Educational CyberPlayGround ®

Movement games

Musical Chairs the non-competitive version started in the 70's.

Instead of being out if you don't get a chair to sit on, you just sit on a person on a chair. At the end, when there are only one or two chairs left it is an art to get everyone sitting on just a few chairs. It does take children a while to work out they don't have to dash to sit on a chair.


HANKIES by Kristin Lems:
When I do workshops with small children, I like to bring square pieces of cotton cloth along. Each child takes a square - about 2 feet square, and can use it for many interactive songs. "I dropped my hanky pick it up, pick it up," (3x) is one, and they put it on different parts of the body at the end of each verse:"and put it right onto my shoulder." etc. It's fun. They can also mime "shoofly" with a hanky, or just wave the cloth in rhythm to a waltz tempo. When there's enough room, you can have them throw the cloth up, dance wildly, and freeze when they catch it, as you play or sing a song. Sometimes I have them pretend the cloth is a picnic table and they lay it out and then place imaginary foods on it, while singing songs like "peanut butter and jelly." A box full of light cloth pieces is worth its cost many times over. When done, have them fold them in fourths, collect them, take them home and then you wash them!


Games for St Patrick's Day and Easter by Denise Gagne

St. Patrick's Day Jig:
Directions: Have the class form a circle. Choose 1 child to be a leprechaun. The leprechaun marches around the inside of the circle. At the end of the second phrase the leprechaun stops in front of a child. They join hands and they 'jig' - left heel forward, right heel forward, etc. The children in the circle should do a 'sailors hornpipe' at the same time. (Fold arms and jig in place) Now 2 children march in the inside circle. They choose 2 more partners and jig again. Continue with 4, then 8, 16, then the entire class. Begin again with a new leprechaun.

Words: St. Patrick's Day Oh come along with me and I will show you how to play, We'll dance and sing like leprechauns upon St Patrick's Day. Oh dance a jig, an Irish jig, upon St Patrick's Day. We'll dance and sing like leprechauns upon St. Patrick's Day! The melody is a traditional Irish melody - somewhat difficult to notate on email!

Easter Eggs Game: (tune is twinkle twinkle) Five little bunnies hopping up and down, hiding Easter eggs all around Orange yellow pink and green, hide them where they can't be seen Five little bunnies hopping up and down, hiding Easter eggs all around Directions: Choose 5-6 children to hide eggs while all the others sing. At the end of the song, singers hunt for eggs. From: Sing & Play on Special Days

Great game idea by Sue Snyder:
Children sit in a circle. One holds a large yarn ball or other object to pass (make it interesting to see and hold). The teacher improvises on recorder (or voice, or other pitched instrument). When the "magic sound" is heard (so-mi- so-mi), the ball is passed to the next student. If the children are not used to this aural discrimination, start vocally using solfege syllables. Eventually transfer to neutral syllables, (loo, la, etc.) and then to instruments. Start by playing the pattern in predictable spots, like the ends of phrases. Also, at first play only other pitches when the magic sound is not present. Gradually make the placement less predictable, and challenge the listeners to pass the ball only when they hear the complete pattern. Kids should eventually become leaders. This can be used for any pitch or rhythm patterns, and is great for aural discrimination and building listening skills. It provides a great opportunity for you to model improvisation, and to build understanding of phrase. Similar to Sue's "magic sound" game is one where everyone walks freely around the room while teacher improvises on recorder. The signal to freeze is "so mi" (or whatever pattern you may be working on at the time). They must stay frozen until they hear the signal again.

Jeff Snow contributes these fun music ideas: I attempt to find ways to teach older songs in an attempt to pass them on to a new generation. Sadly many public schools have abandoned music. Many of the older tunes that I learned as a child are in danger of dying. Examples of this include: Turkey in the Straw-I use this to teach it that way instead of Do Your Ears Hang Low. I tell the story (true) about the one legged wild turkey that used to hang out in my backyard. he would hop from place to place always balancing on that leg. I play Turkey in the Straw on the guitar or banjo and have the kids hop on one leg. If I play fast they hop fast If I play slow they hop slow. If I stop playing they freeze. Works well and passes on an older tune.

