Rig-A-Jig-Jig: Decoding

Author: Loretta Walker
Year: 2016
Artform: Music
Subjects: Language Arts
Grade: 1st Grade, 2nd Grade, 3rd Grade & Kindergarten
Duration: 10 - 20 minutes

Sing and play the singing game, Rig-a-Jig-Jig. Tweak the game in developmentally appropriate ways to practice letter sounds in grades K-3. A student favorite.


  • Whiteboard or document camera
  • Prefer 2 colors for writing



Download PDF Lesson Plan

Standards & Objectives

Fine Art Standards
Integrated Standards


Natural voice free from strain


Decode words

Practice decoding letters and letter combinations while singing in a natural voice.

Teaching and Timeline


Students may be seated at desks or on the floor in any configuration. There needs to be space in the room to move.

Sing the song (or play the recording) for the students. Ask students to summarize the story the song is telling (i.e. I am walking down the street, I unexpectedly meet a friend, and we continue down the street together). Clarify words the students may not know, such as “chanced.”

I usually change the words “a pretty girl I chanced to meet” to “a friend of mine I chanced to meet.”

As you repeat the song or phrases of the song in the course of this discussion, invite the children to sing along with you as soon as they are comfortable doing so.


Once children know the song, introduce the singing game, showing the movements while everyone sings the song. Older children may be able to learn two or three of the following steps at once.

  1. “As I was walking down the street…” teacher walks in place or in a small area.
  2. “A friend of mine I chanced to meet…” teacher waves at students. Continue waving through “Heigh, ho” section.
  3. “A rig-a-jig-jig” teacher does a motion a little like “The Twist” dance in place, with elbows at waist level. (The exact motion is not critical.)
  4. “And away we go, away we go, away we go” teacher skips in place
  5. “A rig-a-jig-jig” teacher repeats “Twist” motion.
  6. “And away we go…” to end. Teacher skips in place.

Have students do these actions in place with you while singing the song. They will remember the lyrics much better if they perform the movements while they sing.


Next, demonstrate the full game. Using the same phrase segments listed above, use the full actions of the singing game. Be sure students sing with you in a natural, unstrained singing voice while you demonstrate.

  1. “As I was walking down the street…” teacher walks among students.
  2. “A friend of mine I chanced to meet…” teacher shakes hands with a student. Continue shaking hands through “Heigh, ho” section.
  3. “A rig-a-jig-jig” teacher keeps holding student’s right hand while also grasping student’s left hand. Arms will cross and make an X. See-saw hands back and forth as if in a sawing motion. The more energetic it is, the more fun it is.
  4. “And away we go, away we go, away we go” teacher and student skip, with hands still joined, anywhere in the room.
  5. “A rig-a-jig-jig” teacher and student stop their feet and repeat hand motion.
  6. “And away we go…” to end. Teacher and student resume skipping about the room until the song stops.
  7. Teacher and student drop hands. The next time the song is sung each one completes the steps above, choosing a new partner for a total of four players. The number of participants doubles each time.
  8. On the last verse, if there is not the correct number of students for partners to come out even, pause the song just before “A rig-a-jig-jig” and make sure everyone has a partner before finishing the game.
  9. When the last verse if over, invite students to “rig-a-jig-jig” back to their seats.

Work Period

After completing the game once, write “Rig-a-Jig-Jig” on the board, with the “i’s” written in a different color than the other letters.

Tell the students we do not have time to play Rig-a-Jig-Jig again. Then erase the i’s and replace them with another vowel or vowel combination (i.e. oi). Do not say the word for the students. Let them sound out the new word then play the game again, practicing the new vowel sound. Repeat this process and continue to enjoy.

This song works just as well to teach initial or final consonants by keeping the “i” vowel intact and replacing initial or final consonants instead.


Play the game once again, if time allows. Review all the different names the class created for the game by changing vowels or consonants.


This game provides students excellent opportunities to orally explore and practice a variety of vowel or consonant sounds in an enjoyable way.


Prior to the advent of TV and video games, children often spent many hours with their friends, playing singing games such as this one.


How can changing one or two letters change the sound of a word?

  • Singing Voice
  • Singing Game
  • Chance
  • This game is accessible to almost all children.
  • Choose vowel or consonant sounds that suit the children’s reading level.
  • Students with physical disabilities can perform the actions they are able to in place while partners come to them.
  • Students with social disabilities may need to have adult partners throughout the game.


When students are sounding out the new song name, observe certain students carefully to see if they pronounce it correctly, or even make an attempt to decode.


Observe how students act while choosing or being chosen as a partner and during the game.


Observe that students sing. Listen to be sure they are using a natural singing voice.


MANAGEMENT NOTE: Classroom management is very rarely an issue with this game if a few simple rules are strictly observed:

  • Whenever the singing stops, partners drop hands and all body movement and voice sounds stop, also. Players may move only while singing.
  • Quickly choose the closest partner as soon as the word “friend” is sung so the new partner gets a full turn.

Notation and/or recording of Rig-a-Jig-Jig, available from Utah State Board of Education Elementary Songbook

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