Category Archives: For those restless days!

2017 Pass the Musical Parcel

Needing something to do with the Jnr Primary children after the Primary Presentation, I decided to keep it simple with a 2017 version of Pass the Musical Parcel.

I came up with 8 cards (stick one on the outside layer as well, so they can sing that one as they pass the parcel around).  I did put in a cheap Kmart toy in each layer, and had a container full of toys for the children to take one each as they left to go to their classes.

Make up your own, adding in your own songs, or add in a different action that they need to do while they pass that parcel around.  Our Jnrs absolutely loved the game, and the only issue they had was getting the circle they were sitting in WAAAAY too small.  They were practically sitting on each others’ laps, so I had to keep wiggling them back.

But it was hilarious, and the children were so good.

Here are my 8 cards (yes, they’re different sizes, they’re only going to get torn off and thrown in the bin anyway): Pass the Musical Parcel 2017

Dynamics and Italian Terms for Singing Time

I have one child in Primary who loves to torment me (why is there always one?).  Anyways, he said “Why don’t you teach us actual music?”  So I thought “Okay, I will”.  So I quickly made up these Dynamics and Italian Terms cards to use whenever I want to revise a song with the children.




I did do them quickly, and added to them as I went so they’re not consistent.  Here are the secrets:-


The Dynamics cards are not back to back on each sheet.  Rather the first side of page 1 goes with the first side of page 2.  The second side of page 1 goes with the second side of page 2…if that makes sense.  Etc.


The Italian Terms cards are easier.  They’re on the same page.


Cut each little half page out, match it up and laminate.  I stuck a giant paddle pop stick onto one side of a page with sticky tape.  Then I stuck the matching side on with more tape.  Simple but effective.


If I were to print them out again, I would do all the Italian Term cards one colour, and all the Dynamics cards a different colour, but I’m not going to waste paper at this point.  Besides, it keeps the children on their toes :D


Just to avoid confusion, here are what the fronts and backs of each card is supposed to say:-


P – Piano/Soft

F – Forte/Loud

(Rectangle hanging from a line) – Semibreve Rest/Whole Bar Rest

Sfz – Sforzando/Strong Accent

(Looks like a greater than sign) – Crescendo

(Looks like a less than sign) – Diminuendo



Staccato – Short and Separate/Detached

Legato – Smoothly, Well Connected

Calando – Gradual decrease in volume and tempo


The children absolutely love these, especially Snr Primary.  I generally use two at a time for each verse of a song I want to revise.  I might throw in an extra ‘surprise’ in a verse.  Use Sfz sparingly.


Here are the pdf’s of the cards:

Italian Terms for Singing Time 1

Dynamics for Singing Time1

Presentation Practice – that time of the year again…

*Groan* the one thing I don’t like about the Primary Presentation is the looooooooooong Saturday practice we have to do.  I know it’s kind of necessary, but it’s hot. And I have a kitchen that I’m halfway through scrubbing.  While I’m still motivated to do cleaning…

I’m going to take my ‘Don’t Clap This One Back’ rhythms just in case I need to get the children’s attention.

Basically, you choose a rhythm, or pick your own each time, and clap it to the children.  They have to clap it back to you exactly the way you clapped it through.  BUT if they hear the rhythm that goes with “Don’t Clap This One Back” (crotchet, crotchet, quaver, quaver, crotchet) or the American version (quarter note, quarter note, eight note, eighth note, quarter note), they CAN’T clap that one back.  You stop the game and groan loudly and tell them “I caught you!”.  Do four or five at least before you do the ‘Don’t Clap This One Back’ rhythm.

Because it’s different from the absent minded clapping children have to repeat back at school, it grabs their attention.  They have to REALLY listen so as to not get caught out.  I love it.

I’ve got scratch ‘n sniff stickers for those extra wonderful singers too!

Ideas for restless children during Singing Time

We all have feral Primaries some days.   Generally just prior to or during rain (for some unknown reason).  I have put together a few of my resources that I have scribbled down over the years, and they are now part of my Singing Time folder.

Firstly, I found this site that gives a few pointers: Music  They warn not to talk for too long to the kids or you will definitely lose them.   Lots of visual aids are really helpful, especially for the little ones.

