Is there a game at your school that your students beg to play? Like all of the time? That’s the Monkey Game for me. I know that it teaches piano and forte to the littles and crescendos and decrescendos to the older students, but they do not care. They want to play it all the time.
Seriously. I’ll say, “We’re going to play a game!” and they’ll say, “The Monkey Game?!”
No. It’s not always the Monkey Game.
It actually got to the point where I was so sick of it that I started telling them we couldn’t play it because it took too long to get the drums out.
Anyway, this is a game that teaches crescendos and decrescendos (or piano and forte, if you differentiate). I learned it from my mentor teacher during student teaching, and I do not know where she came up with it. But it is so much fun.
Why do I call it the Monkey Game? Because we use a stuffed monkey. In your class it could be the bear game or the owl game or whatever depending on your stuffed animal collection.
Also read: Extra Beat, Take a Seat
The Monkey Game
- Tubanos or other large drums (I use five, but you can use what you have. If you don’t have any, you could use hand drums.)
- Djembe if you have one for you to help while working the room (here’s the one I have and love)
- Stuffed animal (here is a cute and cheap monkey!)
- First, discuss what crescendo and crescendo are. I like to have the students say the words with a crescendo and decrescendo. So when we say crescendo, we crescendo. When we say decrescendo, we decrescendo. I also like to have them move their hands up and down to show the dynamics. Then I project them onto the board so that we remember them.
- Then, have a few students come up to the tubanos in the front. (After the long discussion about how we do NOT LEAN ON THE DRUMS, of course)
- Have one student hide the monkey. They are the hider. (We always let a piece of the monkey stick out to make the game go a little bit faster.)
- While that person hides the monkey, another student goes in the corner and closes their eyes. They are going to be the finder. Once the hider is finished, have the finder come out and open their eyes. They are now going to walk around the room and look for the monkey.
- The people at the drums help find the monkey by playing with different dynamics. If they are close to the monkey, they play forte. If they are far away from the monkey, they play piano. This causes lots of crescendos and decrescendos. Throughout the game, ask the students, “Was that a crescendo or a decrescendo?”
- The students at their seats watch, and I usually tell them they can help by playing on their legs or the ground if they want to. This helps those friends who just cannot sit still have an outlet.
- Once the monkey is found, switch out the people. I usually let the drummer stay for two rounds before switching them.
Easy peasy! It’s kind of like hot and cold but with music. I know some people play Lucy Locket in a similar way (I don’t– you can see how I play here)
Also read: Sempre Libera Scarf Routine
There you have it– the most requested game EVER in my elementary music room. I think I am going to break down and play it right before Spring Break…. They always need a little extra incentive to do a good job around Spring Break.
What is the most requested game in your elementary music classroom? Let us know in the comments!