Empowered Parents

18 Simple Movement Activities for Preschoolers

By: Author Tanja McIlroy

Posted on Last updated: 13 December 2022

Categories Gross Motor Skills

movement activities for preschoolers lesson plans

Need some ideas for movement activities for preschoolers? These are great activity ideas to try at home with your kids and can also be done with a class of children.

What are Movement Activities?

Movement activities, also called gross motor activities, are games, actions or activities of any kind that engage the large muscles of the body, thereby building gross motor coordination .

Movement is a natural state for children and as long as they have enough freedom to play and be, they will seek out regular movement through their play activities.

While free play is essential, there are many kinds of movement and gross motor activities you can initiate with children that will get the large muscles working together.

You may want to try a game or activity if you can tell kids need a break from intense activity, if they have not had much outdoor play , if you’d like to help them build skills, or just to have some fun, bonding time.

Through movement activities, you can work on skills such as turn-taking, cooperation, vocabulary development and social skills, or gross motor skills such as strength, balance , hand-eye coordination, agility and speed.

What are the Benefits of Movement Activities in Early Childhood?

During early childhood, regular physical activity is crucial for children’s development. Without movement, children would not grow properly and would have severe developmental delays.

Children’s brains grow and develop through learning and the main method through which children learn is by moving and exploring their world.

We see this in babies who spend hours every day moving around, exploring everything and anything.

This remains the case right through the preschool years as children still need tons of movement to continue to grow.

This is where too much screen time and sedentary activity can cause harm and why this should be controlled and never allowed to fill up the majority of a child’s playtime.

Here are some of the benefits of regular movement activities for children.

18 best movement activities for preschoolers - pinnable image

1. Physical Development

A child’s physical development occurs through movement.

Various physical milestones must be reached by various ages and therefore a child’s environment must be conducive to having the opportunity to move constantly.

In recent times, the term Container Baby Syndrome has been coined because nowadays babies are so often ‘contained’ in equipment that inhibits their natural tendency to move.

From birth right up until children are ready for formal schooling, they need complete freedom to move and be active.

2. Better Fine Motor Skills

Before children develop the fine motor control needed to perform tasks like writing, they must develop their gross motor skills. Gross motor coordination is a prerequisite to fine motor coordination .

Babies develop from the head down, and from the centre towards the outside of their body. In other words, they develop control of their head first, then neck, core, etc.

Later, they learn to use their arms and legs. The fingers, toes and other small muscles of the body develop last.

A child who has well-developed gross motor coordination will have greater success with fine motor activities such as feeding, dressing, tying shoes, drawing, completing activities at preschool and later on, writing.

3. Improved Concentration

Regular movement improves a child’s concentration. Providing small children with regular brain breaks helps them to re-energise and refocus on a task.

The more children are exposed to activities that strengthen their concentration and frequent movement breaks to extend their focus, the more their attention span increases over time.

4. Increased Brain Development

Children who are moving are sending oxygen to the brain. Oxygen is crucial for proper brain functioning and therefore increased circulation results in increased brain activity and the ability to learn effectively. [ source ]

5. General Health

Children who move generally become adults who move, and adults who move are far healthier than adults who don’t move.

Regular physical movement is necessary for overall health and well-being throughout life. Instil this habit at an early age.

18 Movement Games and Activities for Preschoolers

Here are some ideas for fun kids’ activities to try at home or at school. You don’t need any fancy equipment and you can improvise with many household or outdoor items.

These games are suitable for 3, 4 and 5-year-olds, but some can be adapted for 2-year-olds too.

This post contains affiliate links for educational products that I personally recommend. If you purchase through one of them, I earn a commission at no extra cost to you. Read the terms and conditions for more details.

1. Hopscotch

Hopscotch is an old favourite and one of the best active games for kids.

It teaches balance, eye-foot coordination and even some early maths skills .

2. Rolling Around

Pretend to be logs of wood and, with arms stretched overhead, roll around the grass. Then move hands to the sides and roll around.

Rolling is good for coordinating the back, neck, shoulder and hip muscles, and building strength.

If you have a sloped garden or can find a grassy bank at a park, rolling downhill is lots of fun and is a great movement activity.

You can also lay a blanket on the grass, hold one end, then ask your child to lie on the other end and roll themself into the mat, then out again.

3. Who Am I?

This activity promotes fantasy play and thinking skills, along with building gross motor skills.

Choose different animals and pretend to move like them. Take turns guessing what animal the other person is.

Try suggesting different categories to make it more challenging, such as animals that jump, fly or run.

Here are some creatures to try to imitate:

4. Obstacle Course

Set up your own obstacle course in the garden and get those large muscles working.

With a bit of imagination, you can set up a course out of waste materials or things found around the house and garden. Change them regularly to make the challenge more interesting.

Here are some ideas for your obstacle course:

  • Old tyres to jump into or climb over
  • Boxes to climb into or use as tunnels to crawl through
  • Planks of wood as balance beams
  • Tree stumps
  • Plastic cones (or bottles filled with sand) to weave through
  • A ladder laid down on the ground (to hop into)

Children hopping into tyres

In this version of tag, as you catch and tag someone, they must freeze until someone else touches them and they are unfrozen.

This is best played with the whole family or class.

Chasing games teach children to move their bodies in space effectively (not bumping into people and objects as they move) and improve their speed and reaction time.

6. Simon Says

Simon Says is a fun game of following instructions that are usually movement based.

One person is nominated to be Simon and must give instructions that the rest of the players must follow. However, they must only carry out the instructions that begin with “Simon says…” and not follow instructions that do not begin with the words “Simon Says”.

Although this game primarily develops listening and attention skills, it is a great opportunity to build gross motor skills too.

Here are some fun Simon Says ideas with a special section of commands that will work the larger muscles.

7. Tight-Rope Walkers

Pretend to be tightrope walkers and practise the skill of balance and concentration.

All you need is a piece of string laid on the floor or elevated slightly and tied to the legs of chairs.

Walk along the string, placing one foot carefully in front of the other without losing your balance and “falling off the tightrope”, or “falling into a river of crocodiles”.

Or get children to walk along a curb or other narrow, slightly raised platform.

Boy pretending to walk on a tightrope

Young children enjoy symbolic play and you could even dress up for this one.

8. Jumping on Paper Plates

Lay some paper plates outside – fairly close together – and pretend to be frogs jumping on lily pads, or animals crossing the river by jumping over rocks.

As your children’s balance and coordination improve, move the plates further apart and in various directions so they have to map out a safe path.

9. Scavenger Hunt

The simple act of being outside in the fresh air and running around in nature is a necessary movement activity.

Why not try something fun like a nature scavenger hunt?

On a sheet of paper or cardboard, draw or paste pictures of objects found in nature and race around the garden or park looking for these items.

Items collected on a nature scavenger hunt

Or, make a card with pictures of insects – like in the example below – and walk around the garden with your children finding as many of these creatures as you can.

Try and take a picture of them when you find them.

Insect scavenger hunt

10. Ladder Jumping

A ladder is a great tool that can be used in a variety of ways. A jungle gym ladder (that can be removed), rope ladder or regular household ladder can all be used.

Lay the ladder flat on the grass and jump in between the rungs. Practise jumping on alternating legs and also hopping with two legs together, which is more challenging.

Hopping and jumping are important milestones in physical development .

Encourage your kids to walk along the side edges of a ladder to build balance.

11. Hula Hoop Contest

Hula hooping is a fun activity your kids will thoroughly enjoy. Being able to swing a hula hoop around your hips is no easy skill so it will take a lot of practice.

Older preschoolers may be able to balance the hoop for a little while but you can still let younger preschoolers or toddlers play with the hoop to try the movement.

When your kids build some skill, have a contest and see who can swing the hoop around their hips the longest.

12. Jack and the Beanstalk

Do you have a jungle gym at home or at the park with a ladder your children can climb up? Why not tell the story of Jack and the Beanstalk, and act it out together?

When Jack climbs up the beanstalk, climb up the ladder together and then tell the parts about the giant’s house while sitting at the top of the jungle gym.

This will be an exciting variation on storytime and will help your kids build strength and practise the skill of climbing.

13. Jump Rope

Learning to skip is an important gross motor milestone for preschoolers. The best way to introduce this movement is by teaching them to jump over a moving rope .

Tie a rope to a chair or other post and, holding the other end, swing it slowly back and forth as your children jump over it. Increase the height and speed as they improve their skill.

When they start mastering the skill of jumping, introduce a skipping rope .

14. Listening Game

Play a movement listening game that involves listening carefully to and remembering multiple instructions.

Make up a series of silly instructions – such as “jump up three times, run around the tree and hop back with feet together” – and see if your kids can do them in the correct sequence and remember them all.

Start with only two instructions for younger children and add more as their age and skill allows.

