How to Add Instant Music Fun to Any Family Activity

Do your kids like to listen to music?

Want to get your family dancing on a regular basis?

Gather up your family’s favorite songs for different occasions. It’s a simple way to serve up a big helping of instant music fun and energy.

Turn on the music. You and your family will have a blast!

In this article I’ll show you how to make a playlist of songs that are special to your family and I’ll share several fun, active ways to enjoy the music with your kids.

Create a custom playlist (or several) with your kids to amp up any event and make musical memories with special songs your family loves.

Why Set the Mood With Music?

There’s no better way to shake off the day and switch gears into family time than to blast your family’s favorite tunes.

When you make a playlist, you put all of your favorite songs together in one place and can combine songs to fit a mood, activity or person. Adding music you love to any activity is a great way to make family time even more fun or to make the most of the mundane.

Use music to have fun with your kids. You’ll be surprised by the instant burst of energy you get from it!

Parents and kids in general are pretty drained by the end of the day between work, carpool, sports and homework, as well as chores like making dinner and feeding the dog. The last thing you want to do is… well, anything! Music will motivate you and get your family moving.

Fortunately, movement is good for you in more ways than you think. Research shows that it’s a great way to release endorphins (our bodies’ feel-good stress-fighters). Plus, it helps your brain refocus.

family dancing on beach

Turn on music and any time becomes fun family time! Image source: iStockPhoto.

Dance around your house, play games with music—musical chairs, anyone?—or just sit and listen and let the cares of your day wash away.

No matter how you choose to enjoy music as a family, when you make a playlist, you’ll make memories that’ll last a lifetime, and making a playlist is as close as your iPod, computer or good old-fashioned radio.

Here’s how to enjoy music with your family and let off some steam in the process.

#1: Create Family Music Mixes

It all starts with the music!

Have a family music brainstorm. Gather your kids and talk about music you enjoy.

Ask questions like:

  • What’s your favorite style of music?
  • What do you like about it?
  • What’s your favorite song?
  • Who’s your favorite singer or band?
  • If you had to pick a theme song, what would it be?

Next, go around the room and have everyone suggest a song for your family mix. These songs can be based on a musical era or type, or just put together an eclectic list of family favorites.

family listening to music

Put together music playlists using suggestions from everyone in your family. Image source: iStockPhoto.

Before you begin, lay some ground rules.

Tips for Choosing Songs for a Family Music Mix

  • Songs should be family-friendly (no inappropriate lyrics; this is especially important if you have both older and younger kids).
  • Happy and silly songs get an A+ for spirit and enthusiasm.
  • Songs that everyone can sing along to are winners. Bonus points if the song has a big chorus!
  • Parents also get to add songs to the mix.
  • No heckling. Everyone needs to support each other’s song choices.

Start simple. Make a mix with one song from each family member.

A short mix of 3 to 5 songs is a great way to get things going without feeling overwhelmed. If you try to create a mix of your 100 favorite songs of all time, it’ll end up feeling like another task you’ve got to complete and you won’t even get to enjoy the music.

Satisfied with your family mix? Want to try another one? Pick a theme, emotion or random word, and have everyone choose a song that fits.

For example, make a “happy” mix.

Happy Mix Playlist

happy playlist

Make a playlist of songs that put a smile on your face and a spring in your step.

Once you have your song lists, boot up the computer and create the music mix tape, CD or online playlist.

There are plenty of programs and apps you can use to make your mix tape such as iTunes, Audacity or YouTube. You can also explore music discovery channels like Pandora, Songza or iHeart Radio.

Give the Gift of Music

The best presents are the ones that come from the heart. So why not create a special playlist for someone you care about and give the gift of music?

Whether it’s for a birthday, a holiday or an “I love you” present, nothing beats that smile of delight when someone receives a custom-made music mix.

stack of cassette tapes

Ever make someone a mix tape? A playlist is the mix tape of today and a very special personalized gift. Image source: iStockPhoto.

I made my son a Star Wars soundtrack and he returned the favor with a gospel mix for me. It was the perfect gift. How did he know?

If your kids are old enough to make a playlist on their own, that’s great. It’s fun to see what mix of songs they choose.

Younger ones may need a helping hand to create a mix for a family member. Just assume the role of technical support, and let the little one choose the songs.

Bonus Activity: For those really in the groove, write a family jingle to add to your music mix.

