Inside are five magical music and movement activities to spark your child’s imagination and develop executive function skills and a deeper understanding of their emotions.
Music and movement unite us beyond language and cultural barriers, offering a universal form of expression and connection.
A movement to music, in particular, has immense power for children, helping them to build crucial neural pathways between their bodies and minds, learn to express their emotions, and foster connections with family, friends, and the wider community.
Rhythms can also stimulate their intellect, while the emotional release of music can equip them with a much-needed outlet to balance their constantly developing bodies. From the waltz to the tango, music’s many genres provide a wealth of satisfying physical and emotional experiences.
In Africa, some cultures, like the Igbo of Nigeria, have the same word (“the egwu”) for music, song, and dance—testimony to how deeply embedded music’s power of unity and harmony really is.
Here’s an even more thorough exposition to convince you.
Benefits of Music and Movement Activities
1. Emotional Expression and Management
Music and movement activities have long been recognized as powerful tools to help little kids better understand, process, and express their emotions. Moreover, research has proven that when music and movement are a regular part of the curriculum, children tend to have healthy emotional skills, show positive self-esteem, improve self-regulation, and express themselves in a healthy and meaningful way.
2. Focus and Attention
A song may be only two and a half minutes, but two and a half minutes of rapt attention is a real accomplishment. Music carries our attention so effortlessly it can enormously help an overcrowded or anxious mind to settle in and calm down. I heard an artist on the radio recently explain, “Not everyone knows how to meditate, but we all know how to listen to music.”
3. Listening Skills
Parents and teachers want their children to have good listening skills, but did you know music can help? Listening to music improves your child’s capacity to pay attention to all sounds, such as when you say, “Dinner is ready!” It also promotes selective attention, which is important for development.
Your kids might use selective attention when they concentrate on conversing with you in a crowded Starbucks or finish math homework while siblings loudly play pirates in the next room.
4. Memory Training
Music training has been shown to increase working memory capacity, meaning a person can remember and manage more information at once.
But you don’t need to set up your kids with a renowned pianist in order to benefit. Introducing some form of music training, i.e., learning rhythm, tone, pitch, and memorizing music through something like singing, is also beneficial for brains that are still maturing.
5. Creativity and Imagination
Yes, it’s true that music can help us get into the flow and promote an open-mindedness that encourages creative thought, movement, and collaboration. But actually, it goes far beyond that! Research shows that music stimulates just about all of the brain at the same time, putting these parts of the brain in harmony and prompting them to talk to one another.
This harmony jumpstarts imagination, unleashes creativity, and breaks down barriers to non-linear thinking, mind-wandering, and associative patterns of thinking. All of this leads to a more flexible way of problem-solving, decision-making, and creative expression.
6. Spiritual Development
Music has the power to connect our children to something beyond themselves and open them up to a world of growth, understanding, and peace. Responding to music is a very subjective and internal process that makes children aware of their unique relationship with the world.
For parents and teachers looking to cultivate spiritual development in the young people in their lives, encouraging a love of music may be the key to unlocking this crucial development. Children can experience healing, connection, and a greater sense of purpose through music and movement.
We certainly got a little deep there, but the practical actions you can take to activate all these wonderful things are very simple.
Here are 5 Music and Movement Activities for You to Try:
1. Dance to Classical Music with Scarves
This is best done with flowy materials like silk in some nice colors. Thrift stores are great for old silk shirts that you can cut into strips. Having a prop is fun and makes the activity something special for color-and-texture-crazy kids, but it also helps children feel less self-conscious. They’re just making the scarf dance, but in the process, are dancing themselves.
2. Marching to a Beat
Lifting knees high to the beat of the music is actually very challenging for some kids (and even adults). It trains your mind to find the beat and put your own body, that is, the motor system, in sync with it. Again, it’s all about connecting up those different systems in the brain.
3. Body Parts Dancing
This is a fun variation that gets kids thinking about the creative possibilities within a single part of their body. Start the music and call out a body part, like hands or shoulders or eyes. Only that part can move to express the music. Often, it’s the limitations we face that bring out creative new ideas.
4. Dancing Animals
Animals have incredible means of locomotion that, when applied to our own bodies, bring out some truly funky moves! Put on a song, then try Caterpillar! Giraffe! Hippopotamus! Flamingo! It’s also often very useful for shy kids to have a persona like this to act through.
5. Singing and Moving Songs or Games
There are a lot of great classics here: Head, Shoulders, Knees, & Toes; Hot Cross Buns; The Itsy-Bitsy Spider… They may not feel that creative, but they endured through age and time for a reason: they work! And stimulate those little brains like crazy. If you’re feeling a bit more ambitious, try making up some new words to a familiar tune or new moves for a classic song.
So find some music, get inspired, and let the movement flow!