Sing, Dance, Play: 5 Songs to Teach Sixteenth Notes

We've studied steady beat. We can tell the difference between it and the rhythm of the song. We've learned half notes. It's time for. . . . 

Sixteenth notes!

I'd love to share with you some of my favorite songs to sing for 16th notes. Enjoy!

Songs to Teach Sixteenth Notes Elementary Music

Sing, Dance, Play: Varying Song Types in the Elementary Music Room: 

We want to give our students as many ways of learning a concept as we can. It's so important that students have the opportunity to experience a concept in more than one way. This might include things like singing in a variety of modes or tone sets. It may include singing songs from many different countries, or playing songs on different instruments.

Today I'm sharing some different song types: dances, rounds, and singing games. 

5 Songs to Teach Sixteenth Notes


Cedar Swamp

Cedar Swamp

Formation: Double line, partners facing each other. 

"Way down low" (beats 1 - 8) - Head couple sashay to foot of line.
"There I met my pretty little miss" (beats 9-12) -  Head couple, right arm swing.
"There I met my honey" (beats 13-16)  Head couple, left arm swing.
"Swing a lady up and down" (beats 17-20) -  All couples, right arm swing
"Swing a lady up and down" (beats 21-24) - All couples, left arm swing


The dance to this song is a little more involved, so I recommend teaching it in chunks: the verse first and then the chorus.

Formation: Double circle 

"Pass one window, Tideo" (beats 1 - 4) - Outside circle moves one person to the right, facing new partner
"Pass two windows, Tideo" (beats 5 - 8) - Outside circle moves one person to the right again, facing another new partner
"Pass three windows, Tideo" (beats 9 - 12) - Outside circle moves to the right a third time and faces a third new partner
"Jingle at the window" (beats 13 - 14) - Switch places with partner so that the outside circle is on the inside and the inside is on the outside. 
"Tideo" (beats 15 - 16) - On each syllable pat knees, clap hands together, then clap partner's hands
"Tideo" (beats 17 - 18) - Pat knees, clap hands together, then clap partner's hands
"Tideo" (beats 19 - 20) - Pat knees, clap hands together, then clap partner's hands
"Jingle at the window" (beats 21 - 22) - Switch places with partner so that the inside and outside circles are back where they started
"Tideo" (beats 23 - 24) - On each syllable pat knees, clap hands together, then clap partner's hands




I love the melody of this round, especially the octave leap from la to low la in the second phrase.  

This song can cause some intonation problems for some students. Many children are only used to singing in major keys so this is a wonderful opportunity to sing something new! 

Hey Ho

Hey Ho Nobody Home

This song could actually be used as a partner song with Strawberries. The intervals in this song are easier to sing tunefully than the ones in Strawberries so it would work well if you have students who struggle with intonation. 

Singing Games: 

Chicken in the Fencepost 

(Also known as Can't Dance Josey)

Game formation: Inner circle and outer circle (both circles hold hands)

Chicken In the Fencepost (Can't Dance Josey)
  • A rubber chicken is placed in the center of the inner circle
  • Two students stand at opposite ends of the room with their back toward the other students
  • The teacher secretly designates an inner circle and an outer circle "door" (To create the door, two students standing together lift their hands above heads to create an entryway)
  • As the song begins the inner circle and outer circle walk in opposite directions.
  • When the teacher claps his or her hands the circles stop, the doors raise, and the students standing outside the circle turn around to catch the chicken.


Game formation: Circle, with one blindfolded student ("Dinah") standing in the middle.

  • The teacher chooses one secret student to be "it"
  • All students sing "no one in the house but" and the secret student sings the name of the child in the middle. Example: "No one in the house but" "Caleb, Caleb" "No one in the house but me I know" "No one in the house but" "Caleb, Caleb" "Playing on the old banjo" 
  • At the end of the song, students quietly move to a different place in the circle.
  • The blindfolded student ("Dinah") must guess who was singing the solo

*This particular variation of the game was used by my cooperating teacher during my student teaching. I love it - and so do the students! 