Whether you create one music mix or several, now that you have your tunes set, there are lots of great ways to enjoy your playlist. Here are a few ideas:

#2: Take a Dance Break

Once you make a playlist, you can listen to music and literally get things moving at any time.

The perfect time to take a dance break is anytime and anywhere. You just need a little downtime—those few minutes before dinner or after homework are perfect for this—and your iPod, computer or CD player with your playlist ready to go.

Just like your computers get synced, a dance break syncs the family and puts everyone in a good mood.

Dancing’s an instant attitude-changer. It brings everyone together for some active minutes to relax and reenergize. Do the bunny hop, start a conga line or just free dance.

dancing to music

A dance break has physical and emotional benefits. Image source: iStockPhoto.

Even if they have an active school day, your kids will still have energy to burn.

Note: A dance break is a great way to tire out your little ones, so everyone gets a good night’s sleep.

You can also blast some music and dance or sing during chore time to make the tasks go faster. Or reward your kids (and yourself) with a music break in between chores. Music makes your work a lot more fun!

Dance Mix Playlist

dance playlist

Make a playlist that makes you feel like dancing. Then dance with your kids!

Bonus Activity: Put all that dancing practice to good use. Make a family music video! Feel free to take it outside and go on location. You never know who might be inspired to join in!

#3: Energize Road Trips

If you want to combat “Are we there yet?” syndrome, take along your music on road trips.

family in car

Music makes for happy travelers. Image source: iStockPhoto.

When you use your customized playlist on a family road trip, you don’t have to worry about kids fighting over music selection. Everyone gets to hear his or her own favorite songs.

Car Trip Mix

car trip playlist

Looking for some good tunes for a car trip? Try this playlist.

Bonus Activity: Make small instruments or look up song lyrics so you can accompany the music in the car.

#4: Play Musical Games

Use music as a backdrop whenever you play—whether it’s board games indoors or sports outside. Or play music-related games.

Musical Chairs

The rules for musical chairs are simple. Have one fewer chair than players. The players walk around the chairs while the music plays. When the music stops, the players scramble for a chair. The player who doesn’t find a place to sit is out. Remove another chair for the next round and keep playing until there’s only one left!

kids dancing

Ring around the rosy, musical chairs and name that tune are all great games involving music. Image source: iStockPhoto.

Name That Tune

The better you know the songs on your family playlist, the easier it is to play—and winname that tune. The classic game show had contestants bid on how few notes it would take to name that tune.

Name That Tune Golden Playoff in Hollywood, June 1977.

Here’s an easy adaptation: Have family members go head-to-head to guess the songs as quickly as possible once the music starts to play. One person’s in charge of the music, while the competitors ring a bell when they know the song. The player with the most points wins. Take turns being the music conductor.

Want to try a different version? There’s a name that tune app that uses your iTunes music library, as well as websites with musical clues. This one has tunes for TV theme songs.

hans christian andersen music quote

Music Games Mix

Bonus Activities: Have a karaoke sing-along, a lip-sync or air band contest or a musical cup concert.


Everyone loves a sing-along. Play music from your mix or sing along with a favorite movie. Image source: iStockPhoto.

Make a playlist (or several) with your kids to amp up any event with songs your family loves.

Some Final Thoughts

Music can serve as a soundtrack for your family adventures. You can have a long musical interlude or fit in a dance break pretty much whenever and wherever you want.

Whether you dance before dinner, let loose on the beach or have a musical road trip, the special songs on your family’s playlist—the ones you listen to and play along with—will be the ones your kids remember fondly for years to come.

What do you think? Do you have a family playlist? Are you going to make one? What are your family’s favorite songs? What themes would make fun playlists? We’d love to hear what gets you in a groove!

Images from iStockPhoto.

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About the Author, Lola Reed

Fluent in balancing the YIN of digital platforms with the YANG of real world experiences, being an achiever, connector and idea generator is at the heart of what I do. Other posts by »


  1. Thanks, Lola! Music adds to any occasion. This is such a great way to share that with your kids (and introduce them to some old favorites). I have a middle-schooler who’s starting to get into music. Can’t wait to share this with him and see what songs he puts together! (I love the Star Wars playlist idea–how fun!)

  2. Lola Reed says:

    So glad you enjoyed the post Jennifer- thanks so much! The look of complete amazement and delight on my son’s face when I launched the Star Wars playlist (at the start of a very loooong drive) was worth it’s weight in gold. Would love to here what your middle-schooler comes up with!

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