Early childhood exposure to musical sounds plays a vital role in shaping future musical abilities, spawning creativity, and even helping to secure emotional well-being. Often overlooked in traditional education in recent years, music is a long-held and respected aspect of a well-rounded education worldwide, and we say it’s time to put a little emphasis back on it! We’ve assembled a collection of the best music games for kids to help nurture a love for dancing or singing in your little ones. Introducing them to some of these entertaining games will be a fantastic way to infuse melodies into their playtime and start reaping all the benefits.
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The 20 Best Music Games for Kids
Music plays a pivotal role in a child’s developmental journey. From the very beginning, infants share a remarkable connection with music, evident through their fondness for lullabies and nursery rhymes and their instinct to sway to their rhythms. They swiftly commit melodies and lyrics to memory. With the assistance of music, most youngsters can master fundamental skills, such as counting, reciting the alphabet, and even enunciating difficult words.
Listening to music has the capacity to reshape the functioning of the brain. The effects extend to considerable enhancements in concentration, memory retention, critical thinking abilities, spatial intelligence, and various other cognitive aptitudes. Music contributes positively to children’s literacy and communication skills, as well. Now that you’re convinced of the whys, let’s get to the 20 best music games for your kiddos!
1. Little Maestros
This interactive music education game is a perfect fit for kids and offers a wonderful way to introduce younger ones to the concept of reading or writing sheet music. The only materials needed are a piece of paper and pencils or pens. To begin, assign symbols to represent sounds the children can produce using their bodies. For instance, you might choose a star for clapping, a circle for whistling, a boot for stomping, etc. These symbols should be simple to draw, like lines, circles, waves, and triangles.
Assign a minimum of four symbols to four different sounds. Next, demonstrate how to tap out a basic rhythm, like “We Will Rock You”—stomp, stomp, clap, with symbols square, square, circle. Once the kids grasp the idea, write a few more examples, and have them read these musical rhythms. Encourage them to create their own music with distinct rhythms, and let the kids perform them.
2. Pass the Parcel
Start by enveloping candies or toys in multiple layers of wrapping paper. Arrange the children in a circle, and turn on some kid-friendly tunes. As you play music, the children will join in with singing while they continuously exchange the parcel clockwise. When the music stops, the child holding the parcel earns the privilege of unwrapping a layer. The child who unveils the final layer has the delight of savoring the treat or holding on to the toy. You’ll probably want to save this one for five-year-olds and above, unless you want to be playing this game all day long.
3. Animal Dance Party
Kick things off by selecting some funky tunes that ignite the dancing spirit in your preschoolers. Let the kids cut loose with their best dance moves. Once they’re engaged, shout out the name of an animal, and keep an eye on the laughter and creativity that ensue as the kids interpret the unique dance moves that animal might perform. Encourage the kids to go beyond just dancing and embrace the full experience by making the sounds of the chosen animal. It’s an enchanting blend of movement and imagination and a great way to enhance motor skills. You’ll create a dance party that’s truly one-of-a-kind!
4. Freeze Dance
Begin by selecting lively music to fill the room with energy. While everyone is dancing their hearts out, pause the music suddenly. When the music stops, everyone needs to strike a pose and hold it until the music starts up again. The real delight comes from the goofy and unexpected musical statues that the kids get stuck in. They get frozen mid-twirl, hands in the air, or caught in a spontaneous floor roll, and the laughter and giggles that follow are priceless.
5. Turn Into…
This is a game reminiscent of “Freeze Dance” but with an imaginative twist! As the music plays, dancers let their moves flow freely, just like in the previous game. When the music comes to a pause, it’s time to “freeze” in place. Here’s where the magic happens. Before hitting the pause button, give the dancers a quirky instruction on how to freeze. For instance, you might say, “Turn into a fish.” In response, kids could strike fishy faces or freeze in a floor flop.
Keep the fun going as you introduce new instructions with each pause—”Turn into a robot,” “Turn into a tree,” and so on. With older kids, turn it into a competition. After each round, the one who had the most difficulty matching your creative commands is out of the game. The competition adds an extra layer of excitement and laughter to the mix.
6. Musical Charades
This game follows the same idea as classic charades, where players act out words without speaking. In this version, the answers will all be titles of songs. You have two options when it comes to song choices. You can either ask for suggestions from the group, or you can prepare your own list of song titles beforehand. While asking for suggestions can be fun, having your own selections ready might work better, as some song titles are easier to act out than others. For instance, acting out “Baby Shark” is pretty straightforward.
