Teaching virtually, and wondering how to play singing games over video conferencing? In this blog post, I’m outlining five games you can play with your students during synchronous lessons!
#1: Apple Tree
Here is the song notation for “Apple Tree.”
I’ve also played this game during my virtual lessons. Simply gets some cups and real or fake apples, and off you go! I typically play with three to four apples/ cups instead of six, simply because of the amount of space I have.
#2: We are dancing
Here is the song notation for “We are dancing.”
In a typical music lesson, students stand in a circle with hands held. One child is chosen to be the wolf and steps outside of the circle, and three students are chosen to be trees, and step inside the circle. After the song, all students ask, “Old Wolf, are you there?” The wolf might answer, “No, I’m brushing my teeth,” or “No, I’m reading a book.” The students sing again, and the wolf comes up with another answer. After the first, second, or third time through, the wolf says, “Yes!” and chases the children until he/she tags one. The students running away from the wolf can either touch a tree to be safe, or go to another safe zone, such as the chalkboard. The child who is tagged by the wolf also becomes a wolf, and the two wolves come up with an answer for “Old wolf, are you there?”
This won’t work in a virtual or socially distanced classroom, though! In my virtual lessons, I use a wolf puppet, like the one found here (note: this is a referral link.) As we sing the song (with students’ microphones off), we dance! Then, at the end of the song, we freeze. Then, the wolf (whom I name Walter) turns around, and the students start dancing again. When Walter turns back around, all the students have to freeze again…and if they don’t, Walter calls one of them out!
#3: Bee Bee
Here is the notation for “Bee Bee.”
In a typical music lesson, 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.
In a virtual music classroom, you could play the game in one of two ways. First, you could use stuffed animals to play the game, by having four stuffed animals in front of your camera and tapping them to the beat. At the end of each time, you buzz one stuffed animal instead of four, then you say the chant again, and buzz another stuffed animal, until there is only one stuffed animal left. You could even put a timer on the screen before you play, and have all students go and get four stuffed animals, so they can play along!
Another way to play is to share your screen so all students can see all of the students in the class, then use a bee cursor like this one to “buzz” the kids at the end of each time. When I play like this, I do buzz four students, and then have them turn off their video cameras if they get out. It's so much fun! (Thanks to my colleague Ashley Ellerman for the idea!)
#4: Nickel Song
Here is the notation for “The Nickel Song,” which I learned from my colleague Elizabeth Westhoven:
This song is versatile: it could be used for fa for older students, or for ta and ti-ti with younger students. The way you play the game is exactly how you could play the game virtually. You get four cups and one nickel, and put a nickel underneath one of the cups. As the students sing the song, you move the cups around, and students have to guess where the nickel is at the end of the song. Super fun!
#5: Sei Sei Sei
Here is the notation for the Japanese folk song “Sei Sei Sei.”
To play the game in a traditional setting, students are paired up with partners. Students sing the song, and on the second phrase, students pound fist in hand to beat. On “Hoi,” they do Rock, Paper, or Scissors against their partner. Another way to play in person is to have students stand on sheet of newspaper. Every time the student loses, he/she folds paper in half. If there is a tie, both fold the paper in half. The game ends when one of the students has nothing left on which to stand.
Virtually, you could play by having students all play against you. Another way to play is to have students choose someone to play against (but keep it a secret!) and if they lose, they have to turn their cameras off. A third way to play is to get students into breakout rooms of 4-8, and every time someone loses, they turn their cameras off, until there is one winner per room. Then, bring them all back and play until there is a grand champion!
Looking for more materials for distance learning? Check out this set, which could be used before or after playing the first three games!
I hope this has been helpful as you create your distance learning lessons. Happy teaching!