15. Bean Bags

Bean bags are found in every preschool, and for good reason. They are an excellent resource for practising motor skills and you can use them in multiple ways:

  • Throw and aim beanbags into laundry baskets
  • Balance them on your head, or the back of your hand, while walking along a rope
  • Throw them and mark how far they landed, trying on each turn to throw them further
  • Crawl with a beanbag balancing on your back
  • Throw and catch a beanbag
  • Play bean bag toss (cornhole game)

Here are more bean bag activities to try.

Cornhole game

16. Long Jump

Have a long jump competition with your children. You are not competing against each other but against your own records.

Mark off a starting point. Jump off the starting point and put a piece of tape where you land.

Then keep trying to beat your record, moving the tape each time you go further.

Take turns trying to better your own distance.

17. Balancing Contest

Have a competition with your children and see who can balance the longest, or put a timer on if you don’t want them to lose every round and see if they can beat their previous times.

Stand and balance on one leg, then the other, with eyes closed, etc. Place a bean bag on your head and see how long you can keep it there while on one leg.

18. Catch Bubbles

Kids love the thrill of chasing bubbles around the garden or playground. This activity doesn’t have to be reserved for only toddlers.

Make a game out of it and see how many bubbles your kids can pop each time you blow out a set. This is excellent for practising eye-hand coordination .

If you are playing with a few children, make a rule that each child must catch one bubble and two children can’t touch the same bubble.

This will work the reflexes and teach children to make quick decisions and move their bodies through space carefully.

Child trying to catch bubbles

As you can see, finding ideas for movement activities for kids does not have to be complicated.

Simply use your imagination and whatever objects and tools you have lying around and create a quick, basic game.

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Jenjo Games

Wednesday 21st of July 2021

Activities like these are perfect for encouraging kids to have fun and to develop physical strength. Thanks for sharing these ideas, they are very interesting!

Tanja Mcilroy

Thanks for your comment! Enjoy the activities.

Susan Majak

Monday 28th of June 2021

I will look forward to working on it that is amazing.

Tuesday 29th of June 2021

Enjoy trying these activities, Susan!

Friday 22nd of May 2020

This is really educative,really love it

Monday 25th of May 2020

Thanks for the feedback Loide!

Friday 8th of May 2020

Will support our work with the pre school age group

Glad you found this helpful Joan!

movement activities for preschoolers lesson plans

20 Creative Movement Activities for Preschoolers

20 Creative Movement Activities For Preschoolers

When people hear the words “learning” and “education,” they usually think of schools, books, teachers, exams, scores, IQ, etc.—things that have to do with the academic definition of learning.

Because of this, people frequently overlook other aspects of development and place little to no value on learning to move and learn through physical means. Parents should give creative movement activities to their young children because they are still growing and trying to figure out how their bodies work. If they cannot grasp their full physical potential, it might also hinder their academic progress.

Movement or gross motor activities are fun action games that engage the body’s different parts and muscles. These activities help improve a child’s body coordination and, when done right, can help them discover different physical skills and talents that they can continue to develop throughout the years.

So, the next time you are thinking about doing something educational for your preschooler, give these creative movement activities for preschoolers a go and watch your child enjoy learning while building their physical and body strength.

Jumping Animals

Creative Movement Activities For Preschoolers - Jumping Animals

Activities that help kids learn not only how to move but also how to talk and think are always a good idea. This activity is easy and can help your preschooler improve a lot of skills. By first showing your child how animals move, like jumping kangaroos, hopping rabbits, flying birds, swinging monkeys, and running tigers, they not only move their bodies and learn gross motor skills, coordination, and balance , but they also learn about different kinds of animals and improve their cognitive skills.

You can find out more about this activity at The Inspired Treehouse .

Get Up and Move Dice Game

Creative Movement Activities For Preschoolers - Get Up And Move Dice Game

By making this DIY dice game, you can add a little twist to your animal movement activities. On one side of the dice, write the typical moves that animals make, and on the other, write the names of different animals that your kids know or need to know. The rules of the game are easy: when the dice land on an action, they have to do it while pretending to be the animal that the dice showed.

The results of this little game are never the same. The little ones could be jumping around like monkeys one minute and hopping like frogs the next. They could also be put together in different ways, like having to act like a dog that slithers, which would also give your kids room to be creative.

For more ideas about this activity, check out the Growing A Jeweled Rose blog.

The Floor is Lava!

Creative Movement Activities For Preschoolers - The Floor Is Lava!

Everyone should know how to play this game. The rules are simple: don’t step on the lava!

Make it more creative and fun for your preschoolers by putting colorful papers all over the floor to make “safe areas.”

Your little ones will run, jump, hop, and laugh as they try to “survive” getting hit by the “lava” in this activity.

Check out more tips on this activity at Hands On As We Grow .

Treasure Hunt

Creative Movement Activities For Preschoolers - Treasure Hunt

Treasure hunting is another common game that parents should play with their kids more often. It’s fun and hard, and at the same time, it encourages kids to be more physically and mentally active.

First, hide the items or treasures. Then, give your child hints about what to look for and where to look. Clues could be a picture of the place, a hint about the color of the item, or anything else that helps your preschooler think creatively and think through problems.

For more ideas about this creative movement activity, check out Raising Children.

Tape Shape Fun

Creative Movement Activities For Preschoolers - Tape Shape Fun

For this activity, all you need is tape and some floor space. You can play with your kids by taping different shapes, letters, and symbols all over the floor and giving them random instructions that require them to move and comprehend.

Give out movement challenges like “dance your way to the letter X,” or “hop to square,” or “walk backward to A,” and so on. Be creative and make this activity hard, but make sure you do it in a safe place so your child can move around and play without worrying.

For more information about this movement activity idea, visit Toddler Approved .

Don’t Let the Balloon Touch the Ground

Creative Movement Activities For Preschoolers - Don’t Let The Balloon Touch The Ground

We often see this activity during children’s parties and special occasions like birthdays and school fair events. But they are easy enough and fun enough that your kids can also play them at home.

You just need a balloon , and you’re good to go. The goal is easy: don’t let the balloon touch the ground. You can do this with a countdown or by having the kids hold up the balloon for the length of a nursery rhyme. You can change the way the game is played in a number of ways, such as by using paper plates as paddles or by assigning “it” players who can’t touch the balloon.

For more ideas on how to do this movement activity with your kids, check out Babies, toddlers, and preschoolers, oh my!

Balloon Blow

Creative Movement Activities For Preschoolers - Balloon Blow

This activity looks easy, but it is one of the many challenging yet fun games you can play with your preschooler to enhance their gross motor skills, control of their breath, and even math skills.

Your child’s job is to blow the balloon across a certain area. They count how many blows they have to make to get to the goal. This helps them learn to count while also learning to control their breath.

It will also keep them in a crawling position and help them find ways to make their bodies more comfortable and better at moving in limited ways.

Check out How Wee Learn to learn more about this craft.

Color Toss Activity

Creative Movement Activities For Preschoolers - Color Toss Activity

This activity requires a little DIY time. Cut holes in a piece of cardboard and write the colors on them. Use the colors of balls you have at home to paint them. You can decorate the entire board.

The goal of the game is easy: just shoot the colored balls into the holes on the cardboard that are the matching color. Give your kids points for each ball that goes through, and be ready to give them prizes when the game is over.

As they shoot the balls and run around to pick them up, they will burn off some energy. As they add up their scores, they will also learn about colors and how to count.

To check the details of this activity, visit Minne Mama .

DIY Hallway Laser Maze

Creative Movement Activities For Preschoolers - Diy Hallway Laser Maze

A laser maze in your hallway? That could only mean fun! So go ahead and set one up for your kids.

They will try to get out of the maze while being careful not to touch the “lasers.” They will be twisting and bending their bodies, which is a great way to work out and improve their large motor skills.

Learn more about this activity at It’s Always Autumn .

DIY Bowling

Creative Movement Activities For Preschoolers - Diy Bowling

Do you have some extra disposable cups at home? Then glue some together to create homemade bowling pins. Your children will have a great time knocking over these cups in the comfort of your home.

Check out Kids’ Bible Teacher to learn more about this activity.

Straw Javelin Throw

Creative Movement Activities For Preschoolers - Straw Javelin Throw

The point of this game is to throw a drinking straw and see who can get it to go the farthest. You can set up a point system and use bowls of different colors to keep track. The bowl closest to you might be worth 5 points, the next one 10 points, and so on. Your kids will compete to see who can throw the straw javelin the farthest and get the most points. Make sure to mark the area where they should stand.

Read more details about this creative movement activity at Toddler Approved .

Backyard Obstacle Course

Creative Movement Activities For Preschoolers - Backyard Obstacle Course

Nothing spells movement activity better than a fantastic (and safe) obstacle course for your preschoolers! Simply create your course using items you already have in your yard, like planters, buckets, a garden hose, etc.

