Research shows that music has many benefits for young children and can also accelerate learning. Music making and listening enhance pre-language skills, boost motor development, and even encourage social skills and self-confidence. Even better yet: studies have found that children start getting the benefits of music from the time they are infants! At MIM, educators adopt a play-based approach to music, which encourages kids to have fun while developing these important skills.

MIM education developed these fun musical activities for parents and little ones (ages 0–5) to do at home. In the videos, you’ll meet curator of education Katie Palmer, who will guide you through the steps to each activity.

A few of Katie‘s tips for getting the most out of these musical activities:

Make this an interactive, family experience. You can encourage your little one and reinforce learning by doing these activities together. Sing, dance, and drum along!

Let little ones participate at their own pace. Some children won’t join in this new experience immediately, and that’s okay. They can participate as much as they’d like, or even just observe. Enjoy the time together, and rest assured—they’re still learning!

Ask questions to start a conversation about the activities. Music can be a great way to spark kids’ imagination and creativity.

1. Mini Music Makers Drum Along

What kids are learning: Hand-eye coordination, pre-language skills, beat keeping

Grab something to drum on (Tupperware works well) and explore three types of drumming. With free-based rhythms, see how changing the way you drum can make different sounds. Practice steady beat keeping by alternating your hands in different subdivisions of beats, then vary the tempo and repeat patterns to create groove-based rhythms.

2. Musical Storytime: Wheels on the Tuk Tuk

What kids are learning: Reading comprehension, creativity

Set the stage by singing your own rendition of “Wheels on the Bus” before singing along to The Wheels on the Tuk Tuk, a story by Kabir Sehgal and Surishtha Sehgal set to the familiar tune, and illustrated by Jess Golden. Copies are available in MIM’s Museum Store online, or you can follow along on screen. Stay tuned for some fun discussion questions at the end of the video that invite kids to think imaginatively and engage with the story.

3. Mini Music Makers Scarf Activities

What kids are learning: Spatial reasoning, pre-language skills, self-regulation, shapes, colors

Gather some lightweight scarves and practice free movement to the sounds of a Korean folk song, “Arirang.” To explore beat keeping, hold scarves in each hand and follow along with movement prompts set to a musical tune. Finally, practice bilateral development by folding your scarf, placing a beanbag in the center, and rocking the scarf back and forth to the beat of Japanese lullaby “Sakura.”

4. DIY Kids Craft: Maracas (for ages 3+)

What kids are learning: Bilateral development, creativity, counting, colors

Make colorful eggshell shakers in this craft that’s fun for the whole family. Note: This craft contains small parts; children will need supervision and help from caregivers. You’ll need plastic eggshells, beads, plastic spoons, and tape (Katie recommends masking tape for younger kids). Once you’ve created your maracas with different numbers of beads inside, ask kids to listen for the differences in sound between them, then play your shakers along to a favorite tune!

5. Mini Music Makers Feathers Activity

What kids are learning: Spatial awareness, syntax development, distinguishing high and low sounds, fine and gross motor skills, hand-eye coordination

Children will start to recognize high and low sounds in this movement-based activity that uses feathers. If you don’t have any around the house, you can find inexpensive, colorful feathers at a craft store or online, or substitute a small piece of tissue paper instead. Watch your feather fall as you sing a descending pattern, and work on hand-eye coordination by catching the feather. Bring together what you’ve learned by singing and moving along to African traditional song “Fanga Alafia.” Activities can be done seated or standing.


We hope you enjoy these activities and learn something new! As Katie says, “Instilling the joy of music making is one of the best gifts you can give a young child.”

Join us for Mini Music Makers classes on Wednesdays, Thursdays, and Saturdays at MIM!

Grow and learn with music year-round.

Join MIM’s Family Circle for less than $10 a month and get unlimited museum admission plus free access to family-friendly Signature Events.