Friday, October 17, 2014

Singing Games & Dances - GoAEYC 2014

©2014 Brigid Finucane, Merit School of Music, Chicago, IL
GoAEYC 2014
This interactive workshop expands typical classroom dances and singing games, and fosters community and cultural diversity.  These multicultural dances and musical games that can be put to immediate use!

1. HA HA THIS A-WAY / American Heritage
Circle to partner dance - developmental progression. Note: Chant verbs to improve participation.
Beat & Rhythm: Beat always stays the same. Rhythm’s what you sing or say.
·      Have children walk the beat for half the song, then pat rhythm with a partner.
·      Invite children to give their ideas for other movements - pat, turn, jump, etc.
·      One way to end the song:  Now we are sitting…Just like this.

Autumn extensions: Now leaves are falling, twirling, etc. Now we are raking, “booing,” picking
(apples), climbing (apple trees), etc.

2. JUMP JIM JOE / American Heritage Playparty
Partner circle dance – inhibitory control, sequencing, following complex directions.
Teach dance in a circle first before transitioning to partners.  Two, three or more partners can dance together – a nice feature of this gathering activity.

-Transition rhymes:  - 1, 2, 3and 4…Find a new partner and we’ll do it some more!
                                                    2, 4, 6-8-10…Find a new partner and do it again!
                Find a new partner as quick as can be. Find a new partner before I count to three!

3. HOW PUNG YO (Looking For A Friend) / Traditional Chinese Folk Song
Three different versions:
(1) Make a circle, with one child in center.  This child is “It,” and walks or skips inside the circle while children are singing the first line, then he/she stops in front of another child.  On “Jeeng gah lee ah,” the two bow to each other, then shake hands on “Wah guh sho.” On the last line, they trade places, with the new friend going into the center.  Repeat. Continue until everyone has had a turn (no repeats!).  Teaching Tolerance: I Will Be Your Friend

(2) All the children play, looking for a friend simultaneously. Walk for the first two lines, then turn to a friend, bow and shake their hand. At the end of the song, wave goodbye. Repeat, finding a new friend. Chinese American Service League (CASL), Chicago

(3) Follow directions for #1 (above), but instead of trading places, the new friend holds gently on to the shoulder of the first child (“It”). Repeat the song, adding a new friend with each repetition.  New friends are added to the end of the train, until everyone is selected.
Note: Only the first child shakes hands with other children as they are added. 
Campbell, P.S. et al.  Roots & Branches. A Legacy of Multicultural Music for Children

            Jow yah, joy yah, jow yah jow,                        Looking, looking, looking for,
            Jow do wee guh how pung yo.                        Now I find a good friend.
            Jeeng gah lee ah.                                             I bow to you.
            Wah guh sho.                                                  (I) shake your hand.
            Nee shur wah duh how pung yo.                    You are my good friend.

4. LET US CHASE THE SQUIRREL / American Singing Game
Learned from Julie Swank, Intro to Kodaly, DePaul University, Chicago, IL.  This North Carolina singing game is great fun.
·      After the children have learned the song, count off by threes.
            Ones and twos are trees.  Threes are squirrels.  One child should be “left over.”
·      Two tree children make a tree. Partners face each other, holding hands.
·      A squirrel stands in the middle of each tree. Only one child is allowed per tree.
·      Sing the song, with “trees” holding their branches/bridges down, on either side of their
            “squirrel.” Trees may seesaw their arms to the steady beat of the song.
·      At the end of the song, cry, “whoop” while lifting arms to make a high bridge. All squirrels, including the squirrel in the middle, must find a new home as quickly as they can. When a new squirrel enters a tree, that tree lowers their branches around him/her.
·      A new squirrel is now in the middle. Repeat.

5. AROUND AND AROUND ©2014 Susan Salidor / Scarf play, Stretchy Bands!
Friend and fellow Children’s Music Network (CMN) member Susan Salidor (  has been charming children and the grownups who love and teach them for two decades with her delightful CDs, YouTube videos, classes and workshops.
This is a song she shared 2/17/14 on Facebook (
as part of her continuing series of “Itty Bitty Ditties.” Originally designed as scarf play, the song is also perfect for “stretchy bands.”  Used with permission.
            Around and around and around and around,
            Around and around and around.
            Up and down, up and down, up and down, up and down,
            Up and down, up and down, up and down.
            Rock! Rock! Rock! And freeze!
            And rock! And rock! And rock and rock and freeze!

6. JUMP JOSIE / American Heritage Playparty
This song changes from a circle to a partner dance and from fast to slow.  It also changes from 3/4 to  4/4  meter and from legato (smooth and connected) singing and dancing to staccato (short and separate). It is a great song to reinforce the “two x” math tables.
·      Teach the song with students in a circle.  Move side to side during the first section, then clap hands in the second section, “One in the middle…”
·      On “Oh, my Susan Brown,” make a large “sunshine circle” with both arms crossing.
·      Choose 2 students to be partners. Ask them to hold hands, facing each other.
·      Dancers in the middle, or inside, are jumpers, dancers in the circle are clappers.       The only ones who jump during the second half of the song, are those in the middle.
·      After the song is completed, ask the “two in the middle” to choose new partners from the circle and repeat the song.  After several repetitions, ask everyone to get a partner.  At this point, sing “all in the middle.”
·      Other ideas include using colors (“red in the middle”), clothing (“jeans in the middle”)
            or anything you can think of  - gender, patterns, shoe styles, month born, etc.
·      Other thoughts:  Several couples can start the song in the middle to speed things along. Partners can also “tap tap Josie,” “fly fly Josie,” “turn turn Josie, etc.