Your kids will be jumping, crawling, and weaving through the course. It could get messy, but that’s part of the fun, right?

Check out My Four Ps for more ideas on how to build your backyard obstacle course for your kids. Check out these outdoor activities for more ideas.

Creative Movement Activities For Preschoolers - Hopscotch

Hopscotch is an old game that all kids should learn to play at some point. It is fun and a whole lot of physical movement is involved. It teaches kids the value of hand-eye coordination as well as improves motor skills.

Check out Empowered Parents if you need more ideas on how to do this activity with your preschoolers.

Tin Can Golf

Creative Movement Activities For Preschoolers - Tin Can Golf

If you want an easy indoor activity that helps your kids improve their motor skills, this is the one for you.

Create a mini golf course inside your home using tin cans. Make sure you clear the cans of sharp edges so that your little ones do not get hurt when they take out the balls when playing. Children will love being able to putt into tin cans and improve their motor skills.

For more details about this craft, check out The Craft Train .

Laundry Basket Ball

Creative Movement Activities For Preschoolers - Laundry Basket Ball

This activity is a makeshift version of a normal basketball game that also includes some crossover from soccer. But you use a laundry basket instead of a hoop. This is a fun way to get your kids moving, especially when you just want to do something unique with your kids.

Check Imaginative Homeschool for more details about this DIY kids’ game.

Alphabet Scavenger Hunt

Creative Movement Activities For Preschoolers - Alphabet Scavenger Hunt

This is a twist on the usual scavenger hunt. This time, each item on the list that your kids need to find starts with a letter of the alphabet. They will be running around your house looking for these things. In one version, there is a list of things to find. In the other version, there is a space next to each letter, so your kids can find anything at home that starts with that letter. It gives your kids the perfect mix of physical and mental activity they need!

See more ideas for this activity at Play Party Plan .

Creative Movement Activities For Preschoolers - Simon Says

This is another classic game that your kids can easily play with their siblings or friends when they want to learn something new while having fun.

Sneak a lot of physical movements into what “Simon says” so that you can help your kids start learning gross motor skills.

For more ideas, visit Homeschool Preschool .

Musical Hide and Seek

Creative Movement Activities For Preschoolers - Musical Hide And Seek

This is an excellent activity for kids who are still learning the concept of hiding and seeking. You will need a toy that plays music or can be wound up. You turn on the music, hide the toy, and let your child follow the sound to find it.

It encourages movement and enhances auditory skills as well as cognitive skills. This is an activity that can help to enhance your child’s motor skills and improve his memory.

The Animal Tag

Creative Movement Activities For Preschoolers - The Animal Tag

Kids love the game “tag” because it brings them together to collaborate and win. It is also full of challenges for motor planning, agility, coordination, balance, endurance, and ways to improve general gross motor skills. In this game of tag, your kids will pretend to be their favorite zoo animals, like kangaroos, monkeys, cheetahs, or zebras! There must also be two players who play the monkey , who will free the other players if they get locked up, and the zookeeper, or “IT,” who will tag the players.

The only way for a player to move is as the animal they are given at the beginning of the game. So expect to see the kids galloping like zebras or jumping like kangaroos.

The Inspired Treehouse has more details about this unique game of tag.

Creative Movement Activities For Preschoolers - Mimic Me!

Brain breaks are fun when you use Mimic Me movement cards. You can buy cards already made online, or you can make your own. This fun, interactive movement game or brain break is great for preschoolers who need to get up and move around. During the game, you just show your kids a card, and they act out what it says. Once a player is out, they can’t join again until the end of the round. In each round, the winner is the last player still in the game.

You can see Teachers Pay Teachers’ blog post to learn more!

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20 Memorable Music And Movement Activities For Preschoolers

January 9, 2023 //  by  Ashley Charles

Music and movement activities are essential to any preschooler’s daily repertoire. They help with a myriad of developmental skills including physical development, social, listening, language, and motor skills! These types of activities help to wake up the brain by getting oxygen flowing, and provide a fun way to include some physical activity into your morning classroom routine. If that isn’t enough to convince you to incorporate music and movement activities into your schedule, you can rest easy knowing that music and movement activities help reinforce any academic skills you are also attempting to teach! 

1. Movement in Transitions

Use these sweet arctic animal movement cards to help with transitions between activities. Simply draw a card, and tell the kids what arctic animal they have to imitate to get to their next activity. 

Learn More: Teachers Pay Teachers

2. Winter-Themed Brain Breaks

Grab your preschoolers’ attention with these Winter-themed brain breaks to get them wiggling when after they’ve been focused on learning. Have them waddle like penguins or scoop like snow shovels to get them energized and ready to learn after lunch or a nap.

3. Singing Skills

movement activities for preschoolers lesson plans

Teach young kids what fast/slow, loud/soft, and stop/go are whilst singing to promote early music skills using these fun and easy printables that promote literacy and direction-following. 

Learn More: Etsy

4. Sensory Music and Movement

movement activities for preschoolers lesson plans

Use this sensory stretchy band with a fun song to get kids moving around and wiggling their energy out. Students will enjoy touching and feeling the variety of textures on the band while they hold, bounce, and switch places throughout the song.

5. Shake Out the Sillies

Preschool teachers everywhere will appreciate this classic fun music that helps not only with listening skills but also with getting over-stimulated littles to shake out their wiggles and regain focus for the tasks ahead.

Learn More: The Learning Station

6. Freeze Dance

This is a favorite action song among preschoolers and they must practice their motor skills by doing a classic freeze dance! Having kids respond to stopping and starting at the drop of a hat will help encourage good brain development and entertain them as they giggle and dance away!

Learn More: The Kiboomers Kinds Music Channel

7. Music and Counting Activity

This movement song requires kids to use their fingers, counting skills, and a fun sing-along to help practice number recognition and primary math skills. Use all of the video or parts of it throughout the day.

Learn More: Songs for Littles – Toddler Learning Video

8. Going on a Bear Hunt

This classic read-aloud easily transitions into a movement activity with the help of a song. It combines movements, repetition, and a little imagination for preschoolers to enjoy.

Learn More: Frisco – F7

9. Ribbon Rings

Ribbon rings are a really fun way to get preschool students moving. Pop on some classical music and watch them “ballet” their way around the room. Help them out by showing them the different ways in which to move their ribbon rings around to create flowy fun.

Learn More: Amazon

10. Walking Lines

Take movement outdoors onto the basketball court or sidewalk! Use sidewalk chalk to create a variety of lines in different patterns and shapes and have students walk the lines. This helps with gross motor skills and is a fun challenge for balance and movement.

Learn More: Pinterest

Who doesn’t like limbo? It’s a must at every Summer party, but also something you could add to your movement and music repertoire! Kids love the challenge, and the upbeat music gets them moving and working to see how low they can go!

12. Mindfulness Music Yoga

Sleeping Bunnies is just one version of this activity that requires body control and listening skills. It provides intermittent movement which gets the blood flowing and wakes up the brain.

Learn More: Yo Re Mi

13. Hot Potato

movement activities for preschoolers lesson plans

This fast-paced game is the perfect musical activity for kids to play! You can use a bean bag, a ball of paper, or any other ball you have lying around. Or, at an extra cost, you can purchase this adorable bean bag that comes pre-programmed with music and looks like an actual potato!

14. Balloon Keep Up

movement activities for preschoolers lesson plans

This particular game is outlined for students with disabilities, but as the popular saying goes, if it’s good for the diversity it’s good for all! Kids will keep an inflated balloon in the air and will need to work together with their peers to make sure it doesn’t hit the ground. 

Learn More: Sense

15. Preschool Drumming Echo

movement activities for preschoolers lesson plans

Instill a sense of rhythm in young children with the help of this fun beat-focused activity. The game simply requires you to create a beat that the kids can then echo back. You can use buckets and drumsticks, triangles, or any purchased drumming materials to play!

Learn More: Make Joyful Melodies

16. Loud and Soft Challenge

Using the song, John Jacob Jingleheimer Schmidt, kids will have to practice self-control as well as the ability to understand dynamics as they wait until the end of the refrain to really SHOUT and get loud! 

17. Musical Painting

movement activities for preschoolers lesson plans

This activity combines art and music for a great emotional development session. Have kids paint or draw what they think they hear as they listen to the chosen music. This works as a great relaxing activity prior to nap time.

Learn More: The Studio Director

18. Glow Stick Drumming

Amp up your preschooler’s drumming sessions using glow sticks! This strategy adds a visual element to an already-enriching experience.

19. Scarf Dance

While there are multiple ways to host a scarf dance, this video helps add directionality and listening skills to the idea. Just add scarves and the kids will have a blast! The directional words even pop up on the screen to reinforce reading skills. 

