El Reloj de la Calavera

This is a REALLY fun chant to do with your older kiddos for Halloween.  Someone recently posted a question on the Kodály facebook page about songs to use with Dia de los Muertos and you could easily use this in conjunction with that holiday.  I learned this from Carol Brown during my fourth level of Kodály at Portland State University.  

Here's the chant:

1.         Cuando el reloj marca la una                       When the clock strikes one
            La calavera sale de su tumba.                      The skeleton comes out of his tomb.
            Tumba, tatumba, tumba, tumba, tumba            Tumba, tatumba, tumba, tumba, tumba

2.         Cuando el reloj marca las dos                      When the clock strikes two
            a la calavera le pega la tos                           the skeleton gets a cough

3.         Cuando el reloj marca las tres                     When the clock strikes three
            La calavera busca a Andrés                         The skeleton looks for Andrew

4.         Cuando el reloj marca  las cuatro                When the clock strikes four
            La calavera mira su retrato                          The skeleton looks at his picture

5.         Cuando el reloj marca  las cinco                  When the clock strikes five
            La calavera echa cinco brincos                    The skeleton jumps five times

6.         Cuando el reloj marca  las sies                    When the clock strikes six
            La calavera juega al beis                              The skeleton plays baseball

7.         Cuando el reloj marca  las siete                   When the clock strikes seven
            La calavera cuenta sus billetes                    The skeleton counts his currency

8.         Cuando el reloj marca  las ocho                   When the clock strikes eight
            La calavera busca a Pinocho                        The skeleton looks for Pinocchio

9.         Cuando el reloj marca  las nueve                When the clock strikes nine
            La calavera come su nieve                           The skeleton eats his ice cream

10.       Cuando el reloj marca  las diez                    When the clock strikes ten
            La calavera se mete­ otro vez                        The skeleton goes back again.

Game:  the players form a circle, lying on the floor.  They get up and begin to say the verses.  When they say “tumba, tatumba. ..  .”  the students do the action that is indicated for each hour.  At the end the players lay down on the floor.

This is a GREAT chant for ti-tika.  My older students (4th and 5th) love to revisit this every year so we use it to practice ti-tika and with my 3rd graders I use it to prep ti-tika and then we bring it back for practice.  This year at Target Tanya found some awesome erasers.  She picked some up for me, but being the manipulative hoarder that I am, I had to make a trip to buy more.  Every student will have a set of 12 and a beat chart on which they will derive the rhythm of the chorus, tumba, ta tumba, tumba, tumba, tumba.  Here's how they work on the beat chart:

We will replace the erasers with rhythm cards of "what we know" to make it look like this :

Other activities we do with this include using the rhythm of the refrain as an ostinato through out the chant, having specific students act out different verses, having a "clock" that chimes, etc.  The possibilities are endless!


  1. This is one of my favorites! I learned it years ago at one of Carol Brown's sessions...the kids love it. Love the skeleton eraser idea...how fun!

    1. I know, it's one of mine too!!! I wish I knew her source. . . I'm going to have to send her a message about it now!

  2. I love this!! Is there a recording of it anywhere?


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