Parachute with a Purpose

I love using a parachute in my classes,  but I like to use it with a purpose.  The parachute is fun for all ages, but it can also be a teaching tool. Here are a few ways to use the parachute to teach some basic skills... and have a bunch of fun!

The Elevator Song

I love this song because all the kids I teach live in Chicago. They are all very familiar with riding in elevators. Some of them even have elevators in their condo buildings. 

This song is from Jbrary's youtube page. Jbrary is a great source for new songs. It is run by two children's librarians! Check them out at

In this video, they use the song as a lap song for babies. I use it with the parachute. After we sing it through once or twice and the kids are really getting into it, I put one of their stuffed animals on the parachute and the stuffed animal gets to ride the elevator. (That is always a huge hit!)


Oh the city is great and the city is grand.
There's a whole lot of people on a little bit of land.
And we live way up on the 57th floor.
This is what we do when we go out the door...

Take the elevator up. Take the elevator down.
Take the elevator up. Take the elevator down.
Take the elevator up. Take the elevator down.
And we all spin around!

Actions: Start with a gentle shake. On "a whole lot of people (or buildings) on a little bit of land," all of the children take a few steps into the center. On "We live way up on the 57th floor," stretch the parachute back out.
(I often give a bit of a dramatic pause here to make sure all the children are ready for the elevator part.)
Then everybody lifts the parachute up when you are taking the elevator up and bring it down when you are taking the elevator down. 
With the older kids we spin around at the very end.... but don't let go of the parachute!

Concepts: Up and Down.

The Marching Elephants

(Tune: The Nobel Duke of York)

The marching elephants, then march their heavy feet.
The march them fast. They march them slow. They march them to the beat.

They swing their trunks way up. They swing them way down low.
They swing them high and swing them low and round and round they go!

Actions: All the children put on hand on the parachute. They face the same direction and get ready to march. We work on marching to the beat. 
When we swing our trunks "way up," we lift the parachute over our heads. When we "swing them way down low," we drop the parachute low.

Concepts: We work on finding the beat, fast and slow, and high and low.

Freeze Song 

There are many freeze dance songs out there. When using the parachute, I like a freeze song that doesn't have many (or any) words. Before we start the game, I tell the kids what a rest is. When the music plays we shake the parachute and when it stops we freeze the parachute. This can be really difficult. All the children have to be listening. Just one child who continues to shake during a rest, will prevent the parachute from truly freezing. It is a real challenge!

Try Run and Freeze 4/4 by Richard Maddock.

Concepts: We work on hearing rest.

WARNING: Although the parachute is fun for most children, it can be way too much stimulation for some. Every time I get the parachute out with a group of infants, one or two explode into tears within the first two minutes. It's okay. Move them a bit away from the group and let them observe the parachute from a safe distance. They will grow to love it! Occasionally this happens with toddlers too.

TIP: Before you get the parachute out. Remind the children that there may be more children then handles. Tell them it is still fun to hold on to the edge. (You might still see some tears when they don't get a handle, but warning them might fend off a few major tantrums.)

Also, set them up for success. The first time you lift that parachute over everyones head, it is totally natural for a child to want to run under.... it looks so magical under there! Before you get started, remind the children that you are staying on the outside of the parachute today. 

Enjoy learning with your parachute. Happy Singing!