Pull out this versatile echo song for primary students that’s about appreciation, thanksgiving, and thankfulness in November or for other celebrations throughout the year. A simple Orff arrangement, one-chord C ukulele part, scarf activities, and movement will make this a great concert piece or SEL activity in the classroom.
Give Thanks is available as a single resource or part of this Thanksgiving Bundle!
These ideas are for passing a SINGLE object around the circle, not cup passing games and similar where EVERYONE has an object. Many elimination games are played using a single object.
Singing games that involve passing an object to the beat are favorites in the music classroom. No matter what object you use, there are some basic how-tos for teaching kids. Here are some tricks and a list of favorite games.
When I’m teaching the concept for the first time or going over reminders to students who’ve already learned, here is the sequence.
Identify, discuss, and demonstrate the qualities of a good pass. The word “pass” can be misleading. It’s not a toss, drop, or throw. It is PLACED directly and easily in the next person’s hand. In their hand, not dropped in front of them, to the side of them, or in the space created by their criss-cross applesauce legs.
There’s a responsibility on the receiver to have their hand ready. Also, the receiver RECEIVES the pass and does not grab the object from the giver.
Identify that the beat means not going faster or slower in different parts of the circle.
The class pats their legs to a steady beat as they count 1, 2, 3, 4, etc. The teacher points to each child driving home the idea that each child is ONE beat.
Repeat the process
Add a bean bag or ball reminding students that they should have the item in THEIR hand on THEIR number and only THEIR number. This process lets kids internalize the steadiness of a steady beat.
The object never STOPS. The object doesn’t speed up or down. (important if your song has rests or longer held notes so that students don’t try to match the rhythm)
Introduce the Song
If you haven’t learned the song, do it now with steady beat patting.
Play with your beat-passing object. Make sure the students are singing. The teacher should still walk around the outside of the circle pointing to who should have it.
Let them try it without your help and see where the problems are occurring.
If a student is not keeping the beat and you feel it is purposeful, address it. For example, if the object is especially tantalizing 😄 (a soft fuzzy ball, a cute pumpkin, etc) kids may want to hold on to it longer.
Many times though, students just get excited or nervous and go too fast.
Secret Magical Compliments & Fixes
Time to play “for real” as an out game or however the game is intended.
Become the COACH
Don’t sing with them.
Don’t help them restart the game after each “out.” Tell them they are in charge. Tell them to watch who has the ball at the end of the verse and when you see them ready to begin the first pass, that’s when they need to pat and sing.
You’ll find your leaders. Compliment them. “I loved the way Tyrese started singing to get the game going again.” “I loved the way Shari moved back right away when she was out so that the game could continue.”
Ideas for the Kids Who Are OUT
Simply scoot back out of the circle, not changing your basic position in the circle, watch the game, and continue to sing and pat.
Go get rhythm sticks, sit in your “out” circle spot, sing, and PLAY the steady beat.
Get a scarf and move around the room to the beat as the game continues. (this is for classes that have lots of self-control and leadership)
The END of the Game CAUTIONS
Kids get excited when it’s down to the last 4, 3, 2 and so I stop the game and remind them of a couple of safety and sportsmanship items.
What do you say at the end of the game? “Congratulations” to the winner and “Good game” to the one who did not win. (or whatever sportsmanship ideas you want to impart) Many times when I ask the question, kids automatically recite what they’ve learned from their after-school sports)
While we want to be excited at the end of the game, we will use our words so no jumping, touching, slapping on the back, etc.
Pass the Pumpkin
Here’s the link to this wonderful game that can be used ALL year. Of course it’s great for Halloween. If your school doesn’t celebrate Halloween, change the words. Instead of “Halloween is here” sing “Pumpkin time is here.”
Check out my lyrics writing activity for the spring where I asked kids what you would pass that is spring related.
In and Out
This is a perfect game for first and second graders, even third.
The challenge is to get them to keep passing on the rests.
This rhyme is great for teaching or reinforcing quarter notes and rests!
