Call and response songs for kids, an ideal tool for elementary music teachers

Are you looking for call and response songs for kids? Have you ever heard someone refer to a song and call it a “call and response” and not know what that means? In music, the term call and response is a technique song writers use to create a song that kind of feels like a musical conversation. A “phrase” of music serves as the “call,” and is “answered” by a different phrase of music. The term “call and response” is rooted in traditional African music and is used often in gospel music where the pastor or song leader will call or sing out a line and the congregation responds.

I asked our teaching artist, SteveSongs, why he likes to use call and response songs when he performs. This is what he said (and I couldn’t agree more!).

“I love to use call and response songs when I perform because it’s a great way to teach the audience the lyrics to a song and is a fun way to connect with my audience.”

SteveSongs has a number of call and response songs for kids. One is called Kindness, and the other is called Brush, Brush, Brush. (You can find the lyrics in this post!!!) When he performs this song, he uses call and response to teach the chorus, and he always uses call and response in the bridge when he sings through the whole song.

Four reasons why we love using call and response songs for the elementary music classroom

1. Call and response songs are an easy way to learn the song lyrics.

Maybe you’re teaching your students a song or maybe your choir is teaching the audience a song, the repetition in Call and Response songs just makes it super easy. The song will stick in your students’ heads, and they will sing it over and over and over and over again – even when they wish they could shut it off. 🙂

2. Call and response songs are a fantastic way for performers to engage with their audience.

Audience engagement is one of SteveSong’s super powers. Seriously. When you watch him perform live for the very first time, he’s so mesmerizing that you just get taken up with the whole performance experience. Before you know it, you’ll be dancing up and down and moving all around right along with the kids. And while Steve is definitely just a magical performer, he uses the call and response as a performance technique. It’s one of the best tools in his tool kit, and he teaches students how to use it in his Minute on Music: Call and Response lesson. 

3. Call and response songs create a collective music experience.

The conversational cadence of a choir singing and responding back and forth or a choir or singer and audience singing back and forth makes the whole performance experience feel united. It helps young singers to get out of the “I’m performing for them” mentality and makes it feel like a “we’re performing together” experience.

4. Call and response songs make it really easy for young singers to feel confident about performing.

When a collective music experience has been created, young singers forget how nervous they feel or how self-conscious they are. The experience is so much fun and fills them with such joy that they can forget about themselves and just enjoy the moment.

Teaching artist SteveSongs

If you’ve never heard of SteveSongs before, check out his bio and watch a few PBS Kids programs like Curious George and Clifford the Big Red Dog, where you can enjoy SteveSong’s original interactive songs that reinforce the day’s curriculum theme incorporating great songs for the elementary music class!

Purchase the Minute on Music bundle which contains the Call and Response lesson. The Minute on Music bundle part of Steve’s Brush, Brush, Brush elementary music teacher resources. Our music lesson plans for elementary teachers include online and in-class learning activities.
Video curriculum:

  • Teaching Artist Bio
  • Perform
  • Minute on Music: Audience Engagement
  • Minute on Music: Audiation
  • Minute on Music: Call and Response (includes 2 Call and Response songs for kids)

Music teaching apps and music teaching resources:

  • Editable Google Slides
  • 3 Self-Grading Quizzes (music Google classroom)
  • 5+ music activities for the classroom
  • National Art and Common Core Standards
  • Summative and Formative Assessments

Music teaching apps and tech tutorials:

  • SeeSaw
  • Kahoot
  • FlipGrid

Get paid to test out our elementary music teaching resources

Become a member to access elementary music curriculum kits FREE through DonorsChoose. Membership opens twice a year. You can join a Focus Group year-round and get paid to test out our resources. Get on the waitlist today!


Lyrics and videos for Call and Response songs for kids by SteveSongs

Here are the lyrics to two elementary music songs by SteveSongs that use call and response. We love them, and we think you will, too!

Kindness by SteveSongs 🎼

Lyrics to Kindness by SteveSongs

What’s the difference between sharing and keeping? Kindness
What’s the difference between causing laughter or causing weeping? Kindness
What’s the difference between making peace and making war? Kindness
What makes this life one worth living for? Kindness

Kindness is the difference for this house we’ve built.
Every brick of kindness laid, the easier this home, our heart, is to build.

What’s the difference between helping and hurting? Kindness
And how can you say “benevolent humanity”? By using simpler wording…Kindness

What’s so very easy but can always use lots of practice?
And what sends this heart spinning on its axis? Kindness

Kindness is the difference for this life we live.
We work so hard and search so long for lots of things and sometimes a little kindness is always need.
Kindness is the difference for this house we’ve built.
Every brick of kindness laid, the easier this home, our heart, is to build.

Brush, Brush, Brush by SteveSongs 🎶

Lyrics to Brush, Brush, Brush by SteveSongs 🎶

Wake up in the morning and I brush, brush, brush
Comb my hair and eat my mush
Blow a kiss and I’m on my way
I get to go to school today

And I know, know, know (audience repeats)
When I go, go, go (audience repeats)
That I (audience repeats) am going (audience repeats) to play (together)
And also learn about dinosaurs (audience repeats)
Numbers letters and more (audience repeats)
And I (audience repeats) am glad (audience repeats) to say (together)
That I get to go to school…

Check out our store for more teaching tools for your elementary music class! 🎶

50+ Call and Response Echo Songs Songsheets by Beth Mengel Thompson

25-year music teacher Beth Mengel Thompson has a very robust list of 50+ Call and Response & Echo songs she uses for teaching music, and she can provide you with sheet music for each song. Click here to access the list. 

40 Call and Response songs and Games for Children’s Choir by Ashley Danyew

Ashley Danyew is a musician, educator, writer, and creative entrepreneur, and she thinks “call and response can be a useful teaching tool, as it gives young children an opportunity to listen, imitate, explore the voice, and gain confidence in their singing.”
If you’ve never taught a call and response to children before, these are some of the pointers Ashley gives: 

  1. Have everyone sit or stand in a circle and keep a steady beat as you go. Begin by singing a simple phrase and having the children echo you as a group.
  2. Once the children seem comfortable singing together, give them opportunities to sing their name or favorite color or name of a toy they’re holding as a solo.
  3. Consider passing a bean bag, ball, or microphone (prop—not to amplify their sound) around the circle so that children know when it’s their turn. Move around the circle in time—avoid stopping in between each child.

Ashley also provides teachers with a list of 40 Call and Response songs and games – yes, clickable links to YouTube videos that you can use at any time. Click here to access the list.  

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