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 Folk Song Index