7. TUE TUE / Traditional, Ghana
There are as many versions of this song as there are interpretations of what it means!
For a fascinating look at the unresolved, and continuing, conversation, visit Mama Lisa’s blog:
This is a great song for steady beat. Movements can be simple or increasingly complicated!

·      Count “1 -2  -3 -4” a few times to establish the steady beat. 
·      Pattern: Pat hands out in front of body for two beats, then pat knees for two beats.
·      Sing song while clapping pattern with partner.
·       When pattern is mastered, increase the tempo with each repetition.

·      Make a double-ringed circle, with one partner in the inside circle, and the other in the outside circle. Direct partners to face each other. 
·      Divide the ring into “boxes.” A “box” is made from two neighboring couples- 4 kiddos.
·      Ask original couples to greet their partners, then turn and greet the person next to
            them – their “side” partner. Do this several times, to get accustomed to the movement.
·      Using one group, or “box,” demonstrate patting the pattern with the original partner, then with the new, “side” partner.
·      At a very slow tempo, invite students to try the pattern. Sing the song.

·      Tell students that there’s another “box” on the other side! 
·      With a group of eight (4 kiddos and their partners / 2 boxes), slowly try the pattern.           
            1. Pat original partner’s hands   2. Pat “side” partner’s hands  3. NEW side partners
·      Sit, facing partner in a double ring.
·      Pat partner’s hands, then your knees for the first four beats.
·      On the second four beats, pat hands with the neighbors on both sides for the first two beats, pat knees for second two beats.  Repeat pattern, starting with original partner.

8. MRS. MURPHY’S CHOWDER / Crescendo circle game
Crescendo means to get gradually louder, in Italian, the language of music. After teaching the
chant, get into a small circle, and very quietly, with feet to the beat, say the words. With each repetition, the circle becomes a little larger, and the words a little louder – until at last, the circle is at its fullest. Crescendo!

9. LUCY LOCKET / England. Tune: Yankee Doodle
This game may be done two different ways: As a chasing game or Crescendo hot /cold game.
(1)  Chasing game: A child with a small purse, handkerchief, etc., circles the ring of seated players as all sing.  At some point in the song – it can be anytime – the child drops the object behind the back of a seated child.  The seated child chases the first child around the circle.  The empty space left by the second child (chaser) is “safe.”
(2)  Crescendo game: A “finder’ is chosen to hide their eyes while a “hider” hides a small object (‘pocket’) somewhere in the room. The object MUST be partially visible.                                                      The finder turns her / his back or leaves the room while the object is hidden – whatever is best for your classroom. The hider then joins the group, and the whole class softly sings the song while the finder looks for the object.  As the finder gets closer to the object, children gradually sing louder (crescendo) until the finder is guided to the object by the singers’ voices. Choose two more children, and repeat, etc.
            Lucy Locket lost her pocket.
            Kitty Fisher found it.
            Not a penny was there in it,
            Only ribbon round it.

10. SOL UTE, SOL INNE  (Sun, Only Sun) / Traditional, Norway
Partner dance created by Brigid Finucane and Amy Lowe. To hear the song sung in Norwegian, visit Mama Lisa’s World:
Students stand with one partner, holding hands.

            Sun outside, sun inside.                                    (Step away from partner, then forward)
            Sun in the heart, sun in the mind.                    (Seesaw to one side, then the other)
            Sun, only sun.                                                    (Double handed “bridge turn”)

11. CHOCOLATE / Traditional Mexican Chant.   Partner activity, steady beat, tempo
There are many variants of this chant, some which allude to mole negro, the rich, spicy sauce whose main ingredient is chocolate (con arroz y con tomate…).
I use the simpler chant, which refers to the molinillo, a wooden utensil that is twirled between one’s palms making the chocolate frothy.  Each repetition is faster than the last.
Children hold hands and “see-saw” their arms back and forth while saying the chant.
Pause briefly at the end of each line, emphasizing the final syllable.
Variation: Try a double-handed “bridge turn” on the last “chocolate!”

                                    Uno, dos, tres, CHO!                          Uno, dos, tres, CO!
                                    Uno, dos, tres, LA!                             Uno, dos, tres, TE!
                                    Chocolate, chocolate,                         Bate, bate, chocolate!

12. UNO, DOS Y TRES – Mexico / Traditional Counting Song.                                                                            
Partner circle-dance created by Brigid Finucane.
Students stand in a circle facing a partner, back to back – in one ring.

             Uno dos y tres,                        (Clap, pat and tap hands together with partner)
            Cuatro, cinco, seis.                        (Repeat)
            Siete, ocho, nueve,                        (Take partners hands, and go halfway round in a two-                                                                        hand turn, changing places with partner)
            I can count to diez.  OR            (On “diez” turn around halfway to face a new partner.
            (Yo) Puedo contar a diez.       Repeat with new partner, etc.)

Resources to know about: New England Dancing Masters (
 and the “Games Children Sing” series (China, India, Malaysia, Japan- book with CD).

Take suggestions and be creative!
 Above all, have fun!

Please contact me with additional questions.
I’ll gladly sing melodies into your answering machines!

Brigid Finucane * 847-213-0713 *
Merit School of Music, 38 S. Peoria St., Chicago, IL  60607.   312-786-9428.
Visit my blog the 18th of every month for more musical and tech ideas:
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Conference Handouts are available @:

I’m a proud and grateful member of GoAEYC, GCAOSA, NAEYC & the Children’s Music Network

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