Topics to Be Covered Sound Beginnings

Topics to Be Covered Sound Beginnings

Singing Games and Rhymes for
Early Years

C Users Lucinda AppData Local Microsoft Windows Temporary Internet Files Content Word HPIM1452 jpg

“Teach music and singing in such a way that it is not a torture but a joy for the pupil; instil a thirst for finer music in him, a thirst which will last for a lifetime”

Zoltán Kodály

Take hands with a partner and jump for first two bars. Nod head, shake head and tap toe on the ground. Turn with partner and then choose another partner and say “Hello” at the end.

Pass a ball around the circle to a steady beat – this is the hot potato. At the end of the song “Get rid of the hot potato”, the ball should be rolled across the circle.

shake and shake

Walk around with lycra – shake high and low etc.
Shake shakers high low etc

C Users Lucinda AppData Local Microsoft Windows Temporary Internet Files Content Word ritsch ratsch tif

Children stand in a circle and turn to face a partner. Ritsch Ratsch – stamp one foot then the other. Fili – tap right knee then left. Boom Boom Boom – clap own hands twice and partner’s hands once.
(At end make sure to clap own hands only once before walking past your partner to a new partner)

Stand in two concentric circles each child facing a partner.

On the words DING DONG – clap own hands then partners.
On the words HOT DOG – clap own hands

At the very end move on to the right to a new partner.

One child has the ball and rolls it around under their hand – at the end of the song he rolls it to (William) who picks it off the ground.

The children stand in a circle – the teacher is in the middle with a ball. Forwards (pass to a child) backwards (child passes back) keep this pattern going throughout the song.
When the children are more advanced they can be the leader and change places during the rest in the song.

Children face a partner. Double double – tap right shoulder left shoulder (repeat), this this – clap partner’s hands, that that – tap own knees twice.

Developing the ability to SING IN TUNE

Why do some children sing out of tune?

  • Children come from different backgrounds and as a result their exposure to singing may range from being nonexistent to having had daily exposure to singing.
    Children learn by imitation so if a child is born into a family where music is part of everyday life then he is living and experiencing music from before birth.
  • The only experience some children may have had is singing from a bad role model. Children learn by imitation.
  • Lack of practice: A child who comes from a home where active singing is not an everyday occurrence is likely to have little experience in using his singing voice.
  • Some children are very shy and inhibited and therefore are not brave enough to sing.
  • Some children are aware that their voice is different: Perhaps they pitch very low and they are embarrassed about it.
  • Sometimes children can be overconfident and they are singing so loudly that they don’t realize they are singing out of tune.
  • VERY OCCASIONALLY there may be some physiological reason but this is rarely the cause.
    What can be done to help?
  • Singing to and with a child is of vital importance. Sing often and capture the child’s imagination
  • Start with what the child can do. If a child has a lower pitched voice, try starting at his pitch and help him gradually sing higher.
  • Sing to the child face to face. Sit at his level and sing to him. Make sure there is not so much noise around that he cannot hear.
  • Use only your voice if you want the child to sing. Avoid using tape recorded music or radio to encourage the child to sing, if you want him to sing use your voice to encourage him.
  • Place the child close to other children who can pitch. Being surrounded by children who can pitch well will encourage him to hear the correct sound.
  • Individual singing. Play games where the children are singing on their own so that you can hear the progress of individual children and be in a position to help. Constantly singing with others is not going to help
  • CHOOSE APPROPRIATE MATERIAL. This is perhaps the most important thing you can do to help. See below!!!


 Songs must be chosen with the proper range for children. For very young children (age around 3), the range is very small – D (one step above middle C) to the B above that i.e. only a sixth
As children grow, so does their vocal range but very slowly. By the age of 5, some children will manage an octave C to C’

 The song should have simple rhythms. Nothing so complex that it is difficult for the children to fit the words in. The rhythm of the words should follow the natural stresses of speech.

 There should be no complicated melodic turns. Songs may be in the correct range but if the leap around constantly e.g. so to re, re to la etc then they will be too difficult for children to sing.

 The majority of songs should be pentatonic (do re mi so and la). Semitones are difficult to sing in tune. The child will build up a sound intonation by using the pitches of the pentatonic scale primarily. Where there are semitones they should be easy to sing and not provide difficult leaps e.g. so fa mi re do endings to songs are quite common.

 The songs should be accompanied by an age appropriate game. Active participation is always more valuable and games accompanied by movement are more beneficial to the child.

 The song should have appropriate words for the age of the child
The RANGE is of vital importance in developing children’s ability to sing in tune. If a melody goes too high for them they tend to compensate by shouting. Some of our traditional nursery rhymes have melodies which have far too wide a range for children to sing. Humpty Dumpty is a perfect example of a melody which is unsuitable: It has a range of an 11th

Poor choice of repertoire leads to poor quality of singing


It is useful to play some warm up games with children to encourage a “singing voice”

Take the child’s voice on a roller coaster ride - The child should vocalise on an “oo” or an “ah” sound while you show shapes in the air using a finger puppet e.g.

