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Using chants for lower elementary music class is always a staple, but it is even more important in the 202-2021 school year. A lot of people are teaching online (that’s me still!), and many people are in school but not allowed to sing. Chants are the perfect solution to this issue– students can still learn musical concepts like rhythm, beat, and phrasing without singing!
Here are a few of my favorites. And by a few I mean nine because I had a REALLY hard time narrowing it down.
Before we get started, I wanted to let you know there is a FREEBIE that goes with this! It is a presentation with all of the lyrics PLUS the rhythms to each chant in regular AND stick notation.
And if you want some chants for older students, you can click here to read chants for 3-5 grade!
Hickory Dickory Dock
You would be amazed at how often I get asked for Hickory Dickory Dock by my kiddos. It is a crowd favorite– for a reason! It’s so much fun!
We do this chant with movements.
- Hickory Dickory Dock– Pat the beat on your legs
- Mouse ran up– move up
- Clock struck– Make that time with your hands
- Mouse ran down– down to the ground
- Hickory Dickory Dock– Pat the beat on your legs
I let the students decide what time it will be, which allows us to talk about time. We also discuss possible reasons why the mouse may run up and down the clock, which helps them use those higher order thinking skills, and helps them to realize there is (usually) meaning behind the words we say.
I also use mice when I teach forte and piano, so we will sometimes pair this with Mouse Mousie, Grizzly Bear (read the lesson + get the freebie here!), and Brown Bear Brown Bear, What do You See? (read it here!)
Engine, Engine Number Nine
Engine, Engine Number 9 is a classic! I used this to present ta and titi this year with my first graders using this lesson. We learned the rhythm, added actions, played body percussion with the rhythm, presented ta and titi, and used a train game.
For the actions, we do these super simple ones:
- Engine, engine Move hands like the train wheels, then hold up 9 fingers
- Sparkle: Open hands like they are flashes
- Jump: Jump up
- Do you get your: Hands out like a question
After we talk about what rhythm is, we will play the rhythm on our bodies. We play the eighth notes on our legs and the quarter notes by clapping.
This helps the students understand the different rhythms, and it helps them to realize that this chant for lower elementary has the same rhythm throughout.
I use the Google Slides presentation to present quarter and eighth note. It shows what the rhythms are and what they look like. Then there are slides with hearts over the rhythms– so we try to figure out the rhythm of each beat together, and then I can pull the heart off to see if we are correct.
We finished this up with this interactive Google Slides game where we “build” a train by matching a train themed word with the rhythm (so train is quarter note, but engine is eighth notes).
We did this on Zoom, so I had them type their answers in the chat, and I wrote them down as a quiz to see who was understanding and who was struggling. In person, we would’ve just help up one finger or two OR you could print out a quarter and and eighth note and have them hold it up.
In person, you could also have students use the printable activities that are in my TPT shop and go along with this lesson.
The Google Slides presentation, Google Slides activities, Train Game, and printables are all available in my TPT shop. You can click here to purchase one of them– or get them all in a bundle and save!
Jack and Jill
There are a few chants that I use for high and low, and this is one of them.
We do this very simply– we learn the words and move our bodies up to the sky when it it says up, and down to the ground when they fall down.
Then we put it on instruments! I typically use glockenspiels because they are easy to move around. The students play going up when they go up, and then down when it says to go down.
Wee Willy Winkie
This is another chant that I don’t feel gets as much attention as it deserves– but it’s so much fun.
We use this chant to do some movement.
- Running through the town– “run”
- Upstairs– hands up
- Downstairs– hands down
- In his Nightgown– Point to clothes
- Rapping at the window– knock in the air
- Crying at the lock– hands by your face like you’re shouting
- Are your children– Question hands
- 8:00– eight fingers
We also get to talk about some vocabulary and context clues. The students probably won’t know what rapping means (knocking or pounding), and they will think that crying means tears. We get to talk about how this crying is actually yelling.
2, 4, 6, 8 Meet me at the Garden Gate
Meet me at the Garden Gate is so much fun. This is a chant used for clapping games with a partner.
There are many different ways to do this, but the way I teach my kids is this:
- Line 1: Pat legs, double high five with partner, pat legs, double high five
- Line 2: Clap partner’s hands 4 times
- Line 3: Walk in a circle around partner
- Line 4: Pat legs, double high five with partner, pat legs, double high five
You can pair this chant with any song or book about gardens or flowers, which gives you a lot of flexibility.
If your students can’t touch (I’m writing this in 2021), then you could always switch to body percussion like this:
- Line 1: Pat legs, clap, pat legs, clap
- Line 2: Clap 4 times
- Line 3: Walk in a circle
- Line 4: Pat legs, clap, pat legs, clap
1, 2, Buckle My Shoe
I love 1, 2, Buckle My Shoe. It is such a fun chant for lower elementary music students, and it is significantly longer that most of the others, which I like.
We learn the words and add actions. For each number, we show the number on our hands. Then we do the action. So for “buckle my shoe”, we lean down and buckle our shoes. For “pick up sticks”, we pick up the sticks.
Then we work on beat v. rhythm. We will say the words keeping the beat, then we will say them while playing the rhythm. We do the numbers on our legs, and the rest clapping to help us practice the rhythm.
Then we go to instruments! I pull out the xylophones, put it in any pentatonic, and we play the rhythm. Usually I have them play the numbers on the instruments, and then tap the sticks together for the action. That means you could do really any instrument, if you don’t/can’t use the xylophones.
I typically use this around September or October as we are working on beat and rhythm, and also use it as an opportunity to practice rotating so that everyone can play the instruments.
Bee, Bee Bumblebee
Bee, Bee Bumblebee is a classic. This chant will help your littles to learn beat v. rhythm, or ta and titi patterns. Plus it’s a game!
This chant can be used as a beat passing game (again with the beat practice!), where whoever the beat lands on on “out” is out.
Queen, Queen Caroline
I love to use Queen Caroline in conjunction with the book Hair Love (click here to purchase!). This is a really sweet book that talks about loving your hair.
Again, Queen Caroline can be used to practice steady beat or ta and titi.
So those are a few different chants for lower elementary music students! What are some of your favorites? Share them on Instagram, and tag me @beccasmusicroom so that I can see!