Get the Sheet Music

Grab the sheet music to these songs in the Sheet Music Library. Totally free - just sign up to get access. 


A Free Orff Arrangement for Practicing Rhythm vs Beat

Miss White had a fright
In the middle of the night
Saw a ghost eating toast
Halfway up the lamp post!

Here's a fun arrangement to use with your young students, just in time for Halloween!


About the Arrangement

The name of the game here is simplicity! 

I can't even begin to tell you the number of times I've looked at an arrangement and thought "Oh yeah, we can learn that in time!" and grossly underestimated the amount of time it would take to put the arrangement together. 

This arrangement is designed for simplicity. This is made to be able to be thrown together in a few lessons if your students have already been practicing rhythm vs beat. 


For this arrangement I've given the steady beat to the metals (finger cymbals and triangle). Membrane instruments have the rhythm (congas and bongos). This was to give just one more layer of differentiation of the rhythm and beat through the texture of instruments. The wind chimes add some spooky ambiance to make this perfect for halloween.
That said, you could use whatever instruments you have available in your classroom as well! 

A Learning Plan: 

Rhythm vs Beat

Before students play this arrangement they should already know the terms rhythm and beat, and be comfortable speaking and playing both

They'll also need to be very familiar with the rhyme, Miss White

Rhythm vs Beat

1. Speak and Clap

Have one half of the room speak and clap the rhythm of the words while the other half speaks and claps the steady beat. Make sure to switch the groups so that all students can practice both parts.

Be sure students speak this in their spookiest, most expressive, whisper-like voices!

2. Audiate and Clap

This flows very easily after students are comfortable speaking and clapping rhythm and beat. Simply ask them to "speak the rhyme in their heads" and repeat the activity from step 1. 

3. Put on instruments! 

Now the fun begins! The transition to instruments should be an easy one but always take time to remind students about how to treat the instruments with respect (remind them instruments are not toys).

They'll simply have the instrument "speak for them" while they speak the rhyme in their heads. Lastly, you can add the wind chimes. 

For an Extension: 

For an extension of this arrangement, have students create some ostinati they make themselves. Something like "Ah! A ghost" or "Ghost eating toast" would be perfect. These can even go on instruments if you have time!

Click to download the arrangement! 

More Rhythm vs Beat Practice

Miss White is one of the songs included in this Rhythm vs Beat resource. If you're looking for ways to practice this concept with your students I'd love for you to check it out!

Happy teaching! 

Grade 1 Rhythm: Quarter Eighth Note lessons with sheet music, printables, and more!

Ta, Ti-Ti

Ta, Ta-di

Crotchets, Quavers

1, 2-and

Pear, Apple

Quarter and eighth notes go by a lot of names... and they can be taught in just as many ways as there are names for them.

Regardless of which names we call these little guys, if students can keep a steady beat and tell the difference between beat and rhythm, they're ready to learn!

Let's sing, play, and dance our way through the prepare present practice sequence! 

How to teach quarter notes and eighth notes

Preparing quarter and eighth notes 


Students need to be able to hear that there are two sounds on one beat for eighth notes. To help them with this, pick one of the songs from this post (or your own favorite quarter eighth note song!) and sing it as a group while your students keep the steady beat. Isolate one phrase and sing it while the class pats a steady beat. How many times did they pat as you sang? How many sounds did they hear on the third beat? First beat? 


Playing a quarter eighth note ostinato ensures that students are engraining the physical motion of ta ta-di since they play it over and over (and over and over and over)

For example, use a simple ostinato such as "shoe, cobbler, shoe, shoe" or another variation for the song Cobbler Cobbler. Students can clap or take turns playing it on woodblocks or rhythm sticks while the rest of the class sings the song


By this point students have progressed from reading icons over hearts to icons over horizontal lines to represent the beat. Isolate one phrase from a known song, such as Cobbler Cobbler, and ask students to notate it with partners. Popsicle sticks and some small icons work well for this.

