Engaging Activities in Small Spaces, Part II

Tblack_snake_G_lyricshis post will focus on igniting the imaginations of K-2 students, with and without props.

Black Snake (Kindergarten and 1st)

Concept: Melodic Contour, Colors, Locomotor Movement

After the students learn the song, demonstrate moving your “ribbon snake” to the melodic contour of the song. If you’re able to, have students stand in a circle and pass out ribbon snakes. Make them in assorted solid colors, not all black. Demonstrate how to substitute other colors in the song (Red snake, red snake, etc.) and encourage students to move in the middle of the circle if they’re holding the color you sing about. In my classroom, students must be back to their “spot” by the last word of the song. After every color has had a turn in the middle, sing “rainbow snake” and everyone moves together. If you’re not able to form a circle, this game can be played in a scattered formation, too, as long as students have a place to return to. (See materials list at the end of the post for making ribbon snakes.)

Good Night, Sleep Tight (Kindergarten)

Concept: Steady Beat, dynamics, fast/slow

Demonstrate rocking a stuffed animal while singing this song and invite students to use their imagination to practice rocking. This is a great time to prepare them for the activity with questions about rocking fast or slow, singing loud or quiet, smooth or jerky, etc. Although I have a bunch of stuffed animals, I don’t pass them all out at once. Instead, try passing out enough for 1/4 or 1/3 of the class. It allows them to sing the song a few more times at different speeds and dynamic levels, and you may be surprised by the tender way they pass them to other students!

Star Light, Star Bright (or use Twinkle, Twinkle)

Concept: Steady beat, Dynamics

Often students are not interested in singing slower songs, so we must give them a reason to participate. Ask students to put stars in the air on the beat by starting with closed fingers that open toward the sky. Try tapping stars on a beat chart. Sit in a circle or across from a partner and put a star sticker on the back of one of their hands. They should tap someone else’s star and be tapped in return. (This is especially helpful for students who are beat-challenged.) And if that isn’t enough to motivate them, hand out a glow-in-the-dark star that they can hold in their hand and tap on the beat.

mouse_mousie_g_sourceMouse, Mousie (2nd grade)

Concept: preparing do

There’s a wonderful chasing game that we play with this song (similar to Naughty Kitty Cat), but sometimes there isn’t space, or there isn’t time. Instead, students can use their imaginations and have just as much fun, while preparing do kinesthetically. As soon as the students know the song, I tell them the mouse is hiding from the cat. He peeks over the furniture at certain parts in the song and ducks down every time the cat looks his way. I’ll show them when the cat is looking, so they must duck down every time I do. Duck down and put your hands on your knees every time you sing do. You really must be dramatic in the singing and ducking, and when there are repeated do’s, I recommend slowly looking from side to side. It amps up the fun. We sing and practice this several times. The first time I sing and duck with them, the second time they sing independently and we all duck, and the last time they’re independent. It’s great fun!

Engine, Engine

Concepts: Steady beat, Tempo

If you’re teaching in a classroom full of desks, I encourage you to try this game using the perimeter of the room (and if you use the term “perimeter” the teachers will love you!), or moving between rows of desks. Students step on the steady beat while chanting. In my room, we begin with “choo, choo, choo, choo” in the tempo we’ll be moving, and end with “choo, choo, choo, choo” unless it’s the last time in which I’ll hold out the third “choo” for a half note. Each time we move around we use a different tempo. When preparing fast and slow in Kindergarten, we have to drag the train all the way up a mountain and we pump our arms and use heavy steps. On the way down, we move lighter and faster. Sometimes we stop and “load” desks, chairs, or instruments and take them to another destination, where we laboriously unload them, changing our tempo each time, of course.

Once students are able to step on the beat independently, you might try dividing them into three or four smaller trains. The “engine” must lead their train on the beat without running into another train. This is great fun and allows the students to problem solve in real time. Of course, the leader goes around to the end of their train and new “engine” moves up until all have had a turn.

Ribbon Snakes:

Cut ribbons about 18-24″ long using something like: Hip Girl Boutique 125yd (25x5yd) 7/8″ Solid Ribbon Value Pack

Glue one end of the ribbon around a jumbo craft stick, then loop it over and glue the other side (This size works well: JUMBO CRAFT STICKS 6 X 3/4 100/PK)

Glue one wiggly eye on each side (Paste On Wiggle Eyes 12mm 118/Pkg-Black)

Write the color word on the stick in the correct color of marker (I always ask them to say the letters quietly and learn to spell their color word.)


Disclosures: I am an affiliate for Amazon, and if you click through the linked items and make a purchase, I may receive a small commission at no extra charge to you. Proceeds will be used to maintain this self-hosted website.