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Looking for simple and fun music lessons? These movement activities for 2-3 grade elementary music class are just the ticket! These lessons are for second and third grade. They will help students to learn about rhythm, form, singing, and also have fun. Plus, the movement will help them get the wiggles out, which is a win-win.
Most of these include singing. If you are currently in a situation where your students are not supposed to sing, you can find a recording OR record yourself singing the song. Then the students still get the activity.
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Stick Figure Movement
One super easy movement activity for fourth and fifth grade is the stick figure movement activity. Basically, you hold up posters with stick figures in different positions. They match the poster.
You can switch every few beats, change the pattern, add music, add a backing track… Pretty much anything that you want.
You can draw your stick figures, or you can purchase a set here. They are really inexpensive.
Mama Lama (sometimes written as Ama Lama) is one of my FAVORITE songs. It is just so much fun. As far as the movement aspect, students stand in a circle. In the beginning, students tap their legs, then tap each other’s hands, keeping the beat.
On the B section, one student picks a movement that all of the students do– so you just copy the people in the middle.
If your students are far apart, you can still do this, just have them tap their legs, then tap the air. They don’t mind the accommodation.
We have done this even on Zoom, and my kiddos love it.
Swan Lake Movement
This year, I decided to teach my third graders about ballet. We learned about The Nutcracker in December, and then learned Swan Lake in January.
We did this super simple movement activity with the piece Swan’s Theme.
The form is: ABAC coda
- A: “Swan arms”
- B: Wave your hands back and forth, starting at the floor and move up
- C: Play the instruments that you hear
- Coda: Pretend to be the conductor
You can also hear the theme, which you can put the words, “Tchaikovsky wrote a great ballet, its name is Swan Lake”. You can hear it here.
We did this activity in conjunction with a Swan Lake virtual field trip, which was so much fun! We did this on Zoom, so I shared my screen, and the students chose where we went based on the map slide. We learned the story, heard the Swan’s Theme, learned about Tchaikovsky, watched Misty Copeland dance, and more!
Ickle Ockle (sometimes Bickle Bockle) is a cute song we use to learn do. Sometimes it ends on do and sometimes on mi, but I used this version.
Here is the game that goes along with it:
- Students get partners, and link arms.
- One person is in the middle, partnerless.
- While singing, the students walk around the room.
- When the song ends, students find a new partner.
- Whoever is left without a partner is the new person in the middle.
It’s so much fun.
We typically do that one day, and another day, we do this version:
- Put these fish-themed solfege cards on the floor.
- Students walk around while singing.
- When the song stops, they go to the closest card.
- I sing, “1, 2, ready go” and the students sing the card in front of them.
It’s an easy, active way to include more movement in the day. You can read more about Ickle Ockle here.
I also have a lesson pack on TPT that features powerpoints to present quarter rest or do, fish-shaped solfege flashcards to practice solfege patterns, game instructions, printable lesson plan, and more!
Interested in more flashcard activities? Click here to read about fun ways to use flashcards.
This Hispanic folk dance is always a hit with my students. I’ve used it with everyone from 2-5 grade, and they all love it.
I also used it while teaching online via Zoom.
Breezes are Blowing
This song is a fun movement activity for 2-3 grade students.
This song has the form aba, so after learning the song, have students come up with two actions– one for a and one for b.
Sing the song, and have them perform their actions!
I like to do one together, and then have them do this in groups.
It can easily be done online, just have them figure out the actions on their own.
I have a lesson pack on Teachers Pay Teachers that includes a lesson plan, powerpoint, printable activities, an Orff arrangement, and more!
This is a super simple song from Nigeria.
For the movements, we just move our hands up when “ashe” goes up, and down when “ashe” goes down.
It’s super simple, but fun.
After we learn and try it a few times, I’ll have half of the class sing the up sections and half sing the down sections. This is a good precursor to teaching the kids rounds, because they get used to singing different things.
Weird note– you may have to talk about how “ashe” is “ash-ay” not the word “ashy”. It’s a random little thing, but it comes up pretty much every year.
Hob ikh mir a mantl
This is a really fun Klezmer folk dance. Klezmer is an Eastern European Jewish style of music. This piece means “I had a little overcoat”. It talks about how you have an overcoat, and it gets a hole in it. So you make it into a jacket. That gets a hole in it, so then you make it into a shirt, and so on and so forth.
The dance it easy and fun– and another one that we did via Zoom.
I pair this with a book called Joseph had a Little Overcoat.
Old Brass Wagon
The last one for today is Old Brass Wagon. I use this song and folk dance to teach sixteenth notes to third grade (although second grade loves it anyway).
It’s pretty self explanatory– when it says to circle to the left, you circle to the left. When it says circle to the right, you circle to the right. Everybody in– everyone walks in with their hands up. Everybody out– everyone walks out.
We like to add rhythm sticks and do the actions that way. We also come up with our own verses, which is super fun!
We did this this year on Zoom, and it was tons of fun. I just had the kids grab pencils instead of rhythm sticks, and it was a hit.
Alright friends, there are a few of my favorite movement activities for second and third grade! We do A LOT of movement activities, so it’s not extensive, but they should help! All can be used on Zoom or 6 feet away with a little accommodation, and the kids don’t mind.
What’s your favorite movement activity? Share on your Instagram stories and tag me @beccasmusicroom.