Games and Activites in the Music Room {BTS Blog Hop}

Hi everyone!!!  I bet a lot of you are back to school already or headed there in the next few weeks (or, if you're in Australia you've been in the thick of it for a while!!!)

As we're getting ready for back to school, a group of my music teacher friends and I are doing a blog hop of Back to School topics!!  The Hop starts (and was organized by) Aileen Miracle of Mrs. Miracle's Music room so make sure to make it through all 6 stops!

The hop includes six posts and I'm lucky number 6!!  Let's talk games and activities!!!

If you have followed my blog for a while you know that I use a lot of games in my classroom. They are a great way to establish classroom dynamics, teach students how to work cooperatively in the music room and to get to know the students.  

Before we get started, today we're going to narrow our focus on two specifics within the very broad spectrum of games:  singing games/activities and music literacy games/activities

#1 Singing Games
Fore mentioned was that "games" is a very broad spectrum and that I was narrowing it down to two areas.... well.... within those two areas are many subcategories!!! 

Greeting Songs with games:
With back to school singing games it's important to choose some games were all students have an equal part in the music making.  This helps establish the community tone that you want: that all students are important contributors to the music classroom.  These are the types of games/activities that I will start every class with for the rest of the year (I would go into how with older grades sometimes this might be with a round, etc., but that lends itself to another blog post!)

I love using this song at the beginning of the year for my 1st and 2nd graders, it's a great little greeting song called "Good Morning" that I learned from Susan Brumfield (who learned it from Jim Ryan):

Here are my 2nd graders singing it the first day of school (just last week)... the lyrics were changed on them as they had music in the morning last year and now they have it in the afternoon. There are also some kiddos who were in one of the first grade classes last year that LOVED this song and added their own little fancy turns by swinging their partner, so you'll see a few of them try to do that with their new partners:

One of my other favorite first day of school greeting songs is Bonjour Mis Amis, also learned from Susan Brumfield.  Usually, students would have learned this the year before, but if not it's fast and easy to teach if you're new to your teaching position. (It's very similar to "Bow Wow Wow" but has a twist of a double circle, which makes it more challenging!  And also more appropriate for late second grade/early third grade.)

Here are my third graders singing it for the first time this year:

Name Game Songs:
There are many, many name game songs and I actually compiled a few of them in my Back to School Set.   This one is not in that set, but I learned it from my former student teacher, Charlie Matthews, who I'm sure learned it from Bonnie Jacobi:

My 5th graders learned it yesterday, so here they are:

Games with a "solo" part:
This is another go-to for my 4th and 5th graders, called Going to Kentucky or "Round de doo Bop", either way I learned it from the Amidons and it's GREAT to get your older students moving and active and it's a fun way to break the ice! (BTW, this is my first activity of the lesson for these grades too!)  The other nice thing is that the "solo" isn't a singing solo but a simple "stand in the middle, turn and point to someone" solo.

Here are my 5th graders singing this in their first lesson:

Games that will be used to review:
Now, this game is a FAVORITE of my kids and I like it because there is so much that you can teach with this little composed song:  Apple Tree!!! Here are my 3rd graders playing the game:

From here, we went into singing the song with body signs:

And then we went into reviewing the solfa and singing it from the staff notation:

This brings us to:
#2 Music Literacy Games

I love having a variety of literacy games from lesson to lesson. Games in which the students prepare or practice rhythmic and melodic elements.  Part of my rationale for doing music reading "game style" is the infrequency at which I see my students. I basically see all my classes once a week for 45 minutes. So in my planning for back to school I know I need to make the most of each minute. The games allow for the students to have a memorable moment related to music literacy and I have found have helped greatly with retention.  Sometimes my games are reading only, but most times there is an extension in which the students have something tangible that they do in regards to the reading and writing.  This really makes it more concrete for the students.

This year I have used the "Read it and Write it" Games from my Back to School Songs and Games set and it's been great for transcription practice and review.

The students have a menu to choose from that reviews a rhythm or melody, in this case a melody:

Then, using the dry erase boards the students transcribed the patterns they saw:

For my early finishers I had them transpose the pattern into a different position on the staff and for my really advanced students I changed the staff placement for each pattern, as they waited for other students to finish.

One of the games that I'm really excited to use with my third graders next week is Tanya LeJeune's Skip Step Leap or Repeat game:

This game is perfect for reviewing interval relationships, especially since we're reviewing do-mi-so-la. In the game the students see two notes and they have to decide are the notes a repeat (the same), a step, skip or a leap away from each other:

I also teach a before school handbell group and this is a bass clef game from Elaine Ford of Mrs. Ford's Melodies that I am super excited about called Bitty Bugs.  

There are three games. One is a "swatting" game that has a picture of bugs with letter names.  You show the students a pitch on the bass clef and they have to swat the bug with the corresponding name.  Another is a matching game. You have bug cards, like this:

and then there are flower cards with the staff notation and you match the bug to the flower.
The third game is GREAT for assessment and I will be using as part of my "audition" for the hand bell choirs.  The students get a set of cards like this:

And then there are answer pages, in which the students write the letter names of the cards:

This will give me a nice little assessment of who knows bass clef and who doesn't.  I'll be honest, with seeing my kiddos once a week we usually don't get to bass clef notation.  This will help me know who I can put on those bells.

You can find more singing games, teaching PDFs and review games in my Back to School set:

Again, thanks to Aileen for hosting thie blog hop. If you "jumped in the hop" here, make sure to go here to see all the other amazing posts!!!

I hope you all have a fabulous start to your school year!


  1. Great post! I enjoyed seeing all the videos of your sweet students in action!

  2. Such great videos, Amy, and such a great post! Thanks for all the games and activities!!

  3. Love this post! I'm totally going to steal some of those singing games and come back to your videos for reference. When thinking about adding new material, it's so helpful to see students actually singing and moving!

    You know, I was thinking that if an Orffy person wanted they could easily add a bordun to a couple of those songs. The students could play the bordun to help them remember the process or the teacher could easily do it. The songs are so great because the invite variation and are fun for kids!

    1. David, we should totally do an 'Orffy/Kodály' collaboration sometime!!!
      Thanks so much for your kind words!!

  4. OH my goodness! I love these games! Going to add a couple to my lesson plans soon! Thanks Amy!

  5. Amy, I just love all of your stuff!! Thank you for being so inspirational!

    1. Thank you so much Mary!! That is so sweet and thank you for reading and replying!! :)

  6. Thank you so much Amy for some great ideas to try. I have done the Up the Ladder name song with some of my classes the past couple of years but I have never seen the music notation for the song. Thank you for posting that. I am going to try the hand clapping, patting, snapping pattern with the song this year. It is so helpful to have a video to hear how the song is sung and to see how the activity is done. I can't wait to try these ideas. Thanks again!

  7. Lots of great ideas Amy! I have used the Up the Ladder name song with my classes the past couple of years but I have never seen the musical notation for the song before. Thank you for posting that. I am going to try the hand clapping, snapping, and patting with my students this year. It is so helpful to see a video to hear how the songs are sung and see how the activities are done. Thank you for all the wonderful information you post!


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