Shake Them ‘Simmons Down for the Elementary Music Classroom

Shake Them ‘Simmons Down is a great play party game for elementary music. I love the simplicity of this game and that it can be easily modified for any elementary music classroom.


I tended to modify folk dances like these. I would start by teaching them the traditional movements (Youtube is a great resource for folk dance). Then, once they were able to do these independently, I had them split into groups and create their own. Sometimes, we had enough time to share some of the new movements with the whole class. Other times, I simply had them practice their new moves in small groups. Here are the benefits I saw when teaching folk dances this way:

  • Pair and Share
    • I know it’s a buzz phrase, but it happens naturally when students create their own movements. They’re proud of what they’ve created and naturally want to share it with others.
  • Create
    • This speaks for itself and is part of the National Core Arts Standards.
  • Confidence
    • Taking ownership of their creations often made them more confident in their movements (hence the eagerness to share what they created with others).
  • Steady Beat Practice
    • No matter their age, students need practice with steady beat. You’ll want to stipulate beforehand that their movements need to match the beat. This way, they won’t just flail about without any discernible beat pattern (a definite possibility).

Low So and Low La

The pattern of so-la-do, repeats three times throughout the song, making it fantastic for practicing low so and low la. Once your students have played the game, you can pull out the manipulatives and begin pitch work. The repeated pattern of so-la-do in this song, make it easy to decode. Once students can hear those patterns and identify them, they’ve already figured out half of the song.

One possible snag in this song is the second and sixth measure. Students will be tempted to sing it as mi-mi-re-do, instead of mi-mi-mi-do. Due to that, it’s important that students listen to the song many times before echoing. Also, be sure to point out this difference to them from the beginning, so that they can be aware of possible pitfalls.

You can download the manipulatives shown in the picture above for free HERE.