Elementary music teachers are looking for songs and games they can play outside as the weather continues to warm up here in the states. In light of that, I decided to focus on The Swallow, which has a chasing game with a familiar format. The song is great for spending energy and also for exploring meter.


Students stand in a circle with one outside as “the swallow”. The students sing and walk (to the beat), while the swallow runs around the outside of the circle. At the end of the song, the swallow drops a handkerchief (or beanbag) at the foot of a student. That student has to chase the swallow around the circle and try to reach the empty space before they do. This is very much a duck-duck-goose style chasing game.

If the student catches the swallow, then the swallow has to be the swallow again. If the student can’t catch them, then that student becomes the swallow.


If you’re using this song to explore meter, then have students do the following actions (instead of walking in the circle):

  • In 3/4 measures, students pat their legs three times.
  • In 2/4 measures, students clap twice.

Here are some other ideas you can try to further reinforce the concept of changing meters:

  • Have students create their own movements for each meter. For example, tapping their elbows on 3/4 and touching their toes on 2/4.
  • Split students into two groups, and have each group choose a rhythm instrument. Then, have one group play on 3/4 measures only, while the other plays on 2/4 measures.
  • Try a challenging stick-passing game to help reinforce mixed meter. Below is a video of how to play the game.