Teaching ideas
9th Aug 2019

Supply teacher tips: Getting the class singing their own song

Why not add some stimulating and creative activities to your repertoire when you're on supply? Pamela McGahon shares some suggestions...

Sing Up
Supply teacher tips: Getting the class singing their own song

Being a supply teacher can mean that you have free rein some days on what you teach, or you may find yourself with lesson plans that don’t last the full session you’re required to teach.

Get the children to be creative and write some songs/chants of their own.



  • Create a soundscape of the key words from the lesson. List these on the board – and remember, you don’t need to use a melody. The children can choose a word or phrase, which they’ll repeat, possibly with a rhythm.
  • Encourage them to think how the word or phrase could sound – this can be individually or in groups.
  • Lead groups in and out and signal for louder, softer, faster and slower. In your supply bag you might want to have some laminated cards with these words on or you can signal with your arms.
  • Make sure the piece has a start and a finish and children could take turns coming out to conduct.



  • Introduce a melody by teaching a favourite or familiar song.
  • Use a piece of Lycra for the children to sit around and a bag of soft toys (these could be themed as colours, animals or numbers) or everyday items.
  • Children then select a toy or item from the bag to sing about. Place the item on the Lycra and bounce/shake/tip it around.
  • Can the children describe the item and put their descriptions into the tune? For example (resources needed – a selection of three toys of the same animal):

    "Three little rabbits they hopped one day, over the grass and far away, mother rabbit said squeak squeak squeak squeak and only two little rabbits came back" (taking rabbit off Lycra at relevant point in song).

    "Three little ducks went swimming one day…"

  • Bring out different animal selections and get children to think how they move, where they go and what sound they make.


KS2 – Science/Topic:

  • The children could summarise what they’ve found out during the lesson by putting ideas to the tune of a familiar nursery rhyme, traditional tune or rap.
  • This could be done as a whole class, in pairs on whiteboards or individually. You can suggest a tune or they could choose one of their own.
  • Depending on time, you might give them some words or show them an example.
  • Keep it simple, it’s just for a bit of fun!

Example: To the tune of London’s burning:

Francis Drake, sailed the world,
for adventure and for money,
It took years, sunk Spanish silver,
He brought back spices, for the Queen.



  • Teach the children a simple clapping song/rhyme – ask if they know any. Many are nonsense songs and are very repetitive. There’s one in the Song Bank called A sailor went to sea, sea, sea.
  • Here’s a basic clapping pattern for pairs facing each other: clap own hands together, right palm to partner’s right palm, clap own together, left palm to partner’s left palm.
  • On ‘sea’ stop clapping and make a wave shape with your arm, and on ‘see’ tap the side of your head by the eyes.
  • Once children have played the game they can make up their own chant for the same clapping pattern. They can work in pairs or groups on the words, then practise in pairs.
  • Chants can be as long or short as they wish and about anything they like. Suggested topics include getting dressed, getting to school, going to the park…
  • You could keep the same song and change ‘sailor’ to another person and decide where he or she went. The children can come up with additional actions or just keep the clapping pattern.

Example: To the tune of A sailor went to sea, sea, sea:

A policeman caught a robber,
a robber he caught,
he put him in some handcuffs and took him to a cell.
A doctor helped a sick man,
who fell into the road,
he patched him up and sent him home
and now that man can walk.

KS2 – Literacy:

  • Introduce the concept of onomatopoeia.
  • Put examples on the board and practise saying them so that the children can get used to making the sounds. Children can then get into groups and make a composition to record visually so they can perform it later. They’ll need to agree a leader to bring in the group and make sure everyone ends on time.
  • Help them decide if they’re all chanting the same words together or if there’ll be several layers going on at a time. How will they present this? They could use a grid or they could use their own ideas.
  • How long does each word last? Is there a steady pulse or will the leader point to the column when it’s time to move on? You could give them a theme for their compositions, such as ‘At the park’, or allow freedom of sounds.

Want more?

  • For handy guides and tips for your lessons check out our Teaching Tools & Advice page.
  • Don't forget to take a look through our Voice Box for loads of warm-ups and quick five-minute fillers.