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  • Sierra Verity-Beasley

Simple Percussion Games: Exploring the Music Therapy Advantage with toddlers and young kids

Welcome! If you've made here, I'm going to assume you're looking for ways to engage your audience of toddlers (be it as a teacher, music therapist or parent) - Well you're in luck! Because today, we will explore the numerous benefits of incorporating simple percussion games into your child's playtime, (or multiple kids mat time)!

But before we get into some ideas to play with (pun intended), you might like to know the many (perhaps unexpected) benefits of using percussive instrument games...

Enhancing Sensory and Motor Skills

Through engaging in simple percussion games, toddlers have the opportunity to explore a variety of instruments, such as drums, shakers, and tambourines. This multi-sensory experience stimulates their auditory, tactile, and visual senses, fostering their overall sensory development. As they experiment with different instruments, they refine their fine and gross motor skills, improving hand-eye coordination, finger dexterity, and body movement control.

Language and Communication Development

The rhythmic nature of percussion games offers an ideal platform for toddlers to develop their language and communication skills. As they play and interact with the instruments, they learn to imitate rhythms and sounds, which enhances their ability to recognize patterns and syllables. Simple call-and-response games encourage vocalization and encourage them to explore their own unique sounds and expressions.

Emotional Expression and Social Interaction

Engaging in percussion games allows toddlers to express their emotions freely and creatively. The act of playing instruments empowers them to communicate their feelings through sound, helping them develop emotional awareness and regulation. Additionally, group percussion games provide valuable opportunities for social interaction, turn-taking, and collaboration. Through shared musical experiences, toddlers learn to listen, respond, and engage with others, fostering their social skills and empathy.

Cognitive Development and Learning

The rhythmic patterns and repetition in percussion games promote cognitive development in toddlers. By experiencing predictable musical patterns, they enhance their ability to recognise and anticipate sequences, which lays the foundation for pattern recognition and problem-solving. Moreover, playing percussion instruments helps improve their attention span, focus, and memory skills, facilitating overall cognitive growth and learning.

Bonding and Parent-Child (or teacher) Connection

Simple percussion games offer a unique opportunity for bonding and strengthening the parent-child relationship. As parents or caregivers actively participate in the musical play, they create a nurturing and joyful environment. The shared experience fosters a sense of security, trust, and attachment between the toddler and the caregiver, promoting a positive and loving bond.

Incorporating simple percussion games into your toddler's playtime is not only an enjoyable experience but also a powerful tool for their development. Music therapy provides a holistic approach to engage toddlers and unlock their potential through rhythm, movement, and social interaction. Through simple percussion games, toddlers can enhance their sensory and motor skills, develop language and communication abilities, express emotions, foster social interaction, boost cognitive development, and strengthen the parent-child connection.

Drum roll please..

Easy percussion games for kids:

Follow the Leader:

  1. In this game, one child or adult becomes the leader and plays a rhythmic pattern on a percussive instrument.

  2. The other toddlers or family members take turns imitating the leader's rhythm. They can use drums, shakers, or any other percussive instruments available.

  3. The leader can change the rhythm, speed, or dynamics to keep the game engaging and encourage the participants to listen and respond.

Tip: Use an engaging rhythmic song with a stable beat in the background to encourage everyone's ongoing attention.

We love this track by Todd Rundgren (especially for parents) but something you know and love will always be a winner.

Musical Storytelling:

Create a collaborative musical storytelling experience by providing each toddler or family member with a percussive instrument. Choose a familiar story or make one up together. As the story unfolds, each participant plays their instrument to represent different characters, actions, or events in the story. This game encourages creativity, imagination, and active listening as everyone contributes to the musical narrative.

Freeze - Play Jam:

Turn up the energy with a freeze play jam!

  1. Play lively music and encourage toddlers and family members to dance or play their instruments freely. When the music suddenly stops, everyone must freeze their instruments and stop playing immediately.

  2. The game continues as the music starts again, and participants resume until the next freeze command. This game promotes active movement, coordination, and the ability to listen for cues.

  3. Add another layer of complexity by adding "playing quietly" or "playing loudly"!

Our absolute favourite go-to song for this activity in kindergartens and pre-school settings is 'Bop and Stop' by Sing and Grow Australia.

Let's embrace the power of music and the joys of simple percussion games to nurture our toddlers' growth and development. Start exploring these musical adventures today and witness the incredible impact they can have on your little one's journey.

Disclaimer: This blog post is for informational purposes only and should not replace professional advice. If you have concerns about your child's development or wish to explore music therapy, please consult a qualified music therapist.


Sierra Verity-Beasley

Registered Music Therapist

Resound Music Therapy


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