The Best Movement Activities for the Elementary Music Classroom

Movement and dance activities for the elementary music classroom.

Finding the best movement activities for grades K-5 can be daunting. Ideas need to be engaging, repeatable, and if they offer a creative component, they get the ALL-STAR status! Here are my best multi-layered lessons for some of my favorite movement activities.

The best movement activities are integral to a quality music education experience for children by providing ways to express, explore, and learn.

Check Out the Suggested Grade Levels (K-2), (3-5), (K-5)

Table of Contents

PLEASE READ: Resource collections (especially older ones) need to be screened carefully for songs with a questionable past. Here’s a link to databases containing some of those songs.

Making Connections Through Movement

Body Shapes (K-5)

An SEL resource on TPT that uses music and movement.

Body Shapes is all about students taking 3-5 minutes to move their bodies and relax their minds as they experience SEL through global music and movement as a class starter, brain break, or mindful way to transition to the next class or subject.

The resource includes NINE pieces and I’m excited to provide a GROWING list of songs on Spotify to add to that repertoire. Listen on Spotify or purchase the songs and add them directly to your PowerPoint.

Some of these images are of my older students who created shapes with a partner. I added their images to their classroom presentation of Body Shapes plus in some of the younger grades’ presentations.

Star Wars Body Percussion (3-5)

Engaging movement for your older elementary students can be hard to find! This activity using Buckethead’s Star Wars rendition is sure to spark your older students’ interests with body percussion movements, some Chewbacca sound effects, and then the chance to create their OWN movements using the piece’s form to help.

Creating Movement

  • Class-Find consensus and create as a whole group.
  • Small Groups #1-Using the form, small groups can create body percussion/movement to go with each section.
  • Small Groups #2-Assign different sections to each group. Have the entire class have the same movement for the intro and coda for a whole-part-whole feel.
  • Props– Have groups of 6 or so take a long piece of fabric and create moves.

    Older kids LOVE working with big pieces of fabric!

    The fabric should be at least 48″ wide and 8′ long. If you had enough small parachutes, that would work too. I kept 2 groups in the room to work and sent to to the hall. I stood in the doorway so I could watch all at once. 🤪 I’ve done this SO successfully. Obviously, you can go up/down and side to side, but also the kids can create locomotor movements and even turn the fabric inside out as kids go over and under. The possibilities are endless.

Music for Creative Dance-Eric Chappelle (K-5)

I was introduced to this series of CDs in my Orff levels and CD #1 is golden! The composer, Eric Chappelle writes music with lots of variation in tempo, dynamics, tone color, etc. which is PERFECT for movement.

As an Amazon Associate, I earn from qualifying purchases.

For use with K-5, Music For Creative Dance: Contrast and Continuum, Vols. 1 – 4 features pieces with contrasts in tempo, texture, and other musical elements while other pieces create a continuous flow of music. 

Listen to song #1, “All In One.”

Lesson Plan for “All In One” – Beat and No Beat

  • Tell your kindergarten, first, or second-grade students to step to the beat as soon as they hear the music.
  • When the music changes, float.

Those two styles alternate in varying lengths on this track. Subsequent lessons could include (for beat/no beat)

  • be a rabbit/bird
  • tap hands with partner/float to a new space
  • be raindrops/clouds
  • use props such as partner parachutes or scarves to show what they hear
  • partners choose un-pitched percussion instruments to show the beat and no beat and take turns playing

There are at least 5 more songs on this one CD that are that easy to use and some of them are for older students too.

Moving to Irish Music (K-2)

Join the hundreds of other teachers who have the Oodles Newsletter delivered to their inbox every Monday, filled with the latest from content creators (YouTube play alongs and more), kid-popular trends, and other resources that you can use right now.

Success! Use the PW: Oodles21 to unlock FREEBIES on the Subscriber Spot tab in the top menu!

Moving to Beat | No Beat (K-2)

Moving to Jazz (Body Awareness) (K-2)

Steady Beat With the Crazy Frogs (K-2)

Highway #1, from The Shenanigans (K-2)

Students pretend to start their car and then when the singing begins, they step around Australia on Highway #1. They stop at different cities in Australia and have different moves to make. From the collection: Children’s Dances of Terra del Zur, Vol. 1 (paid link)

  • walk walk and run run run
  • heel and toe and stamp
  • side together wiggle
  • jump jump and clap clap clap
  • skip skip and bump
  • gallop gallop jump
  • hop hop hop and stomp

Down in the Valley (book) by the Amidons (K-5)


  • I Let Her Go Go (A)
  • Down In the Valley (A)
  • Alabama Mississippi (P)
  • Charlie Over the Ocean (P)

Step Lively (book) by Marian Rose (K-5)


  • Kinderpolka (P)
  • Sasha (I)
  • Ozark Rag (I)
  • Bingo (A)

Bump Up Tomato (3-5)

Rise Sally Rise Round De Doo Bop

Author: lbbartolomeo

I'm a mom, wife, teacher, reader, gardener, trekkie, sci-fi fanatic, musician, dog lover, and a Christian. I hope my contributions bring some joy and happiness to your life!

2 thoughts on “The Best Movement Activities for the Elementary Music Classroom”

Leave a Reply

%d bloggers like this: