Musical Activities for Toddlers and Preschoolers

Toddlers and preschoolers respond well to activities that allow them to experience the music and touch items to make a sound. At this level, it is less important that they learn theoretical concepts, and more important that they develop a healthy sense of experimentation for music. Activities that allow the child to touch materials that create sound will help them learn about music.


Rhythm activities help a child to learn about rhythm. Let him experiment with a hand drum and discover on his own how hitting the drum in different places creates different sounds. Once the experimentation is over, play a simple rhythm with just two notes. Let the child repeat the rhythm back to you and then add on an additional note to the rhythm. The rhythms don't have to be exact, but you should continually try and increase the complexity of the rhythm until the child can't play it back.


Listening exercises are useful for a child to develop his sense of pitch. Start by playing a note on the piano and ask if the note sounds high or low. Then play another pitch and ask if the note was higher or lower than the first pitch. Continue to bring the pitches closer together and have the child identify where each pitch falls in relation to the previous pitch. You can also ask the children to sing a note that is lower or higher than the pitch you played. Make sure to play the pitch within the child's range of singing.


Singing along with a child is a great way to develop a sense of pitch and improve his memory. Choose songs that the child may already be familiar with. "Are You Sleeping" is a good song that most children either know or can learn quickly. Pick songs that are repetitive in nature and allow the child the opportunity to sing without having to worry too much about complex notes. To do this, choose songs that move by step, and avoid large leaps or skips.


Movement is an essential part of teaching children music. Play a familiar song with a steady beat, such as "Mary Had a Little Lamb." Walk around the room with your left foot hitting the floor on the first beat and the right foot hitting the floor on the second beat. Ask the child to mimic your movements so you can help her to learn about the beat in music. With practice, she will be able to sense the beat on her own.


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