Your children thrive when they have opportunities to explore the arts, and music is particularly helpful for those who may need extra support to express themselves, connect with their peers, and develop classroom skills. By providing them with engaging activities, from making and playing instruments to sing-alongs, you’ll create an inclusive learning environment for all of your musicians! The benefits of music are lasting, so start exploring our list of 25 magical musical activities curated especially for your students with disabilities!
1. Instrument Petting Zoo
Start your year off on the right note by setting up an instrument ‘petting zoo’ for Back-to-School Night! This station activity is perfect for letting your students and their families explore different instruments and for providing an excellent opportunity to get everyone excited about your music class!
Learn More: Make Moments Matter
Let your kiddos get their energy out and express their feelings by banging on drums! Drumming is an incredible music therapy activity that helps them develop motor skills, impulse control, and self-esteem. Plus, they’ll have a blast while keeping the beat!
Learn More: AKA Therapy
3. Morning Meeting Songs
Sing to a different tune by incorporating music during your circle time! You can play familiar songs or use ones that connect to academic concepts to make learning more engaging. To provide even more accessibility, use tools like interactive songboards to give your learners extra support.
Learn More: Supporting Special Learners
4. Music Memory Book
This keepsake activity is sure to delight both your little musicians and their families! Celebrate a whole year of musical achievements with this memory book that can be used to reflect on favorite songs, instruments, and more. This is also the perfect artifact to share with your families at conferences!
Learn More: TPT
5. Scarf Play
Spark joy in your students with scarf play! They’ll absolutely love the hands-on experience of making patterns with soft and colorful scarves. This is a sensory and movement activity that can be easily woven into your music class with the addition of classical or contemporary sing-alongs!
Learn More: The Bulletin Board Lady
6. Routine Songs
Music creates a positive experience for your learners and creating songs together is an especially effective tool for those who benefit from extra support! You can sing these ready-to-go songs or create your own step-by-step musical directions to bust out during transitions, clean-up times, or even math class!
Learn More: Songs For Teaching
7. Rhythm Activities
Lessons that involve clapping, stomping, and marching are great activities to teach patterning, repetition, and more. You can incorporate items like rhythm sticks or percussion instruments for even more musical fun! Just be sure to have noise-canceling headphones available for your little ones who are easily overstimulated.
Learn More: Rachel Rambach Listen And Learn Music
8. Listen And Draw
Combine music with visual arts to teach your children about their emotions! Use books like Niko Draws a Feeling to help them make the connection between music and their feelings, and then put on some tunes and have them draw what they feel.
Learn More: Organized Chaos
9. Creating Soundscapes
Your kiddos will love this fun and collaborative activity! Start by showing them the pictures of this wordless book and then have them create a soundscape by adding sound effects to capture a character’s emotions or the picture’s color scheme. They can use their voices or jazz it up with instruments!
Learn More: Organized Chaos
10. Vocal Exploration
Vocal exploration is great for creating an inclusive space and is particularly helpful for your students who are nonverbal. They’ll love trying to match components like pitch and tempo to simple pictures. Use pre-made cards or create your own to implement at the start of each music class!
Learn More: Music In Motion
11. Music Apps
Your learners on the autism spectrum will certainly be engaged when using digital technology as a learning tool! Apps like Singing Fingers and GarageBand will help even reluctant musicians express themselves through song. The bonus of Singing Fingers is that it also incorporates visual arts into your music lessons!
Learn More: Special Education Technology Center
12. Song Choice Book
Choice boards are a great communication tool for your kids who are nonverbal or who may struggle with expressing their needs. Just add pictures of a few songs that they’ve learned and have them move the Velcro-backed pieces to show you their decisions about what they want to sing!
Learn More: You AUT-a Know
13. Pop Tubes
Your little ones already benefit from using fidgets, but did you know that these tools can also be used as musical instruments? Pop tubes can provide a new sensory element to practicing rhythms and can add some fun to playing a favorite song when used in a creative movement activity!
Learn More: Mrs. King’s Music Class
14. Music Shakers
Add crafting to your music lessons by making shakers together! Your kiddos will love creating instruments using recycled materials and dried foods to create maracas or rain sticks. Get things shakin’ by having them play their creations to songs like “Twinkle, Twinkle Traffic Light” to promote speech and vocabulary development!
Learn More: In The Playroom
Animusic is an engaging series of videos that will help your musicians understand abstract musical concepts like harmony, pitch, and tempo. This calming approach offers visual and auditory support that is also helpful for use during transitions from one lesson to the next!
Learn More: YouTube
16. Parachute Play
Parachute play of any kind builds community and social skills in your special education music class. Your children will love making waves with the parachute to mimic a particular rhythm or beat. They won’t even realize they are also strengthening upper body muscles and developing gross motor skills!
Learn More: Sing Play Create
17. Play-Doh Instruments
Make learning about instruments a sensory experience by adding Play-Doh mats to your music centers! Your students will love rolling and shaping the dough to form instruments and will learn and reinforce new vocabulary while doing it!
Learn More: Preschool Play And Learn
18. Drawing To Music
Drawing while listening to music is an accessible, safe, and creative way for everyone to express their feelings. Your learners will love it when you play music from different genres while encouraging them to draw what they hear and feel. Share and compare their work at the end!
Learn More: Artful Parent
19. Free Dance
Get your musicians up and moving with a free dance! Play these kid-friendly hits or create your own playlist as a class to practice spatial awareness, explore different genres, and express emotions through movement. Use this as a quick brain break or to help make transitions a little more upbeat!
Learn More: Spotify
20. Musical Jenga
This fun music therapy game will help your little ones develop their emotional processing skills. Add prompts to Jenga blocks that ask them to sing about a time when they were happy or sad and you’ll be amazed at their unique creations that will help you understand them better!
Learn More: Creative Therapy Umbrella
21. Calming Songs
Your kiddos all need downtime, but this is especially true for those on the autism spectrum. A good-fit therapeutic tune can help them regulate in times of sensory overload, so have them start exploring this list of songs with calming beats and rhythms to identify their match!
Learn More: Autism Connect
22. Painting On Music
Your students will love this integrative activity that has them listening to a song while painting their feelings on the song’s sheet music. Seeing the actual notes while painting adds an extra level of support to help their brains process what they’re listening to – it’s a win-win!
Learn More: Creative Family Fun
23. Sing-Along Discussion
Sing-alongs are an enjoyable activity and can be even more effective when adding a discussion to help your learners develop communication and social skills. Use structured questions to help them think about feelings or memories associated with a song. They’ll have fun with music and learn about their peers!
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Boomwhackers are an incredible, color-coded tool for teaching your children music skills like rhythm, tempo, pitch, reading chords, and more! They’re also a great gross motor exercise, since, true to the name, they’ll get the chance to whack them on tables to play notes!
Learn More: Pinterest
25. Echo Songs
Echo songs, or call-and-response songs, are great for introducing vocal music to your special education class. The simple verses are easy to remember, fun to sing, and will help your students develop focus and working memory. Not only that, but this approach is great for building a cohesive classroom community!
Learn More: Yellow Brick Road Music