– You could whisper “If you can hear me, touch your nose” and wait for the children to respond.

– You could do the usual “hands on heads, hands on shoulders, hands on knees, hands on your cheeks, fold your arms” but that’s getting a bit outdated.

– You could hold up a sign that says ‘If you’re ready to pay attention, fold your arms and sit up straight”.

Sometimes those things work, but when the kids are REALLY restless, there’s no telling what mischief they could get up to!

These ones work for me.  Most of them are from previous Primary lesson books: If children are restless or bored.  Print a copy out and have it handy when you need it (ie in your Primary folder).

The link to ‘Don’t Clap This One Back’ is here.  It is a great ‘game’ that teaches those valued aural skills children need for music.  It also grabs their attention, and that of teachers and leaders in the room.  Our Primary is very involved which is fantastic.  We did manage to catch our Primary President out on this one last week though ;D  For Primary, I print out the master sheet and have that laminated and with me all the time.  I don’t worry about the little rhythm cards for this attention activity for Primary.

Head, Shoulders, Knees and…SURPRISE!

For days when you’re in need of an action song, and the children are going to be restless, and you need something quick to grab.  This is perfect for those stormy seasons we dread.  It’s also one the children don’t get sick of.


I have found a fantastic picture of a boy (thanks for your wonderful resources).  I put together a few simple wordstrips of body parts so you can change the words around – and label him with the words you wish to use.


I’m going to start with the usual, then change a few at a time because I just know I’m going to get extremely confuzzled!


To print out the graphic and cards to this fun song, click here: Head, Shoulders, Knees and Toes

Note: I did print out the boy in ‘Poster’ form, and the cards in ‘normal’ print.  The PDF is normal though in case you want to print the boy out on A4 paper, and make the cards smaller.  This could be fun for Nursery too!

Primary Song Scrambles

This may not be an appropriate activity for the Juniors to do, but we have very clever seniors in our Primary, and I thought this might be a great thing to do for revision, or just to go through some songs we know.  Song scrambles!

They’re not quite opposites, but the title of the song is certainly scrambled up and the children need to work out what the song is, and then sing it.

Be sure to give a copy of the answer page to your pianist to make it easier for them :D

To print out a copy of the scrambled 12 songs, click here: Primary Song Scrambles

To print a copy of the answer sheet (including the scrambled song titles), click here: Primary Song Scrambles answer sheet

Note: I’ve done this a couple of times with our Snr Primary, and I have these up on the wall ready to go.  When the kids walk in, their attention is immediately caught trying to figure these out.  Amazingly, they’re quiet, even the teachers!  They still haven’t figured them all out yet, so I’ll be able to get another Singing Time out of them yet.

Music rhythm game ‘Don’t clap this one back’ with rhythm flash cards

I first heard of this game through Samantha Coates at the Winter Piano Teacher’s Seminar and I loved the idea.  I have tweaked it a little though.

How to play:-

  • Clap a rhythm to your class/Primary.  They have to clap it back to you.
  • The only rhythm they can’t clap back is “Don’t clap this one back” (aka crotchet, crotchet, quaver, quaver, crotchet – the one school teachers tend to favour).
  • Clap whatever rhythms you like, and throw in the “Don’t clap this one back” rhythm to trick them.
  • Don’t eliminate students in this game, as the ones who tend to get out first are generally the ones who need the most practise.

To print out the guide sheet with basic 4/4 rhythms on it (semibreves, minims, crotchets and quavers, no dotted notes), click here: ‘Don’t Clap This One Back’ guide sheet

If you would like flash cards of all the rhythms used on the guide sheet, click here:Don’t Clap This One Back rhythm cards

Variations on the game:-

  • Student chooses the rhythms to clap and the teacher/other students have to clap (or not) the rhythm.
  • Print out a few copies of the rhythm cards and play memory or concentration, clapping the rhythms each time a card is turned over.
  • Blu-tac the cards to a wall.  Teacher claps a rhythm and the student needs to identify the rhythm card that was clapped.
  • Use percussion instruments, one note on the piano/violin, body percussion to tap/clap the cards.

This is a fantastic game to develop those aural skills and will capture the children’s attention.