11 Fantastic Parachute Music Games


Parachutes and music go hand-in-hand brilliantly. Parachutes help children move in time, and really experience music in many ways. They are also brilliant for cooperation, and when children explore music with a parachute, they are also learning all sorts of other skills too.

What are the best parachute music games? Some excellent parachute music games are:

1.What Shall We Do With The Little Teddy

2. Musical Story

3. Parachute Moves To Music

4. Circle Songs

5. Keeping The Beat

6. Echo

7. Conductor

8. Syllables Game

9. High Low Song

10. Scales

11. Sing A Scale Lift Off!

Read on to find a detailed description of these songs, so you can easily try them out yourself.

1.What Shall We Do With The Little Teddy

This is a really fun game, that gets them singing a simple song, doing movements to the beat, and also experimenting with pitch and volume.

For this you need some sort of toy or teddy. The teddy starts in the middle of the parachute.

The children hold the parachute at about waist height to start. There is song that goes with this game.

It goes to the tune of ‘What Shall We Do With The Drunken Sailor,’ but the words are:

What shall we do with the little teddy?

What shall we do with the little teddy?

What shall we do with the little teddy?

Early in the morning

Gently bob the teddy up and down as you sing the song.

Then there are several verses that you can try out. They include:

High and low and high and low,

High and low and high and low…

For this verse it is good to adapt the melody of the song slightly, so that you sing the ‘highs’ with a high voice, and the ‘lows’ with a low voice. This is a good way of experiencing what high and low is.

Bounce and BOUNCE and bounce the teddy,

Bounce and BOUNCE and bounce the teddy…

Try to whisper this verse quietly, apart from the loud ‘BOUNCE’. Do small bounces for the quiet parts, and a big bounce for the loud bit. This helps them to experience dynamics – e.g. loud and quiet.

Other things you can do are:

Wiggle, wiggle, wiggle, wiggle the teddy…(Wiggle as you do it)

 Round and round and round we go…(Go round in a circle as you sing)

All in all a great fun game. You can adapt it for a class puppet, or a character toy from a story.

2.Musical Story

For this you need to split the children into two teams. You also need some instruments for this: for example, drums, tambourines, triangles, and Maraccas.

Pick some children to play the instruments. Then you assign each instrument to be a different animal. Get the children to play the instruments and decide what they sound like. There is no real right or wrong, but some sensible ideas might be things like a butterfly for the triangle, and a snake for the tambourine.

When you have got at least four animals sorted, and the children with those instruments know which they are, it is time to make up a story.

The children holding the parachute are going to help you with sound effects and adding movement to the story. The children with the instruments are going to add sound effects.

Start the story however you want. For example, ‘One day the little butterflies were fluttering through the jungle’. The triangles will all play, and the children holding the parachute will do gentle movements, just like butterflies. ‘Suddenly they came the big stamping elephants.’

All the drums will now play, and the parachute will be waving up and down like stamping elephants.

Just keep going like that. If the children can help you make up the story, then that is even better. If not, just make it up yourself.

3. Parachute Moves To Music

All you need for this activity is a parachute and either one piece of music, or else extracts of pieces of music. 

The idea is that you put a piece of music on, and the children try to move the parachute in a way that suits the sound. For example, if the music is quick, then they move the parachute with rapid jerks. If it is slow and graceful, then deep controlled beats of the parachute are what is required.

Some pieces of more classical music will often have variations of pitch and speed as you go through.

If you can’t find anything like this, short extracts from some sort of classical compilation album will do the trick. It gets children listening for dynamics, pitch, and tempo.

4. Circle Songs

By circle songs, I mean the kind that work as in a group circle. Instead of holding hands, you just use the parachute instead. These types of songs work brilliantly with parachutes. They get children experiencing music, and cooperating and getting active all at the same time.

Some classic circle songs are:

Ring a ring a roses

Here we go round the mulberry bush

The farmer’s in his den

5. Keeping The Beat

This is really simple, and can be done with any song that the children know well. The idea is easy – you sing the song, and sway the parachute up and down to the beat of the music.

There was some research I read recently that claimed that if young children are able to keep the beat of the music in an activity like this, then they are much more likely to generally do well at school! It seemed quite a broad statement, but perhaps there is something in the importance of this skill.

Some great songs for this could be classics like Twinkle Twinkle, or Wind The Bobbin Up. Just try whatever they know, and focus on that beat!