Learn More: Patty Shukla Kids TV-Children’s Songs

20. Music Instrument Matching Games

This video will help preschoolers learn and match instrument sounds to their respective instruments. They will love the characters and the entertaining manner in which this video is presented. You can pause and start this video multiple times to help guide your learners.

Learn More: Gabby & Friends

movement activities for preschoolers lesson plans

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Nurture, Create, Inspire

movement activities for preschoolers lesson plans

9 Movement Activities for Preschoolers You Can Do at Home

Over the years, as academic requirements have intensified to meet standardized test scores, early childhood education has beefed up its emphasis on reading, writing, and more. Unfortunately, for some early childhood education providers, this has meant a de-emphasis on movement. But taking movement out of a preschooler’s day actually inhibits academic progress. Plus, any parent can tell you that 3-5-year-old children need to move — a lot! Movement activities for preschoolers are not only fun, they’re necessary for your child’s development.

Benefits of Movement in Early Childhood Education

Focusing almost exclusively on academics during the preschool years actually misses the point! It’s possible — and actually essential — to focus on both physical development and mental development in preschoolers.

Physical activity in preschool is important, and its benefits can last far beyond preschool graduation. Preschoolers who get plenty of time to play and participate in physical activity enjoy:

  • A healthier lifestyle, now and in the future
  • Increased school readiness skills
  • Stronger cognitive, social, and emotional skills
  • Appropriate muscle, bone, and joint development
  • Lower blood pressure
  • Reduced anxiety and depression
  • An increased learning capacity
  • Greater self-confidence
  • Better concentration
  • Fewer chronic health problems
  • Fewer sick days
  • Increased memory skills

Not only that, but interactive games give your child a leg up on social interaction and communication skills. Kids learn to problem-solve while also learning important things like counting and colors.

Children simply do better when they are allowed to move. Early childhood curriculum that incorporates movement sets your child up for a better future.

Movement Activities for Preschoolers

When you want to bring movement activities home for your preschooler, you don’t have to do anything elaborate. In fact, young children learn at a very basic and fundamental level , so activities are often better when they are simple. Use these simple movement activities for preschoolers in your home.

Music and Movement

Children love music, and generally respond very well to it. Ask your child to listen to the different rhythms and tell you what he hears. Ask him to clap his hands, jump up and down, or tap his head to the beat. Let him get in on the music creation by giving him empty oatmeal boxes to use as drums and empty paper towel rolls to use as “trumpets.” Add bells to shoelaces or belt loops and dance around the living room.

Beach Ball Balance

Give a beach ball to two or more children and have them hold the ball between them — without  using their hands!  See how creative they can get when they’re left with shoulders, heads, backs, and tummies for holding a beach ball.

Jumping Animals

In this fun jumping game from The Inspired Treehouse,  work on coordination, gross motor skills, balance, and more as your child gets to pretend to be different jumping animals. (For full instructions visit the link.)

Get Up & Move Dice Game

Make two giant dice out of boxes. On one, write action words like “jump, climb, run.” On the other, write direction words like “in a circle, like a monkey, forward.” Throw the dice and do what they instruct. (“Jump like a monkey.”)This will get you moving too! For full instructions, visit Growing a Jeweled Rose .

Who knows when the hot lava game originated, but chances are you (and everyone you know) grew up pretending the floor was hot lava. The preschool age is a great time to introduce this classic game. Make it more interesting by using paper plates as jumping points.

Flash Light Treasure Hunt

Hide a few of your child’s favorite toys around the house (or just in one room), turn off all the lights, and send her off to find her items with the flashlight! Hide a fun snack to enjoy together too.

Floor Tape Activities

  • Make a tight rope by laying tape down on your carpet. Teach your preschooler to walk across it without falling off, and if he does — the tickle monster gets him!
  • Lay down an indoor hop scotch with tape.
  • Put tape all throughout your house for a road. Your preschooler can be the car and run along the tape, or she can get down and drive her cars all around the house.

Note: Don’t leave the tape on your carpet for too long, as it can become hard to pull up once it’s been walked on for several days.

Indoor “Basketball”

Your mom told you not to throw balls in the house (and she was right), but you can still play “basketball” inside with your preschooler by wadding up newspaper for basketballs and using a pot, laundry basket, or clean bin for the hoop.

Yep. Seriously Give your preschooler a broom, mop, rake, or dust rag and get to cleaning together. It’s all in the attitude — if you act like this is a fun game (“Let’s see if we can sweep the kitchen before the song ends!”), your preschooler will pitch in with glee.

At UDA Creative Arts Preschool in Salt Lake City, we know children get the full benefit of learning when we incorporate movement into our lessons. That’s why we provide a dance/movement class taught by a trained instructor who gives lessons that correlate with our weekly preschool themes. Send us a message , or call us at (801) 523-5930 for a tour.

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Movement Games for Preschoolers

movement activities for preschoolers lesson plans

Movement games are a great way to get preschoolers moving and having fun. They can be used in the classroom or at home and they are a great way to help young children learn about their bodies and how they move. There are all sorts of different movement games for preschoolers that you can try, so choose your favorites or mix and match them to create your own unique game!


Movement games are a great way for preschoolers to get the exercise they need. Not only do they help to improve coordination and gross motor skills, but they also provide an opportunity for social interaction. Examples of popular movement games for preschoolers include “Simon Says,” “Red Light, Green Light,” and “Musical Chairs.”

In “Simon Says,” children follow the leader’s instructions, which often involve movement.

Red Light, Green Light is a classic game in which children must freeze when the leader says “red light” and move when the leader says “green light.”

“Musical Chairs” is a game in which children walk around chairs while music is playing; when the music stops, they must sit in a chair.

Movement games are a great way for preschoolers to get the exercise they need. Not only do they help to improve hand-eye coordination and gross motor skills, but they also provide an opportunity for social interaction.


Movement games are an important part of a preschooler’s day. The general benefits of movement games for preschoolers include:

  • help to develop gross motor skills.
  • a fun way to burn off energy and we all know preschoolers have a LOT of energy.
  • muscle strengthening – those little legs, arms, and core muscles get a great workout on playground equipment, outdoor play and even indoor movement breaks.
  • coordination skills
  • motor planning skills
  • improving cognitive development since they require children to follow directions and think creatively.
  • building social skills – provides an opportunity for children to interact with their peers.

Movement games are a great way for preschoolers to stay active and engaged, and they offer many benefits for child development.

Move Like Me - Motor Planning, Coordination and Body Awareness

Move Like Me – Motor Planning, Coordination and Body Awareness

Specific skills that preschoolers work on during movement games.

If preschoolers are going to make the most out of their movement games, you want to know that there are specific skills that are targeted when they play these games. Here are some of the skills that preschoolers work on during movement games:

  • Gross motor skills: These skills can include crawling, walking, running, jumping, leaping, hopping, galloping, and skipping.
  • Eye Hand Coordination skills: catching and throwing a ball, kicking a ball, etc. These types of skills also help children with early rewriting skills (drawing lines and shapes), writing letters, and even reading and math (visual scanning and visual spatial skills).
  • Bilateral Coordination skills: This is the ability to move your arms with your legs or the left side of the body with the right side of the body. These types of skills are the building blocks for more organized sports.
  • Cognitive development: Movement games help to improve cognitive development. Children have to follow multiple steps directions to follow the rules. In “Simon Says,” for example, children must follow the leader’s instructions and think quickly.
  • Self Regulation Skills: The ability to have self-control is critical in young children. In “Red Light, Green Light,” children must freeze when the leader says “red light” and move when the leader says “green light.” This game requires children to think strategically in order to win.
  • Social skills: Movement games provide an opportunity for children to interact with their peers, take turns, and oftentimes win or lose. There are different types of games to play such as cooperative or competitive.

Self-Regulation Flash Cards - Updated

Self-Regulation Flash Cards – Updated

How to play movement games with preschoolers.

There are many movement games that you can play with preschoolers. As long as they are engaged, moving, and having fun, your movement games will be successful for your little ones. You can also get creative and come up with your own movement games. Some of the classics include:

  • limbo: children walk under a pole or stick as it is lowered closer to the ground
  • freeze tag: one child is “it” and must freeze when touched; other children can move around freely, but must freeze when “it” touches them
  • hopscotch: draw a hopscotch board on the ground and have children hop from one square to the next
  • scavenger hunt: hide objects around the house or yard and have children search for them
  • duck, duck, goose: children sit in a circle, and the child who is “it” moves around the circle tapping each child’s head saying “duck”; but when the child who is”it” says “goose” they chase each other around the circle back to the empty spot. This is a timeless game that children love!
  • playing animals : children imitate the movements and sounds of animals such as stomping like an elephant, jumping and croaking for a frog, slithering like a snake, or waddling like a penguin.

