The Jumping Game Easy Brain Break Activity For Your Classroom

You need to have several “tricks” to pull out of your back pocket when kids need to have a break, to expend some energy, to divert attention from something else going on in the room (a potential meltdown for ex.), to prepare them for a high-concentration activity, or when you the teacher need to have a mental break yourself.

And so, the Jumping Game was born!

  • Stand in a circle
  • Play a song with a good beat (see Spotify playlist below)
  • T stands on the outside of the circle and taps a child on the shoulder.
  • That child goes into the middle and begins to jump
  • Prepare kids for the jumping game by talking about how they can be creative by using feet together, feet apart, 1 and 2-foot jumping/hopping, use of arms, bending knees, turning as you jump, etc.
  • Everyone in the circle imitates the leader in the middle
  • T occasionally comments about some of the fine points of the jumper. “Ooh, did you see how they alternated bending their elbows as they jumped?”
  • Tap the next child in the circle after about 10 seconds, continuing to make your way around the circle.
  • In a class of 25, this gave the class about 4 minutes of jumping.

The Music

I used anything with a good beat that I knew would engage the kids. If we were near a seasonal event, I’d play something related.

Here’s my Spotify list of some possibilities or use the player below!

Nutcracker Activities for Music | Tried, True, and New

Here are some favorite lesson plans and activities for the music classroom to teach The Nutcracker Ballet plus some NEW resources to spark life into our teaching of this perennial classic.

On this page…

  1. Chinese Tea Dance ORFF Lesson Activities (Movement, Instrumental Arrangement)
    1. Tea Dance Video
  2. Cultural Stereotypes in the Nutcracker
  3. Books
  4. Nutcracker Museum
  5. Lesson Ideas
    1. Unit of Study (in progress)
    2. March | Stretchy Bands
    3. Trepak | Plate Routine
    4. Sugar Plum Fairy | Movement with Mr. DelGaudio
    5. Waltz of the Flowers
  6. Ballet Videos
    1. Full-length Ballet (Central Florida Ballet)
    2. Hip Hop Nutcracker on PBS
    3. Hip Hop Nutcracker (Disney+ Excerpt)

Chinese Tea Dance ORFF Lesson Activities (Movement, Instrumental Arrangement)

With its call and response form, this is the perfect barred instrument activity for December! PLUS, movement ideas using partners and the whole class with and without props! Ribbon sticks/wands, scarves, partner parachutes, and a classroom parachute!

Tea Dance Video

Cultural Stereotypes in the Nutcracker

Each performance of the Nutcracker uses an artistic director who helps determine the costuming, dancing, makeup, and scenery for the ballet. The ballet dates back to a time when ethnic caricatures were standard practice in the performances. This is particularly true in Act II with the dances related to the Chinese, Arabian, Russian, and Spanish dances.

As music specialists, this is important to take into consideration if we choose to use videos in our teaching. Read more.

Here’s an excellent interview on NPR about “Rethinking Cultural Stereotypes in The Nutcracker.”

Books

Nutcracker Museum

At this school, students were asked to bring in a family Nutcracker and were put into this fun Nutcracker Museum display! (Remember to have the student’s name and room clearly labeled.)

Add this to your end-of-year evaluation Danielson (or similar) Domain 1b: Teacher-designed opportunities for families to share their heritages.

Lesson Ideas

Unit of Study (in progress)

  • K-1 Read a book about ballet and a book about The Nutcracker
  • K-1 Learn a movement routine to the March
  • Grades 2-3

March | Stretchy Bands

Trepak | Plate Routine

Sugar Plum Fairy | Movement with Mr. DelGaudio

Waltz of the Flowers

Ballet Videos

Full-length Ballet (Central Florida Ballet)

https://www.pbs.org/video/hip-hop-nutcracker-at-njpac-an-all-arts-presentation-czdp88/

Hip Hop Nutcracker on PBS

This performance is on PBS and you may need to confirm your local PBS station.

Hip Hop Nutcracker (Disney+ Excerpt)

Give Thanks | Echo Song for Orff, Movement, Ukulele, Scarves

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!

Continue reading “Give Thanks | Echo Song for Orff, Movement, Ukulele, Scarves”

Name Games to Start Your Year In Music Class

On this page…

  • Name, Name! What’s the Name?
  • The Never-Ending Name Game
  • Four Corners
  • Blast Off Challenge

Name, Name! What’s the Name?

The Never-Ending Name Game

This lesson plan is best spread out over multiple days.

  • Sitting in a circle works best
  • K-2
    1. T speaks every student’s first name and students echo
    2. T speaks and claps student’s first name and students echo
    3. Ss clap and speak their own name and class echoes
    4. Ss clap and speak their own name and NO echoes, just right around the circle.
  • 3-5
    1. Same as K-2 above.
    2. Go around circle and Ss only clap their name, no speaking.
    3. Go around circle and class claps and speaks every student’s name.
    4. Go around circle and class claps, no speaking, everyone’s name.
    5. 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.