6. Echo

This is game that develops memory, and helps children think about rhythm and the structure of phrases.

The adult basically thinks of a simple phrase and either says or sings it, whilst shaking the parachute in different ways as they do it.

An example of this could be, they sing ‘I hear a storm!’ You could shake the parachute on each word ‘I hear a’, and then shake it violently on ‘storm!’

Then the children copy exactly what you sung or said, with the same parachute actions.

This works nicely for animals. You can sing something like ‘I see…a fast cheetah’. (Shake the parachute really quickly for ‘cheetah’). ‘I see… a slow sloth.’ (Gentle and slow shakes).

See if the children can come up with their own ideas, either sung or said.

7. Conductor!

For this you need to split the children into two again. Half play instruments, and the other half hold the parachute.

You also need one ‘conductor’. They stand in front of the band of children holding instruments.

The idea is the conductor signals with their hands how the band should play. The easiest things to gesture are to play quietly or loud, or to play fast or slow.

It is a good idea to show them all how to do this before you try this activity.

The conductor conducts and the children play! The other children holding the parachute attempt to move the parachute in a way that suits the music.

For example, if it is loud music, they can be shaking it violently up and down. If the music goes, quiet, or slow or quick, the parachute follows, attempting to move in an appropriate way. Do lots of alternating of band members, parachute movers, and conductors to give everyone a fair go.

8. Syllables Game

This is a bit like phonics mixed in with music. It really is brought to life by the addition of the parachute. Once again you can split the children into some holding instruments, and some holding the parachute.

For this activity you require a bag of objects. It is best if the objects all have a similar theme. For example, have a bag of toy vehicles. Or a bag of jungle animals.

The idea is that you take one of the objects out, for example (if it was vehicles) you might take out a lorry. You then get the children holding the instruments to say the word and hit the syllables – ‘lo-rry’. (Two hits on their instruments).

Then do it again, and the instruments hit and the parachute shakes as well for the two syllables – ‘lo-rry’.

Repeat this a few times for each vehicle so that they get the hang of it. It is good if you can find objects with different numbers of syllables. For example, if it was vehicles you could have a truck, a lorry, a car, an ambulance, and a combine harvester.  

9. High/Low Song

You need a small toy or puppet for this game. You ask they puppet, ‘How are you going to sing today?’

The puppet will sing back one of several options. It might sing back ‘I sing high.’ If it is high then use a high voice.

The children will then try to copy singing with a high voice – ‘I sing high’. As they sing they will shake the parachute high up.

Other things the puppet might sing are:

‘I sing low’. (Use a low voice, and shake the parachute low to the ground)

‘I sing fast’. (Sing it quickly, and shake the parachute quickly).

‘I sing slow’. (Sing slowly, and shake the parachute slowly also)

This is another great game for getting them experiencing high and low, quick and slow.

10. Scales

This is a slightly more advanced game that gets children thinking about musical scales, and sequences of notes moving from higher or lower.

The adult sings a simple scale. It could be three notes going up like ‘Doh-ray-me.’ As you do it, you lift the parachute up once every time you go up – starting low for ‘doh’, higher for ‘ray’ and higher still for ‘me’.

Then bring the parachute down and get the children to echo exactly what you did – ‘doh ray me’, with the same parachute movement.

You can then try different sequences of notes and scales. It could be ‘doh ray me far so’. Get the parachute moving up the five notes, and then see if they can copy you.

You don’t have to be super confident at musical scales, or even very in tune. Just have a go, and it starts them off with understanding pitch.

11. Sing A Scale Lift Off!

This is an easier singing scales game.

You get the children to start with the parachute on the ground. Teach them to sing a scale ‘doh-ray-me..etc’. As they sing they lift the parachute up a bit with each note.

When they get to the final ‘doh’ the children throw the parachute up into the air and try to let go at the same time! If they manage it (which is quite tricky), then the parachute will mushroom up high into the air above their heads.

Another excellent way of experiencing what scales are, and beginning to understand how pitch works.

Conclusion

Parachutes are one of the most versatile pieces of equipment you can use in teaching young children.

They are brilliant for literacy, numeracy, physical development, and of course music!

These music games develop lots of early musical knowledge and skills, and they do it in a really healthy and active way. Good luck trying these games out!

Martin Williams

Hi, I'm Martin Williams, creator of the Early Impact Learning blog. I'm a preschool and early years teacher of ten years experience, and I also run practical training courses for nurseries and schools.

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