Presenting quarter and eighth notes

After enough time preparing quarter and eighth notes, it's time to present! 

Follow a script similar to this: 

How to teach quarter notes and eighth notes

Practicing Quarter and Eighth Notes 

How to teach Ta and Ti-ti


Dictation is n amazing way to practice whether or not students can hear the subdivision of the big beat (quarter notes) into smaller sounds (eighth notes). They've already been doing this in the preparation phase with icons, so in the practice phase we simply replace the icons with standard notation for quarter and eighth notes. 

How to teach Ta Ti-Ti


Another way to build upon the preparation phase is for students to compose their own ostinati for a simple song like Cobbler Cobbler. Have students come up with a combination of "cobbler" and "shoe" that takes up four beats. Write the rhythmic notation on the board and then sing the song with students taking turns playing the ostinato they created. 

How to teach Ta and Ti-ti Grade 1


Similar to what we did in this post, choose a collection of songs and write the names on the board. Then write the opening rhythm to one of the songs on the board and clap it with the class. Can they guess what song they were clapping? 

This exercise gets more interesting when you have students clap the opening line to a song they don't yet know. It's a nice way to practice rhythm and introduce a new song at the same time! 

You can also use this worksheet to have them match phrases of songs they already know to the new rhythmic notation. 

It's free! Just click to download.

Happy teaching! 

Songs for Teaching Quarter Notes and Eighth Notes

I got rhythm.
I got music
— Ira Gershwin

Ira Gershwin knew the power of rhythm when he wrote these words to the musical, Girl Crazy.

Teaching rhythm to students is one of my favorite things because after all, if you have rhythm, "who could ask for anything more"?! 

Enjoy these songs for teaching quarter and eighth notes to your kiddos! 

Songs to Teach Quarter and Eighth Notes

Cobbler Cobbler Mend my Shoe

There are many different ways to perform this song. I've heard it with a few different melodies, plus a spoken rhyme. This is my melody of choice :) 

Children like this song, especially when its put into perspective. Have students look at their shoes and ask them what they do when their shoes get dirty, or get damaged. Likely, they simply buy a new pair. Then you can explain that when this song was sung, there was a special person whose job it was to fix shoes called a cobbler. When your shoes were damaged you would take them to the cobbler to be fixed. You can also point out that apparently the person singing the song was impatient and needed the cobbler to hurry up! 

'Round and 'Round 

(Also called "Boom Makaleli")

To play the game: 

Students sing the song walking in a circle and holding hands, with one child in the middle. At the words "Down Miss Mary", the child in the middle touches someone in the circle on the head. That person crouches down, but must continue to walk. Keep going until all the children are crouching, or as long as time permits. It's a hoot! 

This song could also be brought back in later grades to teach eighth note followed by two sixteenth (ti tika or ta dimi). 

Rain Rain 

This popular english nursery rhyme is a classic. Your students will enjoy singing a song they already know! 

The Crane 

This song has some really great imagery to use as you teach it. For example, you can ask students to describe what the crane looked like. What was he doing? Do you think the peasants were okay with this "great big long nosed crane" eating their corn? 

Here Comes a Bluebird 

If you're not already familiar with this game: 

Students stand holding hands in a circle, arms held high to create "windows". One child, the bluebird, weaves in and out of the windows. At "pick a little partner" the bluebird choses one person from the circle. They join hands and jump in the middle (at "hop in the garden"). Then the original bluebird goes back in the circle and the new bluebird continues the game as the song is sung again.

* One variation of this game has the students changing the color of the bird based on the color the child is wearing. 

Lesson planning is easy when: 

Lesson planning is easy when you have a great selection of songs to choose from, and a game plan of how to use them. 

I'm always trying to make this process more streamlined for myself which is why I put together this list of songs for you to use as well! 

I've categorized these songs rhythmically by their first line to make it easier to pull a good variety of rhythms in your song collection. 

Just click to download. 


