Submitted by Gretchen Taylor, Illinois

Idea posted April 27, 2004

At this time during my spring program preparations, I'm usually the one asking for rehearsal filler ideas to help round out class time when the program songs are coming along and there's some time to spare. This year, my program was pushed back a week, giving me a little too much rehearsal time. We needed engaging filler activities to break up rehearsal monotony but still keep the music progress on track. Here are a few ideas I came up with and thought some of you might also find helpful:

1. Pass The Balloon - Form a standing circle. I play the accompaniment from one of our program songs. While music is playing, kids sing along as they also pass a balloon around to the beat. Music is stopped. The player holding the balloon is out, and goes to center of the circle with balloon (kept aloft) during next round of play. Continue to play with a second balloon (and so on) until there are several in the center.
2. Forbidden Rhythm - Select four or five different four-beat rhythm patterns. (I'm taking them directly from one of the program songs.) Divide into teams. Clap the first pattern and have the class echo. This is now the "forbidden rhythm." Then proceed to clap/echo various patterns including the forbidden one. Anyone who echoes the forbidden rhythm is out and must sit on the floor. Continue with the same forbidden rhythm until a few others are out. Then, challenge the teams to locate the forbidden rhythm pattern in the given song. (Give the title.) The first team to find the pattern by text phrase/measure number gets a point. Any "out" players cannot help their team find the rhythm. Continue with a new round and a new forbidden rhythm with all players back in.
3. Price Is Right Three Strikes Rhythm Phrases - Prepare four-rhythm pattern cards (one measure each) drawn directly from a phrase in one of the program songs. Write out each rhythm on card stock, along with three additional cards with an "X" on each. (These are the strike cards.) Divide into teams. Place all cards face down in a scattered pile on the floor or tabletop. First team player chooses a card. If it's a rhythm, they place it in one of four measure spots on the board. If it's an "X," it's placed on the strike pile. The next card is drawn from the next player on the same team. If it's a rhythm, it can be placed in one of the three remaining measures on the board, and so on until either all measures are filled or three strikes have been drawn. If the team gets three strikes, all cards are returned to the pile and mixed up, and play continues with next team. If all four-rhythm cards are up, then the team must arrange them in the correct order to correspond with a four-measure phrase from the selected song. (Tell them the song title.) Allow 15 seconds to rearrange the cards as desired. If it's right, let the team sing the phrase and award a point. If it's incorrect, let the others fix it. Then, continue play with a new set of four-rhythm cards.
4. Cup Game - I divide the class into groups and challenge them to create a cup passing game accompanied by one of our program song accompaniment tracks.
5. Clapping Game - This is where the kids form a circle with palms up and out to their sides. Right hands are laid palm up on their neighbor's left upright palms. Someone starts the clapping pattern by moving his or her right hand over to the left, and clapping the hand on top of his or her left palm. This continues around the circle. After establishing the clapping pattern, we clap to the beat of one of our program songs (usually the refrain) while everyone sings along. The final word of the refrain will mark the end of the round. On this word, the person whose hand is clapped is out unless they can pull their hand away in time. If so, the one who ended up clapping their own hand is out. Allow those who are "out" to form a new circle in the center.
6. Secret Word - Select key words directly from one of the songs you're singing and make a deck of word cards. Divide into teams. Players take turns drawing from the deck (30 second time limit), calling out the word for their team to guess the phrase of the song from which the word came. If the team is correct, another card is drawn, and so on until time is up. One pass per player is allowed. I tell the students the song title at the start of the game. Play continues to the next team. I make a different deck for each song.
7. Phrase Charades - Prepare cards by writing down short phrases from various songs being rehearsed. Divide into teams. The teams take turns, with players drawing a card and acting out the phrase for the team to guess with a 30 second time limit. If they guess correctly, the team must then identify the song from which that phrase was taken to get the point. Continue play with the next team.