Upper Elementary and Middle School may be the worst offenders of the “I don’t want to sing” club. Finding engaging games for them to play while they HAVE to sing is one way to help break down that wall. Here are four of my favorite singing games for upper elementary and middle school.

Sansa Kroma

This is an easy passing game and great if students don’t have a lot of experience with passing games. There are two options, a pass on the beat, or a small tapping pattern. This could also be a nice lead in to a cup game.

Students sit in a seated circle. Students each have a rock. The passing pattern is tap tap pass rest (or clap). Another pattern that works is passing the rock on the first beat of each measure.

Tone Set: drmfsltd’
Rhythm Set: ta, ti-ti, tim-ka

Four White Horses

Clapping games are just fun. They usually are less stressful for students who are concerned with singing because other people are focused on the clapping patterns.

Tone Set: s,l,t,drm
Rhythm Set: 4/4 ta, ta rest, ti rest, syncopa,

Variation 1: Simple pattern

See this version here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Aqr44wfy9lA&t=12s

  • 1 – Pair 1: high five, Pair 2: low five
  • 2 – All clap own hands
  • 3 – Pair 1: low five, Pair 2: high five
  • 4 – All clap own hands

Variation 2: More Complicated

See this version here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=kDoduW9s35g&t=30s

  • 1 – 8 claps to corners
  • 2 – Pair 1: high both, Pair 2: low both
  • 3 – All clap own hands
  • 4 – Pair 1: low both, Pair 2: high both
  • 5 – All clap own hands
  • 6 – Turn to corner person, both hands
  • 7 – Clap own hands
  • 8 – Turn to other corner person, both hands
  • 9 – Clap own hands
  • 10 – Repeat 2 through 9 to finish song. Starts at 1 for beginning of song again.

Sei Sei Sei

This one is sure to be a favorite. This is a Japanese singing game I learned in Level 3 from Joy Nelson. Students stand facing in pairs on a piece of paper.
While singing, students tape the beat in their palms and balancing on one foot. On “Hoi”, each student shows rock, paper, scissors. The lower and anyone who loses their balance must fold their paper in half. The game ends when students can no longer fold their paper.
For a fun mix up, have students move to new partners each time.

Tone Set: l, drm (Re centered!)
Rhythm Set: 3/4, ta, ta rest, ta-a, tam, ti, tim-ka

Stodola Pumpa

This Czech folk song is one is an easy way to prep the idea of Grand Right and Grand Left without the hand passing. Students stand in a single circle facing a partner.
Stodola: RLR, LRL, RLR to match tika-ti rhythm pat the rhythm Alt: Try the pattern with partner
Pumpa: pat clap (partner)
Alt: Try the pattern with partner for “stodola”
Hey: Step 3 times passing partner with fists above head.

Tone Set: s,l,t, drm
Rhythm Set: ta, ti-ti, tika-ti

Bonus Song! Fire Down Below

If your students are still into Sea Shanties, this one is a good one, and it could be a fun challenge for them to create a game FOR this song! If they try one, I’d love to know what they come up with!

  1. There is fire in the fore-top, fire in the main, Fire in the windlass and fire in the chain. (Chorus)
  2. There is fire in the fore-peak, fire down below, Fire in the chain-plates, the bosun didn’t know. (Chorus)
  3. There is fire up aloft, there’s fire down below, Fire in the galley, the cook he didn’t know. (Chorus)

Tone Set: drmfsl
Rhythm Set: ta, ta rest, ti, ti rest, tim-ka, ka-tim

Hope this gives you some good ideas for your older students!

Melissa Stouffer-1

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