IMAGE 5 great songs for upper elementary

Upper elementary students can be some of the toughest audiences.

They’re too cool for you, don’t like sticking out, and are definitely NOT singing at an audible volume for you (*cue intense side-eye*).

Maybe you’re like me and abide by the rule that they have to be singing in order to play the game. “And I won’t help you out since I don’t get to play!”

If so, then you’re probably looking for songs which motivate those older students.

Well, you’ve come to the right place! Here are my favorite 5 great songs for upper elementary!

IMAGE four white horses song

Four white horses is a great song for some tricky rhythm patterns.

This song has some Syncopa (Ti-Ta-Ti) patterns.  It also has rests which are perfect for internalized counting.

Four White Horses a great song for practicing pitch. There is some really good Low La & Low Sol movement but also has some Low Ti if you are preparing that concept.

The Ti-Re-Do movement that happens 3 times is perfect if you are trying to isolate that pattern, and the clapping game has just enough difficulty that your older students will eat it up and work to get it right.

IMAGE four white horses sheet music notation

IMAGE ye toop doram
Ye Toop Doram is perfect for some kids who really just love the throw stuff.

Of course, I keep the “underhand only and it must roll’ rule in effect!!

This Farsi game has Tam-Ti patterns and is in a minor modality. It’s a gem and the lyrics are not difficult to learn.

This is a fast game for everyone who loves to dodge balls. Check this one out for sure!

IMAGE ye toop doram sheet music



image kokoleoko song

Another foreign language song, Kokoleoko comes from Liberia. I love that this song is quick to learn even with a different language.

Students won’t be struggling with the language and get to the game more quickly since there are only a few words in this song.

Kokoleoko is perfect for Fa and Syncopa (Ti-Ta-Ti) or eighth – quarter – eighth patterns. Students will love this clapping game.

image kokoleoko sheet music notation



image rabbit and a possum song

Rabbit and a Possum is sure to get them going. Who doesn’t love a game of Marco Polo?

You should definitely have a chat about the rabbit being not-so-nice, but this is great for Fa and Tim-ka (dotted eighth-sixteenth).

image rabbit and a possum sheet music notation



image our old sow song
Our Old Sow my all-time favorite game with the kids. With moving walls, a pig, and a farmer, they will be begging to play this again.

This is perfect for Low Sol at the end of phrases, and (Tam-Ti) dotted quarter – eighth patterns.

Pro Tip #1: When you play the game, sing the song 3 times through to make it a little more fun (and give the farmer a little more time!) The first time sing VERY slow, and gradually get faster.

Pro Tip #2: Make the kids stay in the walls because there will always be at least one who wants to run around the grid the whole time.

image our old sow sheet music notation

I hope your students love these 5 great songs for upper elementary as much as I do!! I’d love to hear how you use them!

Before you go, check out this free download here with all of these songs and instructions. 

I can’t wait to find out how you like these!

If you enjoyed this post, you may also enjoy Everyday Tools For All Music Teachers.

image Melissa

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