The Closet Key is a classic. The tune is catchy, the rhythms are mostly simple, and kids love keys (keys = locked doors/mystery). Even as an adult, I see old skeleton keys, and I can’t help but wonder what they go to. Maybe they go to a locked treasure chest full of all those socks that have mysteriously gone missing over the years…
Point is, my kids always LOVED the game, no matter their age. And if it weren’t for the fact that I was a whole person taller than all of my students, I would’ve joined in the fun.


Students stand in a circle with their hands behind their backs. One person (it) stands in the middle. It closes their eyes while the teacher places a key in the hands of one of the students in the circle. It opens their eyes, and the students sing the song as they pass the key around the circle. When the song is over, It tries to guess who has the key. If they guess correctly, the person with the key becomes It, and the game begins again. If they guess incorrectly, they remain in the middle and the game begins again.

There were times the sneak-level of the students had reached expert. Even I couldn’t guess the true location of the key. Those times were the best!

Modifications: Some students struggle keeping their hands behind their back. In this case, you might have them sit on the floor instead, with their knees bent and their feet flat on the floor. This position is more natural for them. It also prevents students from being annoyed with the person who accidentally (and loudly) drops the key.

Want to add to the fun? Put yourself in the middle and marvel at your students’ abilities to be sneaky. It’ll make you wonder what else they’ve been hiding.


The pitch set for this song is do, re, mi. If you’re a Feierabend fan (like me), then this would be a great song to practice with your little ones.

I thought it would be fun to create some new manipulatives for this song, because teachers are the masters of DIY. Also, I just bought a new roll of magnetic tape and felt the need to use it right away…naturally. I started by printing out a few pages from my Composing Cards set (do, re, mi, and the question mark/mystery note). I used glossy photo paper, but laminated cardstock would be perfect.

Then, I cut off small squares of magnetic tape to stick to the back of the cards.

You could mix the cards up on the board and have students arrange the cards in the right order. Or you can use the question mark as a prompt for decoding. You can download a free sample of my Composing Cards HERE. You can find the full set of my Composing Cards HERE.

And as always, I’ve created a video. You can use this on a day you’ve lost your voice or perhaps one of those days after an epic program, when you just want to take it a little easy. Just prop your feet up on the desk and take some quick slurps of coffee, because you have exactly one minute and 36 seconds to relax.

3 Responses

  1. I have never done this song, but it sounds fun. I like that it has the dotted eighth/sixteenth in it for my older kids. I just happen to have some of those cool keys around.

    1. Yay for repurposing! Funny, but anytime I had a key laying on my desk at school, the kids would always ask what it went to. I had one key in particular that I really didn't know what it went to, and I told the kids that. They were endlessly fascinated. I'm sure they imagined that it was much more important than it probably was 😉 I love their imaginations 🙂