There are so many wonderful skills and passions associated with learning music. From the composition process and creativity involved to meaningful movement and confidence building; music is one of those gifts that keeps on giving! Elementary students are at the perfect age to start feeling the effects of music on themselves and the world at large. As teachers, we can encourage a connection with music in our students through fun activities focusing on spatial intelligence, basic rhythms, expressive dance moves, and so much more! Check out our 20 elementary music lessons and activity ideas, and pick a few to try with your students.
1. Rock Band Rockstars!
There are so many fun and hands-on musical games you can bring to the classroom for your elementary students to play and get inspired. A great game that has been around for years is Rock Band. You may even own this game already, or know someone who does. Bring the game and instruments to class and let your students' inner rock stars shine!
Learn More: Medium
2. Unordinary Instruments
Look around you, what can you see that can be used as a musical instrument? I bet there are at least 5 things in your classroom that can make noise. Ask your students the same question and see what they pick up and how they choose to use it. Innovation and creativity are stapled skills when learning music.
Learn More: Very Well Family
3. Tissue Dance Game
A big part of music appreciation is interacting with it in various ways, including dancing! Here is a super fun music game that you can play with one tissue box and some kid-friendly music. Give each student a tissue to put on their head and when the music starts they will dance trying not to let their tissue fall.
Learn More: Mom Junction
4. Emotional Expression: Mood Dancing
Help your students have a healthy outlet to release complicated or messy emotions through music and dance. You can get involved by being an example or prompting kids to express different emotions such as anger, fear, surprise, and more!
Learn More: MUVEmethod
5. Invent Your Own Music Symbol System
When beginning to explain music theory and composition to children, it helps to start with creativity and collaboration. Assign different sounds to a symbol (triangle, circle, square) and write a pattern on the board. When you point to a symbol or line of symbols students can associate the shape with the sound.
Learn More: MUVEmethod
6. Rock and "Roll"
This musical composition game helps students practice simple rhythm and learn how to notate. Each group of students gets dice and as they take turns rolling can create their own rhythm patterns to share with the class.
Learn More: NAFME
7. Draw What You Hear
A wonderfully fun game to play with your students is drawn along with the music. Get a list of your student's favorite songs and play them while they draw their emotions. You can hang up their musical masterpieces in the classroom when they finish!
Learn More: Denver Philharmonic Orchestra
8. Rhythm Sticks
Noise and chaos are part of the musical experience, so giving your students sticks to play and practice their sense of rhythm doesn't have to mean a headache. Pick some familiar tunes and demonstrate how to use sticks to go along with the beat of a song.
Learn More: Famly
9. What's That Instrument?
There are so many instruments, and each has its own part to play in music. Help your kiddos learn what sounds various instruments make by playing short recordings of each instrument, then giving them time to guess before showing a picture of the instrument.
Learn More: Mom Junction
10. DIY Plastic Egg Maracas
Kids love creative projects they can use in class and take home to show their friends and family. These maracas as so simple to make, using plastic eggs from Easter, fill them with beads or small pebbles, wrap them in colorful tape using a spoon or chopsticks for the handle and shake away!
Learn More: Happiness is Homemade
11. Beatboxing Musical Skills
Counting bars, identifying musical notes, and other elements of music can be taught through this cool method of beatboxing! Have your students follow the letters corresponding to the different sounds your mouth makes and create a super cool beat your kids will get up and groove to!
Learn More: Mr_Minchin
12. Musical Chairs
This favorite music activity/party game not only gets kids up and moving to music, but it can also promote valuable social skills. By playing this competitive and exciting game, students learn to process their emotions such as tension, fear, surprise, and disappointment, as well as improve cognitive capabilities like conflict resolution.
Learn More: Gamesver
13. Karaoke Music Teams
This link has inspiration for preparing a playlist with age-appropriate tunes your elementary music students will know and love! Karaoke may seem like a solo performance project, but turning it into a team game can transform your classroom environment into an expressive space for sharing and confidence building.
Learn More: Lucky Voice Karaoke
14. DIY Guitar Craft
Snacks, crafts, and music, what a combo! We know music resources can be expensive and hard to come by in elementary music classes, not to mention instruments can be easily broken by young learners. So this fun and creative craft will give every student their own guitar with a few cheap materials, some tape, and a love for music!
Learn More: Projects for Preschoolers
15. Musical Water Glasses
Now here is an active experience incorporating visual, aural, and motor skills you can keep in your music classes as long as you like. Some clear jars can be filled with different amounts of water, creating sounds with higher and lower tones. Food coloring can be added to give contrast to your DIY xylophone, bright colors with distinct sounds.
Learn More: Green Kid Crafts
16. Reading Music Notes and Rhythms
This link provides a step-by-step guide on how to break down the seemingly intimidating process of reading music in a way elementary and middle school students can understand and be encouraged. Some basic skills to start with are beat rhythms to learn a sense of timing, distinguishing pitch, and following along with lyrics.
Learn More: Music Notes
17. Sound Scavenger Hunt
Music can be found everywhere, including outside, in public, in nature, or at home. There are many additional resources and ideas you can use to extend this activity, such as having students create their own songs by collecting and combining sounds they record in their daily lives. Here is a sheet of paper to inspire students to write their own amazing songs!
Learn More: Mom on the Side
18. Music From Around the World
Every country and culture has its own kinds of music, and exposing young learners to various styles and methods of music-making will show them that they don't have to follow the rules, but can use music as a creative outlet of expression. This excellent resource has information and engaging songs based on tradition and folklore.
Learn More: Twinkl
19. Music in Movies
There are lots of ways to use cinema and other forms of media to teach elements of music. Movies can be an excellent resource for advanced rhythms, contemporary music, and learning the impact music has on our emotions and actions. Choose movies you can pause to play simple games, or leave additional time to discuss after they finish.
Learn More: Sally's Sea of Songs
20. DIY Harmonica Crafts
We are mixing crafts and music again for this final elementary music classroom idea. These popsicle stick harmonicas are so easy to put together, with most of the materials in your craft box already. Your students will love choosing colors and playing silly music games to practice rhythm, pitch, and more!
Learn More: My Baba