Music Activities for Preschoolers With Instruments

There are several music activities for preschoolers that incorporate musical instruments. Whether you have a complete Orff ensemble set with xylophones, recorders, marimbas and small toy percussion instruments, or you have a small program consisting only of hand drums and recorders, you can easily integrate music into the classroom. Since preschool students generally do not read music, it is best to start them on the path towards understanding music notation, while still allowing them the freedom to experiment.


Create a music ensemble with the instruments you have. Divide your instruments into instrument families such as percussion, strings, brass and woodwind instruments. Teach the children about each type of instrument and make sure to rotate instruments among children so that everybody gets a chance to play each instrument group. To incorporate musical instruments into a lesson plan, start with percussion. Let the students improvise a beat and then have other students play on top of that beat. It won't sound pretty, but it will encourage the children to try and work together as an ensemble. As the year progresses, gradually teach the children how to read music and play sheet music.

Call and Response

Give each student in the classroom her own instrument in this activity. The first student will play a simple rhythm or a few notes. The next student should then respond to that musical idea. Make sure the students are sitting in a circle and allow each child to improvise her own musical idea. Tell the children the ideas should be short and they must aim to try and make it relevant to the previous idea. This could mean using the same rhythm or mimicking the same pitch relationships. For instance, if one student plays a high note, followed by a low note, the next student could do the same or reverse the pattern.


Give each child his own instrument and five to nine minutes to play with the instrument and make up his own music and a story to go with it. When the time is up, let each child explain the composition to the class and play his creation. Make sure you encourage the children to clap at the end of each composition. This will help to create a feeling of self-worth and belonging for each student.

Timbre Identification

Tell the student to close her eyes. Pick an instrument from the classroom and play it for the child. Ask her to identify the instrument by raising her hand and telling you what she thought she heard. If she gets the answer right, congratulate her and let her come up and pick the next instrument to play for the class. If she gets the answer wrong, you can still let her pick the next instrument, but only if she can tell you something descriptive about the instrument, such as it sounds clacky or plays high sounds.


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