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Musical Chairs

Music, Movement and Resilience

Young children love to move. They have energy to burn, and love all sorts of physical experiences that allow them to explore their skills and capabilities and to try new things. When children take part in music and movement activities, they are allowed to have fun, be creative and dance around and burn off some energy. When these experiences are group activities, children also benefit from learning social skills such as turn-taking and encouraging others, listening skills, as well as spatial awareness and a developing sense of safety.

Research shows that exposure to music can also improve children’s ability to learn, with it impacting on children’s memory, cognitive development, and expressive ability. Patterned activities such as clapping to music or jumping in time to a beat stimulate brain function and help the brain to organise thoughts and behaviors.

There has been a large trend in society that sees children being rewarded for participation, and an increase in games where there "are no winners" because "everyone is a winner, but these games take away from a child's ability to develop resilience. There are times in life when each and everyone one of us feel we are "losing at life", and we need to prepare our children for this. Failure isn't the end of the word. Losing isn't the end of the world, but our attitude to it could very well be. Games such as "Musical Chairs" provide children with safe spaces to not always win, to experience losing, but to learn that this is okay and life will go on.

Dee Joy Coulter, Ed.D, Neuroscience Educator, has said

"Resiliency — to bounce back after a disturbing event — is not something we are born with; it must be learned, and sometimes that takes many years. There is no vehicle more joyful and playful for providing such training than early childhood music and movement."

You will need:

  • Music (if you look up "Musical Chairs Music" on YouTube you can find music that has breaks already built in to the songs!)

  • Chairs (the same number as the number of children/adults playing the game).

What to do:

Step 1:

Set the chairs up in two rows back to back (one chair less than the number of players).


Step 2:

Explain the rules of the game- players dance around the chairs while the music is playing, then when the music stops, they quickly sit in an empty chair. The person who does not have a chair is “Out”. Each time the music stops, a chair will be removed.


Step 3:

Play the music, and the players walk around the chairs.


Step 4 :

Stop the music. The player left standing is taken out of the game.


Step 5:

The players all stand again and a chair is removed.


Step 6:

Play the music and repeat steps 3-5 until one person remains.

This person is the winner.


Provide different types of music from different cultures as a way of exposing children to world music.

Each round, encourage the children to move in different ways- eg clapping, stomping, jumping, hopping etc to incorporate different fundamental locomotor movement skills

Each round, encourage children to move like different animals or objects to encourage representational thinking and expression


Create a song for Musical Chairs with the children- use a well known nursery rhyme tune and add lyrics you create with the children. Record the children singing this on an iPad or tablet (or other device) and play this as the children play the game