Use the flannel pieces to retell the story or act out a song.