If You’re Happy and You Know It

I have stumbled upon an immensely wonderful game to play with elementary age children. It works especially well with very large groups (even hundreds of kids). I play it with kids at the camps I visit in the summertime and most every kid seems to love playing it.

It’s called, “If You’re Happy and You Know It….”. We’ve all heard of it. But there is a twist I put on it that has endless possibilities. I’m sure plenty of people have done this twist before. Basically, you sing the song, “If You’re Happy and You Know It, Clap Your Hands.” The kids will of course clap. This starts the game. Then you sing the line again and change the words to anything you like, such as “If you’re from Mississippi clap your hands” or “If you’ve ever kissed a frog clap your hands” or “If you can name all four of the Beatles clap your hands”, and so on and so forth. The kids will clap their hands after your line if their answer is positive to your questions. If you do a question that requires proof, such as the one about naming the Beatles, point to a kid that clapped their hands and ask them to name the Beatles.

The kids never tire of this game. You could go on and on and on. They love answering all the different questions that come up in the game and clapping their hands to it. I make a list of 30 or 40 lines to the song each time I play the game with the kids.

I’ve got a dozen or so lists that I’ve made over the past 3 summers in playing this game at camps. So I’ve probably got about 400 or 500 different lines to the game written down. Again, the possibilities are endless.

Here are a few more examples:

If you have red hair….
If you can juggle 3 balls…
If you were born in another country….
If you can speak another language…
If you are a twin….
If you still sleep with a blankie….
If you do your own laundry….
If you are homeschooled…

I think you get the point. Come up with your own list and have fun getting to know those kids in ways you never knew you could!

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Dr. Jesse Joyner travels nationwide as a speaker and entertainer. His primary role is that of a performing juggler spreading joy and the love of learning to family and kids events. H earned his PhD in Educational Studies at Trinity International University (Deerfield, IL). He enjoys playing the piano, bird watching, and old houses. He lives in Richmond, VA with his wife, Sarah, and their three kids - the perfect number for juggling children.

3 thoughts on “If You’re Happy and You Know It”

  1. I played a similar game in college that was like that with musical chairs thrown in. We had a bunch of chairs in a circle – there was a seat for everyone except one person. That person would say something true about himself – if others also shared that trait, they had to get up and run to a new chair. Whoever didn't make it to a new chair was the new person in the middle.

  2. Hey Bookman,
    Thanks for the comments. I sold with the Cadilacs as well. 1999 in Atlanta (good summer) and 2000 in Tulsa (not so good summer). Pat Roach was at the helm at the time. It's always great to "meet" other book sellers that can actually understand what that world is like.
    It looks like you are doing amazing things with your talents. Keep up the great work!

  3. Hi Jesse
    I use this song in my kdg classroom; however, I put a different twist on it. I use different emotions and the children act out that emotion.
    "If you are sad and you know it, cry boo hoo". ( rub their eyes)
    "If you are angry and you know it, give a growl." (fingers go out with a loud growl sound.)
    "If you are tired and you know it, give a yawn." (Kids yawn really big)
    After singing the song with the emotion, then we talk about what makes us happy, sad or angry, etc.
    It is amazing what I learn about each child as they share their answers.
    Thanks for sharing your idea, Jesse.
    Sue Weber

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