There is nothing like playing a student favorite game at the end of the year. There are so many games that not only support conceptual learning, but also allow our students to get out extra energy, and everyone can enjoy the fresh air too! Here are some awesome outdoor games for elementary music. (Full disclosure – some affiliate links. It won’t change your price and I get a small kickback. No pressure!)

Bump Up Tomato

This one is a fun one. One person is in the center while everyone acts out the motions. At the end, the person in the center tries to get someone else to laugh. They can do anything they want except touch them! Check out the game here:

Chicken and Foxes

This one was written in response to teachers pulling Chicken on a Fen¢ep0st being pulled from their repertoire. Aimee from OForTunaOrff wrote this one and made up a fun game. It’s a great replacement piece for CoaFP and there are 16th notes abound. Check it out here.

Cut the Cake

A student FAVORITE, this one is amazing for Ta Rest and later on Fa. I think it says a lot about how awesome this game is that you can bring back a game from 1st grade and use it with 4th and they still love it!


Students stand in a circle with one student (‘it’) walking around the outside of the circle.
Phrase 1 – Students clap hands to beat
Phrase 2 – Students shake hips
Phrase 3 – Students take hands and make a circle.
Phrase 4 – Student who is ‘it’ will “cut” the cake with their arm.
The students on the sides of the cut take hands and on it’s cue, they run around the circle in opposite directions, racing to tag it’s outstretched hand. If you want to control the silliness a little, you can have them stop on the other side, shake hands and say, “Good morning, good afternoon, good night.” The winner is the new it.

Down Down Baby

I don’t know about you, but I remember this one from the movie Big. I never learned it as a student, but I definitely knew it! This one is just a little fun and perfect for when you want to be outside but without running around. Check out this video from the Amidons.

Drop the Handkerchief (Diū Shǒu Juàn​)

This Chinese game is similar to Duck Duck Goose. The song itself is in pentatonic with a syncopa rhythm as well as some tied rhythms. Find all the info you need to learn it over at The Chinese Folk Music Project.

Ducks & Geese

I learned this one in Level One from Joy Nelson. It’s very similar to Come Back Home My Little Chicks.


One child (the wolf) hides. Another child (the Farmer or Farmer’s Wife) stands facing a line of the other children (Ducks and Geese). Lines sung alternative as indicated as a conversation. At the end of the song, the Ducks and geese run toward the Farmer or Farmer’s Wife to a designated “safe zone” while the Wolf rushes out and tries to capture one. 

Meter Tag

This isn’t a singing game but an easy game to bring outside. Pick a meter the students are familiar with or learning(EX: 3/4, 4/4, 2/4, 6/8). With a loud drum, it a loud drum beat on the downbeat. Students can only move on the downbeat (beat one).

Mouse Mousie

This fun game for Ta TiTi and Do is a favorite chase game.


Students sit in a circle with one “it” outside the circle (the mouse). The mouse turns their back and the teacher (or the previous student who was out) silently chooses a cat. The mouse walks around the circle while the students sing the song. I like to make them keep the beat with their feet. At the end of the song, the cat jumps up and chases the mouse around the circle. The mouse must make it back to the cat’s spot before they are tagged or they are out. If they are out, they must sit in the middle until another mouse is tagged. The cat is the new mouse. (To speed up game play, a new mouse and a new cat can be chosen.)

Our Old Sow

One of my favorite games to take outside, this one is great Low Sol. I initially learned it as a Tam Ti song but I’ve also seen it as Tim-ka.


One student is the farmer, the other is the sow.  The other students are ‘walls’.  The students who are walls hold hands in as even rows as possible facing the front of the room.  (If there are 20 students, they should have 4 rows of 5, if there are 30, 5 rows of 6, etc).  

The students in the walls hold hands and the game begins by singing the first phrase of the song. At the end of the first phrase, students let go and turn 90 degrees to the right so they grab hands with the people who were in front of or behind them before so that the rows run perpendicular to their previous directions.  At the end of the 2nd phrase, the same is done but the students turn left.  The process is repeated at the end of the third phrase (right again) and then the fourth (left).
During this time, the farmer chases the sow through the maze.  They may not go under or break the walls.  They may chase until they catch the sow, or until a pre-determined time. One option is to time the chase with a stopwatch, or sing the song a specific number of times.  I like to sing it three times, slow the first, a moderate pace the third, and fast the last time!

More Outside Ideas!

  • Tinikling – Check out this post for all you need to get started.
  • Folk Dances and Play Parties – Take dance day outside. Even better if they are play parties (dances that don’t use instruments and were sung like Old Brass Wagon, Paw Paw Patch, Alabama Gal). Source Note that other resources say they may have also evolved in the frontier due to inaccessibility of instruments as well.
  • Jump Rope Rhymes! Steal the PE teacher’s jump ropes for a week and teach some jump rope rhymes that you can dictate rhythms for later (if you want to take it that way). This jump rope seller has a huge list of jump rope rhymes you can start with on their website here.
  • Or you can snag this book from Amazon for under $10.
  • Another book option is this one, but may include a lot more clapping games than jump rope rhymes.
  • Bust out the parachute
  • Basketball rhythms (or any ball games!)
  • Found sounds using nature. This would be a great accompaniment for the book The Listening Walk, but it definitely won’t take the whole class time. Add in some student reflection by letting them talk about what they heard or imagined, or let them draw a picture about it.
  • Percussion with found sounds
  • Sound scavenger hunt – find something that clicks, find something that sounds high/low, that is fast/slow, loud/quiet, woody, metallic, etc.

Even More!

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I hope this gives you a bunch of ideas for outside music class.

Melissa Stouffer-1

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