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Music and Movement Activities for Toddlers

"Anyone who has ever watched a baby's reaction to music knows that babies seem to be born with a sense of music and rhythm...Movement activities are important because they help your child develop his gross motor skills.  Moving to music is equally important, because it helps your child experience movement as it relates to music and rhythm.  Listening to, moving to, and making music should be part of every day for your and your child."

Ideas for Easy Instruments

Strumming Fun
What you need:  Corrugated cardboard, spoon
Show your child how to strum a spoon across the ridges on a piece of currugated cardboard for a neat sound.

Paper Bag Shaker
What you need:  Paper bag, rice or dried beans, ribbon or rubber band
Make a simple shaker by putting a small amount of rice or dried beans into a paper bag (you may want to decorate th bag first).   Tie the bag securely with a piece of ribbon or a rubber band.  (A variation on this is to fold a paper plate in half, and once you've placed a small amount of rice/dried beans in the middle, staple the edges of the plate together.  You can obviously also use empty plastic bottles as shakers too!

Coffee Can Drum
What you need:  Empty coffee can with plastic lid (a formula tin also works well), paper for child's artwork, glue, pencil, empty thread spool
You can create a drum by securing the plastic lid onto the coffee can/formula tin, then covering the can by gluing the picture your child has drawn around the can.  Create a drumstick by gluing the lend end of a pencil into the hole of an empty thread spool (you can also use a spoon as a drumstick if you don't have any empty thread spools lying around).

Music and Movement Ideas

Dance and Fall Down
Put on some music and dance around the room with your child.  When the music stops, everyone falls down.  When the music begins again, everyone gets up and dances some more.

Dancing with Scarves
Choose a light, breezy scarf for your child to dance with.  Encourage your child to wave his scarf in the air in time to the music.  You can also use a dance ribbon in this way (attach 1m lengths of brightly coloured ribbon to an empty key chain or plastic shower curtain ring.).

Follow the Leader
Encourage your child to follow your lead as you exercise together.  Try touching toes, running in place, swinging your arms, and stretching to the ceiling.  Exercise to music, pass a ball back and forth, or twirl a long ribbon in the air.  For a change, let your child be the leader and you follow his example.

Let's Pretend
Give your child a series of instructions such as "Let's pretend you are a rabbit.  Can you hop like a rabbit?" or "Let's pretend you are an elephant.  Can you walk about like a big, heavy elephant?"  Try other animals and include things such as plants growing in the ground, a flower opening on a summer day, or a balloon being filled with air.

Courtesy of "The Toddler's Busy Book" by Trish Kuffner