Rhymes, Chanting and Movement

Rhymes, Chanting and Movement

The rhymes and chants provide a reason for speaking English and, if they are accompanied with movement, gestures and mime, they can provide the children with a chance to stretch their bodies, after being seated during a quiet-time activity in which they have been drawing or writing.

The practical reasons and pedagogical rationale for the use of the chants are many, so to name a few:

  1. improved class management – when children get ‘fidgety’ they are allowed to stand up and move,
  2. help in creating an English-speaking environment in class,
  3. a way to contextualize language – to present, practice and consolidate language items and, also, to revise them,
  4. aids to memory,
  5. repetitive practice of natural English intonation patterns and a focus on the sounds of English and not their orthographic representations, so that children become confident speakers before learning to read and write!

One of the best ways to keep English as the official language of the class is to interject, throughout the lesson–before, after and in-between planned activities– short and catchy rhymes and chants that will involve the children in listening, miming, speaking and rhythmic clapping.

Here is an example of a WHAT-I-DO-EVERYDAY CHANT:


T selects the verb-object combinations to be used in this chant,
(e.g. wash/ face, comb / hair, eat / breakfast…). Picture flashcards can be used.


  1. To begin, T revises these combinations with picture flashcards or props.
  2. Then, T models the chant for the children, performing mime actions to illustrate the meaning of each verb – object combination.
  3. T leads a choral Listen and Repeat and mime procedure with all of the children in unison.
  4. Once children have repeated all the verbs, T asks them to stand in a circle.
  5. T signals all to say the refrain: What’re you doing? … doing?… doing? And then, T indicates one child at a time to answer, for example: I’m washing my face, my face, my face, providing him/her with a visual cue (either picture flashcard or mime). The children are encouraged to mime the action as they chant their answers.
  6. Repeat (5) above until all children have had a chance to speak.


What’re you doing? … doing?… doing?
Refrain to be repeated before each Line:

I’m washing my face, my face, my face.
Lines said with accompanying visual cues
(miming or use of picture cards)

Here is a variation, following the same procedure, to practise another lexical set:


Refrain: Where are you going?
Lines: to the park, home, to school . . .