Sandy's Mill: A fun song for upper elementary

Today, I'm sharing one of my favorite songs for fourth and fifth grade...a fun song called "Sandy's Mill."

I learned this song while in Kodaly Level III at Capital University, with Joan Litman.  Here's the notation:

Sandy's Mill: A fun singing game for upper elementary!

The song is great for several concepts. Typically, I would only pull out the hardest rhythmic concept from a song to teach it, which in this case would be ti-tam, or eighth/ dotted quarter. But because the first two measures only have tika-ti, or 2 sixteenths/ 1 eighth, I've used it for tika-ti. You could use it for tim-ka, or dotted eighth/ sixteenth, but it's not the best song for it, since the sixteenth note is an inner anacrusis. Melodically, it works really well for high do! I can't think of any other songs that have the motive d' l s m, so it's great to use for that.

The song also works beautifully in a round!

As far as games go, when I learned it from Joan, here's the game she taught us: 

Students sit in a circle, passing a playground ball to the beat. On the word “pom,” they switch directions. Any time the teacher plays the hand drum, they also switch directions! A student volunteer can also play the hand drum.

This is great for practicing steady beat, and for that reason, the song would also work really well with older beginners who need practice with steady beat (click this link for a set for older beginners.)

Last year, before a choir concert, as I was waiting for all my kids to come in, I saw a group of students play a game called "Silent Ball," and immediately was in love with the game. The idea of silent ball is that one student starts with the ball, and throws it to another person, who throws it to another person, etc. The trick is, students have to be completely silent when they do this. If they don't, they are out! Other reasons they can get out are:
  • If they giggle
  • If they "chuck" the ball (or throw it so hard/ high/ low that a student has a hard time catching it)
  • Does "snake eyes," or looks at one person while throwing to another
  • Throws to the person next to them
Since the game seemed to be such a hit with my students, and since we were already playing a playground ball game with "Sandy's Mill," I decided to use it as a second game. Students sing the song, then play one round of silent ball until one person is out, then sing again, etc. I typically do it several times until maybe 5-6 students are out.

I hope your kids love it as much as mine do! Pin this if you want to refer to this post later:

Sandy's Mill: A fun singing game for upper elementary!

Looking for more ideas for tika-ti or high do? Check out these sets:


Happy teaching!


  1. What tempo would you use when playing the passing game?

  2. Hi, Aileen,
    I was looking for a new game. I did not know this one and it sounds like fun. The music on the email was blurry. Where else can I find it. it definitely has the rhythmic sets I want to work on, so it's perfect for that! Thank you for all you do and share!! Sarah, previously from Indiana now India!

    1. Hi Sarah! So glad you can use it. And I'm so excited for you and your adventures!! Looking forward to reading more!

  3. I'm glad I find your posts! Thank you for sharing your expertise!
    Jami in La Porte, TX (Houston)