Bow Wow Wow Folk Song, Game, And Lessons

bow wow wow folk song

Bow Wow Wow is one of those iconic folk songs everyone seems to know, teach, and enjoy. 

With a simple, fun set of activities and a few key musical concepts to teach, this is one of those “money” songs I use over and over for several reasons. 

Let’s look at the sheet music, the game(s), and a few sample lessons to use with this engaging folk song. 

Want a complete list of songs and activities for elementary music? Check out my 30 favorite songs, dances, and games by clicking the link to my eBook.

Bow Wow Wow Sheet Music

Bow Wow Wow is a staple in my Kindergarten and First-grade classrooms for its small range and easy, engaging games. 

But it’s stretchable to second grade, too, with the powerful Do-Mi-Sol highlights. 

Sometimes, I’ll even bring it back in third grade as a way to review the Pentatonic scale. 

Let’s look at the sheet music or notation, followed by a folk song analysis of what to look out for. 

bow wow wow sheet music

Where I First Heard It: American Folk Song Collection

Grade Level: Kindergarten-Second grade

Type: Simple movement or simple folk dance

Tonal Center: Do

Range: Major 6th

Tone Set: Drm sl

Rhythm Set: Quarter rest, eighth notes, quarter note

Form: a

Suggested Key: F Major

Pitch Focus: Do

Rhythm Focus: Quarter rest

Bow Wow Wow Lyrics

Bow wow wow! 

Whose dog art thou?

Little Tommy Tucker’s dog

Bow wow wow!

Bow Wow Wow Game

I know of two games to do with this song. 

The first one is a simple movement to match the song. 

Students put their hands up on their heads like dog ears and flap them to the beat. 

They put their ears down and lower their head on the quarter rest. 

They make a barking sound and jump at the very end of the song. 

On repeats, ask students for other ways to make a dog sound. With Kindergarten and First grade, it’s usually enough to keep them engaged for quite a few practices. 

Here are some dog sounds my kids like to do: 

  • Woof
  • Bark
  • Howl
  • Growl
  • Small dog “woof woof”
  • Yelp

The second game is more of a mini-folk dance. 

Students need to be in a single circle and face a partner for this game. 

They make the following moves matching the lyrics until they are back to their original partners. 

LyricsMoves
Bow wow wowStomp, stomp, stomp
Whose dog art thou?One hand on hip, shake your finger at partner
Little Tommy Tucker’s dogTake hands with partner and switch spots
Bow wow wowStomp, stomp, stomp
Woof!Jump and turn around in place to face your new partner

Three Sample Lessons For Bow Wow Wow

Bow Wow Wow’s musical concepts boil down to three main ideas: 

  1. Steady beat
  2. Quarter rest
  3. Do (specifically Do-Mi-Sol)

Here are three lesson ideas for covering these concepts. Of course, there’s more out there than these three, but maybe they’ll give you some ideas for further teaching. 

Steady Beat Activity

For steady beats, what better way is there to practice than playing some instruments or moving? 

With the little activity, we do both. 

Half the class should play the drums while half the class walks around like a dog. The key here is to focus on the movement matching the drums, which (hopefully) emphasize the steady beat. 

Learning Quarter Rest

The quarter rests is very obvious in this song. 

I like to print off small pictures of dogs awake and a dog asleep with this one. 

For this learning activity, they get to arrange the pictures in any order they want as long as they use one sound picture and one rest. 

Then, they have to clap it. If they can clap it, I let them play it on drums too. 

Here are some free pictures I found for you to use. 

Feel free to right-click and save. 

bow wow wow lessons

Finding Do

Whether you’re working on Do in the Major Triad context (do-mi-sol) or the Mi-Re-Do one, this song is for you. 

For practice in reading or matching pitches on the staff, I take the same dog pictures and print them off small. 

Then, I have the students place them individually or in small groups on a printed staff. 

Here are the steps I go through: 

  1. You put a pitch pattern on a staff. The students have to match it. 
  2. You sing or play a pattern. Students write it down. You show the right answer. 
  3. Students make their own pattern and sing it for you. 

Zach VanderGraaff

Zach VanderGraaff is a K-5 music teacher with Bay City Public Schools in Michigan. He's a Past-President of the Michigan Kodaly Educators and Executive Secretary of the Midwest Kodaly Music Educators Association.

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