elementary music center in the classroom

How to plan elementary music centers in 9 easy steps

Are you wondering how to plan elementary music centers the easiest way possible?

In this blog post I will share with you some of my best tips for successfully and effectively planning fun music theory games for elementary music centers, because planning right from the beginning is key.

My hope is that you will feel confident using fun music theory games in your classroom, without all the overwhelm.

I love to plan lessons that include fun music theory games  for my students because obviously they are fun but more importantly they provide lots of independent and hands-on learning. Also, they can help you differentiate learning and review concepts, so all students get the support they need. 

You came to the right place if you are an elementary music teacher and you want to learn how to plan elementary music centers for the classroom. CLICK HERE to sign up for the full course.

1- How to plan elementary music centers for the classroom? Start with the end in mind.

Think about what you want your students to know, learn and/or practice during centers (Learning Objective).

Gather fun music theory games and printable activities that will help them meet the learning goals.

Decide how many music centers to use depending on how many students you have in each class.

Use your curriculum units as a guide for music concepts that may be included in those centers

What are centers? Any music game, activity and craft your students can complete with minimum help from you.

Setting up fun music theory games

2- Setting up the centers.

Print and cut the pieces, games, and/or worksheets.

I suggest laminating the games centers to make them more durable, so they can be used year after year.

Once the centers are prepped, gather any manipulatives you need to use with them and they’ll be ready to go.

 How to plan elementary music centers for the classroom, set up.

3- Organizing the Centers / How to plan elementary music centers for the classroom.

Some of the games I’ll share with you are designed to fit in 5×7” plastic photo cases. All the bigger manipulatives and instruments can be prepped in a plastic box for each center.

If you do not have these photo cases, you can simply place the music game pieces in a tub, basket or in a Ziploc plastic bag, which I ended up using so many times because it is ship and I have tons of them.

For the worksheet activities I use plastic folders.

Label each game or activity, bag, folder, container and create a Home for your elementary music centers. Then, decide how you want to store them.

My favorite, and easiest way to keep them altogether, is by simply storing them in Ziploc baggies by grade level, month and concept.

When you are not using the centers, store them inside a labeled baggie so they’re ready to go any time.

Organize Centers using Plastic Storage Containers

I like to organize my centers by grade level and concept because they’re easy for me to find and switch out.

The music games for class we are currently using are stored and organized in my all-time-favorite classroom tool, the rainbow colored 5×7′ photo boxes.

Students playing fun music games
Rhythm and Composition Music Center

4- Fun music theory games – How to use your elementary music centers. 

Music centers can be used by students independently, or in small groups of 2-3 students.

You can decide on how many centers to use depending on how many students you have in each class.

Always introduce the centers to your students first so they know exactly how to use them.

Set up expectations and procedures with your students for what to do when they finish the activities or need help.

Note Value Games for Elementary Music Centers

5- Where to set up the music games for class.

Set up the stations around the edge of your room so that students can rotate around the room either to the right or the left.

Tip: Use color paper to identify the stations.

For example: I like to use the rainbow colors in order to rotate around the room. We practiced this rotation the very first day I introduced the concept of music centers or learning rotations.

6- How to plan elementary music centers for the classroom /  Progression.

Let me ask you first:

Will students get their supplies on their own?

Will you set the music games out?

Whatever works for your classroom make sure you teach, model and practice all your expectations and procedures before starting to use centers.

The very first day of centers should not look like your ideal center rotations during the final months of school. You will slowly work up to that!

Baby Steps, slowly introduce new tools, instruments and activities and your students will have a greater chance of success.

When I first introduce centers in my music room it actually looks very different from centers at the end of the year.

While the end goal is for students to rotate through different center activities, in the beginning, the students don’t rotate at all.

7- Timing. How often to rotate.

I like to use a timer for each rotation. Depends on the difficulty of the activity and your students prior knowledge about the content.

Use activities that are easy to complete in a short amount of time and are also open to extension.

I like to place 2 or 3 games-activities in each center at the beginning of the school year, when my students are still learning new concepts.

This way you facilitate options for early finishers.

This kind of setup is ideal not only for the beginning of the school year but also when introducing new concepts.

8- How to plan elementary music centers / My favorite tools (this is a growing list)

Here is a look at some of my favorite tools to include with my low prep music centers:

Play dough

Pattern blocks / Mega Legos / Small Legos

Mini erasers (the cuter the better 😂)

Magnetic letters

Dry markers

Crayons/ Colors

Bingo plastic dots

Bean bags

Small Percussion Instruments


Easy to prep Crafts



Organizing centers and best seller ukulele games

9- Assessment opportunity.

Make yourself available in a station to facilitate one-on-one assessments. In addition, take this time to focus on every student. For example: listen to their reading rhythm, singing and/or play Ukulele, Recorder, or any other instrument you teach in your classroom.

Remember to keep it simple. Short and sweet.

To know more details about other variants for assessment CLICK HERE!


I hope these tips have you feeling a bit more prepared using centers with your students this year.

I want to challenge you to pick some fun music theory games from My Store and get them ready to use in your classroom. Click here for a Best Seller Music Center Pack.

Click here for 11 fun music activities for elementary students.

If you want to learn more about how to plan elementary music centers for the classroom, assessment, differentiation, organization and classroom management, then, sign up HERE!

And before you leave, I want to share with you some of my favorite blog post in the internet about music centers:

1- The five best learning centers for the music room / by David Row

2- Music centers in the elementary classroom: Tips and Tricks for success / by Erin Tabler

3- 7 Favorite music centers in the classroom (and how to teach them) / By  Zach VanderGraaff


Fill out the form below to sign in so you can receive updates when I add new content.


Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Hi there!

I’m Lena Leon and I help elementary music educators incorporate game-based resources and strategies into their lessons to support and engage their students, no matter what type of learner they are.


Learn more about me and how I can help you here!