Movement and Circle Games

Grade Levels: Pre-K - 2

The activities in this section are effective in helping children:

  • demonstrate an awareness of music as a part of daily life
  • develop kinesthetic pattern recall
  • develop spatial awareness
  • engage in play with "rules"
  • exercise cooperation and social interaction
  • gain sequential recall
  • learn to interact with and communicate with others
  • participate freely in music activities
  • respond through movement to music

"The Telephone Rings"

This song is a playful way for children to sing their names at gathering time. This experience also suggests to children that singing is a natural part of their lives as they pass the telephone for individual singing.


  1. Sing the song several times for the children. Then, lead them in singing it as a group until they all know it.
  2. With the children seated in a circle, pass a toy telephone (which can be simply a u-shaped tube) around.
  3. When each child holds the telephone, it is his or her turn to sing the song, adding the name of the next child at the end.

Click here to listen to this song in MP3 format (254k)

"Ring Around the Rosie"*

This is a singing game that works for toddlers, preschool, and primary age children. It is an exercise in sequential recall as well as kinesthetic pattern. The children exercise memory and develop a sense of spatial awareness with singing game activities.
  1. Sing this song with the children either turning in a circle alone or holding hands in small groups that walk in circle formation as they sing "Ring around the rosie / A pocketful of posies / Ashes, ashes…we all fall down."
  2. As everyone tumbles to the floor, the teacher quickly begins tapping a beat on the floor and chants the following words to get everyone back on their feet again, "The cows are in the meadow / Eating buttercups / A-tishoo, a-tishoo / We all stand up."
  3. Use this activity as a circle time activity or on the playground or just as a break in the day. It serves the children well as a spontaneous play activity.

*Traditional song and chant material from the collections of John Feierabend.

"Shoo Fly"

Singing games are experiences in kinesthetic art. They also engage the children in activities that develop sequential awareness as well as an understanding of spatial relationships. Singing games are exercises in movement puzzles. Memory and sequential recall play large roles in the thinking of the children. Cooperation and social interaction dominates a singing game activity.


  1. Sing the song with the following action:
    • Children pretend to slap the fly off their knees while singing the lines, "Shoo Fly! Don’t bother me / Shoo Fly! Don’t bother me / Shoo Fly! Don’t bother me, for I belong to somebody."
    • With partners or alone, have the children turn in a small circle while singing new lines to the tune: "I feel like a morning star / I feel like a morning star / I feel like a morning star, for I belong to somebody."
  2. Have the children repeat the slapping verse again, then sing and circle to "I feel like a rainbow rain."
  3. Repeat the sequence with the words "I feel like a sunshine day" to the verse in which the children circle.
  4. Encourage the children to begin alone and then to add a partner.
  5. After the children achieve a comfort level with these stages, increase the circle size to four and then to eight.

"Pumpkin Patch"

This experience is based on the familiar folk tune, "Paw Paw Patch." This experience enhances children’s development in many areas: in collaborating with others in a group, in playing an organized game with "rules," in following a symbolic representation of sounds, in internalizing a sense of tonality and rhythm through singing, moving, and representing a song through pictures.

Pumpkin Patch notation and words

Pumpkin Patch song map


  1. As the children sit in a circle, sing the song. As you sing the first verse, starting "Where, oh where is dear little [name of child]," everyone in the circle looks for the child named.
  2. As you sing the second verse, "She’s picking up the pumpkins, putting them in the basket … Way down yonder in the pumpkin patch," that child goes to the part of the room designated the "pumpkin patch" and picks up imaginary pumpkins one by one.
  3. Have the children follow the song map as they sing.
  4. Involve the children in new places that Mary may be visiting, and ask them to draw related pictures constructing their own song maps.

More Strategies for Music Education

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