These require very little preparation and no candy/snacks/treats (read bribery) to do with your child.
If you missed my other post “9 Ways For Young Children to Enjoy Music Practice”, you might also like to read that!
1 Bean bags on your head
If you don’t have bean bags, just get creative with the toys you have. For every repetition of a piece, they can place a bean bag on your head. Stack ’em up tall!
2 Randomly selected cards
Pull numbers 1-5 from a deck of UNO cards, or another similar game. Flip them face down and shuffle. Have your child select a card, and flip it over to see how many times to perform the piece. Choose a new card for each piece until the cards are gone.
With the kids’ recent obsession with the wooden railway trains, we’ve been able to use these in practices. For each piece they perform, they can add a piece of track to the their railway, or add a train.
Start with a tower of building blocks or Legos. They can remove one piece of the tower each time they complete a practice activity. When the tower is all down, practice time is over. You can go the opposite way and build towers as well.
Using army men or lego minifigures create two equal armies facing each other. For each repetition of a song played correctly, the “bad guy” army loses a soldier. For each time your child makes a mistake, a “good guy” soldier goes down. Battle it out until one army is completely gone.
6 Silly outfits
Make a pile of hoodies, hats, shirts, earmuffs, shoes, sunglasses, (but please avoid gloves!) Each time they complete a practice task they can choose a piece of clothing, AND they can choose whether they put it on themselves or you! The idea is to see how silly we can look at the end.
7 Smiley faces
Cut out 8-10 paper circles. You can use regular printing paper, but if you have colored card stock or construction paper, that’s even better. You’ll also need a pen or some markers. Each practice task completed gets them a smiley face drawn by you. Be sure to make them wacky and fun. Big, dark eyebrows on one, a pirate with a patch, a tongue sticking out, super large eyes, or big glasses. Draw each one as you go so they get a little break between performing their songs. Don’t let them watch you draw it. Make them wait, then flip it around dramatically for them to see what you’ve drawn for them. Get ready for giggles! You can also give each smiley face a silly name like, “Bowhold Bill” or “Twinkle Tim”, that goes along with what your child just performed.
You can use newspaper, cardboard, or anything flat the kids can stand on for this one. This will, unfortunately, not work for piano students. 😉 Lay the newspaper across the room like islands. Leave them close enough that your child can hop from one to the next without landing in the “water.” For each island they land on, give them a practice task. When they’ve completed the task, they can jump to the next island (you may want to hold their instrument while they jump!). When they land on the final island, practice is over. If you want to give them extra motivation, leave a little treat or prize on the last island in a “treasure box.”
Inspiration for numbers 4 & 8 came from the kids’ violin teacher, Miss Sierra. She does such a great job keeping their attention during lessons! Teaching 2-4 year olds is no easy task and we are so thankful to have her for our children!