Singing Games & so much More!

Singing Games are a rich source of repertoire for our elementary classrooms. In most singing games, a simple melody is repeated many times. It's that repetition of the simple song that helps children to internalize the beat, rhythm, and melodies. Many repetitions will help your students match pitch. Many repetitions help your ESL students to learn the language.

I believe so strongly in the value of singing games, that there is a new singing game each week in Musicplay K-5. Children love playing games!

In Musicplay K-6 curriculum, the singing games are sequenced, so that over time, students will be exposed to a variety of tone sets, meters, keys and a wide variety of game types. If you want students to be able to read so-mi melodies in Grade 1, you need to introduce the sound in K and early Grade 1 so that students hear and internalize the sounds before you introduce the symbol.

For example - the game, Snail Snail is given early in Musicplay 1. I use this game first to label beat, and it's a great game for practicing keeping a steady beat. Later, I'll have the children clap the words or the rhythm, and figure out how many sounds there are on a beat. I can repeat the game in 2, 3, or 4 lessons, each time extending what the children learn from it. The resource gives teachers Concept Slides to teach the concepts. These are some of the concept slides for Snail, Snail.


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The interactive activities reinforce the concepts, and allow children to create their own music, using the singing game as a starting point.

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Sometimes learning to play (or teach) a singing game is difficult to decipher from written instructions. That's why we've videotaped hundreds of singing games - almost every singing game in Musicplay PreK - 6 has a kids demo video. These are included in the Digital Resources, and are available to view The videos are a really valuable part of the musicplayonline resources!

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The combination of Concept Slides to teach the concepts, the Interactive activities that teachers and students can do on computer or devices to practice, assess and create, and videos to demonstrate how the game is played makes this website a really valuable teaching tool!!!


Additional teaching suggestions are given in the teacher's guide and online in the song suggestions.

Playing and Creating:

Play the Orff arrangement given in The Orff Source. (#20) You could have students create a B section for the song, by writing and chanting poems about snails.

For Example:
Snails are crunchy.
Snails are small.
I don’t like eating
Snails at all.

If your students create a number of poems that could be used, you could perform the song and poems as a rondo. Use the song as the theme, and different poems as the variations. The final form could be A (song) B-poem 1 A (song) C - poem 2 A (song) D-poem 3 A (song)

Another option is to have students brainstorm for a list of bugs. For example: ants, spiders, centipedes, flies.

Write the suggestions on large pieces of construction paper. Choose body percussion or unpitched instruments to play the “bugs.”

Choose 4 bugs to be a B section.

Sing the Snail song as your A section and perform the song as an ABA. If you like, choose more bugs to be a C and D section and create a rondo.

Musicplay is not a scripted lesson - it's a menu of possible activities that you can use to teach concepts from each song in the collection. You choose the songs from the weekly song list, and then you choose the activities you want to do with the song. There are 111 songs in Musicplay 1 - you might choose only 50 of them to teach this year, leaving you lots of new songs to choose from next year!

I have core songs that I tend to use each year to teach key concepts. Snail Snail would be one of my core songs. I include this game in 3-4 lessons or even more, each time reviewing the concepts already taught, and teaching more. Including creating activities is really important, and I've used the bug composition successfully with many classes with this song, and with other songs and singing games about bugs and creepy crawlies.

Snail, Snail is a great example from primary. Musicplay has great singing games for upper elementary as well. Frere Jacques is one of my favorite movement canons to teach in gr. 3-4. The singing game alone is a wonderful activity to do in your classes - but there is so much more that you can teach from it. I would teach the canon and movements, accompany with a bordun, then teach the concepts. I'd review the singing game in several lessons, each time adding to the concepts - deriving the rhythm, then reading the rhythm, then creating new rhythms with the new rhythm, tika-tika.

The kids demo movie is really helpful when teaching any game! This is found in the Digital Resources and at

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After the students are really familiar with the game, one day, I might start my class with a rhythm erase. The song title isn't given. The directions are given on the slide - 1. say or clap all four patterns. Take one pattern away. 2. Say all four patterns again and take one more pattern away. Continue until students have to remember all four patterns.

Screen Shot 2023-05-30 at 1.16.20 PMRhythm Erase: activities for reading songs in Musicplay 4 will be uploaded this week!

Our editors are working on creating rhythm erase and rhythm sort activities for all the reading songs in Musicplay!



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