Sunday, July 29, 2012

Fun with Music Series - 5 Classic Musical Games

5 Classic Musical Games photo
5 Classic Musical Games

Welcome to our Fun with Music Series.
I have had a great time writing this series through the month of July with Angelique Felix at

We have written posts all month long to help you play with music.

Today I am going to remind you of 5 classic musical games that children love to play.

Children love to play simple games that they know the rules to and can easily play.  But they also love a little twist to spice things up a bit. 

1.  London Bridge

Children love forming a bridge and going under each others arms.  The twist:  in this version the bridge keeps getting lower at each new verse so the ones going under have to crawl and wiggle their way under the bridge.  Watch the video to see a variation to the classic London Bridge.

Trouble seeing the video?  Click here.

2.    Musical Chairs

For this game you need to set up chairs in a circle for everyone minus one.  Play some fun music as the children walk around the circle of chairs.  When you stop the music all the children need to sit down in a chair.  Since there is not enough chairs, one child will be left standing.  Now for the twist- ask the child a question.  This question can be about music theory or any subject you are studying.  If the child answers the question correctly than she can go back into the game!

3.  Freeze Dance

This game is similar to Musical Chairs since the children have to listen for the music to start and stop.  Play some great dance music and have the children dance or hop around.  Stop the music without warning.  The children have to stop dancing when the music stops.  The twist:  call out different type dances for the children such as Tap, Jazz, Ballet, Hip-Hop, Break Dance.

4.  The Farmer in the Dell

Stand in a large circle holding hands.  Begin singing the song:

The farmer in the dell,
The farmer in the dell,
Hi-ho the dairy-o,
The farmer in the dell.

Pick a child to be the farmer and she gets to stand in the middle of the circle.  Then sing:

The farmer picks a wife,
The farmer picks a wife,
Hi-ho the dairy-o,
The farmer picks a wife.

The child/farmer gets to choose someone to be the wife.  Then the wife and farmer stand together in the circle.

The rest of the verses are:

The wife picks a child.
The child picks a nurse.
The nurse picks a dog.
The dog picks a cat.
The cat picks a rat.
The rat picks the cheese.
The cheese stands alone.

Each child picked gets to pick the next child.

The twist:  Use the animals from a different story such as Brown Bear, Brown Bear.

The order of animals for Brown Bear:
Brown Bear,
Red Bird,
Yellow Duck,
Blue Horse,
Green Frog,
Purple Cat,
White Dog,
Black Sheep,
Gold Fish,

5.  Ring Around the Rosie

Hold hands and walk in a circle while singing this song.  Then everyone falls to the ground when you get to that part in the song.  Children love holding hands with their friends and being a part of the circle!

In case you don't know the words:

Ring around the rosie,
A pocket full of posies,
Ashes, Ashes,
We all fall down.

The twist:  Think of different movements to do in place of falling down.

Ideas:  Jump up
Skip around
Hop on one foot
Clap our hands
Give a hug

Benefits of playing classic musical games:

Children get to socialize with friends.

Children learn to be part of a group.

Children learn to work together and act out a story especially in The Farmer and the Dell and London Bridge.

Games are a great way to be active and get moving.

Everyone has fun!

Visit the other Fun with Music articles!

The title picture was created using artwork by Trina Clark at


  1. Great and good to use post Tonya!!
    Too and this eerie sis finished for now, let's think about a follow up!


    1. I would love to do another series with you Angelique!

  2. So interesting seeing how these are different from the UK version. We call it musical statues as you have to stay still like a statue.

    1. Yes, that makes sense! I guess we call it Freeze dance since we yell out "Freeze" when it is time to stop and stand still.
      Thanks for reading Rebecca!

  3. Great list!
    I'd like to add Pop! Goes the Weasel! Once the kids understand the pattern, it's singing & smiles! (I also found a musical chair type version of this game when I googled it though I have never tried it.)

    The book: 120 Singing Games has the version of the game that I use for 3rd graders at the beginning of the school year.

    Formation: Large circle made up of smaller 3 person circles.

    I teach by having 3 students demonstrate then add another group of 3 to the large circle to show the 'weasel' pattern. I number the 3 students and pick one number to be the weasel and the other 2, to be the 'bridge'.
    The 3 students hold hands and walk (or skip) to the beat in their small circle as we sing, slowing down to 'set up the bridge' as the fermata in the songs nears 'thought it was all in FUN...."
    Teach that the bridge must always set up (raise their hands) facing the same direction and send the weasel 'popping' through the same place each time. The weasel can only Pop through when we sing POP goes the weasel! (Bridge students let go of the 'weasels' hand as they jump through the bridge and to the next set of 2 students, the game repeats.)

    As stated before, I add the next group so they can easily see how each weasel just pops through to the next group, keep adding groups of 3 until eventually every 'weasel' returns to their original group. I call a new number to be the weasel and review how the bridge set up goes and repeat w/new weasel. This is important so that 2 children do not pop into each other!

    In 8-10 minutes the entire group of 30 students in my room have had a turn to be the weasel (once the game is learned)
    Tips...if one group is short 1 person, I assign 'invisible Bob' as their 3rd partner, reminding the class that they have to hold 'invisible Bob's' hand if he is the bridge or the weasel!
    if there is 1 person leftover w/o a group, I have that person 'partner up' and there are 2 number 1's in a group.
    For younger classes, I've just played where the weasel pops through and forget about the large circle rotation..I can add that part another day! I would still teach the bridge to face a certain direction to help teach the concept of holding a fermata.

    Hope the directions are clear enough, I was glad I tried this game out w/my students!

    1. Pop Goes the Weasel sounds like another fun game. Thanks for explaining it. We'll have to try it out!

    2. Invisible Bob is a very nice solution for the problem of uneven numbers for musical games. Thanks for sharing. It is nice you explain how to include each child! Carolyn

  4. Oh how wonderful. I keep meaning to do more musical activities with my children. Thank you for the inspiration!


    1. I'm glad you like the ideas in the post, Maggy! Thanks for reading.

  5. Love all the songs and how well you explain them, Tonya! You have such great variations and your directions are very clear. Carolyn

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