I use a Grandfather's clock to teach rhythm. I have the kids put their hands together over their heads and sway back and forth going tick-tock-tick-tock to simulate the sound of the clock. They keep this movement going while I play the song.


Some time ago I was working out the bugs for planning my summer camp around the theme of The Price Is Right.

I thought I'd give a quick run down of how we ended up doing things.The camp was 4 days long and involved students ages 8 to 12.

To start the game off "contestants" were given the name of a composer and had to guess their date of birth. The person guessing closest without going "over" got to "come on stage" and play a musical game designed by the other campers.

Here are the games we played.

Path finder: A melody was played on the piano. 5 notes long. The students had constructed a large mat made from 25 squares of construction paper. Each square had a letter-name written on it. The contestant stood on the middle square which was a C , the starting note. They then listened to the melody and had to step the the correct letters on the mat. If they were wrong,they got another try by correctly clapping back a melody, or giving the meaning of an Italian term.

The mountain climber: Some very creative campers designed a replica of the little yodeling mountain climber. Then the contestant had to listen to 10 intervals and guess them. For every interval they were off the yodeler climbed one step up the mountain the number of notes they were off by. If he didn't fall off the top, they won!

It's in the bag. The next team of designers cut out the shapes of paper bags and wrote on the fronts the degrees of the scale. Then they taped them on a large cardboard so the could be lifted up like a flap. Behind each bag they taped cards with the answers. They named the key and asked for the answer for each flap.
Ex. flap number one said "dominant." The "host" said key of G. The contestant would answer "D"

3 strikes: A bag filled with disks that had either a rhythm symbol or an x. The contestant listened to a rhythm 2 bars long. Then drew in the bag for a disk. If it was a rhythm they placed it on the measures on the beat where they think it belonged. If they drew a strike, they put it back in in the bag. If they draw the strike 3 times before getting all the rhythms out then they were "out." They would be given a chance to reorganize the rhythms at the end of the game.

Teams of 3 designed each game. I let them choose which game to work on. We watched a few clips of the T.V. show to get ideas. As a group we discussed how to modify the games to use musical concepts.They had great fun designing, building and playing the games. When the contestants were playing the remaining campers were all being the "audience" and shouting out answers!!

To spin the wheel I used a bicycle and taped index cards to the tire, turned it upside down so the wheel could spin freely. The cards were marked with note values, the person spinning closest to a whole note without going over was the winner. The show-case show-down was rhythmic dictation.

Valerie Kaul - Sea Sea Sea
A simple poem can be colored by these instruments or substitute for the voice. For example, the song, A sailor went to sea, sea, sea' A sailor went to sea, sea, sea To see what he could see, see, see But all that he could see, see, see Was the bottom of the deep blue sea, sea, sea This is a great song to teach, especially to foreign children. First get them to select partners and make them stand opposite one another so that they make two parallel lines.

On the words 'sea' and 'see' they clap their partners hands. At the end of the poem, one line can move down one person which means that one of the children at the top end then runs down to the bottom of the line and everyone gets a new partner. (while the line is moving you can shout 'Ahoy! Ahoy!)

With older children, make up a whole sequence of clapping throughout the song. (Both hands clap the thighs on the beginning of the word 'sai--, then clap own hands together on the '---lor' part.

On the word 'went' snap fingers, on 'to' clap own hands together again; then clap partners hands on the words 'sea, sea, sea'. The sequence is the same throughout the song. but you may wish to put in an extra move like a snap/clap for the beginning of the next line, on 'To', 'But' on line 3, and 'Was the' on the last line. Instead of claps etc. I sometimes make the students differentiate between 'sea' and 'see' by getting them to make wavy lines with their hands for 'sea' and putting their hands to their foreheads as though searching the horizon, on 'see'.

With instruments, ask them to not say the words 'sea, sea, sea,' but beat the tambour or claves instead. The ideas are endless with simple poems and rounds.