“Hi Ho Cherry-O” Music Game

Hi Ho Cherry-O (music game) - Small Town Music Lessons

I recently rediscovered a photo I took of the adaptation of Hi Ho Cherry-O, and it has almost gone “viral” on Pinterest!  It’s wonderfully exciting :) But then, I realized I didn’t pin it correctly – and left anyone clicking through to the mercy of the search bar on my home page.  Sorry, everyone!  The original page with the photo (which I took during a student’s lesson – the table under the game is in the studio) is located… https://musicstudioblog.com/2013/06/20/more-lessons-overviewed-with-some-photos/

Hi Ho Cherry-O is a fun game for kids, available in most game & department stores.  It is currently available at Amazon (click that link) for $10.03 (with possible free shipping).  My students enjoy the multi-color, multi-fruit option.  I threw out the spinner & puzzle.  For the colorful cubes (on which I drew… 1x whole note, 1x dotted half note, 1x half note, and 3x quarter notes), you can also find a great price at Amazon, currently @ $13.28 for a giant container of them.  I still have MANY of those awesome blocks blank & available, so I’ll often let a student draw those notes on the sides of the cube & bring the cube of their color choice home to adapt to other games.

Because I play this with mostly young students, I decided to simplify the rules – accounting for only forward progress… and not use the original rules from the original version of the game, in which a player would have to return fruit to the tree.

In lessons, the routine goes as follows… often this game is played BEFORE students have learned about rests (I teach them all 4 basic notes at the first lesson with just the counting values for a typical 4/4 time signature, without mentioning the time signature tidbit).

STEP 1:  Choose Color Tree/Fruit & Color Block (one for each participant, though we have occasionally each had two in one game).
STEP 2: Put one piece of each of that fruit’s color in the corresponding tree’s openings, so you START with your fruit in the tree… that’s how it should be anyway.  ;)
STEP 3: Take turns rolling your block.  When the block lands with a note value facing up, together CLAP and COUNT aloud the value of the note… quarter note (1), half note (1-2 = while holding hands closed), dotted half note (1-2-3 = while holding hands closed), whole note (1-2-3-4 = while holding hands closed).  You’ll roll more quarter notes than the others, by simple statistics and probability… which allows for a slower game & more reinforcement of one note value.  Perhaps even incorporate a metronome into this activity.
STEP 4: Student then draws that note on the double-sided white board (available on Amazon, currently for $11.99 + $5.49 shipping).  I like to use colorful whiteboard markers.  Make sure to also review the NAME of the note… by putting names (rather tedious) into the routine of the game (fun), you’ll make the entire experience interesting (memorable).
STEP 5: Student removes the correct number of fruit pieces from their tree & puts them in their bucket (quarter note = 1 piece) (half note = 2 pieces) (dotted half note = 3 pieces) (whole note = 4 pieces).
STEP 6: Winner is the first to have NO fruit left in their tree, taking turns.  Time to play = 3-10 minutes, depending on how detailed you are.

By drawing the notes on the board, students draw correlations between the clapping (action), naming note & speaking beats (memorization & auditory), and drawing (kinesthetic, another action/visual) processes.  They’ll commit the values solidly to understanding & memory – allowing for fun & easy retention of something that could otherwise be very tedious.

Variation for difficulty & students older than 6… I would suggest using rests.  A whole rest means to spill all the fruit in the bucket (return it to the tree for picking), a half rest means to spill 2 pieces of your fruit, and a quarter rest means to spill 1 piece of your fruit.

It is also VERY easy to adapt this concept to other games… Candyland, Chutes & Ladders, Monopoly, Life, and MANY more.  :)

Hi Ho Cherry-O (this version) is also referenced…



5 thoughts on ““Hi Ho Cherry-O” Music Game

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  3. Thank you for sharing links to this page with other teachers! :) This is really one of my favorite games to play with new and young students – I revisited it this week with a young student who needed a change of pace in her lesson. She went from saying, “I don’t want to do piano anymore” to “I don’t ever want to stop doing piano”! ;) We may have more of those days ahead of us, but this game made things fun again for her :) And she went home with another note block to use with other games – she chose orange, something bright & cheery.



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