It’s back to school time around the country! Over the next few weeks, students will be returning to classes for the new year. If you’re a teacher, that can be a stressful time, but it doesn’t have to be!
As a music teacher, the first week of school was one of my favorite times at school. I love seeing the students’ excitement that first week. I find the first week is a perfect time to introduce games we’ll be using throughout the year. I have a few games that I include in my sub binder for times I’m gone throughout the year, and by teaching them the very first week, the students get used to them right off the bat and are able to help lead the games if the substitute isn’t sure what to do.
Today, I want to share a few of my favorite games to teach for back to school! They are a great way to incorporate music making from the very beginning of school!
Back to school games
I love teaching games to students. They are fun to teach, and once students feel comfortable with the games, they are able to lead them. They are the perfect activity for a sub binder, in case the substitute isn’t comfortable with the lesson plan you have left for them.
Another thing I love about games is that you can use them to help teach a specific skill or concept to your students. For instance, singing games are a great way to make students comfortable with singing solos (often without even realizing they’re doing that!). I like using rhythm games, as well, to sneak in different rhythm patterns we’re learning. I usually teach a couple singing games and rhythm activities for the younger grades at the beginning of the year, and then a couple singing games and rhythm activities for the older grades.
Games for Kindergarten and 1st grade:
- A Tisket, A Tasket- This favorite is one I use throughout the year. I sometimes like to sneak rhythm practice into this activity. To do that, I place rhythm patterns inside the envelope the leader carries around the circle. I also like to do this song at Valentine’s, and then we change some of the lyrics, like the colors of the basket. You can check out this post I did about A Tisket, A Tasket if you’d like to see more.
- Doggie, Doggie- This one is a very simple song, and one that can help teach different concepts. It’s perfect for using throughout the year, as well! I like to use a lummi stick for the dog bone, or something they can hide behind their backs. I also bring in a stuffed animal puppy when I teach the song.
- steady beat movement practice– this is so much fun with the younger grades, especially. We play a piece of music and students perform different movements to the steady beat. I usually hold up movement cards, like “snap”, “clap”, “pat head”, “march”, while they are listening to the music. You can use that time to introduce music from different genres, seasonal music, or music that goes along with their lesson.
Games for Middle Grades/upper elementary:
- Ida Red, Ida Blue- This song is always a favorite! I have used this song with 3rd-5th graders, and they love it! It’s also a great song for Valentine’s Day. You can check out this post I did with the game directions and song lyrics, if you are not familiar with this song.
- Rhythm Stick Activities-
-My absolute favorite activity with rhythm sticks is from an Orff workshop I attended several years ago. If you have the Game Plan curriculum, I highly recommend checking out the All You Need is Love activity. My students loved this, and they were able to help pass out the rhythm sticks and find partners for the activity.
-you can also pass out rhythm sticks and play different recordings. Hold up rhythm flashcards for them to play through as they are listening to the piece. That’s a fun challenge for them, and also simple enough for the students to lead in your absence.
What are some of your favorite activities or games to teach during the first few weeks of school? I’d love to hear what works well for you!