Ideas for Musical Games

Looking for a few new, easy activities for your family? Music activities are perfect to get everyone up and moving! Try one of these from Music Together teachers the next time you want to bring a little music into the day. (And when you join a Music Together class near you, you’ll learn dozens of new music activities each semester, plus 25 songs to share! Find a class in your neighborhood at the Class Locator.)

Game of “Freeze Dance”

Toddlers Dancing with Parents Clapping Photo Image

Enjoy a game of "Freeze Dance" with one of the songs from your collection. Invite children to dance as the music plays. You can press the pause button at any time, and once the music stops, the children get to freeze in dancing positions! Up-tempo songs present different challenges than smooth and slow songs, so use a variety of songs whenever you play!

Tip: "Freezing" also builds inhibitory control, one of a set of important skills known as executive functions that develop rapidly throughout early childhood. (Learn more about how music supports executive function.)

Mirror Game

Mom and Daughter Playing Pattycake

Partners face each other at arm’s distance apart. Decide who will be the “leader” and who will be the “mirror.” As you sing a call-and-response song like “Stick Tune,” the leader performs simple movements as the mirror imitates them. For example, “Hey, hey, whaddya say? Let’s all sway our hips today!” When the verse is over, switch roles! With older children, go from simple to complex movement (e.g., one body part moving to several moving at once).

Tip: Mirror-play benefits your child in several different ways. Socially, your child will learn to take turns and accept others’ ideas. Cognitively, they will develop focus, attention, and concentration. Physically, your child will develop spatial awareness, relative distance, and experience personal space.

Prop-passing Game

Mix It Up Song Illustration Girl Sitting in Circle with Stuffed Animals and Instruments on Floor

For this game, use scarves or shaker eggs if you have them—or pass balls, tissues, or small stuffed toys or figurines. Sit in a circle, put on some music (or start singing!), and pass the object around the circle on the beat. Start with the song’s “big beat” (macrobeat), then try to divide it into the “small beat” (microbeat) and pass twice as many times per song measure. Changing directions is a fun development!

A variation, especially for older children: Try to throw and catch a ball on the beat! If the music you're playing speeds up, it's a lot of fun—so choose wisely.

Musical Drawing

Mom and Daughter Drawing Together

Cue up a favorite playlist, and give each child a piece of paper. Get out the crayons, stickers, glitter glue, etc., and ask the children to create a picture based on what they hear. Invite the children to be creative in their choices, giving them free reign to be artistically expressive!

Try the activity with songs with AND without lyrics. When a song doesn’t have words, children can focus on the musical aspects of the song (e.g., tempo, meter, dynamics, etc.), since they don’t also have to process language. As they draw in response, children are able to translate their auditory perceptions into a visual expression, allowing them to experience music in a whole new way!

Musical Hot Potato

Kids in Circle with Grownup Playing Ball-passing Game

Play “musical Hot Potato” to help children share something about themselves to get to know one another! Sitting in a circle, play any song as the children pass an egg shaker, ball, or another prop around the circle to the beat. Pause the music at any point during the song; the child holding the prop gets to answer your question of the day (e.g. What is your favorite animal? Favorite color? Favorite food?). Keep the game going to give each child a chance to share.

Play Homemade Drums

Making Homemade Drums -Play the Drum- Song Illustration

Children will love playing their very own drum! Collect coffee containers, large dairy tubs (yogurt, sour cream, etc.), and oatmeal containers. Clean them thoroughly and glue lids on (if possible). Cut construction paper to fit each container and decorate with yarn, glitter, stickers, markers, and other craft items. Once decorated, adults can affix the paper to the drum for them. Use your newly made drums to play along to any drum song or play-along!

Follow-the-Leader Conga Line

Kids in Conga Line Photo Image

Dance in a Conga line to a favorite song. Try a Music Together song (check out the Hello Everybody app). After each refrain, choose a new leader and ask them to share a new way to dance during the verse.