The Best Way to Teach Rhythm Vs. Beat

Music must not be approached from its intellectual, rational side, nor should it be conveyed to the child as a system of algebraic symbols, or as a secret writing of a language with which he has no connection. The way should be paved for direct intuition.
— Kodaly

I love this quote from Zoltan Kodaly about teaching music. 

This "direct intuition" he talks about is a core part of the Kodaly teaching philosophy: everything is sequenced so that the child can take the next step of the learning process in the most natural way.

The Importance of Rhythm vs. Beat

One of the first discriminations children must learn is how to tell the difference between the rhythm and the beat. 

Being able to recognize and perform this difference on cue is crucial, since it's the basis for all the rhythmic work we do later. 

Sometimes this difference can seem vague and perhaps arbitrary to students. In fact, there are even many adults who don't understand the difference between rhythm and beat. 

For example, if you ask someone why they like a particular song, they might say, "I really like the beat".  In reality they're not talking about the even, steady pulse of the beat. They're talking about the rhythm of the groove. 

It may be one of the most misunderstood - yet most simple - musical concepts.

How can we, as Kodaly said, "pave the way for direct intuition" when it comes to rhythm vs beat? Keep reading! 

How to Teach Rhythm vs Beat


1. Prepare


To prepare this aurally, write the name of several songs above on the whiteboard (I recommend this collection but you can use your own favorites too!). Sing through or play the games to the songs from this post. Then clap the rhythm of one of the opening lines and invite students to guess your "mystery song".

This is where having a collection of songs with unique opening lines comes in handy!


For preparing the song physically, pick your favorite of the five and ask students to sing it with you while you clap the steady beat. 

Then, invite them to "catch the words" as they sing. Demonstrate by holding your hands close to your mouth and clapping once for each syllable you sing. 

Some students get this instinctively but many need plenty of practice before they can do it without a model.


Use the printables from the Sheet Music Library to prepare rhythm vs. beat visually. 

Pick one of the songs represented in the printable and ask students to point to the hearts as you sing. Then switch and ask them to sing as they point to the icons. 

I've created these printables for you in color and black and white, as well as with and without words. 

Sooooo many options! 

These are available for you to download in the Library. 

If you don't have library access yet, you can sign up below: 

Happy printing! 

2. Present

To present, pick a song students already know and label the action they've already been doing.

Here's a sample script: 

Presenting Rhythm vs Beat

3. Practice

Rhythm vs Beat


For aural practice, use an instrument like a glockenspiel or woodblock to play a phrase from one of the songs. Ask students to tell if you were playing the rhythm or steady beat.

You can also have a student volunteer to play the instrument and give him or her the instruction of playing either the rhythm or the steady beat.

Rhythm vs Beat


Pick one of the songs and ask the class to pat the rhythm while you sing. Then sing it again while they clap the rhythm. 

Divide the class in two and sing the song a third time - one group pats the beat and another claps the rhythm. You can get instruments involved here as well; kids love this activity! 

Rhythm vs Beat


Use these pictures to help students practice rhythm vs beat visually.  You can do this in small groups of 2 or 3, or together as a class. 

Clap the rhythm of a song and guide the class in asking how many sounds they heard on a beat. Place either one icon or two icons over each heart to represent the sounds.

Printable P P P Cards

Each of these cards has the lesson outline we talked through above. I have a file where I keep lesson idea cards like this that are easy to pop into a lesson plan when I feel stuck. You can start your own file or save them to your favorite digital storage device like Evernote or Google Drive. 

You can download them in the Library. 

Rhythm vs. Beat Worksheets

While you're at it, don't forget to print off the Rhythm vs Beat worksheets. They're available in the Sheet Music Library. 

Happy teaching! 

Rhythm vs Beat Practice Bundle

Looking for ways to practice rhythm vs beat with your students? 

This bundle comes complete with lesson plans, listening activities, games, and worksheets designed for busy teachers who want fun, actionable activities for their students. 

Looking for more ways to practice rhythm vs beat?

Try the Rhythm vs Beat Practice Bundle!