Music & Movement Activities for School-Aged Children

Written by anne dutro
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Music & Movement Activities for School-Aged Children
Moving to music is a great activity for the whole family. (dancing dad image by Mat Hayward from

With childhood obesity on the rise and children spending a lot of time in front of a computer or playing video games, it's important for teachers and parents alike to have children of all ages expend energy at various points throughout the day. Besides sports, another way to get kids moving is through music. Moving to music is beneficial to children's developmental needs, according to Melanie Schmutz Chalk, writing on Incorporating music and movement into a daily activity requires very little extra cost or equipment.

Early Elementary Happy People

For the youngest of school-aged children, introducing them to a musical movement game using the familiar song "If You're Happy and You Know It" is a great way to get them moving and incorporates a small lesson on body parts. All you need to get started is some room to move around. Lead kids in acting out the movements to the song while you sing:

If You're Happy and You Know it, Clap your Hands (clap twice)

If You're Happy and You Know it, Clap your Hands (clap twice)

If You're Happy and You Know it, then your face will surely show it (smile)

If You're Happy and You Know it, Clap your Hands (clap twice)


Stomp your Feet

Shout Hurray (lift arms in the air)

Nod your Head

Shake your Body

Music & Movement Activities for School-Aged Children
Introducing young children to the joy of moving to music can improve their cognitive development. (happy face image by Cherry-Merry from

Elementary ABCs and Musical Chairs

This activity requires more creative thinking for the adult in charge or a copy of "Music and Movement in the Classroom, Grades 1-2" by Steven Traugh. CD 1 contains the song, "Aerobics A to Z." The children follow along to the commands for each letter. For example, for the letter "V" children pretend to vacuum the room, for "J" they must jump in place. If the CD is not available to you, together with the kids, come up with 26 different movements for each letter of the alphabet. For "A" the kids could act like an ape; for "Z" they could pretend to zip their jacket zippers.

A classic movement and music activity for children is a game of Musical Chairs. Arrange the same number of chairs as children back to back in one row. Have each child stand in front of a chair. Play music and instruct them to move around the chairs. When the music stops, every child must find a chair and sit. Remove a chair before starting the music again, and continue taking one chair away, so one person is eliminated each round and only child is left standing.

Music & Movement Activities for School-Aged Children
Arrange chairs back to back in a row for a game of Musical Chairs. (chairs image by michele goglio from

Upper Elementary Limbo

Playing Limbo with upper elementary kids is a fun way to enhance self-esteem and integrate a math lesson. All you need are enough participants, a yard stick or broom and upbeat music to get children engaged in the activity. Select two kids or have two volunteer to hold the pole or stick 4 or 5 feet up from the ground. Everyone else lines up single file and walks forward under the stick, bending backward to pass under it. Whoever knocks into the stick or touches it is out. After everyone has had a turn, lower the stick by 5 to 6 inches. Continue lowering the stick each round, until only one person can still make it under. For additional fun, you could surround this activity with a Luau theme.

Music & Movement Activities for School-Aged Children
A yard stick is used in this movement activity. (ruler image by Oleg Kapustin from

All Levels Freeze Dance

Freeze Dance is an activity for all school-aged children and is a great way to release energy and fill some extra time in the day. All you need is a CD player, enough room to move around and various types of music that appeal to kids in the particular age range. Pick songs with a mix of quick and slow tempos. Have the children spread out so no one is touching. Start the music and encourage them to move to the song as they like. Pause the music suddenly, and everyone must stop. If anyone goes on dancing, he must sit out for one round.

Music & Movement Activities for School-Aged Children
All you need is a CD player and some CD's to play Freeze Dance. (hi-fi cd player image by Yorkie Paul from

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