Toddlers naturally love music and want to move to it! Music and movement are crucial for early childhood development because these activities positively impact development during the toddler years, and beyond.
Music and movement is important for toddlers’ development. These activities help toddlers develop fine and gross motor skills and improve cognitive ability. Music and movement help toddlers to develop language and literacy skills and help with the development of social skills.
Music and movement activities encourage toddlers to be creative, get active, have fun and release energy! The great thing about music and movement activities is that they are easy to introduce and do not require much prep. Read on for music and movement activities for toddlers.
Why is Music and Movement Important for Toddlers?
Music and movement activities introduced during early childhood (0-8 years) have been proven to have a positive developmental impact on several key skills. It’s important to introduce music and movement activities to toddlers for this reason.
Toddlers can benefit from music and movement activities because they help to develop fine and gross motor skills. Motor skills are developed as toddlers learn how to move their bodies in new and creative ways.
Music and movement activities help children to develop problem-solving skills because the nature of music and the accompanying actions teach children to think sequentially.
Music and movement activities can help children to develop language skills. Toddlers can improve their language skills through listening to and learning to sing rhymes. Repeated exposure to rhyming songs has been found to help toddlers and children recognize phonetics.
Another reason music and movement activities for toddlers are important is that they help children learn how to express themselves through movement. Music and movement activities help toddlers to express their emotions and thoughts. Often children learn to communicate using actions rather than words.
Music and movement activities are a fun and creative way for toddlers to release energy and learn how their body moves in the process! You can read more about the benefits of music and movement in early childhood development here.
Music and Movement Activities for Toddlers
Music and movement activities for toddlers are precisely what they sound like. They are activities that combine music with movement. Here are 12 great music and movement activities for toddlers that you can start doing today!
1. Musical Chairs
Musical chairs is a classic activity that is always fun and is easy to set up. All you need are some child-sized chairs and music.
To play, you set up the chairs in a straight line, with every other chair facing the opposite direction. Usually, you have one chair less than there are children.
When the music stops, the toddlers take a seat. One person is usually left standing and is then out of the game. You then remove one hair before starting the process all over again.
2. Musical Statues
Musical Statues is another classic childhood game that is always fun!
The way to play musical statues is for the toddlers to dance around while the music plays. As soon as the music stops, the children need to stay as still as statues!
3. March to a Beat
This simple music and movement activity requires some rhythmic music and space to march. For this activity, the children march around the room to the beat of the music.
4. Walk the Line to Music
Walking the line is a Montessori Practical Life activity that can easily be transformed into a music and movement activity. Walking the line teaches children how to control their bodies’ movements.
You mark a line on the floor using tape and invite the toddlers to walk on the line while playing music. The line usually takes the form of a large ellipse, but you can make it another shape as long as it is continuous.
5. Dancing Animals
Dancing animals is when you ask the toddlers which animal they would like to be. You then ask them to move how they think the animal moves! This activity is a great way to teach children about animals while having them be creative.
6. Naming Musical Instruments
Two activities work really well for teaching toddlers about musical instruments.
Firstly, you put on a piece of music, let the toddlers move to the beat and then ask them to listen to the music and see if they can name the musical instrument being used.
The second activity requires a little more preparation. This activity can always be found on the shelf in a Montessori classroom. All you need is a basket and some musical instruments. The toddler can then pick up the instrument, name it, and play it. Shakers work well for this, as do xylophones and tambourines.
7. Head, Shoulders, Knees, and Toes
Head, Shoulders, Knees, and Toes is a classic action song. You sing the song while pointing to the body parts the song mentions. This is a great way to teach toddlers about their bodies.
It is also great for gross motor skills development because the toddlers must stretch up and down to point to the various body parts.
8. Silk Scarf Dancing
This activity is a calming way to include gross-motor skills development. For this activity, you put on some classical music and encourage the toddlers to move. However, the music makes them feel while letting their silk scarves flow and move with them.
9. Hide and Seek Musical Edition
During this activity, you hide something that makes noise, such as a shaker or a rain stick, somewhere in the environment. The toddlers then look for the instrument and make a noise with it when they find it.
10. Balloon ‘Keepy Uppy’ with Music
‘Keepy Uppy’ is another classic childhood party game that lends itself to becoming a movement and music activity. For this activity, you will need a few balloons and some music. The goal is for the toddlers to keep the balloons from falling while dancing to the music.
11. What Do You Hear?
What Do You Hear? Is not necessarily a music activity, but it does encourage children to listen with purpose while moving. For this game, you can walk around your environment, inside or out, and ask the toddlers what sounds they hear.
12. Swimming in the Ocean
This activity is like Dancing Like Animals, but with sea creatures. For this activity, you can play whale songs, or ocean sounds, while the toddlers move around the space like sea creatures.
There are so many benefits to introducing music and movement activities into a toddler’s daily routine, which is why music and movement play an integral role in the Montessori Classroom. Many of the music and movement activities listed above require little more than music and space to move about, which makes them the perfect activity to do with toddlers.
Check out our articles on music and movement in Montessori and on teaching music and movement to preschoolers for more information.