Another Pulse Game: Mabel Mabel

You can never have enough games! I learned this one in my Orff training and I’ve added additional scaffolding over the years. It’s an excellent way for young students to practice pulse and begin to learn about finding the pocket. It takes 20 minutes to introduce and play, and works best when introduced over 3 consecutive classes, 5-10 minutes at a time.

 This is one of those activities that’s a snap (ha ha) once you see it in action, so if it’s hard to grasp from the explanation below, check out the video. You can’t hear the students very well, but you can hear me.

 Class 1, 5 minutes

  1. Have everyone sit in a circle. Join the circle.

  2. Show students a simple “pat-pat/wave-wave” pattern and have them copy you.

  3. Go around the circle and have each student say their favorite color one at a time during the “wave-wave.” Allow the pulse to stop if a student hesitates.

  4. Go around the circle again and have each student say their favorite food. This time, keep the pulse steady even if someone hesitates or misses their turn entirely.

 Class 2, 5 minutes

  1. Sitting in a circle, pat-pat/wave-wave and say a favorite color (see video). (Step 4 from last time)

  2. Teach the following body percussion pattern: pat clap snap clap pat clap snap snap

  3. Echo teach the following rhyme: Mabel Mabel/Set the table/Don’t forget the/snap) (snap)

  4. Put rhyme and body percussion pattern together.

  5. Check in and make sure everyone knows what “set the table” means.

Class 3, 10 minutes

  1. Sitting in a circle, practice the Mabel Mabel rhyme and body percussion pattern together (step 4 from last week).

  2. Explain the game: everyone says the chant and does the body percussion. During the “snap snap” one student says something they’d put on the table. (Go around the circle in a predictable fashion so you know who’s turn it is; don’t let kids “popcorn” their answers.) Repeat the chant until every student has had a turn. This first time you go around the circle, allow the chant to stop if a student hesitates.

  3. Do it again; this second time, don’t let the chant stop. If a student hesitates, they’re out. (the full game looks like this)

 VARIATIONS: A student can also get out by repeating something another student has already said.

 With younger students, this game can be a “choose your battle” exercise for the teacher. For example, the kids will probably speed up. If your primary focus is tempo steadiness, stop the game, point out that they’ve sped up, and start again at the correct tempo. Repeat this several times. Alternately, if you’re approaching the game as an introduction to finding the pocket and soloing, then too much emphasis on keeping a steady tempo detracts from that goal. Kids over age 8 (ish) can handle both of these focuses, but it’s a little too much for kids under 8.

 Once they’ve learned it, kids ask for this game at every class. Let me know if you use it, and happy teaching!