Updated 9/17/02.

Sample Activity
Drawing to Music

Music, movement, and the visual arts can overlap one another. All three areas can be used to help children develop understandings of patterns and feelings. Music can make people feel different emotions, as can a drawing or painting. Music can also inspire movement and drawings.

Teacher's Role
During the activity, talk about the music, how it makes you feel, and how it makes you want to move. If some of the children begin to swing their arms back and forth, mimic that movement and talk about it. Are there other types of movement that go with the music? Some children may be too shy to begin the action, so the teacher may have to start the movement. Encourage others to think of different movements. Provide different types of music and encourage the children to draw with the music. Teachers can also facilitate the development of language and listening skills by using this activity.

When participating in this activity, children will

  • develop auditory discrimination by listening to a variety of music;
  • acquire an interest in music;
  • explore visual art materials while moving in time with the music;
  • create marks on paper with materials and observe other children's actions;
  • discover new ways to move;
  • examine their marks on the paper to see how they relate to the beat or rhythm of the music selection;
  • compare their own ways of creating marks with those of others;
  • relate the marks made during the music activity to marks made in other situations, as well as similar marks found in nature;
  • apply this learning in new situations by using music in other areas, such as dramatic play, transitions, and different art activities;
  • identify and use patterns found in music and marks to carry over into other activities.

Materials Needed

  • Record player, compact disk (CD) player, or cassette player
  • Records, CDs, or cassettes with a variety of music including children's songs, classical, dance,jazz, marches, and musical soundtracks
  • Visual art materials (drawing paper, drawing tools, adaptations as needed) 

Set up the record player or cassette player in the art center. If your space is limited or no outlet is available in the art center, set the equipment where all can hear. The objective is to encourage movement and add a new dimension to all centers. Place drawing paper on the floor or table. Invite the children to kneel, sit, or lie down on the floor (whichever is the most comfortable). While the children are choosing colors of crayons or markers, put on the music. Attach adaptive devices to the drawing tool or to a child's hand as needed. As the music plays, model, demonstrate, and facilitate expressive arm movements and mark-making. Observe and encourage verbalization and positive social interaction as children react to the auditory stimulation of the music and make marks or draw. The brief time between musical selections is the perfect time to choose a new color or switch drawing hands. Talk about the observations and changes in the music's beat and rhythms. Is the music fast or slow, loud or soft?


  • HEAR WE GO! - Traditional American Children's Songs; Music For All To Hear, Inc. PO Box 7331, Denton, TX 76201. This is a cassette tape and song book especially designed for the hearing impaired.
  • Foam grip device, tape, or other device to provide a larger grip for the drawing tool.
  • Pillows or a bolster for positioning the child properly and comfortably.
  • Wheelchair or adaptive seating with tray.

Computer Software Applications
Several programs contain sections that encourage children to create their own music or listen to musical selections.

Macintosh or PC Compatible

  • Kap'n Karaoke
  • Lamb Chop Loves Music
  • Making Music
  • The Backyard

Related Activities

  • Take music to the gym, outside, and snack or lunch areas.
  • Use two arms for "dancing" with a crayon or marker in each hand.
  • Place paper cut-out shapes underneath the drawing paper to create interesting textures. Play music as an accompaniment.
  • Draw outside to music using chalk on the sidewalk.
  • Tape large sheets of paper to the wall and draw to music.
  • Move to music holding scarves or banners.
  • Paint to recordings of nature sounds like thunderstorms, the rain forest or the ocean.
  • Use music for transitions, such as cleaning up, or getting ready for the bus.

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