Encourage the children to understand the difference between a singing voice and a speaking voice.
Start the session using the following exercise -
Teacher - Have you brought your speaking voice?
Children – Yes we’ve brought our speaking voice
Teacher – Have you brought your whispering voice?
Children – Yes we’ve brought our whispering voice

Etc – using posh voice, quiet voice, low voice, high voice but finishing with SINGING VOICE

Again an echo game with different voices.

Teacher Children

Boom chicka boom Boom chicka Boom

Boom chicka boom Boom chicka Boom

Boom chicka rocka chicka rocka chicaka boom Boom chicka………



One more time One more time

Quieter (lower, higher, SINGING) Quieter ……..

SONGS and GAMES to encourage individual singing

  • Songs with simple melodies are the easiest to sing individually.
  • Songs which capture the child’s attention and make him part of a playful world are more likely to encourage him to take part.
  • Use of puppets often encourages the shy child to take part.
    Here are a few examples:

Game: The children sit in a circle. One child has a ball. He sings to another child and rolls him the ball.
Because there is a ball involved, the children don’t realise they are singing on their own, they simply want a turn of the ball.
With younger children, use the same melody as above and change the words
”Catch the ball, Andrew. Roll it back to me”
Roll to the child and then the child should return the ball to you

    The children sit in a circle with their hands behind their backs. The dog sits in the middle with his eyes closed (with a dog puppet).
    All sing to the dog as bar one. Dog answers as in bar two. Meanwhile you give another puppet to the chosen child. All sing bar three and the chosen child sings bar four.
    The dog should guess who was singing.

Game: One child has a bumble bee puppet (or is the bumble bee!)
He flies to another child whilst everyone sings “Hickety Tickety Bumble Bee, can you sing your name to me?”. The child he flies to sings “My name is Christopher”
Christopher then takes the puppet and flies to another child.
There are numerous games like this with individual singing. The children enjoy the guessing games and the games with puppets. Encourage them to take part by making the games fun!

here I come

Children sit in a circle. One (the soloist) is in the centre. At the end “give us some” everyone puts their hand into the centre to have their “glass” filled. The chosen child is next in the centre.

Guessing Game: One child is sits in the centre with his eyes closed (the guesser). The others sit in a circle with their hands behind their back. Andrew runs around the outside of the circle and drops the button and key with two different children. At the end these children sing “I have the button” or “I have the key”. The guesser should say who has the button and key

Chasing game: “Charlie” walks around the outside of the circle with a puppet. Charlie sings each line and then everyone repeats. At the end of the song “Can’t catch me”, Charlie drops the puppet behind someone who picks it up and chases Charlie all the way back to the space.


Eventually the child will begin to understand, through the voice, higher and lower sounds. This is not an easy concept as it is quite abstract for children.

If higher and lower can be visual as well then there is more chance that the child will understand.

The following activities may help:

  • Using two puppets, one should say a RHYME in a higher voice and the other should say a RHYME in a lower voice. Ask the children to help.
    USE A RHYME rather than a song as a song has lower and higher pitches within the one song.
    Hide the puppets and say the rhyme in a higher or lower voice – can the children say which puppet is “saying” the rhyme?

The children should be Jack in the Boxes curled up and then Jump up in line two. In line four they should curl back down again.

The children should show the shape of the melody with their hands as the rain is falling OR should use a parachute and in the rests say the word splash and lift the parachute high

The children pretend they are on a SEE SAW going up and down. They should imagine that they are sitting on one end of it going higher and lower. This could of course be a group activity with a lycra ring or a parachute.

Ask the children to show you the shape of one of the above melodies without playing the game. They will eventually begin to show you the higher and lower shapes.

  • Use Chime bars on a LADDER to show the sounds going up and down. There is instantly a visual aid and the children will be able to SEE the pitches getting higher linked with the sound
  • Show the children melodies written in PICTORIAL NOTATION – these will help the child to understand how the sounds move.


When the children have a basic understanding for how the shapes work, we can give the sounds a specific “singing name”.

The children have been given a BANK of songs which will PREPARE the pitches they will use.
Look at the song - the children can show the shape with their hands



The higher pitch is called SO and the lower pitch is called MI

Each pitch is given a handsign and the children can be shown what the handsigns are.
The whole see saw melody can be sung in SO’s and MI’s


The children will then progress to reading so and mi from the stave –

The golden rule is that is so is on a line, mi will be on the line below

Likewise if SO is in a space between the lines, Mi will be in the space below Combined with the stick notation the children already know to represent rhythm, they can now read a very simple melody from the stave.



© Lucinda Geoghegan – 2009