A Marching Band Fingerplay Lesson for Toddlers & PreK

by | Primary Activities

My toddler and Preschool music classes love this fun fingerplay lesson on marching bands! It includes singing, movement, and playing instruments. They'll all want to join the band after these activities! Even though they were made for Pre-K, tots and Kindergarten enjoy theses lesson plan ideas!

Here are some fun activities for toddler and PreK music lessons I’ve used this month. I start by having the kids make some music with their hands and feet, then we talk about marching bands and watch a short clip of a band. With it being Black History Month, I wanted to showcase an HBCU marching band. Next, we sing and perform the motions to “The Fingerband” and then play actual instruments.

Making Music With Our Bodies

First, we listen to Ella Jenkins’ “Follow the Leader.” I tell kids that we are going to make music with our hands and feet.

Marching Band Visual

Then, I ask them if they’ve ever been to a parade and if they’ve seen marching bands perform there. I wanted to show a video for the kids who may have never been to a parade or football game. After some searching, I came across a video where students can see closeups of the band, drum majors, and color guard. The video and sound quality is impressive for a marching band show. There’s great playing, dancing, and even singing from this video of Florida A&M University’s band at the Rosebowl Parade Bandfest.

Since the video is 20-minutes long, and I only see classes for 25 minutes a week, I only show a short segment. The spot that I use to teach is 15 minutes into the video. I ask students to notice how they march, their tall hats, to listen for the drums, whistle, etc. I only show a minute or so, but if you watch it to the end, there’s a fun surprise with the sousaphones!

The Finger Band Is Coming to Town

Next, we move on to the fingerplay, “The Fingerband.” It’s sung to the tune of “Here We Go ‘Round the Mulberry Bush” and goes like this:

The Finger Band

1. The finger band is coming to town,
Coming to town, coming to town,
The fingerband is coming to town,
So early in the morning.

Additional verses:
2. This is the way they wear their hats...
3. This is the way they play the drums...
4. This is the way they play the cymbals...
5. *Add verses based on what the children said they saw in the video
6. The finger band is going away...
7. The finger band has gone away...

Motions for each verse:
1. Bring hands out from behind back, move to beat (crescendo optional)
2. Make a tall hat with hands and sway bodies
3. Pat knees (or floor)
4. Clap
5. *For any wind instruments - sing on the syllable "doo" while
miming playing the instrument
6. Bring hands behind back (decrescendo optional)
7. Whisper, you can even get to the point where they are mouthing the words silently.

Break Out the Instruments!

Lastly, have the class play instruments to a march. If your classes are big or the kids are harder to manage due to class size or age, have them sit around the hula hoops and explore instruments that you’ve set in the middle. If they can handle it, you can hand each child an instrument to march around the room in line with. The child in the front can be the drum major and lead the line while holding a rhythm stick or pointer. I march to whatever songs we’ve been working on, but Sousa marches or a New Orleans style brass band would be great to use. Rebirth Brass Band’s, “Do Whatcha Wanna” is a really fun one!

I hope your classes have a lot of fun with these activities! If you are looking for more Preschool activities, I’m currently working on adding more resources on TpT.

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