Los Esqueletos in the Elementary Music Classroom

Los Esqueletos is a children’s song from Costa Rica, and it’s all about skeletons. The thing I love the most about this song is its lyrics. I love the multiple verses, which describe skeletons doing ordinary activities, such as eating rice, going to the theater, and playing chess. According to a source from the Mama Lisa Website, this is sung all year round in Costa Rica. You can find the translation of this song by visiting her website HERE.

You could use this song as a fingerplay for younger students, as they tick off each hour of the clock; 1, 2, 3, etc. You could also use it with older students to practice the interval of do-so. Today, I’m going to share how I would sequence the song with younger students, and the movement game I would incorporate after students learned the initial fingerplay.



I’ve discovered several different versions of this song, including here and here. However, for the sake of today’s post, I aligned my notation with the one presented in the Youtube video below. That way, if you choose to use the video in your class, the notation will line up.



The fingerplay for younger students is pretty straightforward. Begin by modeling the song all the way through (or play the video below). Have your students copy you by using your fingers to tick off each hour, “When the clock shows one…” After the initial hearing, take some time to go over the translation, which you can find here. No doubt this may spark some interesting conversations with your younger students. It would be interesting to know how many of them know about the game of chess or if any of them understand the meaning of sponge cake.

The second time through, have students hold up their fingers with you. At this point, they may even start singing along during “Tumba” due to its repetition. If this is the case, drop out during that part and have them sing that section on their own.



Though there’s no official movement game for this song, I think the lyrics inspire plenty of movement on their own. To start, have students lay down in a circle, then follow the actions presented below.

  • When the clock shows one the skeletons come out of the grave, grave, grave, grave, grave, grave.
    • students slowly rise to a sitting position
  • When the clock ticks the two two skeletons eat rice grave, grave, grave, grave, grave.
    • students pretend to eat rice.
  • When the clock shows three three skeletons turn upside down grave, grave, grave, grave, grave.
    • Students lay down on their stomachs.
  • When the clock shows four four skeletons go to the theater grave, grave, grave, grave, grave.
    • students pretend to eat popcorn as if at a movie.
  • When the clock shows five five skeletons stick a big jump grave, grave, grave, grave, grave.
    • students stand up and jump.
  • When the clock shows six six skeletons play chess grave, grave, grave, grave, grave.
    • students pretend to move pieces around a chess board.
  • When the clock shows seven Seven skeletons are mounted on a rocket grave, grave, grave, grave, grave.
    • students shake and swerve as they pretend to ride a rocket.
  • When the clock shows eight eight skeletons eat sponge cake grave, grave, grave, grave, grave
    • students pretend to eat cake.
  • When the clock shows nine o’clock nine skeletons all move grave, grave, grave, grave, grave
    • students stand up and do any non-locomoter movement of their choice.
  • When the clock shows ten ten skeletons fall asleep again.
    • students lay back down and pretend to fall asleep.