7. Telephone Tune
Begin by splitting the kids into two teams and arranging them in lines. You, as the leader, will hum a tune to the very first person in line. Their mission is to pass along this musical “message” to the next person in line using only their humming. As the melody travels from one kid to the next, it may evolve in surprising and hilarious ways. When the last child in each line receives the hummed tune, they must identify the song. The first team to successfully pass on and accurately name the tune emerges as the triumphant winner. This game is great for working on listening skills.
8. Lip Sync Battle
Divide the kids into either solo performers or pairs, and let them unleash their inner rock stars. Each participant or duo gets to choose a favorite song to lip-sync to. They don’t just sing along, though—they also create a full routine that complements the song. You might even clear a space in the room for the performance arena and let them use costumes from the dress-up area.
The stage is set for creativity to shine! As the performances unfold, keep an eye out for exceptional talents. Awards can be handed out to those who know the lyrics the best, display the most imaginative interpretive movements, or deliver the most impressive dance sequence. This activity is also a great party game if you need some fodder for sleepover fun.
9. Share the Groove
To start, prepare some music that gets the moves going. Gather the kids in a circle, and let the rhythm take over. Then, move the kids into a congo line. Begin by selecting someone to lead the dance parade. This could be based on factors like a birthday celebration, the oldest member of the group, or even the youngest sibling. Any random reason is fine, too! The chosen leader will demonstrate a cool dance move to kick things off. The next person in line must replicate the initial dance move and then add their very own twist. As the circle continues, each participant builds upon the moves that came before. With each round, the dance routine evolves, becoming more elaborate and engaging.
If someone stumbles or messes up a move, they’re out of the game. The challenge continues until only one dancer remains: the person who can flawlessly execute every dance move. “Share the Groove” is all about passing on the joy of dancing, celebrating creativity, and testing your memory. It’s a dance-off that promises laughter, excitement, and a whole lot of fun!
10. Musical Clothes
This one is a twist on the classic game of musical chairs—it’s packed with extra fun! Begin by gathering a tote bag filled with all sorts of funky attire: Think silly hats, wild-patterned shirts, scarves, and more. Gather the kids in a circle, and turn up some tunes. As the music starts to play, the bag of clothes begins its journey around the circle. When the music stops, the child holding the bag gets to delve in and pull out a random item of clothing to wear. With each passing round, the anticipation and laughter grow as new, amusing outfits come to life. The game continues until the tote bag is emptied of its eccentric contents. Finally, the winner is declared, the one who dons the silliest, most creative ensemble of all!
How low can you go? Limbo is a party game that brings laughter and lighthearted competition to any gathering. Its origins are rooted in Caribbean dance traditions, and the game challenges participants to showcase their flexibility and agility. As music is played, a horizontal bar, often held by two individuals, is gradually lowered as players take turns attempting to pass under it by bending backward without touching the ground. The bar will inch lower with each successful round, and players will contort and maneuver their way under, showing off their flexibility. It’s a game that combines physical skill with a playful spirit, promising both entertainment and memorable moments for everyone involved. Plus, you can take some time to learn about the origins of Afro-Caribbean music and culture!
12. Name That Tune
“Name That Tune” offers double the fun with two exciting ways to play. If you’re on the road, one option involves setting your car radio to scan through stations as you challenge participants to identify each song as quickly as possible. For a kid-friendly twist, you might consider crafting a mix CD filled with a playlist of their favorite tunes. That will ensure a lively and engaging spirit during the game.
Alternatively, switch gears, and engage in a musical guessing game at home. Take turns playing a few notes on the piano or guitar. They may not get it at first, but just play a few more notes until someone guesses correctly or they give up. If they get it, they get a point. If they give up, you get a point. “Name That Tune” brings a blend of musical knowledge and anticipation, guaranteeing an enjoyable experience for all.
13. Musical Chairs
You know this one, right? Just in case you forgot how to play, start by arranging chairs in a circle. You need one chair fewer than the number of party-goers. The excitement kicks off as everyone walks or dances around the chairs to the rhythm of some lively music. When the music pauses suddenly, the kids quickly find a chair to sit in. Whoever’s left standing without a chair is out of the game. They get to take a chair with them as they leave, and the game starts anew. If you don’t have enough chairs, you can also use floor dots, carpet squares, or cushions.