Even if your preschoolers can’t complete every part of the game, they will be moving, socializing, and enjoying themselves!


There are many movement games that can be played outdoors. Preschoolers love to play outside, so make that experience even more fun by playing some movement games. Here are a few ideas:

  • Classic Tag or Chase: one child is “it” and must run away from the other children, who try to catch them
  • Freeze tag: one person or a few people are it. If you get tagged you have to freeze until someone comes and untags you.
  • Four square: draw a large square on the ground and have children play by bouncing a ball in and out of the square
  • Catch: have children stand in a large circle and toss a ball to each other. Beach balls are great for this!
  • Hula hoop : bring out hula hoops and watch students work on their rhythm as they try to keep the hula hoop off the ground
  • Relay races: put painter’s tape at the finish line and see who can reach it the fastest

movement activities for preschoolers lesson plans


Sometimes the space you are working with is limited to an indoor space, or the weather makes inside games your only option. There are many movement games that can be played indoors. Here are a few ideas:

  • Keep it super simple – practice different ways to move across the room: hop on one foot, crawl, jump, spin, etc. from one end of the room to the other
  • Follow the leader: have one child be the leader and have the other children follow his or her instructions
  • Balloon toss: blow up balloons and toss them to each other or play keep it up. Make a balloon paddle with movement activity ideas.
  • Bean bag toss: stand at opposite ends of a room and toss beanbags to each other
  • Dancing: choose songs with instructions like “Head, Shoulders, Knees and Toes,” “One Little Finger,” or “Hokey Pokey” for maximum movement
  • Freeze dance : dance to a song until it is turned off, at which point children freeze; unfreeze when the music comes back on

Movement Songs

Movement Songs

Variations on popular movement games for preschoolers.

There are many variations on popular movement games that can be played with preschoolers. Here are a few ideas to complement the classic games:

  • “Simon Says” : instead of following the leader’s instructions exactly, children can improvise and create their own movements. Check out all of these Simon Says ideas here.
  • – “Red Light, Green Light”: children can race to a finish line or do a certain movement when they hear “green light” and freeze when they hear “red light”
  • Musical Chairs: instead of sitting down when they hear the music stop, children can freeze in whatever position they are in or do a certain movement. Try placing yoga pose cards on a table. Turn on the music and walk around the table. When the music stops, the children have to perform the yoga pose on the card that they are closest to.
  • Hide and Seek Sardines Style: only one child hides and everyone else looks; as they find the hider, they all hide with them
  • Wacky Races: children have to crawl, dance, or pretend to swim to the finish line


Need even more ideas? Check out this blog post for self regulation games that do not require any equipment. Or try some of these additional suggestions:

  • create an obstacle course: set up cones, chairs, or other objects in a room or yard and have children navigate through them as quickly as possible
  • host a dance party: put on some music and have children dance however they want
  • bike or trike: get tricycles or bicycles and have children ride down the sidewalk
  • balance games: use a balance beam or just make a line on the ground using chalk for children to walk along. Try these 10 different ways to walk across a balance beam.

Movement games for preschoolers can provide a variety of benefits, such as developing gross and fine motor skills, improving balance and coordination, and increasing physical activity. We’ve shared some great ideas for indoor and outdoor movement games that are perfect for young children. If you’re looking for even more inspiration, be sure to check out our Movement Games for Kids Free PDF .


Music and movement:.

These music and movement activities can help young learners develop important skills. They will have a lot of fun dancing, singing, and playing instruments. These activities help with gross motor skills, locomotor skills, coordination, and teamwork. Read more about Music and Movement Activities for Preschoolers.

Large Group Activities for Preschoolers

These literacy, math, and movement ideas are great for the entire preschool class! Read more about Large Group Activities for Preschoolers.

Circle Activities for Preschoolers

Read ideas that include fine motor, gross motor, social skills, and literacy skills during circle time. Read these circle activities for preschoolers .

Parachute Activities for Preschoolers

Read more on the benefits of this super fun activity! Check out Parachute Activities for Preschoolers.

Movement Breaks and Time on Task for Preschoolers

Ways to Embed Physical Activity for Preschoolers

Yoga for Preschoolers to Help with Self Regulation

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40+ Music and Movement Activities for Toddlers and Preschoolers

In this article, you will learn what music and movement activities are and why they are important for a child's development. You will also get more than 40 fun music and movement ideas to implement during circle time in your classroom or in your home .

Learning is fun for toddlers and preschool children – especially when you're having fun yourself!

Try these music activities and activities of movement to get your child excited about learning about music, rhythm, and movement!

What are music and movement activities?

Music and movement activities are exactly what they sound like.

These are activities that incorporate gross motor skills and elements of fine motor skills with music.

music and movement activities pin.

(This post contains affiliate links. Purchasing from these links costs you nothing extra, but sends a few cents our way for website upkeep.)

Why are music and movement activities important for young kids?

Music and movement activities are a great way to help children learn and develop their motor skills; both fine motor skills and gross motor skills.

They can also be used to enhance cognitive development, creativity, and social-emotional development .

Motor skills development

Gross motor skills are developed and refined by using the large muscles of the body.

Music and movement activities are great for encouraging children to move in new and creative ways to help them develop these skills.

When people think of music and movement activities, fine motor skills development often gets left off the checklist of benefits.

Whether is grasping a silk scarf while dancing or creeping their little fingers up to their chins during a lively game of “Open, Shut Them”, music and movement activities absolutely involve the small muscles of the hands and fingers.

Encouraging creativity in kids is important, and music is a great way to do it.

Music has a way of capturing the imagination and getting people excited and interested in new things.

A great way to encourage creativity in kids is to expose them to music and have them participate in music and movement activities.

Music is a powerful form of self-expression that requires a high degree of mastery and learning, which is why it’s such a great thing to encourage in kids.

The more you exercise your creative muscle, the stronger it will get.

These activities are a great way to introduce the concept of creativity through music.

kids moving to the music and playing with balloons.

Social-emotional development

The importance of music on a child’s emotional development cannot be overstated.

While music and lyrics are obviously important, the rhythm and pace of a song can also influence a child’s mood.

 It's been well-documented that music and singing can help kids develop social and emotional skills.

One 2007 study found that kids who took music lessons had better social skills, self-esteem, and confidence than kids who didn't.

Another study found that singing in a choir also helped teens feel connected to their peers.

Again, creativity is a muscle, just like any other. The more you develop it, the more it will grow.

Language development

Music and movement activities are also great for helping a child develop language skills , as many of the songs in these activities use rhymes, which help phonetic awareness.

Children's movement songs also help develop receptive language through fun commands.

parent dancing with children as a music and movement activity.

Onto the music and movement activities! Most of these activities don't involve rules, just creative movement, and can take place right in your living room.

No need to spend a dime, either. Just put on some music and get moving.

Any of these activities are great for circle time in the home or in a classroom.

If you look at the Toniebox website , you'll find some neat music players and fun characters that go well with a lot of these music and movement activities, as well.

40+ musical activities that incorporate movement

Simon says “dance”.

We all know the game “Simon Says”. Add a musical twist to the game by putting on some music and using some fun gross motor verbs.

You can even use action verb flashcards and draw them out of a hat.

Obstacle Course

Put on some music, lay out some stepping stones and set up some chairs, and get moving to some background music.

Musical Chairs

Musical chairs is a classic music and movement activity.

Set up your chairs in a straight line, every other chair facing the opposite direction, then start the music.

When the music stops, everyone takes a seat.

Traditionally, this is played with one less chair than players, then one chair is removed per round.

For a non-competition version, simply keep the number of chairs equal to the number of children. It's still tons of fun!

Party Freeze Song

“When I say freeze, freeze! When I say dance, dance!” Put this on your music device and have a blast.

Silk Scarf Dancing with Classical Music

Put on some classical music and invite your child to let their silk scarves flow as they dance however they feel.

This is a beautiful and calming way to fit some gross motor into your day.

Marching to a Beat

Rhythmic music is great for marching games.

Show your child how to lift their knees up high and let their feet come down onto the floor to the rhythm of the music.

Creating Rhythms with Egg Shakers

Shake egg shakers along to the beat of the music or put on some classical music and have your child find the rhythm themselves.

Walking a Line

Put some painter's tape down on your floor and have your child practice balancing along with some calming music. This is a great control of movement activity .

Put a musical twist on the game of hopscotch by having your child dance a few wiggles in each square.

Painters tape makes for a great indoor hopscotch board.

Body Parts Dancing

For this activity, call out a body part and start the music. Your child can only use the body part you called out in their dance.

For example, you call out “left leg” and the child must only make their left leg move to the music.

This captures a child's attention, as it's both fun and challenging.

The Yes/No Game

For this game, a caregiver creates a musical rhythm using the words “yes” and “no” and the child repeats the rhythm, but using the words in the opposite order.

Click here for details.

