Music and Movement Games for Preschoolers

Movement activities help young children build motor skills and coordination.

Anyone who's spent time in a room full of preschoolers knows they have energy to spare. Combining music with movement activities helps preschoolers work on multiple lessons at once. They'll learn about musical expression and rhythms while getting exercise and working off excess energy. Since preschoolers might struggle to control their body movements, avoid classroom messes by taking movement exercises outside if possible.

1 Feelings Movement

Young children can learn to express their feelings through dance.

Preschoolers might struggle to recognize and label their own feelings, so use music to help them identify and express themselves. Play a variety of music and challenge the children to act out the feelings they have when listening to the music. For instance, play slow, mournful music and act out how you might move around slowly and make sad faces. Change the music to an upbeat song. Children should start to make happy faces and jump around freely. Change the music more and more frequently so children quickly change their dance styles.

2 Jump to the Beat

Help children learn to follow a beat by asking them to move along with it. Put on music with a strong beat, such as drumming music or rock and roll. Arrange the children in a circle or ask them to line up. There should be at least 2 feet of space between the children so they have room to move. Ask them to jump up and down along with the beat of the music. If they have room, let children jump around the room in line to the rhythm. You'll need to demonstrate or clap along with the beat at first so children can learn to hear it.

3 Freeze Dance

Combine all the enjoyment of dancing with a listening challenge by playing dancing freeze games. Turn on children's songs and let the preschoolers dance around for a few minutes to warm up. Explain that whenever you turn the music off, everyone must freeze in whatever spot and position he's in until the music starts up again. Play the music again, pausing it for 10 seconds or so every minute. Children will get plenty of exercise from all the movement, but they'll also get a kick out of freezing in strange positions.

4 Matching Musical Chairs

While children are learning about music and movement, add another lesson about matching. Use this game to reinforce whatever lesson you're currently teaching. Make a set of cards, with each pair of cards showing a different letter, number or shape. Arrange a line of chairs in the center of the room and tape one card to each chair. Place the matches in a bag and let each child choose one. Invite the children to dance around the chairs while music plays. When you turn off the music, the children must find and sit in the chair that matches the card they pulled. Rather than eliminating children each round, ask them to pick new cards and play the game again.

Cooking, travel and parenting are three of Kathryn Walsh's passions. She makes chicken nuggets during days nannying, whips up vegetarian feasts at night and road trips on weekends. Her work has appeared to The Syracuse Post-Standard and insider magazine. Walsh received a master's degree in journalism from Syracuse University.