Kids love to play games and they can learn so much from them. They learn social skills and how to follow directions.
In Kodály teaching, these games help with important teaching concepts. In the song, “We are Dancing in the Forest”, students can practice sol, mi, and la. They can practice the rhythms of ti-ti (two eighth notes) and ta (a quarter note). They can learn to read music and can play these songs on the recorder or on the ukulele.
We play this game by having my person of the day choose a helper. He or she are the wolves (I like using two to make the game go faster). They stand on one side of the room in my designated wolf den. The other students sing and dance while singing the song until the “wolf are you coming?” part. They then stop and cup their hands around their mouth while singing.
The wolves then either sing, “yes, we are coming” or “no, we’re not coming”. If they sing, “no we’re not coming”, the other students sing back, “why aren’t you coming?”. The wolves then sing back a reason. It might be, “we are brushing our teeth” or “we are cooking dinner”. If they say yes, then they both tag the students. When students are tagged, they go lay down in the wolf’s den. I also make the rule that if they run into the wolf’s den, they are automatically dead, to keep the kids who are dead safe. The game ends when all of the kids are “dead”. I like to remind the “dead” kids in my best “Disney pirate” voice that “Dead men tell no tales” because they can’t talk.
If you want to add tons of fun vocabulary and movement to this song, while the students stay in place, check out my “We are Dancing in the Forest” Song and Literacy Pack.
Games are so fun and students love them, but if your students get too wild or out of control, they can drive you crazy and make students unhappy or even injure them. That is why it is so important to have rules and procedures in place to help students play safely and within structure.
The Silent Scream
Other Rules and Procedures
At my past three schools, I have found it very useful to remind the students of the rules every time we play a game. I ask them to remind me of the rules. It only takes a minute but makes a huge difference. If students do not follow the rules, I stop the game and remind them again. It is rare that I have to stop a game.
Rules for tag or running games
1. Don’t run like crazy people
2. Watch where you are going
3. Tag gently if we are playing a game of tag
4. Be a good sport. If you are out, go out.
5. Don’t use others as shields.
Ways to keep kids from running like crazy people
1. Run on your heels- it really slows them down
2. Choose different ways to move during the game, such as “we are tiptoeing in the forest” or “we are crawling in the forest”.
That one class
Every once in a while, I have that one class that makes playing games difficult. Last year, I had one class like that. I made a rule that if anyone got hurt (I had kids who seemed to always cry like they were hurt), the game would stop. That seemed to cure this class. There was a time for them where they were not allowed to play games, but not being allowed to play games cured them.
More Fun games
Sandra Hendrickson, of Sing, Play, Create, has written a fun post about some benefits of playing games. Be sure to go read her great blog post!
I hope that some of these ideas help you to be able to play fun games with your students while keeping your sanity! I’d love to hear your ideas in the comments!