Elementary Music, Lessons

No Touch Movement Lessons for Elementary Music

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At the end of last year, my principal held a meeting where we just talked. We were on Zoom, we read through the CDC guidelines for going back to school, and thought about what that might possibly mean for us. What that would mean is no students in the cafeteria, no students in the gym, no students at recess…. etc. The more we talked about it, the more I realized a huge part of my job this year would be to facilitate movement. And not just any movement– no touch movement.

There are tons of ways that you can move in elementary music, but most of them involve either moving around the room or touching.

Thankfully, I have students who need a little bit of extra structure, so I am actually very used to doing no touch movement activities. Typically, we start every class like that.

Here are a couple of fun and easy no touch movement activities to use with your elementary music students.

Because I know some schools are being weird about singing, all of these are actually listening activities. Annnd I use them on a normal year, not just a socially distanced year.

If you are looking for more ideas, you can download the FREE PDF Guide to Teaching Music from 6 Feet Away. It is chock full of easy and fun lessons that students can do without touching. When you download, you will also get access to the free resource library!

Click here to get the FREE PDF Guide to Teaching Music from 6 Feet Away.

Prefer to watch? Watch below!



Looking for a super simple movement activity for your elementary music room? Whether you need a warm up, a time suck, or to just wake the students up, these 5 movement activities with stick figures are the way to go. They are easy, require almost no prep, and the kids LOVE them. Becca's Music Room

Stick Figure Movement

In my classroom, I have a set of stick figure posters, and we use them all of the time. Basically, the students just copy what the stick figure on the poster is doing.

I like to add different music to make it a little bit more fun, and change how often I switch the pictures.

You can read my blog post about four different ways to use stick figure posters for movement by clicking here.


Creative Form for No Touch Movement

Take a song– any song. I have done this activity with second grade and third grade students and the song Breezes are Blowing. I have also used recorded pieces, such as Rondo Alla Turca.

Write the form of the song on the board.

Next to the letters, have students come up with a steady beat movement. So for example, for A, they may choose to snap. For B, they may choose to stomp.

Play or sing the song, and do all of the movements!

As an extension, you can have students come up with their own ideas or work in groups to create their next set of movements.

This works with any song, and any grade– the older they are, the harder the dances become.


Breezes are Blowing: Elementary music lesson for second grade and third grade to teach low la, aba form, and improvisation-- using a Native American folk song! Becca's Music Room



One student stands at the front of the room. They move their body to whatever piece or music you have on, and the other students “mirror” them.

Although it’s simple, it’s a lot of fun.

You can also do this in pairs, if students can stay six feet away from each other. I like to have a maraca or bell to ring when it’s time to switch who is the leader and who is the follower.

I have done this from every grade K-5, and they all love it. Again, as they get older, the movements become harder.


Im Herbst Listening Lesson for Timbre and Tone Color. Looking for a fun fall listening lesson (that is not the Vivaldi?) Im Herbst is the perfect solution! It is fun, short, and dramatic, which makes it perfect for talking about tone color, writing about music, and using the scarves! This lesson also includes sticky notes, talking to partners, and a picture book. Becca's Music Room


Contour “Painting”

If you have been around for a while, you know that I LOVE to use scarves in my classroom.

Scarves and centers are both my jam.

Unfortunately…. Neither scarves nor centers are good for distance learning or socially distanced learning. And not for no touch movement activities either.

So, instead of scarves, students can “paint”. This just involves pretending that your hand is a paintbrush, and a little bit of fun with “picking colors” before you start.

Have students use their paintbrushes to trace the contour of the music. I use this to show high and low with my first graders, and it is very simple, but very fun.

Two of my favorite songs for this is O Mio Babbino by Puccini, Bydlo by Mussorgsky, and Im Herbst by Robert Franz. All of they have pretty dramatic changes between high and low, making it more fun.

You can read other scarf ideas here— and you can usually do them with just hands and not scarves. (Or use tissue paper!)


Fairies and Giants

While we are on the topic of high and low, I would like to give an honorable mention to the piece Fairies and Giants by Elgar.

We use this when talking about high and low, and we pretend to be fairies on the high parts and monsters on the low parts. (I like monsters better than giants, because then I can have them get low and we don’t get confused about why on the low parts we get bigger.)


Need ideas for teaching elementary music without singing? Students need movement lessons! This list includes ideas for movement lessons for general music, so that you can teach music without singing! Becca's Music Room


There you go– five of my favorite movement activities! I love these activities whether or not we are socially distanced. We do these most years in my classroom, and they just happen to be no touch movement activities.

Which one did you like best? Do you have any no touch movement activities to add? Let me know in the comments!

And don’t forget to go pick up the FREE PDF Guide to Teaching Music 6 Feet Away!

Happy teaching!


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2 thoughts on “No Touch Movement Lessons for Elementary Music”

  1. I was researching songs to use for the contour painting idea and I thought I would share a fun one from a favorite movie of mine!

    I wouldn’t use the whole song since it runs quite long (I would start around the 2:30 mark), but the range and jumps in this vocal line are quite impressive and the beat behind it adds some extra fun.

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