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Social distancing singing games

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Are you having a hard time finding singing games that can work in the socially distanced music classroom? In this blog post, I wrote about four singing games that were adapted for social distancing, and now I'm back with five more games! These have worked really well in my in person music lessons this year, and I hope they work well for you too!

Bee Bee

Here is the chant, and the typical game for “Bee Bee”:

For the original game, the teacher holds a bee puppet, and students stand in a circle with one fist out. As the chant is spoken, the teacher touches students’ fists to the beat. After the word “out,” the teacher buzzes 4 students; those students are out and sit down. Repeat until only one child is left; that child is the winner.

Because the typical game involves touching students' hands, and them standing next to each other in a circle, I figured out a new way to play it. I use this file from Pink Cat Studio and input students' names for each class I'm playing with, so that it looks like this:

Then, when it's time to play, I open the file, and have students say “Bee Bee,” as I point to the beat (without touching the board.) Then, after the word “out,” I touch the next four bees to the beat to make them fly away. We keep going until only one bee is left. That student gets to come up to the board and tap their bee to make it fly away!

See the old witch

Here is the song, and the typical game for “See the old witch”:

For the original game, students sit in a circle, sitting down. One child is chosen to be “it” and has a penny in his/her hand. All other students close their eyes and put their hands behind their back. As they sing, the person who is “it” walks around the circle. At the end of the song, he/she drops the penny into the hands of whoever they are closest to. That child opens his/her eyes and chases “it” back to that child’s spot! The game continues with the chaser being “it.”

Because the typical game involves students touching each other's heads, and multiple students holding the same object–a penny–I used a similar idea to “Bee Bee” to adapt the game. I use this file from Pink Cat Studio (which is free!) and input students' names for each class I'm playing with, so that it looks like this:

Then, when it's time to play, I open the file, and have students sing “See the old witch” as I point to the beat. On the rests, I tap the characters to make them fly away. We keep going until one-three characters are left. Again, those students get to come up to the board and tap their character to make it fly away!

Naughty Kitty Cat

Here is the song, and the typical game for “Naughty Kitty Cat”:

For the original game, students stand in a circle, hands joined. One player—the cat—stands in the middle of the circle. Another player—the owner—walks around the circle. Everyone sings the song while standing still, the cat performs the meows. At the end of the song, all circle players raise joined hands to form arches. The owner chases the cat, in and out and around until caught.

For social distancing, the game is slightly different. Instead of holding hands, students just stand three feet apart (or however far apart your district mandates.) When the owner chases after the cat, they use a pool noodle instead of their hands to tag the cat. Students have really enjoyed this, and it's fun to still be able to do chase games!

Plainsies Clapsies

Here is the song, and the typical game for “Plainsies Clapsies”:

Each child is given a beanbag, and does all the motions in the song as singing. For “plain-sies,” students toss the beanbag in the air and catch it. For “clapsies,” students clap, toss, and catch. For “right hand” and “left hand” students toss with each respective hand. For “toss it high” and “toss it low,” students toss high and low (making sure to not toss too high!) For “touch your knee,” “touch your toe,” and “touch your heel,” students toss, touch that body part, and then catch. For “under you go,” students toss under their leg and catch.

You can try faster and faster!

For social distancing, you don't have to change the game at all! Students stand socially distanced while tossing their beanbags.

Oboshinotentoten

Here is the song, and the typical game for “Oboshinotentoten”:

For the original game, students stand in a circle with hands facing up, their left hands under their neighbor’s hand and their right hands above their neighbor’s hand. When the song begins, one student crosses their right hand over their body to tap the hand of their neighbor on their left. The beat continues around the circle until “1, 2, 3, 4, 5.” If someone gets their hand tapped on “5,” they are out; if they pull their hand away in time, the person who was trying to tap their hand on “5” is out. The person who is “out” goes to the middle of the circle until more people join them, and two games can occur at the same time.  Here is a video of the game (taken with my Level I class at DePaul when I taught at the Kodály program there):

For social distancing, instead of having students touch hands, they can hold pool noodles, and hit their neighbor's pool noodle with their pool noodle. Here is a picture of this:

The only thing to be aware of is to make sure that students are letting their neighbor's pool noodles rest on their hands instead of holding them; otherwise, students will have a hard time moving their noodle.

I hope this is helpful, as you figure out how to adapt singing games for your socially distanced music classroom. Happy teaching!

2 Responses

  1. Thank you so much for this email! It is awesome to see these chase games and activities to do with singing. I feel that our students are longing for exercise and run around…. maybe that is because of too much screen time! Thanks!

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