All Around the Green Apple Tree in the Elementary Music Classroom


This game is simple, and one that could be used to practice steady beat. It could also be used as a covert way to practice student names, in case you’re still struggling with some. With hundreds of student names to memorize, it’s always good to get in a sneaky review.

  • Students stand in a circle, facing inward with hands together.
  • Students step clockwise to the beat as they sing.
  • When a student’s name is sung, that student must turn and face outward, then rejoin hands.
  • Students continue singing until everyone has turned around.

I always found that a few well-chosen reminders for my students were good before games like this. I also dramatically acted out all possible scenarios. If your reminders are entertaining, your students are more likely to remember them. Here they are:

  • Take small steps, otherwise you’ll be stepping on someone else’s toes…literally.
  • Joining hands does not mean squeezing hands.
  • Joining hands does not mean yanking on someone’s arms.


This song is fantastic for helping students feel and move to syncopated rhythms. The phrase “turn back your back” occurs repeatedly throughout the song. After students have experienced the song with the circle game, have them practice the syncopated pattern by:

  1. Clapping/snapping/tapping out the pattern each time they sing it.
  2. Composing their own body percussion to go along with the rhythm.
  3. Using rhythm instruments to play the pattern each time they hear it.
  4. Playing poison patterns using that rhythm.