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Music Activities for Toddlers: Connect, Create, and Celebrate!

Toddlers love music, and music is a wonderful way for parents to connect with their children. Music is a fun way for parents and toddlers to get creative together, and to celebrate life! This post features favorite music activities for toddlers. Musical activities also help children develop in many ways – check out the list at the end of the article.

Music Activities for Toddlers: Connect, Create, and Celebrate!

Music Activities for Toddlers: Favorite Music to Listen to With Toddlers

Toddlers are usually pretty open-minded about music! Here are some fun ways to listen to all sorts of different music with your kids.

Listen to children’s music with your kids.

Some of our favorites to sing and dance along to are The Best of Kindermusik, Signing Time! Songs, and the Wee Sing series (our favorite is the “Best of Wee Sing” collection). These CDs have been a lifesaving distraction for my car-hating children.

Listen to classical music with your kids.

My kids enjoy dancing to some classical music, and sometimes Emma will make up a story to describe what an instrumental piece is about. You can also have your child draw a picture to go with a piece of music. We like to get goofy with classical music by pretending to be different animals dancing to the songs.

Listen to mainstream music with your kids.

Mike is good at finding songs by mainstream artists that put our kids to sleep, and he likes to dance with them to more upbeat songs. As an infant, Emma had a “magic” song written and recorded by a college friend of ours. She was a pretty fussy baby, but this song nearly always calmed her down up until she was six or seven months old. She also liked Jewel, James Blunt, Eric Clapton, and Sting. Johnny has a strong preference for Bruce Springsteen, particularly “The River”. Emma did not like classical music at all as an infant; Johnny does. Ironically, I listened to a lot of classical music while I was pregnant with Emma and hardly any with Johnny. Actually, Emma threw out the entire “your child will like the music they hear in the womb” theory, because she didn’t like many of the mainstream artists I listened to while pregnant with her either.

Musical Instruments for Toddlers

Toddlers are fascinated by musical instruments! Here are some fun ways to explore instruments with them.

Make your own musical instruments.

Valerie of Inner Child Fun has a great post on using recyclables to make musical instruments.

Explore real instruments.

Johnny started “playing” our piano when he was a few months old. I also let my kids play around with my guitar (under close supervision), and I have two small violins that I let them try out every once in a while (again under close supervision). We also have a set of children’s percussion instruments that they can play with any time.

Be aware of your own noise tolerance limits when you chose instruments – if you buy your child a whistle, be prepared to hear it all day long. We do have whistles, but they conveniently “disappear” most of the time because I’m just not that into high-pitched noises – especially in our tile-floor home.

Play musical games.

You can use any music you like to play these musical games with your children:

  • Classic musical chairs
  • Freeze when the music stops playing
  • Beat out the rhythm of a song using your hands, feet or a percussion instrument
  • Move fast/slow according to the pace of the music
  • Play or sing a few notes or even just the rhythm of a song and have your child guess what it is.

If you don’t have a large music collection of your own, pandora.com is a great, legal, free resource. You can create your own stations, and it learns and tries to cater to your musical preferences based on your ratings of songs. We usually listen to the wealth of songs that are available to stream ad free for Amazon Prime members.

Benefits of Music for Toddlers

I don’t know that playing Mozart will raise your child’s IQ, but here are a few benefits music can have for toddlers:

  • Opportunities for self-expression and non-verbal interaction
  • Development of a sense of rhythm
  • Source of creative inspiration
  • Calming effect (obviously only true for certain pieces of music)
  • Motivator: I sometimes play a fun, active song to help my kids garner the energy to clean up
  • Learning/memory tool: Emma knows the sounds of the letters of the alphabet largely due to the theme song from the Leap Frog – Letter Factory DVD. And I can still recite the states in alphabetical order because of a song I learned when I was 11 or 12 years old. There are songs out there to help learn or memorize just about anything, just try a web search or make up your own song.

What role does music play in your home? Do you have any favorite music activities for toddlers? Let me know via email (mamasmilesblog at gmail dot com) or on my Facebook page!

MaryAnne lives in Silicon Valley with her Stanford professor husband Mike and their four children. She writes about parenting through education, creativity, and play. Mama Smiles - Joyful Parenting is a space to share crafts, hands on learning activities, and family outings that enrich lives and bring families together.

6 thoughts on “Music Activities for Toddlers: Connect, Create, and Celebrate!”

  1. We love music: dance parties, playing instruments, singing, etc. Annabelle (age 2) loves some pop music, but I am so excited that we recently discovered Laurie Berkner. I even prefer listening to Laurie in the car. I can’t wait to try some of your dance games; sounds like a good way to spend the afternoon.

  2. So many good ideas, I’m going to be returning to this post I’m sure. Sunnyboy is getting really into singing recently because he’s got the language skills to join in with most of the words now. Oh and he’s into whistles too so I can relate to them disappearing! In our case sunnyboy has fortunately managed to lose or break them so far :)

  3. We LOVE music in our house. It’s a whole post in itself.
    One of my son’s favorite things to dance to – Walk Like an Egyptian. :)
    Favorite instrument – drums
    Favorite CDs – the Mother Goose Rocks series (any of them)

  4. Thanks for linking this to the Carnival of Music and Song Play – its great to have a reminder of all the benefits of this kind of play. Our favourite way to have music play in our house is kitchen disco dancing on a gloomy day – it always cheers us all up.

  5. First of all I want to say awesome blog! I had a quick question that I’d like to ask if you don’t mind. I was interested to find out how you center yourself and clear your head prior to writing. I’ve had a tough time clearing my thoughts in getting my ideas out. I truly do take pleasure in writing but it just seems like the first 10 to 15 minutes are lost simply just trying to figure out how to begin. Any recommendations or tips? Thanks!

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