Submitted by Gretchen Taylor, Illinois

Idea posted May 21, 2004

Here are a few more group games in case you have too much practice time before a concert:

Call/Response/Switch Game - I divide the class into two groups that stand on opposite walls. The song we're reviewing has four equal phrases before a refrain. I assign odd/even phrases to each group, who then alternate singing in a call/response style, and then all sing the refrain. During the instrumental interlude between verses, the kids physically switch places. They simply move to the opposite wall (without deliberate bumping or touching of course). Now for the second verse, the groups sing the other part, and all sing the refrain. I've got this planned for kindergarten through eighth grades.
Alternative Musical Chairs - Place colored paper squares on each chair (one color per chair). Prepare smaller color squares corresponding to the same colors on the chairs, and place these in a box, basket, bag, etc. Have a bag of treats or stickers handy. Review the song as kids walk about the chairs. Stop the music. Kids take the color square from the nearest available chair and sit in it. Draw a small color square from the bucket. Those matching the drawn color get a treat. Return all squares to their chairs and play again, continuing the song. (Be sure to tell the little ones that at the end of the game, those who hadn't yet won a treat will be given one.)
Toss-A-Phrase - This game can be played spoken or sung. Form a circle. Toss a Nerf ball to a child who must say/sing the first phrase of the song you wish to review. S/he then immediately tosses the ball to someone else who continues in like fashion with the next phrase of the song. You continue around the circle until all verses have been sung. Often I'll have the kids pass the ball around the circle to the beat while all sing the refrain as many times as it occurs. Play this one time in "practice" mode (where I provide assistance with forgotten words as needed) and then play in "performance" mode. Once play has started in performance mode, anyone who breaks to fluency of the song is "out" and sits in the middle of the circle. This really tests student's proficiency with the song. All the kids are thinking of the words in their own heads as the ball is tossed back and forth.
Sing Out Phrase Game - This works especially well if a song has lots of movement or actions to it. Before singing the song, choose a phrase from the song, preferably one that repeats a few times from a refrain or something. This is the "sing out" phrase. Start the music with the kids only doing the motions, not singing the words. (Encourage them to "think" the words.) But, when you get to the sing out phrase, all do just that: Sing it out but only that phrase. Return to just motions after that. Then, feel free to repeat the song adding a second "sing out" phrase. (Now there will be two sing out phrases.) If the song isn't too long, this allows lots of repetition.
Group Singing Game - You need to divide the class into small groups by various categories (i.e., those with tie shoes, those wearing a certain color, those with a brother, etc.). Place the groups together about the room. Tell the kids that only certain groups will be given permission to join in the singing. Indicate which group either with a puppet, magic wand, visual card cue, or hand cue. Demonstrate a cue signaling for all to sing. Then, start the song and cue different groups or combinations of groups to sing various phrases or sections. Be sure to cue the whole class a few times. It's easier to see if the correct groups are singing their turn by making the singing group(s) stand when they sing and sit when they are not singing.