“Oh so Quiet”

This is one of our favorite action songs.

The song starts off softly, then suddenly takes a very fun turn before it returns to its soft roots…and back again.

“Cover Me”

This is another fun Bjork piece that incorporates movement with music.

My children and I like to put on this song and “sneak” around the house, slowly peeking out from doorways and walking along walls.

The Limbo Rock is probably something you remember from your childhood. Set up a Limbo bar and put on the Limbo Rock song.

Very young kids don't have the control of body movement to lean backward and walk, but ducking under the bar is just as much fun.

Musical Hide and Seek

For this music and movement activity, the caregiver hides a musical instrument or any other item that makes a distinctive sound, like 2 spoons.

The child must find the instrument and make a sound with it.

Musical Packages

You may already be familiar with this patience practicing activity. Wrap an item in several layers of newspaper, then pass it around in a circle, each person removing a layer.

To add a musical element to this game, you can have the wrapped item be an egg shaker or other instrument .

The child who unwraps the final layer gets to shake it out to a rhythm of their own making.

Going on a Lion Hunt

This is a fun call-and-response music and movement activity you can do inside or outside.

Have your child follow you around use hand motions for binoculars (or use kids binoculars ) and “hunt” for different animals.

Name the Instrument

Put on some music, dance for a bit, then listen closely.

Guessing what musical instrument is making a certain sound is a great way to help develop auditory discrimination .

Dance Party

There's not always a need to organize music and movement with props or rules.

Sometimes all you need to do to get the wiggles out is turn on some music and dance.

Tissue Dancing

Have everyone put a tissue on their head and dance around without letting it fall to the floor.

Musical Statues

Instead of freezing when the music stops, the child must try to stand as still as a statue while the music plays.

When the music stops, the child can loosen their body and shake it out.

Very challenging!

Musical Moods

Music elicits an emotional response in most people.

Caregivers can take advantage of this and help children identify their emotions with this music and movement activity.

Dancing Animals

Ask your child what animal they would like to pretend to be. Then ask them how they think that animal would dance if they were able.

Put on a song and watch what they come up with!

Head, Shoulder, Knees and Toes

This activity helps kids stretch their bodies and learn body part names at the same time.

It's easy enough for very young children and it's a great exercise for everyone.

Musical Body Art

Lay out an oversized sheet of paper , put on some soft music, and get out some paints.

Let your child paint with the palms of their hands to encourage them to use their whole bodies.

This is a great process art activity . Just let them paint whatever the music makes them feel.

For more process art ideas, click here.

Feather Dancing

Get a few large prop feathers and dance to your favorite classical pieces.

You can even direct your child to help the feather move quickly to the lively portions of the music, then fall slowly to the floor for the somber portions.

Hokey Pokey

We all know this one. Put on the Hokey Pokey song and gather in a circle!

This activity helps your child learn their body parts, as well as left from right.

Peter and the Wolf

Peter and the Wolf, by Sergei Prokofiev (1891-1953), is a beautiful musical illustration that introduces children to the idea that music can tell a story.

Click here for a downloadable PDF guide to introducing Peter and the Wolf.

Sleeping Bunnies

This is a great mindfulness activity.

The child stays in a crouching position until it's time for the bunny to wake up and start hopping.

Watch the video below, or click here to see how to present the activity.

Pass the Beat

For this game, have the children stand in a circle (or across from you, if it's just the two of you).

The first person claps or stomps a rhythm and the person to their left must repeat the rhythm, add to it, or create a new one to pass around.

Pass the Tune

Stand in a circle or across from one another, if it's just the two of you.

Start with saying a few words in a tune. For example, sing “I love you” in a “do-re-mi” tune.

Have the child to your left copy your words and tune, then make up a tuneful sentence of their own.

The child to their left should do the same, and so on.

Singing Moods

Practice making mood-corresponding faces with your child and take turns making up songs that correspond with each face.

Open Shut Them

“Open, shut them. Open, shut them Give a little clap, clap, clap”.

This song incorporates music and fine motor skills through fun and repetitive instructions.

Listening Walks

Ok, so this activity doesn't necessarily involve music, but it is a great activity for helping auditory acuity and discrimination.

Walking slowly through your environment, inside or outside, and listening for the most subtle sounds.

The Silence Game is an even calmer version of this activity.

Swim Like a Sea Creature

If you have an audio device, like Alexa, you can play deep-sea sounds. Swim around your living room to these calming sounds.

Walking in the Jungle

This is a fun song for walks around the neighborhood, but your child can just as easily use their imaginations and walk through the “jungle” indoors.

child sitting with horn and music.

The Bingo Dance

We all know the Bingo song. Spice it up with some movements beyond stomping or clapping.

Instead, have your child do wiggle a body part or do a quick dance.

Hula Hoop Dancing

Hula hoop dancing is great because it can be done with upbeat music for an energy-burning activity.

Many people don't realize, however, that it can be done as a calming and meditative practice, as well.

Read here for more.

Balloon Dancing

Put on some music and blow up a few balloons . Dance around to the music, but don't let the balloon hit the floor!

baby climbing stairs, How To Encourage Gross Motor Development in Babies pinterest image.

Gunny Bag Dancing

This can be done with any large sack , but smaller children can use pillowcases.

Hop into your gunny sacks and hop around to the music.

Book Balancing to the Beat

This is a challenging and fun game. Place a book on your child's head and turn on some mid-tempo tunes.

The object of the activity is to dance with the book on their head without letting it fall to the floor.

Clave Dancing

If you have drumsticks , that's great. If you don't you can use spoons or anything else you can think of that will tap together and make a sound.

Dance around the house banging your claves together in fun rhythms.

It's amazing to see how children love to get up and move to the music. I hope you enjoy some of these activity ideas.

What music and movement activities does your preschool classroom or family enjoy?

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Tuesday 29th of March 2022

awesome idea's!

movement activities for preschoolers lesson plans

Music & Movement Activities for 3-5 Year Olds

If you have a little one, you already know preschoolers love to move, explore, and make noise! They are learning by exploring and experimenting. Attention spans are limited, and music lessons that insist on simply sitting still and listening will likely fail. Kids this age learn best by involving their bodies and moving. I’ve taught ‘piano’ to students as young as 3, but these lessons were filled with movement activities. You can easily do many of the same activities with your own kids at home!

This post may contain affiliate links, which means I receive a small commission, at no extra cost to you, if you make a purchase using the link. See the full disclosure for more information.

What are Music & Movement Activities?

Music and movement activities let preschoolers explore music through movement. They use their bodies, simple rhythm instruments, and large movements. This is ideal for learning music at this age and gives 3-5 year olds a chance to experience music, and rhythm in age-appropriate ways.

movement activities for preschoolers lesson plans

Why are Music & Movement Important for 3-5 Year Olds?

Gross motor skills.

Movement games involving tapping and clapping help children develop coordination. They also develop an awareness of their bodies and personal space. Music and movement activities also help little ones build the foundation of motor skills for life skills like tying their shoes.

Kids enjoy moving creatively and exploring sounds. Music and movement encourage imagination. For example, kids might imagine and creatively act out an animal while listening to classical music. Encouraging creativity helps kids develop problem-solving skills as they get older.

Preparation for later music lessons 

Similar to language skills, this is an ideal age to start learning music by listening to it and imitating sounds. While reading music doesn’t happen any faster if you start at the preschool level, preschool children who have a music education will have a strong basis for music lessons later. They also often develop a strong sense of rhythm more easily than children beginning at an older age.

Listening skills

Musical movement games usually involve listening to and following directions. Children will also be actively listening in action songs and games. Building these skills before they are in school with fun music games is a great idea!

Social skills

In group settings, 3-5 year olds will learn to work alongside others and respect each other’s physical space while they are moving about. They also learn to cooperate and listen to each other. For example, when participating in a circle song or game, or when they are clapping, tapping, or singing in time together.

Tips for success

Open-ended activities are a great idea at home where children can explore and learn informally. Let them be creative and experiment with music, movement, and making sounds. More structured activities will be most successful for 3-5 year olds when they are well planned, flexible, and short.

Music and movement activities for preschool children

Activity Ideas for Preschool Music and Movement Activities

Below are 7 music & movement activity ideas for you to try with your preschooler. 3 year olds are very different from 5 year olds, of course, so adapt the activities to your child.


I think shakers are the best instrument for the youngest kids. They are easy to grasp and keep hold of, and they don’t need a high level of coordination to get started. Preschoolers will enjoy shaking along to the music, or holding them while dancing to create more noise. They can begin to follow the beat with their shakers, and also use them for the other activities below

Other rhythm instruments

Most rhythm instruments are a good fit for children by age 3 or 4. Fun options include small drums, jingle bells, or rhythm sticks. Let your children explore the different sounds and create their own music. Or use them to follow the beat in a simple song.

