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Musical Chairs Review

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This strategy was shared by Connie Miner, elementary teacher in Bronson Community Schools, Michigan. Musical Chairs Review is a simple structure for an active, informal review activity to both encourage student retrieval practice and identify class gaps in understanding of key topics.


To perform the activity, determine a theme for the topics to be reviewed. This is usually a substantial priority standard or a collection of related standards, but it may be more open-ended as well (ex: multiplication or parts of speech as a theme).

With that in mind, list specific topics on individual sheets of paper (heavy duty or laminated paper preferred). Under the theme of multiplication, this might include “multiplying single-digit numbers” or “multiply a number times 0” etc. Spread those papers on the floor around the room. Provide each student with a writing utensil to carry around.

Now that setup is complete, begin playing music, instructing students to walk about the room from one paper to another–they may choose where they go or you may want to systematize it to avoid chaos. When the music stops, students end at the nearest paper (regardless of whether other students are also there) and write an example of the topic listed on that paper. If the topic reads “multiple a number times 0”, a student may write “3 x 0 = 0”.

Consider additional instructions to enhance the results of the review such as:

  • Students must end on a different paper each time.
  • Students are paired and perform the activity with a partner.
  • Students may not repeat an example already listed.
  • After a set period of time, students switch from writing examples to evaluating examples already listed (is that example a correct example of the topic?).


For another example of using musical chairs in the classroom, visit The Engaging Station blog: click here.

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