Here I will be sharing with you the games and activities I use for group classes. Some are my own and some are those I’ve picked up at workshops, teacher training and online. Feel free to use and share those you like.
Song: ‘My name is’. Age Group: 3-6.
We use the first few notes of Twinkle Twinkle as the air. This is fab for small children. I don’t use it for the older classes so much. Have the students all sit in a circle first. I sing ‘My name’s Una, your name’s (…)’, and they sing it back to me – ‘My name’s (…), your name’s Una’. Then the child turns to the next person and does the same thing.
Aims: 1. To introduce the children to each other. If they are shy, or even just for fun, bring in the parents to the circle. 2. To familiarise them with Twinkle Twinkle.
Development: 1. Add in a ball or soft toy to pass along for whoever’s turn it is. Gives the feeling of pulse and rhythm. 2. Continue on with the air of the tune Twinkle Twinkle when each child in the group can pitch the opening phrase.
2. Activity: Bells! Age group: All.
Students of all ages love the bells. I have a set of one octave bells that I got in the local Bookshop. There are so many kinds of bells you can get and they are all different shapes and sizes. My favourite are the Desk Bells where the bells remain stationary and they children just press the top of the bell to make the sound. Less messing about that way!
Here are some short activities I do with bells: With all of these you can give the students a turn to be ‘teacher’.
High/Low: Hardly needs explanation really… The kids turn away while I play either a high note or a low note and they say which one it was.
Getting higher/Getting lower: A development of the activity above. The kids turn away or cover their eyes while I play a series of notes and they say whether the notes are getting higher or getting lower.
Walking or skipping: Again, kids turn away or close their eyes and I play some notes. They tell me whether they are walking or skipping. If you’ve already played the games above you can also ask if the notes were walking up or down, skipping up or down, or skipping up AND down.
Finding Twinkle Twinkle: Even if the kids are slightly older they still have a laugh doing this. We jumble up all the bells and they have to find Twinkle Twinkle. They each take a bell (or two depending on how many kids – if you’ve only one octave or a 5/6 note tune, you’ll have to repeat the game to give turns). I tend to let them roll with this, they will gradually get a feel for where each of the notes are and which one should come next. Both the students and parents love when the tune comes together.
3. Rhythm Cards. Age group: All
I found this set of rhythm cards through Pinterest here, but they’re from Layton Music (laytonmusic.wordpress.com – great music teaching blog). The cards are so great. There are 5 sets of them, each adding new denominations of rhythms, so as a result they cater for all levels.
The amount of games and activities you can use these for is endless. Here are some examples:
- Dominoes: We used to play Dominoes a lot when we were kids. We were a no TV house, so we all played lots of music, read books, and of course played games and puzzles! For this game I give each of the kids a small bundle of cards and they have to join them up like dominoes.
- Reverse Dominoes: Picking up the cards again but with a twist. Each student picks a card rhythm in their minds and claps it for the group. The others in the group have to figure out which card he/she clapped. Note: For smaller children you may want to remind them not to stare at the rhythm while they’re clapping so as not to give the game away!
- Flashcards: Jumble up the cards and use as flashcards for the students to clap or play back. Simple and effective. Develop the game by giving a token to whoever plays the rhythm first (correctly) and tot them up at the end. As always, only introduce competition to a class that can handle it. Never refer to the ‘non-winner’ as a loser. To be honest I never even say the word Winner, and I always try my best to give a token to everyone so nobody is left out.