14. Spin the Microphone
Gather everyone in a circle for a musical twist on the classic game of “Spin The Bottle!” Spin a toy microphone at the center, just as you would with the bottle. Whomever the microphone points to has a musical task ahead. They’re invited to share their singing talents by performing a song of their choice. If you’d like to make things more comfortable for those who might be shy, there’s another option. Instead of singing, the chosen person can simply reveal their favorite band, song, or instrument. It’s a fun way to bring talent and music knowledge together, offering a chance for everyone to shine in their own way.
15. Karaoke Competition
If you have a young rising diva or a rock star among your kids, consider embracing the fun of a karaoke machine. Whether you opt for soundtracks and kid-friendly tunes or dive into a festive Christmas-themed competition, your kids can brush up on their reading skills, actually learn the real lyrics to their favorite tunes, and show off their stage presence. It’s a game full of laughter and unforgettable moments for both the kids and the onlookers. With most kids, karaoke sounds like a dying animal, but you never know when you might discover the next Beyonce.
16. Feel the Music
This engaging activity connects physical movement to the soul of the music, helping children to identify emotions and the natural body language that emerges from them. In this variation, the focus shifts to embodying the music through movement and expression. Begin by setting the mood with a slow and mellow melody. Let the kids connect with the music’s rhythm and emotions, encouraging them to move their bodies in response. Then, introduce a sudden shift to a lively and chaotic tune. Watch as the kids’ dances adapt to the new rhythm, revealing the transformative power of music. Make sure you have a well-curated list of songs for this one that evokes a wide range of emotions and possibly dance moves.
17. Hot Potato
Hot Potato is a timeless game that continues to captivate kids! It’s easy to play and takes almost no setup on your part. Gather the children into a circle on the floor. Let the kids know that as long as the music plays, they must keep passing the potato (literally any object). When the music unexpectedly stops, the person holding the metaphorical “hot potato” is out of the game. The anticipation grows as the rounds unfold, and the challenge is to avoid being caught with the item when the music ceases. The game persists until a champion emerges victorious.
18. Draw What You Hear
Draw What You Hear is a music activity that encourages kids to connect with the emotions music evokes while connecting that emotion to fine motor skills. It’s a simple game with a quieter flow than the ones mentioned before. Turn on some music, and have them close their eyes and listen for a little bit. Once they’re ready, allow them to open their eyes and draw a picture that represents how they feel as the music continues to play.
19. Group Tune Creation
Equip each child with a different instrument or noisemaker, and let the magic unfold. Just kidding! We’re going to set some boundaries here. Start by initiating a simple rhythm through clapping, setting the foundation for your melodic journey. To the right of you, the first child introduces their instrument or sound, enhancing the evolving “song.” As the two of you meld your contributions into a harmonious rhythm, welcome a third participant to join the musical tapestry. Continue to weave the tune as each new member adds their instrumental or vocal flair, creating layers of sound that interlace seamlessly. The rhythm blossoms and flourishes with each addition, culminating in a joyful symphony that engages all participants.
20. DIY Musical Instruments
DIY Musical Instruments combines arts and crafts with music class for a beautiful union. Have the children create their own musical instruments, unleashing a whole new level of creativity and sound! Transform simple items into musical marvels: Think rubber bands stretched across a shoebox for a homemade guitar or turning empty water bottles into maracas. The fusion of creativity and sound comes to life as you design, decorate, and assemble your personalized instruments. It’s a hands-on adventure that combines artistic expression with the joy of making music, allowing kids to explore, create, and make something they’re proud to show off.
We hope you enjoyed this list of the best music games for kids! From funky twists on old favorites to new and imaginative adventures, musical games add an important aspect to a well-rounded education. Incorporating a few of these games into your curriculum can help create an environment where curiosity flourishes, confidence grows, and a lifelong love for music is kindled. Get out the arts and crafts bucket, turn up the beats, gather the costumes, and encourage your little stars to shine bright!
If your playtime needs an infusion of fun and imagination, check out our list of “12 Activities That Promote Creativity in Kids.”
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Frequently Asked Questions
For a great creative musical activity, make DIY musical instruments! Have kids make their own instruments with household items, and then put on a concert together using their creations.