Group Work

  • 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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4 Corners

Preparation

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 Game

  • 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)

Variations

  • 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!

A My Name is Alice – Popular Books, Activities, and Music

Blank Booklets to Create Your Own Verses

This TpT resource includes

  • a presentation with mp3s to learn the song
  • a simple Orff arrangement for xylophone, glockenspiel, and guiro
  • a booklet template for students to create their own verses
Lyric Writing Booklet for A My Name Is Alice Jump Rope Chant and Song

A My Name is ALICE

A, My Name is Alice by Jane E. Bayer, illustrated by Steven Kellogg. Kellogg is one of my favorite illustrators with his content-rich drawings and humor.

First verse: A, my name is Alice, and my husband’s name is Alex…

A My Name Is …

A My Name Is … by Alice Lyne, illustrated by Lynne Cravath. This version doesn’t always begin each verse with a girl’s name and replaces “husband” with “best friend.”

First verse: A my name is Alex, my best friend’s name is Angie…
Second verse: B my name is Becca, my best friend’s name is Billy…

Valentine Themed Music Resources

The BEST Valentine Game for K-2

To the tune of This Old Man
Valentine, valentine.
Won’t you be my valentine?
Number 1, number 2, number 3 it must be you.
Take my heart along with you.

Sitting in a scattered formation or columns and rows is the most fun, although a circle will work, too. The first child is the leader and has a valentine in their hand and walks around the room as the song is sung. On each of the three numbers, the leader taps the head (or back) of the nearest 3 children. The third child is given the heart, stands up, and holds hands with the leader. The leader continues to slowly walk around the room, meandering in any direction, and when the song gets to the numbers, the child on the end who has the valentine taps 3 heads and gives the valentine to the third child. That child stands up, holds hands with the person who gave them the valentine, and now the group of three walks around the room. The game continues until there is only one child left. When that child gets the valentine, there is only one person left, YOU the teacher. So the end child gets to give the valentine to you.

Roses Are Red

This is a wonderful 6/8 Valentine activity for grades 3-5.

Using the old poem “Roses are Red”, echo speak with body percussion until everyone knows it.

1.  Individuals improvise the poem on pitched percussion/recorders.  When we do this, we start with someone and just proceed all around the room.  I keep a little bass beat on the BX and play a little interlude between each child.  It is so much fun and the 6/8 of course is lilting and beautiful!

2.  Finish the melody activity-On xylophones have students learn DRMS, DRMS for the first two lines of the poem and then they create the melody for the last two lines.  We vote on our favorite and that becomes their class melody.  I usually do it in C pentatonic.  It would work well on recorders in G major.  OR, you could do LDRM in E minor on recorders for a fun and accessible way to finish a melody using the notes EGAB.

3.  Building bricks with 6/8-students brainstorm.  Three eighth note examples are valentine and chocolate.  Dotted quarter examples are love, heart, red, candy.  Put combos together in groups to create B, C, D, E, F, etc. sections in rondo form with the song above as your A section.  Or pick favorite group creation as the B section for a more simple binary form.  These can be transferred to non-pitched percussion.

4.  If you’d like to explore writing poems in the style of “Roses are Red”, try changing the colors and then the rhyming words.

Roses are blue.
Violets are red.
If you agree,
You’ve got rocks in your head.

Super (RONDO) Bowl

Google Slide Presentation ⬇️

Click to Begin or Enter Full Screen & Begin

At the bottom of the slide, click on the 3 dots to find the ENTER FULL-SCREEN link. I’ve never tried embedding a Google slide, so please let me know if you have any problems with it. Comment below or send an email to oodlesofmusic21@gmail.com

Who Has Seen the Wind? Song & Lesson Rhythmic REMIX

The classic song, “Who Has Seen the Wind?” has been REMIXED and is ready for winter, spring, summer, and fall windy weather!

Continue reading “Who Has Seen the Wind? Song & Lesson Rhythmic REMIX”

The One-Beat Diner for Remarkable Rhythms


The One-Beat Diner is a 2-page rhythm writing music resource that features a menu full of one-beat (building brick) yummy foods that can be turned into a delicious 4-beat take-out order. Page 1 is a place to create your one-beat foods and page 2 is where you put them into 4-beat patterns.

Continue reading “The One-Beat Diner for Remarkable Rhythms”

Cephalopod Squid Game


What’s here!

  • The parts are a just a framework. Let the kids explore how to create the sounds in measures 4-6.
  • The second note “A” in the melody sounds bent to me so not quite A and not quite Ab.
  • I used the games they play in the show, but wouldn’t it be fun to let your classes create their own B section with their favorite games.
  • This is not the original key so you could play around with other tonalities.
  • The vocal part can easily be played on the recorder. Mmm…
  • The melody is really popular on TikTok right now but might not work at some schools. Discretion advised.

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