SPARKLERS / Mindfulness

Musical Adventures

Helping tamariki discover how music affects their mood.
Connections with the NZ Curriculum and Mental Health Education Guide (learn more)

Learning outcomes

Tamariki understand how listening to music can affect our feelings and mood.

Tāngia ēnei tohutohu – Print me

Students will need a copy of our Musical Adventures Worksheet.


If tamariki are trying this activity at home, the Sparklers at Home version doesn't require a printer or handout.

He aha ai? – Why we love it

Research shows that listening to music can reduce anxiety, stress and depression and increase our happiness.

This activity helps students connect music and their emotions, and discover how music can lift their mood and help them feel good.

Students who love to sing, create music or play a musical instrument may also find these activities a fantastic way to experience flow (feeling ‘in the zone’).


Explain that listening to music can change our mood. It’s an easy way to get a quick pick-me-up, relax and feel good.

To give students emotions to draw on during the exercise, brainstorm:

  • How do we feel when we listen to music we enjoy? Happy, calm, creative, thoughtful, tired, moved, sleepy, energised, motivated etc.
  • What about music we don’t enjoy? Distracted, stressed, sad, anxious, on edge, angry, overwhelmed etc.

Hei mahi - What to do

A wee heads up that this activity uses YouTube clips. To avoid ads, you may like to open them in separate tabs before class, pausing them at the start of the track.

Hand out our Musical Adventure worksheet and say that today you’re going to go on a musical journey. Explain that you’ll play some music and as they listen you’d like them to write down how it makes them feel.

Reassure them that everyone has different taste in music and that this is about how the song makes us feel, rather than whether we think it’s cool.

Play each song for 30 seconds to 1 minute – ideally so tamariki can hear the music, but not see the YouTube picture.

Song ideas – you may like to use others:

  1. Four Seasons, Vivaldi
  2. Aotearoa, Stan Walker
  3. Pepeha, Six60
  4. Tarakihi, Kiri Te Kanawa
  5. Ka Hao, 35
  6. Wonky Donkey, Craig Smith
  7. Closer to the Edge, 30 Seconds To Mars
  8. Don’t Dream It’s Over, Crowded House
  9. 20, Voltaj
  10. River Flows In You, Yiruma

Debrief after each song or at the end if you think the group may be self-conscious about liking something ‘unpopular’.

We’d suggest using genres that bring calm in the classroom, and encouraging students to seek out songs that make them feel happy and relaxed.

What now?

How about you try either the playlist above or below and ask tamariki to draw while they're listening. What's the affect of this?

Another idea might be to replay this, but using movement, rather than just listening to the music. Make space or head outside so tamariki can kanikani and move as they like to the music, then note down how this made them feel.

And, we couldn't help but put together an Aotearoa playlist too! Here's another ten, but purely NZ waiata this time!

  1. Tangaroa Whakamautai, Maisey Rika
  2. Haere Mai, Daphne Walker
  3. Tihore Mai, Moana and the Moahunters
  4. Poi E, Patea Māori Club
  5. E Ihowā Atua
  6. Tūtira Mai Ngā Iwi
  7. A Haka Ma, Anika Moa
  8. Haere Mai Rā, Bic Runga
  9. Nau Mai Rā, Dave Dobbyn
  10. E Ki, Rei

And try exploring Mandala Colouring alongside some calming music or have some fun exploring Musical Emotions.

Sparklers at Home

If you think it may be useful for whānau to understand how music plays an important role in our energy and mood, simply copy and paste the following 'blurb' into an email or your home-learning programme as an introduction.

In the classroom we've been exploring how music plays an important part in our mood and energy. Research shows that listening to music can reduce anxiety, stress and depression and increase our happiness.

Sparklers at Home has the same activity, Musical Adventures, we've been exploring in the classroom, but ready for home use. It would be great if you could also explore this activity with your child (you may want to change the music options) and together discover which music lifts your moods and help make you both feel good.

Ngā mihi

To Lysandra Heron, Tessa Appo, Emily Li, Jess Gallagher as well as Brenna, Amy, and Caitlin who extended this mahi for us as part of their HLED122 paper at University of Canterbury. Amazing contribution teams!

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