Whether they have an emotional, behavioral or physical disability, children in special education can benefit from participating in musical activities. According to United Cerebral Palsy, music can motivate and stimulate special-needs children and improve their cognitive and academic development. Furthermore, music activities can also promote social interaction, inclusion and self-confidence. Musical activities can easily be incorporated into the home or classroom and will benefit children of all abilities and ages.


According to United Cerebral Palsy, chanting a rhyme or song will not only create an interest in learning but can be used to improve memory and help with long-term retention of information. Start with a simple chant, such as "30 days hath September, April, June and November." Once children are familiar with the words and are comfortable chanting, you can incorporate musical instruments, such as a tambourine or maracas, to create a class performance.

Personalized Songs

One way of promoting inclusion is to create personalized songs for special-education children. Lyrics can be based on information unique to that child, such as his name, personality traits and things he enjoys doing. If he's able, allow the child to contribute to the lyrics and sing with you. Strumming a guitar or playing the tambourine while singing will promote children's enjoyment and motor skills.


Mixing a song or piece of music with an image will create a strong sensory experience for children in special education. This activity involves singing the song "Old MacDonald" and displaying images of the farm animals that are mentioned. While they're singing along, encourage children to point out the animal they hear and to make the sound of each animal. This is a particularly good activity for children with limited language skills, because it will help them to feel included.

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Incorporating movement into a musical activity will improve motor skills and relax muscle tension for special-education children. An ideal song for this activity is "Head, Shoulders, Knees and Toes." Encourage children to copy the movements as you sing. For children with limited movement, have them point to laminated body part images as you sing. When finished, practice pointing to and chanting the various body parts to aid memory.