There is no single American Indian culture or language. Researching tribes in your own area is the best way to learn about and honor Native Americans.Each tribe has its own unique traditions, history, and terminology.
At My School
When we know better, we do better.
Doing better was researching my local tribes. I did Google searches and searched on YouTube. I eventually found a YouTube video that was of a powwow in my area with a link to a culture bearer. I was able to contact that person and after some conversations back and forth, he gave me a drumming piece.
My guidelines from him were the same as what I read everywhere, that teaching without background, meaning, and significance is wrong. I’ve never shared this resource because my conversations back and forth with the culture bearer were like a mini-workshop and allowed me to learn from him all about the above-mentioned particulars.
When I brought the activity to the kids, it was with all of the information that I had been given and was a meaningful learning experience for them. I’m forever grateful that he took the time, trusted me, and gave me this precious part of his tribe’s culture.
This is a (free) subscriber site and has full lesson plans, videos, and resources.
Information about Native lands and Indigenous territories, treaties, and languages including a teacher guide, searchable map, and other resources.
Crow | The Legend
Crow: The Legend is an exciting new animated movie starring John Legend as Crow, the most popular and admired animal in the forest with his magnificent colors and beautiful voice. But when the very first winter arrives, can Crow make the ultimate sacrifice to save his friends?
Inspired by the original Native American legend, this story of sacrifice and community features Randy Edmonds, Kiowa-Caddo tribal elder and founder of the National Urban Indian Council as Narrator and Sarah Eagle Heart, CEO of Native Americans in Philanthropy, as Luna.
Ojibwe Powwow Dancing
A tutorial on the dress and steps and meaning in powwow dancing.
A short demonstration by a young dancer with information on the regalia, meaning, and steps of powwow dancing.
Hoop Dance from Winnepeg Canada
Not sure of the tribe but this reiterates the one-two steps in the powwow dance above along with hoops, accompanied by drum and singer.
Powwow Child Grass Dancer
From the Manito Ahbee Festival, the site says, “The Manito Ahbee sacred site is located in the western Whiteshell area of Manitoba. Manito Ahbee, an Ojibway word means, “where the Creator sits.” The site is recognized and honoured by Indigenous peoples across North America as a sacred place for all people. The name of the province, Manitoba, is itself derived from the name of this sacred site.”
It’s been eye-opening to find that much of the music I used in my 40-year career was NOT authentic and/or had a questionable past. Unfortunately, many educators are still using these same songs and dances. This page is my aim to give you resources that I’ve researched or from sources who aim to research with the same authentic goal. However…
…our job requires much more than the planning time we are given. In your haste to get things done, don’t trust someone’s say-so, even mine. Always do your research.
Sona Jobarteh has become one of the most renowned kora players in the world, an instrument that traditionally was only played by men. The kora is an instrument of West Africa and dates back to the 13th-century Mali empire.
Sona’s academy focused on learning through Gambian culture, not a colonial focus. Lots of info here on Gambian music and arts culture.
A. Cuthbertson Consulting-Authentic Resources in the Classroom
This website is dedicated to culturally responsive music and lesson plans for your classroom. A. Cuthbertson’s site has music from many different cultures.
If you’re looking for music teaching inspiration for today, tomorrow, or a future lesson, take a glance at what is available in my TPT store. Find resources by season, and instrumentals, songs, bundles, games, movement, and more!
Expert Tips for Viewing
Click the resource, go to the video previews (triangular play icon) and you can hear songs and pieces to get a feel for the product!
Look at the regular preview (green button) and you can see lots of the pages available in the presentation. Sometimes a picture IS worth a thousand words!
Go to my TpT Index if you are looking for specific musical elements.
The resources on this page have been researched for their authenticity and respect for Hispanic Latinx (a/o/e) heritage, using culture bearers as much as possible!
This nationally recognized heritage month extends from September 15-October 15. Originally named Hispanic Heritage Month, the name has been slowly changing into Latinx Heritage Month. It is a time to celebrate Latinx culture, people, and history.