A fun example is to adapt ‘ The Ants Go Marching’ song for rhythm instruments to sing: ‘The sticks go tapping’ or ‘The bells go jingling’. The song has a strong beat and an easily learned melody with repetitive words, which are all good at this age. Preschoolers love repetition with small changes, such as the same song with a new motion or action.

Free movement & Dancing

Scarves and ribbons are a lot of fun to use as props for 3-5 year olds. Be sure to supervise of course, especially for the youngest ones.

Encourage your children to listen to the music and act out how it sounds. For example, if you played ‘The Skating Waltz’ (by Emile Waldteufel) they could glide around the room waving their scarf slowly in the air. Maybe they would pretend to be a princess or a ballerina, but probably not a dinosaur!

You could listen to ‘Flight of the Bumblebee’  (by Rimsky-Korsakov) and pretend to buzz around the room quickly. Perhaps another piece of music would encourage slow and heavy stomping like a dinosaur.

Motion songs 

Sing action songs with your children, or play them from YouTube or your favorite playlist. Some of my favorite action songs are:

  • ‘The Hokey pokey’ – this such a fun activity for kids, and will lead to lots of giggles! It also teaches about the body and awareness of space while moving your body.
  • ‘Wheels on the bus’ – This can be sung and acted out. It’s also fun to substitute the words. For example sing ‘The feet on the bus go stomp, stomp, stomp ‘ or ‘hands go clap, clap, clap’ or ‘noses go beep’. Encourage your kids to be creative and come up with some more ideas!
  • ‘Ring Around the Rosie’ and similar circle chants with actions are also a good fit for preschoolers. Although they are great for larger groups, you can still do these songs with as little as just 2 people at home with your child.
  • ‘Teddy Bear, Teddy Bear, Turn Around’ – rhyming song
  • ‘I’m a Little Teapot’ action song

Freeze dance 

You’re probably familiar with the freeze dance game. You play music for everyone to dance to, and they must freeze when the music goes off or be out. This game is a great movement break from other activities to get kids up and moving to some tunes.


Imitation and copycat games help develop listening skills and rhythm. For example, you could play Simon Says’ using rhythms. If your children have shakers you could say ‘Simon says shake up high’ and then shake a rhythm for them to copy. Have fun with very simple rhythms, clapping them, singing them, or even tapping them on your nose!

Marching encourages children to feel the beat and rhythm of the music. Let your child create their own musical instrument. A maraca, shaker, or drum are all simple ideas you can make from things you have around the house. For example, a coffee can and wooden spoon drum, a plastic egg shaker, or a toilet paper roll taped closed and filled with beans.

Find some marching band music on YouTube or play your favorite children’s songs with a strong beat such as ‘The Grand Old Duke of York’. Your preschoolers can march along to beat with their new instruments and have a parade!

A favourite resource for rhythm instrument activities for preschoolers

rhythm instrument activities book

I’ve had some questions about more resources for music and movement activities for 3-5 year olds, especially using instruments. (If you’re interested in preschool piano I have some relevant posts) But, more relevant to this topic, are rhythm instrument activities. Rhythm instruments give preschoolers the opportunity to move their bodies while developing motor skills and making music.

My favourite resource for rhythm instrument activities (practically an encyclopedia of familiar songs, movement rhymes, and games) is a book I’ve had for quite a few years: 101 Rhythm Instrument Activities for Young Children by Abigail Flesch Connors . I’d suggest this book especially for preschool teachers, or anyone in early childhood education wanting to incorporate more music and movement activities.

Music and movement activities with your preschooler

Music and movement activities are the perfect way for 3-5 year olds to experience music-making. They benefit both your child’s physical development and their learning. These are simple activities for parents to do at home with their kids and would be easily adaptable for preschool teachers as well.

What music activities does your preschooler enjoy?

You might also like:

  • Music and movement activity ideas – using movement card s
  • Free music resources


8 Responses

Can you email me some more ideas for art, music and movement activities for 3-5 year olds. Thank you

I’d be happy to – thank you for taking the time to read my blog. I’m afraid I don’t currently teach art, but focus on music – although there are many, many sites with excellent ideas for art with 3-5 year olds. One of my favourite music activities for preschoolers that also incorporates movement is to use rhythm instruments or body percussion along with repetitive songs or rhymes. I have an excellent book I use for the preschool age range called ‘101 Rhythm Instrument Activities for Young Children’ by Abigail Flesch Connors. I have had it for years. Movement cards are also a lot of fun for ages 3-5. They can be done with music (for example to practise a steady beat) or without. Here are a selection of printable movement cards available to purchase. I also have a free printable set of movement cards on my free music resources page . I hope that helps!

Musical instrument activity for 3-5 years old. i need visual art too

Thanks for reading! If you’re looking for a great resource for musical instrument activities for 3-5 year olds, I’d suggest checking out ‘101 Rhythm Instrument Activities for Young Children’ by Abigail Flesch Connors. It’s my go-to resource for songs, rhymes, and games for preschoolers using rhythm instruments (shakers, sticks, drums, bells, etc.). I’ve had this book for years, but will see if I can find a link to add to this post since it might be helpful to others as well. I don’t teach visual art, so I can’t help there, but I know if you do a google search you’ll find some excellent resources.

I teach piano, and have a mom who wants her 3-yr-old to learn. After several tries I have recommended she wait another year or two with him. She still wants me to try. I am currently trying to adapt how I teach my 5’s, but could use some other ideas. Couldn’t find your posts about that. ????

Thank you so much for visiting my site! I have 2 posts about preschool piano meant mostly for parents wanting to try some piano learning before committing to lessons :piano by color and activity ideas for learning the keys

However, if you’re a piano teacher, I have a few more suggestions that might help. Keep in mind just turned 3 vs 3 1/2 say, are quite different development-wise. I have taught older 3 year olds using the ‘My First Piano Adventure’ book A by Faber. I don’t think it would work well for younger 3 year olds though. I do highly recommend the books called ‘Wunderkeys Piano for Preschool’ by Andrea Dow. They are designed with 3 year olds in mind, and should work for your student. They are available on Amazon, and created by the lady who blogs on ‘Teach Piano Today’. I hope that help, I’d love to know if this works for your student. Teaching 3 year olds even with a good program, is a challenge for sure, and takes a lot of patience. Take care, Katharine

i really love the actvities.

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movement activities for preschoolers lesson plans

Hi, I'm Katharine!

I help parents and teachers with music activities for preschool and elementary even if they don’t feel musical or have limited time.

Through the years I’ve seen first hand the transformation music can make in children’s development and emotional well-being. I’m passionate about helping all children access a music education.

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Hands On As We Grow®

Hands on kids activities for hands on moms. Focusing on kids activities perfect for toddlers and preschoolers.

Gross Motor Activities for Preschoolers: The Top 35!

Gross Motor Popular Preschoolers My Favorites Resources 54 Comments

Gross motor activities for preschoolers are a MUST in my book.

Preschoolers aren’t quite as hard as toddlers to plan activities for , but there still are some limitations to what you can do. And getting their little bodies moving helps a ton!

30 gross motor activities for preschooler that are on the go all the time.

Download the FREE Active Indoor Week of Activities

Preschooler have more gross motor control than toddlers

Granted, preschoolers have much more control than a toddler does (due to improvements in their fine motor skills ), and their academic level has jumped by leaps and bounds in only a year or so.

Therefore, crafting and art projects come a little easier to preschoolers.

Preschoolers still tend to have a lot, and I mean a lot , of energy that they need to expel in some form or another.

What’s a better way than with some fun activities that help their gross motor skills that get them up and moving?

However, there are still certain things that hold preschoolers back from doing some of the more advanced activities that require a little more patience, precision and coordination.

Which means, we have the perfect list of the best gross motor activities that are perfect for your preschooler to actually do.

These are 35 gross motor activities for preschoolers to have fun with!

These gross motor activities for preschoolers are just for fun! So many ideas here.

These gross motor activities for preschoolers are just for fun!

Many of these activities could add in a learning element or two, but really, they’re just for fun!

Have fun, join in and enjoy the giggles.

  • The Floor is Lava : A classic activity that doesn’t get enough credit. Enjoy this on any day when boredom strikes.
  • Paper Plate Skating : Grab a couple plates, step on them and skate around the house!
  • A Flash Light Scavenger Hunt: Turn off the lights and hide some objects around the house for preschoolers to go find with a flash light. They’ll be begging for you to hide them again!
  • Target Practice: Set up a target practice for preschoolers to throw something at (whether its mud or bean bags)!
  • Dumpster Diving: Preschoolers will just love searching in a box of ‘garbage’ for their favorite toys!
  • Hop Skip & Jump: Set up paper plates around the house or outside and have them jump from one to the next. If you have different color plates, there’s lots of options!
  • Sensory Walking Path : Add in the elements of different sensory objects and make a path to walk along to explore with your feet. Add in paint for a creative experience.
  • String Scavenger Hunt:  String some string around the room, through chairs and set up treasures along the way to find! Have them follow it through, going in and out, under and over to see what they can find!
  • Tape Road:  This will definitely get them moving and busy for the day! Tape a road throughout the house or room and let them drive drive drive!

