Engaging elementary school children in fun chorus games teaches basic skills and encourages an interest in music. You’ll be amazed at the results as young children respond with excitement to rhythm games, tone matching challenges or song identification contests. Games should be designed with success in mind so that your students feel confident and uninhibited. Help them move and groove to the music, and chorus will become the favorite class of the day.
Use a song-matching contest to teach elementary chorus members various types of music. Spend one class period introducing three music genres and composers. Start with three types to help your students become familiar with the concept of music history. In the next class period, hold a song-matching contest to test their knowledge. Play a song or composer and ask students to raise their hand if they know the answer. Provide information or background about the song or composer after each one is played so that students learn during the contest. Play this throughout the year, adding more music genres and composers each time.
Mini Show Choir
Adding movement to music helps elementary chorus members feel more comfortable expressing themselves. Divide the chorus into small groups and assign them a section of one of the songs they’ve recently learned. Ask them to create simple choreography to the assigned music. Bring the group back together and have students perform their dancing for one another. If you’re planning on performing the song for a concert, showcase students' creativity by using the choreography in the concert. Students will feel rewarded by the accolades, and parents will be impressed by their work.
Chorus games are an effective way to help elementary students feel comfortable singing in front of the class. Divide the chorus into small groups of four. Assign each group a common children’s song such as “Twinkle, Twinkle Little Star” and a theme like a subject in school or favorite hot lunch. Ask the group to make up a song using the tune and the assigned theme. After they write the lyrics, each group member should alternate singing one word of the song. Ask the groups to perform their songs for each other and have the chorus vote by applause at the end.
Teach simple rhythms to your chorus and watch their delight when the beat comes alive during a game. Start with the basics and teach them the value of a quarter note, half note, whole note and rest. Illustrate the musical notations for each one on the board. In advance, create poster-size cards with simple rhythmic phrases such as two quarter notes and one half note, two half notes or four quarter notes. Give each chorus member a percussion instrument, or let students use their hands and feet as instruments. Hold up a poster and have students express the rhythm out loud. After they master each card, hold up two cards together so that they can learn more complicated sequences. Show them how these rhythms apply to the choral music they’re learning in class.
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