Running a fun, active classroom is essential for maintaining the interests of young learners! There's no need to try to separate learning from "play" all the time in a classroom setting. In fact, knowing how to combine the two can create a perfect environment for young brains!
Research shows us that play is essential for childhood development. Play actually contributes to the social, emotional, cognitive and physical well-being of children. Having a safe, encouraging place to be imaginative fosters very important brain development! Instructors almost have an obligation to introduce play into the lives of their students today. That's because things like busy schedules and lack of opportunity for free play can make it difficult for children to get the benefits they need from playtime.
Are you looking for ways to introduce some fun, constructive musical activities that will keep your budding Mozarts engaged? Let's dive in to take a look at five very fun and educational activities you can introduce to your students! These activities cover a range of ages. Keep in mind that the specific details of each activity can be tailored to fit the class size and skill level you're working with.
Make Your Own Musical Instruments
There's no better way to foster an appreciation for music than by having students design their own instruments with their hands! This activity actually offers benefits on several levels. First, students are able to understand the mechanics behind how sound moves through an instrument. This is a great way to demonstrate just how sophisticated and elegant the process of creating sounds using an instrument really is for a musician. Students will also leave the experience with a new appreciation for the level of skill behind crafting instruments.
Making instruments in a classroom is also simply a way to get students to use their creativity and motor skills to design, plan, measure and build an object. Would you like some tips for how to pull off this activity seamlessly? Here's a look at the steps to building instruments in a classroom:
Ask each child to bring in objects like used cardboard boxes, plastic bottles or milk cartons from home ahead of time.
Make sure all items are clean and free of debris once they are in the classroom.
Collect dried beans, colored construction paper, tissue paper, pens, sticks and other items you think could be turned into parts of instruments.
Make an example instrument to show to the class before they begin.
We find that building simple "shaker" instruments or drums creates the best results for elementary-aged students. However, it's up to you to open up the possibility of allowing your students to create more complex instruments. Shakers can be made by simply placing dried beans inside a bottle or box. Make sure the container you use is sealed tightly once the beans have been placed inside. You can then have fun decorating the shakers using paper, pens, stickers and other objects. The class can get swept up in using drumsticks and shaking the instruments to make unique sounds.
One variation on this activity is to use a variety of different beans and lentils to create different sounds. This is actually a useful way to teach children about the different sounds that are created by the designs of percussion instruments. Of course, the overall benefit of this activity is that you're showing young learners how to repurpose garbage and discarded objects!
Create Musical Drawings
Combining visual art with music is a great way to open up a new world for young learners. This activity actually helps to create neural connections between sounds and images. We also like it because it allows children to make emotional connections to sounds.
Creating musical drawings is simple. You'll just need the basic art supplies that children use for drawing any type of picture. The instructor can select a song that they feel is appropriate for the age group being taught. Simply ask each student to draw a picture that represents the emotions and thoughts they are experiencing as the song you have selected is playing.
Setting time aside for musical drawing is a great idea if you need an activity that will allow students to stay engaged as they wind down following another activity. This activity is actually something that is often done as part of music therapy. Many teachers find so much success with this activity that they use it on a weekly basis using new songs each time.
Kids sometimes simply need to get up and move during the course of a day. Luckily, music can be used to create very organized and constructive ways to get up from desks and tables for a bit. One of the easiest games to play is something called freeze dance. All you need is a way to play music loudly enough for your classroom to hear.
Simply instruct the kids in a classroom to begin dancing when the music starts. Playing upbeat, popular tunes that kids already know is always beneficial because it will encourage more dancing. The kids will need to remember to freeze as soon as you stop the music. Anyone who doesn't stop in time is out of the game.
This is a great activity for building motor skills and social skills. We find that kids really enjoy looking around to see the poses and expressions of their classmates while everyone is frozen. Of course, the big benefit is that kids will be ready to return to their desks for another lesson after a few rounds of this active game!
A Rhythm Relay Competition
This is an activity that is suited for advanced or high school music students. Keep in mind that this activity will only be successful with students who are capable of reading and writing staff notation. Here's a step-by-step look at how it works:
- Divide your class into teams of between six and 10 students.
- Ask each team to form a single line.
- Have the instructor write a rhythm down on paper.
- The last member of each team should come forward to view the rhythm that was written down before returning to the back of the line.
- The instructor then instructs the person who just returned to the line to gently tap the rhythm on the shoulder of the person in front of them.
- Each person in the line does the same thing until the rhythm reaches the person standing at the front of the line.
- The person at the front of the line for each team then comes forward to write the rhythm down on a chalkboard at the front of the classroom.
- The first team to jot down the correct rhythm wins!
This game essentially works like the classic "telephone" game for musicians. This is a really fun way to allow students to use their musical skills in an unconventional way. It also helps to strengthen a "team" feeling among peers.
This is a really fun game for elementary-aged students. You can typically find bingo cards with instruments on them for sale. Of course, you can also simply make your own using a program on your computer that allows you to paste in images.
Instrument bingo entails exactly what the name implies! Students will use cards with boxes filled with instruments. An instructor will call out the names of instruments until one student gets enough across, down or horizontal to win. Most bingo cards contain 24 squares in total. You have freedom to amend the official rules to fit what you think your classroom can handle. A variation of this game uses recordings of actual instrument sounds instead of calling out the names of instruments.
There's Always Learning in Music
Music games fit so naturally in a classroom setting because music stimulates brain activity and provides positive cognitive benefits. That means that just playing background music while children take part in creative activities could create positive effects within a classroom setting. Of course, music-focused activities allow students to engage with music in action!
Many instructors and teachers see great results after introducing music and musical activities into the classroom. What do your students have to gain by interacting with music in meaningful ways? Start building musical activities into the weekly schedule to discover the positive things that can happen!