Keep the fun movin’!

  • A Spy Game:  Tape up a ‘spider web’ in the hallway for them to crawl through. Stick pom poms or cotton balls to it for them to pick up along the way.
  • Jumping Game:  See how far they can jump!
  • Sticky Spider Web:  Throw newspaper at a sticky spider web! How many can they get to stick?
  • Lines of Colored Tape:   Tape lines on the floor to act as a balance beam. Or blow pom poms or cotton balls along them!
  • Newspaper Throwing:  Have a little indoor ‘basketball’ with newspapers!
  • A Big Maze:  Either use tape inside or sidewalk chalk outside and make a huge maze for the kids to drive or walk through!
  • Balance Beam:  If you have old boards laying around, or even a lineup of books, would work as a balance beam!
  • Race with Straws and Pom Poms  (shared on PBS Parents): Set up a track to blow pom poms around. Its much harder than it seems!
  • Frisbee Toss : Find some lids to act as frisbees. Tape a couple lines on the floor for targets and see if you can land them just right!
Find all sorts of scavenger hunts for kids to keep moving!

Gross motor activities for preschoolers with an added learning bonus -- all hands-on learning fun!

Gross Motor Activities for Preschoolers with an Added Learning Bonus

Learning at a desk is never easy for preschoolers. They need to move!

It just so happens there’s ways for preschooler to learn while moving too.

  • Maze of Numbers: Preschoolers will absolutely love to practice counting their way through a huge maze! Do it with tape if you’re stuck inside.
  • Bean Bag Toss : Label your stairs with numbers and throw bean bags to land on each stair. Make it harder to land on them in order.
  • What does it land on? A rolling version of target practice, roll a ball to see what it lands on (shapes, numbers, whatever)!
  • Puzzle Scavenger Hunt : Hide pieces of a number puzzle around the house. Find them and match them up with the puzzle base!
  • Learning Scavenger Hunt:  Set out letters or numbers for them to find throughout the house and have them match it up to an ‘answer sheet’.
  • Alphabet Ball:  Pass a ball back and forth calling out letters, numbers, whatever they’re learning.
  • Jump & Grab: Hang some objects for them to jump and grab (make it learning or just for fun)!
  • Connect the ‘Dots’ Mazes  (shared on PBS Parents): A tape maze for the kids to drive through and connect the matching letters (or numbers, shapes, sight words… ).
  • Dandelion Counting Race : Make a grid to count dandelions in and see who can find and count the most!
  • Trampoline Learning : Try any of these learning activities on the trampoline for a bouncing good time!

Preschoolers can get creative with gross motor activities too! It's called BIG ART!

Preschoolers can get creative with gross motor activities, too!

One of my favorite ways to get creative is in a big way, what I call Big Art.

It combines movement with art and its just plain fantastic.

It’s perfect for toddlers that don’t have control, but preschoolers still absolutely love it.

  • Big Art with Carpet Samples : Get carpet samples and attach them to their hands to paint in a big way.
  • Ribbon Painting:  If you can go outside with this one, that would probably be best. Dip some ribbons in paint and throw them at paper! Watch the marks it makes.
  • Painting with Wheels : Take the big wheels outside and roll across paint to cover the sidewalk!
Find more Big Art ideas to get creative

More gross motor activities for preschoolers from other hands on moms:

  • Jumping Skip Counting from Learn Play Imagine
  • Soft Toy Toss from Learn with Play at Home
  • Gross Motor with Water Balloons from And Next Comes L
  • A Race to Learn Phonics from Inspiration Laboratories

I always think these balance spooner boards (affiliate link) seem like fun for preschoolers too!

And I got a Diggin Wobble Board for my nephew that I think is much like the game of Simon (affiliate link, I also really love that game!) but with your feet and a balancing, rocking aspect.

Their energy should be taken care of now! Hopefully it’ll be a peaceful evening now!

(Don’t have a preschooler yet? Try these physical activities for toddlers until its time!)

movement activities for preschoolers lesson plans

Even More gross motor activities for preschoolers to try:

  • 40 gross motor activities to get your kidsmoving
  • 25 active ways to learn indoors using tape
  • 30 energy busters for kids
  • 32 scavenger hunt ideas for kids
  • 25 just plain fun activities for active kids!

movement activities for preschoolers lesson plans

About Jamie Reimer

Jamie learned to be a hands on mom by creating activities, crafts and art projects for her three boys to do. Jamie needed the creative outlet that activities provided to get through the early years of parenting with a smile! Follow Jamie on Pinterest and Instagram !

More Hands on Kids Activities to Try

Collection of physical activities for toddlers with a lot of energy to spend!

Reader Interactions


nerdle says

March 15, 2023 at 5:02 am

Incredible adventures had by adorable young people!

Yes No Wheel says

December 12, 2022 at 5:04 am

I love this post! It’s so helpful and I can’t wait to start incorporating some of these activities into my son’s day!

Baisakhi to you too! says

March 29, 2021 at 4:39 pm

Eeeeeeppsss!! Yes please do!! We need you

restaurantthatdeliversnearme.website says

August 10, 2020 at 2:10 am

Thanks for the post.

Aktivite says

May 2, 2020 at 5:28 pm

great activities for children, thank you.

Susan Hopkins says

January 10, 2020 at 8:15 am

These are wonderful ideas. I cannot wait to try some with my pre-schoolers!

richardmia92 says

December 10, 2019 at 3:46 pm

thats so cool. thank for sharing.

Fifi Kiasemua says

February 19, 2019 at 3:30 am

I really enjoy and I learn more about gross motor activities for pre school. This was my first time to visit your site but not the last

Ximena Hernandez says

May 23, 2017 at 1:37 pm

Hi, My 3 years and 9 month daughter needs to improve her motor skills.

I would love your help with some tips, ideas to what to do.

Ximena Hernandez.

Janet Siew says

June 17, 2016 at 1:15 am

Hi Jamie! Thank you for sharing your wonderful ideas. Glad to have found your site with lots of interesting activities I could use for my preschoolers.

June 17, 2016 at 1:12 am

Hi Jamie! Thank you for sharing ideas your wonderful ideas. Glad to have found your site with lots interesting activities I could use for my preschoolers.

Material de Psicomotricidad says

March 29, 2016 at 8:46 am

the kids have a lot of energy, and we must work for no losing them! thanks for the post

Ellen Soulis says

November 15, 2015 at 11:48 pm

I look forward to working with my granddaughter…as you have some great ideas and I thank you.

liz smith says

September 3, 2015 at 9:48 am

use paper plates as “ice skates” on the carpet ! pretty darn fun.

Suzanne Holt says

August 16, 2015 at 8:31 am

Love the fact that this site is embracing the fact that preschoolers love to move, rather than fighting against it. Great ideas!

Kaitlyn says

June 30, 2015 at 9:37 pm

Thank you so much for sharing these wonderful ideas! I teach a room full of very energetic preschoolers and I am always looking for great ideas to have them be active and get their wiggles out! This will especially come in handy on rainy days and on days that are too cold to go outside. It can be hard to find things to do when you are stuck inside for so long. Thanks again for sharing your great ideas!

January 18, 2015 at 9:29 pm

Howdy I am so happy I found your site, I really found you by mistake, while I was looking on Google for something else, Anyhow I am here now and would just like to say thank you for a tremendous post and a all round entertaining blog (I also love the theme/design), I don’t have time to go through it all at the moment but I have book-marked it and also added your RSS feeds, so when I have time I will be back to read a lot more, Please do keep up the fantastic work.

Nichole says

June 25, 2014 at 1:58 am

Thank you for all of your suggestions! You obviously worked very hard to compile this list, and, as a stay at home mom of a two year old, I appreciate all the help I can get.

JoAnne Coufal says

June 12, 2014 at 12:28 pm

Looks like great ideas you have listed for preschoolers and beginning kindergartners also. Keep up the good work, but improve your grammar in your listings. “There’s,” for example is singular and not used with a plural verb or predicate which follows the verb. Example in your writing: But there’s still certain things reads “there is still certain things” (“things” is plural so use “there are certain things”) There are several other incorrect examples in the article also. If we are to help preschoolers, it is important for us to used correct grammar. I do compliment you on what you are doing, however.

June 25, 2014 at 1:54 am

Posts critiquing grammar should probably be one hundred precent correct. There should be a comma after “for example” in your third sentence.

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movement activities for preschoolers lesson plans

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