Swahili Game Songs

November 5, 2020 No Comments

Jambo (Hello)! 

Songs and games are a part of every primary student’s experience, and are not just used in music class and recess. They can be used in all classes to help students build a classroom community, friendships, and even learn content! 

There are several songs and games that I like to play with my own students, and I’d like to share them with you! They are very fun and easy to sing and play. 

Keep in mind that Kiswahili is a phonetic language, meaning the words are pronounced as they appear, making it relatively easy to learn the language. 

Game Song #1

The first game song is called “kichwa mabega magoti vidole” It dates back to the 1950s, yet its exact origin is unknown. To speakers of English, it is the “Head, Shoulders, Knees, and Toes” song. Here are the lyrics: 

kichwa mabega magoti vidole magoti vidole magoti vidole.

Kichwa mabega magoti vidole.

macho pua masikio mdomo

English Translation

Head, shoulders, knees, and toes, knees and toes, knees and toes.

Head, shoulders, knees, and toes 

Eyes, nose, ears, and mouth.

Game Song #2

The second game song is called “Meli Meli” It is sung when two people are playing a game like jump rope. Two people hold the rope and then another person jumps over the rope in the middle. The last line is sung when the two people holding the rope throw their rope to the other person, essentially switching ends of the rope. 

Here are the lyrics:

Meli meli meli ina madirisha

ikipita juu ina madirisha

Ikipita chini ina madirisha

Mjapani kofia ya Isa

Mchanga wa pwani una hamakisha 

iyankwankarukwankaru iya!

iyankwankarukwankaru iya!

English Translation

A ship ship ship has windows

If it goes up it has windows

If it goes down it has windows

A Japanese is wearing Issa’s hat

The sand of the sea makes someone angry

The last two lines are just words; there is no translation. 

Game Song #3

This game song is known as “The Letter Song” and is similar to Duck Duck Goose. The children sit in a circle facing each other while one child goes around to each person singing the song and touching each person’s head or shoulder until they choose a person to drop the letter next to and that person must chase the person who dropped the letter. 

Here is how to play: Also called the Letter Song

Kiswahili English Translation

Napeleka barua kwa baba I sent a letter to my father.

Ikanipotea njiani On the way I dropped it.

Akaja mtu akaiokota akaitia kwenye mfuko wake Somebody came and picked it up 

and put it in his pocket

sio wewe It’s not you. (Touch any person)

sio wewe It’s not you. (Touches new person)

sio wewe It’s not you. (Touches new person)

Wewe! It’s you! 

Here the person holding the letter 

drops the letter to anyone they choose and this person runs after the person who dropped the letter to catch them.

What is Kiswahili?

Why do I use Kiswahili instead of Swahili? I’m glad you asked! Kiswahili is actually the more accurate term when describing the language. Swahili is what is most often used; however, Kiswahili is preferred. People who speak Kiswahili as their mother tongue refer to themselves as Waswahilis. 

The Kiswahili language has diverse derivations including Arabic, English, German, and Portugese, which is the result of colonization and increased trade with these countries. Not only is Kiswahili the most widely used language in the sub-Saharan region of Africa, it is also the official language (alongside English) of Kenya, Tanzania, and Uganda. It is also spoken in Burundi, Rwanda, Mayotte, South Africa, Somalia, Congo, Mozambique, and Zaire! 

I love teaching Kiswahili and aspire to make it as fun as possible, and songs and games are the perfect way to engage students while also learning the language! 

If you are interested in playing the Letter Game Song with your own students, check it out here on my TPT store! 

Besides the products linked above, I have many other activities in my TPT store that are designed to teach Kiswahili while having fun! 

You May Also Like…

Lollipop! | No-Prep Math Game

Play the Game of Chanice! | No-Prep Math Game

Want More? 

Check out the Class Games Bundle, which contains 4 products! 

I hope you have found this helpful! If you have questions or are looking for something in particular, please comment or reach out to me! 

Tutaonana baadaye! (See you later!) 

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I'm an elementary school teacher who loves what she does! I enjoy creating resources in my Native language "kiswahili". My goal is to spread the beautiful language of "Kiswahili" inside and outside the classroom. Thanks for stopping by! Read More

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