This lesson plan is best spread out over multiple days.
Sitting in a circle works best
T speaks every student’s first name and students echo
T speaks and claps student’s first name and students echo
Ss clap and speak their own name and class echoes
Ss clap and speak their own name and NO echoes, just right around the circle.
Same as K-2 above.
Go around circle and Ss only clap their name, no speaking.
Go around circle and class claps and speaks every student’s name.
Go around circle and class claps, no speaking, everyone’s name.
The class claps each student’s name going right around the circle (this is a fun challenge)
Rhythm & Accent
With 3-5, this is a great activity (if you choose) to talk about natural ways of speaking and rhythm. The name “Ellen.” Is it El-len with 2 quarter notes or with an eighth-dotted quarter pattern? You can also talk about anacrusis. The name “Latasha.” Is it a two eighths/quarter pattern with the accent on “La” or two eighths/dotted quarter, with the accent on “ta?”
Transfer to Instruments
K-5 (Pick and choose from these ideas, although I tried to sequence them from easy to advanced)
Take any part of the above activities and transfer to UPP. Drums are wonderful but you could also use rhythm sticks.
Add a simple refrain to play after every 4 names. “Name game, name game. Let’s play a name game.”
Create a class ostinato using 4 student names. Discuss which order sounds best. See if the class can play it over and over without rushing. Did you use just bass or tone sounds? Maybe add taps to side of drum or other ideas to create some diversity to the tone color if the students are able to remember the patterns.
Now…put students in groups of 4 and have them do the SAME activity and have them create a name ostinato. (It helps if you have the whole room practice several times with you keeping a stick or clave beat. I’d say, “Ok this may sound messy with all of us practicing at once, but concentrate on your group’s ostinato. 1-2-Ready-Go)You are walking around coaching and helping where needed.
Have them play AND speak the names the first time. Each group SHARES their ostinato with the class.
Tell them they can keep their previous ostinato or change it but this time just playing it and NO speaking.
Try layering in (and out) the group ostinati. FUN!!!
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Sitting in a circle works the best.
Teacher claps and speaks each student’s first name and the class echoes
Students clap and speak their own name and the class echoes
Have a discussion about syllables and then ask who has a name with 1 syllable, 2, 3, etc.
As a class, go around the circle clapping and speaking each student’s name. (This is a fun challenge to keep it going with no stops)
As a class, go around the circle clapping (no speaking) each student’s name. (An even bigger challenge!)
The four corners are names with ONE syllable, TWO syllables, THREE syllables, and FOUR or more syllables.
Students choose a corner and T draws a name out of a bowl. (or any method of randomly choosing from the class list)
The number of syllables of that person’s name determines which corner is OUT.
So if the name is Marcus, everyone standing at the 2-syllable corner is out.
Play until there is one winner or you are out of names!
Blast Off Challenge
Sitting in a circle is best. The teacher can stand behind each student to facilitate the flow of the game/rhythms.
Pick a starting point in the circle and then students clap and speak each student’s name FOUR times. Try to get the kids to feel the beats in 4 and move seamlessly from one student to the next.
If they are successful, clap and speak each name THREE times. Their tendency is to pause after the third repeat to make it feel like 4 so that is a great time to talk about 3 vs. 4.
If they are successful, clap and speak each name TWO times.
Then, of course, ONE time and if successful, they earn a BLASTOFF! (see video below)
Don’t pause between rotations but go directly from 4X to 3X, 2X, 1X, and Blastoff!
If the class is quite proficient, try the entire process with clapping and only THINKING the names. Audiation!
Kindergarten and first-grade students usually don’t know everyone’s name or know them well enough to keep within a beat scheme. Put them in groups of four and have them try saying and clapping everyone’s name in their group 4x, then on different days, 3X, 2X, and 1x. Each group can take a turn and share to the class. Check out my Columns and Rows system for quickly making groups of 4!