Are you a preschool teacher looking for fun ways to add music to your classroom?
Do you teach music and need help with your preschool class?
I’ve taught people of all ages, and one of my favorites is preschool.
They have such joy in their music-making; it’s hard not to have fun with them too.
But I’m often asked by music teachers and classroom teachers for ideas on how to do music these littles.
This article is here to help!
11 Easy Music Activities For Preschoolers
Preschool music games and activities need to use movement a lot, instrument playing, and simple songs and shorter classical pieces. There are hundreds of options out there, but my favorites include:
- Found Sound Band
- Freeze Dance
- Johnny Works With One Hammer
- Draw What You Hear
- Guided Movement
- Song Stories
- Marching Band Movement
- Mother Goony Bird
- Sound Sorting
- Steady Beat Playing
- Call And Response Songs
Let’s dive into a brief description of these lessons!
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If you’re looking for music activities for elementary students of all ages, click the link for some of my favorites.
Found Sound Band
I LOVE found sound bands. For this activity, take any favorite song they know and ask them to keep the beat on different parts of their bodies.
Then, talk about how music and musical instruments are everywhere.
Demonstrate by tapping your foot on the ground or tapping a pencil on a chair.
These are “found sounds.” Ask students to calmly search the room (use your best judgment on the procedure to keep things under control) and find an interesting object that makes a good beat or rhythm.
Then, ask students to play their new instrument with the fun song in a found sound band.
Make a recording if you wish and play it back for the kids to listen to.
(Families eat this stuff up too!)
If you feel brave, get some craft materials and do your own homemade instruments.
Freeze dance is a simple but fun game. All you need is a music player and space to dance.
The premise is simple: when they hear music, they dance. When they hear the music stops, they freeze.
Use classical music pieces with high energy to get them moving or tunes that reinforce concepts you want them to learn.
If you’re a music teacher, look for a strong, steady beat and singable melodies.
If you’re a preschool teacher, this may be counting, alphabet, or phonics songs.
Add a level of competition if you wish by telling the students if you catch them moving when they’re not supposed to, they’re out.
Check out my complete guide on how to play freeze dance the right way.
Johnny Works With One Hammer
This familiar song is a blast to do with preschool and Kindergarten kids.
It reinforces the steady beat so well and has silly movements.
With each verse, you add another move in this order:
- Tap one hand
- Tap two hands
- Tap two hands and one foot
- Tap two hands and two feet
- Tap two hands, two feet, and nod your head
For the sheet music, full game, and story extension, check out my music activities for Kindergarten.
Draw What You Hear
If you’ve been in my room for a time or read a lot of my material, you’ll know I love to let students at young ages just draw what the music sounds like to them.
Just give them a piece of paper, crayons, and a prompt and let them go while listening to music.
The types of music you play should have a clear feeling and be under 5 minutes long, 3 minutes or less would be ideal for this age group.
Don’t pick background music. It needs to be engaging.
With this activity, I stick with classical music.
For this looking for other classical music resources, check out Maestro Classics for books, supplement printable resources, videos, and more.
It helps to give them a little bit of a drawing prompt. Here are a few examples:
- Draw how the music feels.
- Draw the story the music tells.
- If the music was a person, what would they look like?
- If the music was an animal, what would it be?
- Imagine the music as colors and shapes.
Guided movement to music is always a blast. Whether it’s specific movements like in the Penguin Dance (shown below) or more general moves, preschoolers need to move to the music.
One great resource for movement with preschoolers is the Feierabend resources. Here is a couple I use all the time with my younger students:
- Move It! – For guided movement to classical music
- Books Of Fingerplays and Action songs – For songs with moves
Yeah, stories are awesome, and preschool classes love them. Find a music-related storybook or create a new story with a known song (check out how I tied a bunch together with the Tree Cycle) for a ton of fun doing musical activities.
Here are a few songbooks I love to do (click the link to check them out on Amazon if you don’t already have them):
Marching Band Movement
This activity is great and has so many potential twists to it.
You, or another student, but probably you for a while, are the drum major and leader of the marching band.
The students are members of your band.
They need to match your movements (and silly faces) as the march music goes on.
At first, I have us stay in place, and then we begin to move around the room.
I find marches (such as those by Sousa) work really well.
The students especially love when we get into making “angry” faces for the break strains of each march.
The body movements also develop motor skills, depending on what you do.
My favorite to do this with is the Pride of the Wolverines.
Mother Goony Bird
This is a song similar to Johhny Works With One Hammer.
It adds moves to a silly tune until things get too complicated.
I only heard this song as an adult, but I know many other adults who heard this as a kid, especially at camps.
My wife knew it by another name; Father Abraham had many sons…
Here’s a link to how it appears in the PBS Kids show, Lomax the Hound of Music, which is a great music show for kids as well.
This one takes a bit more concentration, but I love how it allows the students to explore sound yet be analytical at the same time.
I usually start the same way we started the Found Sound Band, by letting kids explore different sounds around the room.
This is an extension where students sort the sounds into three different categories for types of instruments:
- Optional: Scratch/Rub/Scrap
I will use a chart and printed off pictures to help the students individually sort them. This can be done with real instruments as well if you bring your own and demonstrate what they sound like.
Steady Beat Playing
Steady beat playing sounds simple, and it is. But getting out your non-pitched percussion or bells or xylophone using an open fifth (not the drinking kind) and playing a steady beat with any number of songs is always fun for kids and develops beat skills.
Plus, you can never underestimate the importance of a steady beat.
It’s something everyone, no matter their age, needs to have a good grasp on.
Check out these popular songs with a steady beat and play along with them.
If you don’t have an instrument, put it on your body.
Call And Response Songs
To get the kids singing, it’s always helpful to have songs where they just need to copy you.
There are a ton out there in this category. Nursery rhymes are great for this too.
One of the easiest ones is Down By The Bay.
Preschool Music Resources
If you need or want to check out more resources for a preschool music curriculum, these are the ones I’ve used and recommend.
All these are available in different places; it’s just easier for me to link to them on Amazon.
- First Steps In Music Curriculum – excellent songs and guided material; very thorough.
- Music Play: The Early Childhood Music Curriculum Guide for Parents, Teachers & Caregivers – Structured for maximum music learning; may require extra knowledge.
- This Is Music! Preschool, Vol 1 – Lighter, more fun and easy to use.
I hope this list of 11 fun preschool music activities gives you some ideas of what to do in your classroom.
I love this age group. Just make sure you set up clear expectations and procedures and watch the fun take place in your music-making.
Have fun making music with these younger kids!