I've been teaching violin and piano to beginners for a couple years now, and I'm starting to notice that piano tends to be a little less fun for my younger students. In violin I have several fun and active games to get the kids laughing when they can't stand still another minute. They also earn jelly beans for doing things right. But when it comes to piano, the only activities I can find outside their lesson book is stuff like flashcards and homework sheets. I'd be super glad for any suggestions on fun games to play with young pianists! Thanks.
Why dont you try some of the following websites: http://www.teachpianotoday.com/ They have a variety of game ideas, and even have a special piano games club! my kids absolutely love playing the games that I have received through this club.
http://www.susanparadis.com/ She has wonderful resources for games listed and most of them are free.
colorinmypiano.com Joy is wonderful at the activities and games she comes up with and shares most of them for free!
Hope this helps. Continue with your exploration of fun in piano, it will make the lessons for you and the student so much more enjoyable
Today my six year old played a few wrong notes while practicing from his song book. We both looked at each other in surprise, because those notes formed the backbone of another song we had recently heard. I said, "hey, let's pick out the rest of this song by ear." It only took a few tries to discover the first line of the melody. We were stumped at the end of the first line and watched a video of a girl playing the second section of the song. We listened twice and then we had the melody in our mind and my son was able to pick it out through a bit of trial and error. We both had a real sense of accomplishment.
For reward I told him if he has 3 good practice sessions in a row plus a good lesson, I will take him to the 5 Below toy store and he will have earned a nerf gun.
There you have it: The intrinsic reward of ear training, plus an extrinsic reward of a toy.
I would try aural target practice.
If you have two pianos, play a note on one when the student isn't looking, and see how many tries they need to find the matching note.
If you have one piano, you can let them play an octave above or below. This works but the previous (two pianos) is preferable because it encourages their independence and avoids the complication of timbral differences in different octaves (two pianos' timbres may differ but I wouldn't worry about that unless it were severe).
This isn't just a game. This develops the ears in a less visual way than just reading notes and looking for the right note on the keyboard. I think that too few musicians develop this ability despite having the aptitude for it, maybe because ear training is underemphasized. Like many educational games, this challenges students in bite-sized amounts and provides short-term gratification as they learn.
You can work from individual notes to longer passages. In this way you can gradually build structures of notes and the students, on their own, can intuit how these note patterns feel. You can also feel how challenging it is for the student and adjust what you play accordingly.