Babies Walkers to 2 2s to 3s 3s to 4s

Overview and benefit

This activity gives the children an opportunity to explore different instruments and experiment with different sounds and rhythms. This benefits children by:

  • Allowing them to begin to make independent decisions and choices
  • Developing creativity
  • Developing fine motor skills
  • Allowing them to learn about sounds

Training video

Equipment required

  • Children’s song of your choice e.g. Bob the Builder or The Tweenies or one from the MAD Academy repertoire of songs.
  • Instrument Box full of instruments – Instruments that are played in the mouth (such as recorders) and could be pushed down the throat should NOT be included for safety reasons. Mouth organs are OK to use.


If you have not used any instruments in your class that week as part of the Learning Element activities, then you should include instruments in one of your song and dance spaces. The aim is to ensure children have hands on experience of musical instruments in every class.

How it works

Each week the children get to experiment with a variety of instruments. Keep the instruments out of reach until it is time to use them. If the children are able to get hold of them they’re very hard to retrieve!

What to do in the class

Place the box of instruments on the floor. Larger groups tip the instruments out on to the floor or blanket. You can hand the instruments out to the small babies. Once the children are able to stand, aided or not, we encourage them to choose their own instruments. Let the children experiment with the instruments. During their exploration, take the time to go around individually and praise or encourage the children in what they are doing. Help the adult to work with them and the instrument. Tapping the beat of the music on the child’s arm or leg helps them to develop a natural feel for rhythm.

This is a good time to interact with the adults, chatting to them about their child and how they are enjoying the class and progressing. Half way through instrument time you may want to ask the children to hand their instruments to another child, or to pass them on to the child next to them. This encourages sharing (and tears!)

Once the music has finished, encourage the children to put their own instrument back in the box. You must stand and hold the box so no one gets pushed or hit by the instruments. It’s quite fun to ask who is going to help you to put the lid on the box and put it safely away. The children love to help and it distracts them from any difficulties which might arise!

Adaptations for older/younger children

For very small babies ensure that there is an appropriate selection of instruments. Avoid triangle for younger babies and especially avoid using the metal sticks that come with these, substitute a wooden beater.

What to do in a nursery setting

No adaptation is necessary


After giving some free time to explore and exchange instruments, you can encourage the babies (with the adults help!) to experiment with making different types of sounds with their instruments, such as loud and soft, fast or slow. You could use Ralph, holding him in the air for loud and behind your back for quiet.

If you feel your class plan needs a more active instrument song, then you could encourage the children to choose an instrument from the box (rather than pouring them all out) and then move the box out of the way. Then put on a familiar song and dance or march to the song with your instrument.